Konnichiwa! (こんにちは Welcome to Japan! In the midst of curating several personal Journey’s to Japan, in depth, exclusive and tailored to our clients love of art, traditional pottery and temple gardens. This client has explored remote islands and the bustling cities of Japan with our exclusive teams, they are back for another Journey focused on art on Naoshima Island and making their way to Kyoto where they will enjoy a private meditation practice with the renowned Rev. Takafumi Kawakami at the Shunkoin Temple. Shunkoin Temple possess’ many important artistic and cultural properties related to Zen Buddhism, and also has a deep connection with Shinto and Christianity. The Rev. Takafumi Kawakami travels the world giving talks about Zen and mindfulness, and how these practices can help improve our lives in these modern and hectic times and help us be more creative and satisfied in our work. His travels and talks have brought him to the likes of MIT, Brown University, TEDxKyoto & IDEO.
This journey is customized especially for those who love to travel the less explored, those who love the unique, original and traditional. We’ll dive into a beautiful blend of modern contemporary, as we discover art and architecture spread out across the islands of Naoshima. Then in bullet speed, you’ll cross the country to the contrasting heart of Japanese tradition, Kyoto. Kyoto boasts of 17 world heritage sites, geisha life, markets, endless temples, Zen and horticulture garden heaven to just name a few sightseeing options.
Advance planning and our exceptional partnership aids in securing the best suites at Benesse House on Naoshima Island in the Seto Inland Sea. The entire island has been transformed into an impressive art project all the while it maintains its traditional heritage as a fishing village. Naoshima boasts three main impressive museums as well as the Benesse House, established as a symbiotic place of nature, architecture and art. Perched on a small hill overlooking the ocean, this unique space was designed by the highly acclaimed architect, Tadao Ando. A few of the other fascinating works on the island play with the use of light and darkness – making your stay here an incredibly unique experience.
The Benesse House opened in 1992 as a facility integrating a museum with a hotel, it is based on the concept “Coexistence of nature, art and architecture.” Benesse House consists of four buildings and lodgings, all designed by Tadao Ando: Museum, Oval. Park and Beach plus a restaurant, cafe, spa and shop open to the general public.
Built with the intention to blend increasingly into the natural environment of Setonaikai National Park as the years go by. It is meant to be appreciated with the entire body, with long ramps, stairs, and passages to traverse, and with natural light from outside pouring in through apertures, weaving together the indoors and outdoors.
The Oval Suites (two), are very unique and due to the very limited rooms on the property, the Oval area is very much requested but limited availability we prefer and reserve these two suites. Standing on a hill and reached only by a funicular/monorail approx. 5 min ride from the museum, this dreamlike space has just six guest rooms, featuring a fusion of Setouchi’s natural beauty with Ando’s architecture.
Vast floor-to-ceiling windows in the guest room offer a sweeping view of the Inland Sea, and the walls of some of the guest rooms are decorated with drawings created by the artists. Access to the Benesse House Oval is limited only to guests staying in Oval.
We have exclusive use of the James Turrell Open Sky installation. My private Skyspace sunset experience in the Argentine highlands at Hess Colome Vineyards made me a James Turrell sky space groupie. The elements of Light & Space itself is presented as art in James Turrell’s work. The three artworks on display were selected amongst Turrell’s representative series and span his entire career, enabling visitors to experience the changes in his work throughout the years. Open Sky is on view during the museum’s regular opening hours, but our clients will be viewing a private special sunset viewing, Night Program, exclusively after the museum has closed to the public.
A few days in this picturesque area can be enjoyed on ebikes at a leisurely pace on Teshima Island, including Teshima Yokoo House. This is a collaborated artwork by artist Tadanori Yokoo and architect Yuko Nagayama, who renovated and altered an old private house in Ieura area, facing the harbor that forms the entrance of Teshima Island.
Teshima Art Museum – Perched on a hill on the island and overlooking the Seto Inland sea, this museum is the beautiful combined vision of artist Rei Naito and architect Ryue Nishizawa. A simple concrete structure that stimulates its visitors’ senses with the play of water drops on a concrete surface. Two oval openings in the shell allow wind, sounds and light of the outside world into the space. In the interior space, water continuously springs from the ground in a day long motion. Soak in the limitless harmony of where nature and architecture intimately interconnect.
