Aizu Crafts Kaleidoscope
Explore the diverse regional craft traditions, including textile weaving and stencil dyeing (Katazome), lacquerware, ceramics, bamboo and vine wickercraft, Paulownia woodwork and traditional toys
See some of the most untouched village-scapes in Japan
Explore the fascinating cellarhouse townscape Kitakata, renowned for its rāmen noodles and sake brewing
See the famous historic sights of Aizu-Wakamatsu including the imposing Tsurugajō castle
Experience a variety of distinct regional foods, from refined dinner courses to rustic farmhouse cuisine
The Aizu region of southern Tōhoku is a treasure-trove of diverse craft and culinary traditions, towns steeped in history, and vast tracts of picturesque countryside where time appears to have stood still. Together with other areas of Fukushima Prefecture, the regional economy was devastated by the 2011 nuclear accident, even though the Aizu region (being as distant from the nuclear plant as the northern Kantō region adjoining Tōkyō) escaped serious effects. This tour will introduce you to the region’s fascinating culture, focusing on its craft traditions including textiles, lacquerware, ceramics, wickercraft and woodwork. You will get a glimpse of life in remote villages and towns of the region that few international travellers get to see. You will have the opportunity to sample a wide range of distinct and unusual regional foods, as well as the well-known Kitakata rāmen.
Day 1: Travel Tōkyō–Aizu-Wakamatsu, Aizu-Wakamatsu historic sights tour;
Day 2: Kitakata crafts, food and townscape walk (including Katazome and lacquerware workshop visits);
Day 3: Kitakata Paulownia geta (sandals) workshop, travel Kitakata–Oku-Aizu, Oku-Aizu rural village stroll;
Day 4: Oku-Aizu village craft traditions tour (Boehmeria ramie textile village, traditional wickerwork centre);
Day 5: Oku-Aizu riverside town walk (Enzōji temple, Kiyoshi Saitō Museum of Art);
Day 6: Aizu-Hongō pottery village visit, travel Aizu-Hongō–Aizu-Wakamatsu;
Day 7: Aizu-Wakamatsu crafts walk;
Day 8: Aizu-Wakamatsu Tsurugajō Castle, travel Aizu-Wakamatsu–Tōkyō or your onward destination.
Accommodation: 2 nights mid-range traditional ryokan (Japanese-style bedding); 2 nights minshuku (Japanese-style bedding); 1 night modernised lower mid-range traditional ryokan (Western or Japanese-style bedding); 1 night mid-range onsen ryokan (Japanese-style bedding, onsen bath); 1 night mid-range city hotel.
Major themes: CRAFTS, HISTORY, FOOD, VILLAGES, ART
Physical fitness requirement: MODERATE
Cultural tolerance requirement: MODERATE/HIGH
Departure date: 11 November 2018
Bookings before: 13 August 2018
Cost: from AUD $4000 per person
Maximum group size: 6 persons