I have just finished putting the final touches on our 2019 line-up of tours. For those interested, my premier Classic Sakura tour for early April still has a few places remaining.
Golden Alpine Trails
For 2019, I am adding a new walking tour, called Golden Alpine Trails, that could see you in some of our favourite places during the brilliant Autumn season. Besides Tokyo, Kanazawa and Kyoto, we have six walks planned in the central alpine region including the Nakasendo (aka the Joanna Lumley walk), the Shinetsu Trail, Kamikochi and Shirakawago.
Earth & Fire ceramics tour
Following on from the happy group of ceramists and art lovers I toured with in September, I have released another Earth & Fire tour for 2019, this time in the lovely mid-spring May season. This follows the same itinerary as this year, taking you to the heart of artisan life and culture in western Japan, where the influence of Korean and Chinese ceramics is most clearly felt.
Japan Film Festival
The Japan Film Festival is up and running across Australia now so it is worth checking out. I recommend you see We Make Antiques, which I saw on a recent flight to Japan - it's great. Check this website for program details.
Besides the indepedent travellers that we have sent there, Jason ran our first Shinetsu Trail trekking tour in September. They were blessed with dry weather for their six day 80km trek. We have scheduled the 2019 Shinetsu Trail trek for the peak of Autumn colour in October. This tour is already selling well and is guaranteed to depart, so get in touch if you would like to experience walking in one of the best forests of Japan!
Sep and Oct tours
I have just returned from guiding four tours in Japan. Above is a pic from my Deep North Autumn Walks tour, at Hanada-san's apple orchard. It was a beautiful day and a delightful tour so thank you for joining me. I have just returned to Sydney for a brief stay before my last tour starts later this week among the Ginko trees of Tokyo in Autumn colour - see you there!
Our 2019 sakura cherry blossom tours are now on sale. Besides our popular Classic Sakura and North Sakura tours, we have developed a new tour called Sake Tea & Sakura. This exclusive tour is limited to just five fellow travellers with an interest in the traditional cuisine of Japan (i.e. everyone!). As a newly licensed Sake Master, Riki wants to share sake breweries (i.e. booze!), a tea ceremony and a gorgeous kaiseki dinner with you. It concludes in Tokyo where Japan receives its first cherry blossoms. Please be aware that our sakura tours sold out fast last year, so you've gotta be quick!
We will release the rest of our 2019 tours shortly, so watch this space. We are currently working on a new tour for hard-core nature lovers on the Kumanokodo and another for hard-core train lovers through northern Japan. Toot! Toot!
We think the Shinetsu Trail is one of the best nature walks you can try in Japan. Our Shinetsu Trail tour in September suits keen hikers and we still have spaces available. This tour will be led by a local mountain guide with Jason there to help. We also arrange treks for independent travellers so get in touch if you're keen.
Spring tour reports
Both sakura tours and my mid-spring walking tour went well for 2018 and we were lucky to have great weather on all of them. One of my fellow travellers on the City Lights & Alpine Trails tour took some beautiful pictures which he has allowed me to share. Here is one from Asahidake (the highest peak of Hokkaido) ...
... and also one from Oirase Gorge in Tohoku. Thank you Chris-san!
I hope you've had a good year and have got some nice plans for 2018. For New Year, I went down to Mt Kosciusko for a few days of gentle hiking with some friends from Japan. What did you do?
Autumn tour reports
I'm so happy to have finished up my 2017 tours with everyone returning home safe and well. Over the last couple of months, I've run my Earth & Fire ceramics tour, Spirit of Japan walking tour, and Autumn Colours tour. My ceramics tour was lovely with a very friendly and talented group of potters. For Spirit of Japan, we had some wet and wild weather, but I felt so blessed to have a great group of walkers who took the typhoon in their stride. In contrast to that, my Autumn Colours tour was full of blue skies!
For 2018, we're starting a new venture that focuses on a very special walk in the central alpine region of Japan. It's called the Shinetsu Trail. It's an 80km trek, that's soft underfoot because of the grand beech trees that drop their leaves each year on the trail. We think it's the best long-distance woodland trail in Japan. We hope you can join us on one of our Half Treks or Full Treks. Visit our new dedicated website, ShinetsuTrail.com to be inspired.
Deep North Autumn Walks
I've also developed a new tour for 2018, which I'm calling Deep North Autumn Walks. This tour starts in late October when the Autumn colours in northern Japan are at their best. I'm focusing on Aomori Prefecture, where we can visit the world heritage area of Shirakami Sanchi, as well as Oirase Gorge below Lake Towada. It's such a beautiful area that's got some excellent food, friendly locals and gorgeous nature. Get in touch if you're interested.