Les Archives du Coeur – This art project beautifully houses recordings of the heartbeats of people throughout the world. The artist, Christian Boltanski, has recorded these heartbeats since 2008. This is a testament to the recordees’ existence. Listen to the heartbeats and also… leave your mark and record your own here too.
Guests will journey to Kyoto and visit specific art installations, Nijo Castle, and a private visit to Machiya (traditional Kyoto-style architecture). The beautiful city of Kyoto is home to numerous imperial sights and disputably the source of Japanese culinary tradition. Originally founded as Heian-kyo (literally “tranquility and peace capital”) by Emperor Kammu in 794 and enjoyed its golden age during the imperial court’s heyday from 794 to 1185. Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over 1,000 years, the name means “Capital City”, but the emperor and government are now located in Tokyo. With its many cultural landmarks and historical sites, and the abundance of traditional arts and literature, Kyoto is regarded as the cultural heart of Japan.
If you have ever wondered what the life and styles are of ordinary Japanese people are inside a traditional, historical Kyoto-style town house, known as Machiya, then wonder no more. You are welcomed and able to explore an exclusive glimpse of life in a traditional town house. Meet the current resident who will explain the architecture of the home and their passion for conservation of the house. Established in 1869, the building shows typical Kyoto-style architecture with Tsuboniwa-type small courtyard, traditional storage.
They will also enjoy a private Zen meditation session with priest, Rev. Takafumi Kawakami. The Reverend is well known and gives talks around the world about Zen and mindfulness and how these practices can help improve our lives in modern and hectic times. Private meditation session in English and will take place in a private room at the Shunko-in Temple.
Established in 1590, Shunko-in Temple is one of the 46 sub-temples situated in Japan’s largest Zen Buddhism monastery, Myoshinji. The priest will escort you around the temple and tell you tales of its history. Savor the taste of Matcha green tea and Japanese sweets which will be served at the end of the Zen session.
Another afternoon, we have reserved a private tea ceremony in an authentic tea room, using special utensils. For Japanese people, a tea ceremony is a mental discipline for pursuing “wabi” (a state of mind in which a person is calm and content, with a profound simplicity) and is at the same time a performance in which form and grace are paramount. The tea master will perform the ceremony and also explain about the historical and cultural side of this ceremony.
Biking in Arashiyama – Located in the northern outskirts of Kyoto, Arashiyama offers mountain landscapes. In old days, the area was favored by aristocrats to enjoy seasonal beauties. Togetsu-kyo Bridge, which means moon crossing bridge, is the landmark of this area. The Bamboo grove is also recommended to visit, where you are able listen to the bamboo leaves rustling in the breeze. You will also be escorted to Tenryuji Temple with a beautiful stroll-type garden.
Our ten-day Journey contains many other traditional ceremonies, crafts ware shopping, Sake tastings, garden and temple visits. A unique Ryokan stay at one of our favorite Relais & Châteaux properties in Kyoto, Kanamean Nishitomiya and specialty suites at Four Seasons Kyoto.
Our exclusive guide in Okayama, Noashima Islands – An Okayama native, she lives in Okayama and has great knowledge on the islands of Naoshima and this region. She has a guided many VIP’s diplomats and dignitaries.
Kyoto – We have two specialists on hand in Kyoto: Our esteemed guide is one of the top guides in Kyoto she is co-author of several international recognized guide books for Japan. She has written a book about guiding skills for English speaking guides and has guided many VIP’s, including foreign government officials and business leaders.
Our second guide, is well-known and has primarily guided many VIP clients. She is intimately associated with the temples and historic sites as well as the little hidden streets and corners and the professional specialized stores in Kyoto.
On the Culture Trail, from gardens and castles, to ancient temples – visit some of Japan’s most famed cultural gems. Carefully curated range of authentic experiences in old tea districts and the remote islands of Naoshima Island. With the world’s highest concentration of Michelin restaurants, you can assume they will also dine well! Countless local specialist restaurants will supplement the Michelin dining!