There’s the language. There are the cultural customs and niceties. There are those big stations and all rivers of people moving efficiently. There’s the beauty and brutality of the history — this is a complex story with subtleties and intricacies. Then there’s the food, the menus, and the challenges of truly meeting and connecting with locals.
If you’ve ever wanted to travel to Japan but been daunted — well, this may be your moment.
Travel staff writer Will Yeoman has been assigned to Japan, travelling there three times recently, developing his specialty.
And Will, with his significant career as an arts and culture writer, has embraced the place.
Who better to lead our Travel Club Tour to Japan, in partnership with our friends at RAC Travel.
We have worked with their specialist planners to shape a tour that flows, gives genuine insight and connection, and a full experience of Japan. Will, with Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield, who has also travelled in Japan many times, over many years, has a unique itinerary.
There were particular experiences they didn’t want their guests to miss.
From the choice of hotels to the modes of travel, from temples to shopping streets, from time with locals in their home, to explanations of art and history, this is the full Japan experience. And it’s all in the good company of Will Yeoman.
TASTES OF JAPAN
It has been very much part of our planning to include meals which give a cultural taste of Japan, while still giving our guests the opportunities for their own gastronomic explorations.
We have included 12 breakfasts, 11 lunches and 5 dinners.
In Tokyo, there’s dinner at a Sumo-themed izakaya restaurant. We will lunch with a farmer at his home in Nara, dip into a Bento box on a train, and visit a local restaurant in Hiroshima.
The most discriminating Japan experts admit they’ll never understand the country, the culture or its people.
Which is great news for the rest of us. Because it means we’re setting out on a never-ending journey. Japan is the gift that keeps on giving.
I recall, for example, the last time I visited Higashiyama’s Maruyama Park. It was early autumn, it was raining. From a distance, what I took for koi in the small stream were actually, upon closer inspection, submerged leaves, the first to change colour and fall among the smooth stones. A great lesson from nature — about life, about death — right there.
For me as a journalist, a former art gallery guide and former director of writers’ festivals, there has been far more than just getting to know the country itself.
There have been key texts to explore. Murasaki Shikibu’s Tale of Genji. Jun’ichiro Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows. Donald Richie’s The Inland Sea. The writings of Lafcadio Hearn and Alex Kerr. The new anthology Travels with a Writing Brush: Classical Japanese Travel Writing from the Manyoshu to Basho, translated by Australian academic Meredith McKinney.
There has also been a deeper engagement with the Japanese (and Chinese) languages. Picking up some practical knowledge of Japanese calligraphy and woodblock printing, which had led to a better understanding of the work of artists such as Hokusai, Hiroshige and Utamaro et al — and the profound influence they’ve had on Western art.
And more. But for now, I can’t wait to share with you a special part of the never-ending journey that is Japan.
You may also like
Asia South India Tour - January/February 2021
In January/February 2021, Stephen Scourfield will be taking a West Travel Club tour to South India.
We are currently finalising all the itinerary details however if you would like to be notified when the dates are finaliseed and the itinerary is complete, please email your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org to register your expression of interest.
See all current tours