Magnificent Maples

There are few places in the world that seem so far away. Japan is certainly a culture of contrasts.

You’ll often find a 200 year old tea shop next to a bright and buzzing pachinko parlour. Our tours are designed to show you the ancient and the modern and prove that no where on earth does it join together so naturally. When autumn hits Kyoto the entire scenery lights up in reds, oranges and gold. Many previous guests have come back to see the city they fell in love with, in a whole new light.

With visits to Arashiyama, Nara, and more day trips we experience the Autumn/Winter season in Kyoto.

With their flair for decoration we can also see how the Japanese have embraced the sparkle of Christmas with their 22 metre tree and spectacular illuminations in the stunning Kyoto station.

Each day is filled with cultural visits to temples and shrines as you would expect, but after many years of honing our tours, we add in the true Japan. Let’s stop off at a small café for a coffee, explore the backstreets of the five geisha districts or if the weathers great let’s have a picnic by the river. The itinerary is finalised a few weeks before travel and if something pops up like a special event or festival we can change our plans on the day!

Below is an example of one of our recent Magnificent Maples itineraries:

Day 0
Arrive KANSAI (KIX) Osaka. You will be met by your taxi in arrivals. (If booked prior to arrival )The taxi will drive you directly to Kyoto with one brief toilet break. Time from airport to hotel is 85 minutes. You will be dropped off at the hotel her we will meet you. Give you a coffee and show you to your room. Later we will give you a brief trip around the vicinity of the hotel. This is to get you accustomed to the general store and major landmarks such as the station.

Day 1
Today we have a mid morning start. (If everyone is up early we will visit Higashi Honganji, one of Kyoto's most important temple, prior to late start) A with a tour the amazing 11 floors of Kyoto station, sky walk and craft/fabric shop. We will walk to the geisha district in the evening at around 6pm. Supper at a local restaurant followed by a geisha talk. Gentle walk back to the hotel.

Day 2
After breakfast, we will board a local bus to Heian Jingu temple and gardens followed by Fureakan, Kyoto craft mu-sum. The museum shows the best of Kyoto Handicrafts. Including in depth explanations and videos of Shibori and other fabric crafts. It prides itself on having live demonstrations.

Day 3
Toji Temple market will astound you. It is a treasure trove of fabrics, kimono, bric-a-brac and just about everything new and old can be found there. Rucksack or large bags are usually the order of the day. Should you have a large amount of shopping you may consider clubbing together for a taxi to get back to the hotel. Should be less than £4 each. In the afternoon we have lunch at Aeon or if you require more time at the market we can eat there. The after-noon can be spent at leisure or join us at Shoren-in Temple and with its exquisite scenery

Day 4
Nishiki Market also known as Kyoto's kitchen and Terramachi. Shops new and old nestle together in these amazing streets. Lunch at a traditional izakaya pub. We visit a handmade knife shop whose scissors are to die for, and can, if required visit a famous hand made needle shop in the same area. Finally a 3 storey fabric store I have to drag people out of! This afternoon we can attend a Kyo yuzen workshop. (Gold leaf outlines used on kimono patterns. Yuzen dyeing is the most important method in the kimono industry of Kyoto. Kimono with golden yuzen patterns looks quite gorgeous and so has been treated as a treasure. You can try this technique on canvas and make your original picture with a frame or book cover)

Day 5
The morning is spent at a wonderful Machiya House. Ewe will have a private tour, tea ceremony and it can be ar-ranged for you to wear kimono. Lunch at conveyor belt sushi and then on to Nishijin Textiles. Nishijin textiles pro-ducers of textiles for Japans Royal family We can do a short weaving class here. (You will be able to see grand piec-es of work done by weaving, and all the replicas of old weaving machines used to produce textile pieces in ancient times. You will also get a hands-on experience to work with one of the weaving machines to produce your very own textile piece for you to take home as souvenir) You can upgrade to the silk scarf experience if required

Day 6
Nara is always a firm favourite with guests. We visit a wonderful antique shop with goodies from 50p to £50,000. Highlights include Todaiji temple the largest wooden building in the world. We will show you handmade fans, sec-ond hand kimono, oldest brush shop in Japan and more. Inspirational all the way.

Day 7
Today we will visit the superb Shibori museum. The Kyoto Gallery offers a popular course in tie-dyeing allows you to create a scarf using quality silk georgette material and a combination of three dyes. As well as having fun learning the processes of dyeing, you can also take your creation have with you. You will be impressed by the unexpected beauty of the patterns created.) and after lunch you can attend a Kaga Yuzen workshop. (Enjoy the Yuzen stencil dyeing process by making your own work of art. Select the material and dyeing pattern you wish you will be shown the technique by specialist yuzen painters)

Day 8
Hiroshima today. Our first trip on the Shinkansen. We visit the enigmatic A-dome and see the splendour of the peace park. An optional visit to the peace museum is provided or you can take an extra hour in the peace park. Back on the tram and off on to the ferry to take us over to the beautiful island of Miyajima for sunset

Day 9
Back on the bullet train to Kanazawa with its geisha districts, superb gardens and markets. Kanazawa is famous for its Kaga yuzen and gold leaf at Yasue Gold Atelier. You may also want to consider the Kaga embroidery which is characterised by the use of silk, gold and silver threads to create patterns that look three-dimensional, painstakingly implementing delicate technology stitch by stitch. In recent years, Kaga embroidery has been used on a variety of daily sun-dries and tapestries. Beginners are very, very welcome. (PLEASE NOTE KANAZAWA IS CONSIDERED THE WETTEST CITY IN JAPAN, I WILL ACCESS THE WEATHER PRIOR TO THE TRIP. IF WET AN ALTERNATE CITY WILL BE CHOSEN)

Day 10
Yasaka Jinja, Kiyomizudera are our final venues on our trip. Over 150 shops selling everything from knives to kimo-no wend their way up to finish our tour with a breath-taking view of Kyoto.

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