From May to June, Kuroko Boutique Tours led three trips deep into Japan.
We spent 5 immersive weeks with travellers exploring the busy metropolis of Tokyo, wandering the bamboo forests in Kyoto, doing restorative yoga at ancient temples, hiking up mountains, and much much more.
It was a privilege to show such wonderful people the beauty of Japan.
In May, we partnered with the one of a kind Richard Martin Photography, and travelled to some of Japan’s most photogenic spots.
We started out exploring the crowded capital city of Tokyo. With so many people, it’s almost impossible to find quiet spots, but we timed our visits well and avoided the most severe crowds. One of the highlights was the futuristic architecture at the Tokyo International Forum (pictured below), courtesy of Richard Martin.
The tour started in the world’s largest capital city, Tokyo. Even in this crowded city, we made our way like "a well-oiled machine" (quoted by Judith Carlson, a participant) and visited plenty of avant-garde spots. One of the many highlights was the futuristic architecture at the Tokyo International Forum.
We visited Kyoto in full spring-mode with the trees showing off their new bright green foliage. Everything was exploding with many shades of green.
We also enjoyed a private performance by Maiko and Geiko - otherwise known as Geisha. Their grace and expertise truly flows into every movement.
This trip came to a picturesque finish at a tranquil traditional fishing town and rice farming village. Thanks to all the photographer’s great humour and natural comedic talent, we laughed our way through Japan for 12-days straight! It was bucket loads of fun and we can’t wait to do it all again next year!
Onsen Yoga Retreat
Next, the second tour group arrived for our Onsen Yoga Retreat with the incredible yoga teacher Niel Urry! On the agenda; bathing in Onsen, hikes up mountains, activities by waterfalls, and plenty of yoga and meditation. Not to mention all the amazing culinary experiences we enjoyed along the way!
We kicked off the tour from the ancient capital, Kyoto. We were lucky enough to take part in an authentic and traditional tea ceremony, historically held for Samurai.
We dived deep into the Izu peninsula and settled down at a modern monastery - our home for the next 7 days. The area was rich in natural wonders, with plenty of waterfalls, rivers, orchards, and soaring mountains. The monastery's hot spring is of the highest grade - it’s unfiltered and undiluted, features that are exceptionally rare. All the drinking water comes directly from a spring and is packed full of minerals from the ground.
We were blown away by the quality of food they served each day. They only used the freshest local produce and made us plenty of delicious dishes with vegetables grown in their organic garden.
Each day started with yoga and meditation at the temple. Some of the highlights were an excursion to Mt.Fuji, hiking rugged coastlines, witnessing a bamboo flower bloom on Mt. Amagi (only happens once every 120 years), visiting a hydrangea park, a cooking class, and more.
We struck the perfect balance between activities and downtime, making this tour truly restorative.
Spiritual Mt. Koya
For those who wanted to dive even deeper, we extended the tour to the most sacred place in Japan - Mt. Koya.
Here, we explored mountain temples and learned life philosophy from the ancient Buddhist teachings of Kukai.
Throughout the tour, Nobu, a practising monk guided us around Mt. Koya and shared the way of life in this special town. We learned so much about Esoteric Buddhism and the lifestyle of a monk, thanks to his gentle explanations.
Join us on the next tour?
Our 5 weeks in Japan went by so quickly. It was fun, interactive, mesmerizing and in-depth. We had so much fun laughing, eating the best food, and immersing ourselves into Japanese culture.
Why don’t you join us next time? This year we have the Enchanting Shikoku Tour in October, which is off to Rika’s home island. It’s an off the beaten path tour where we go deeper into the Japanese countryside and culture. You probably won’t even see any other tourists!
Hope to see you there!
Photo credit: Richard Martin, Sarah Hull, Rosanna Susanto, Kuroko Boutique Tours