Posted on January 25, 2011 within News
Spring is perhaps my favorite time of year for traveling throughout Japan. From viewing beautiful cherry blossoms and visiting exquisite gardens to enjoying colorful local festivals, spring in Japan offers a wealth of delightful experiences.
As winter gives way to the warmth of spring, the cherry blossoms for which Japan is famed, burst forth into bloom covering the country in a blanket of pink. Cherry blossoms or sakura as they are known in Japanese, represent the epitome of the Japanese love for nature: simple, beautiful and ephemeral. There is nothing more pleasant than strolling under a canopy of cherry blossoms on a bright blue day as a light wind blows, the branches sway and the blossoms scatter in the air like snow. Whether set against the backdrop of snow capped mountains in Matsumoto, an ancient temple in Kyoto or simply a local neighborhood or park in Tokyo, Japan offers a myriad of wonderful opportunities to see and enjoy this annual display of evanescent beauty.
Spring is also a delightful time to visit Japan’s exquisite gardens. Whether an immaculate stroll garden such as Kanazawa’s Kenrokuen or a wondrous temple garden such as that found at Sanzenin Temple outside of Kyoto, spring offers the opportunity to see these gardens in all their glory with an array of seasonal flowers. At Kenrokuen, as you cross a small wooden bridge that runs over a meandering stream, you will gaze upon hundreds of purple and blue irises rising tall in the water and the subject of so many famous Japanese paintings and love poems. You will feel as if you are in an open-air museum gazing upon a beautiful Japanese screen. Likewise, the eight hundred year old main hall at Sanzenin provides a stunning sight surrounded by hundreds of clusters of white, pink and blue hydrangea.
With spring also comes an array of colorful local festivals or matsuri. The most prominent of such festivals is the Sanno Matsuri, held in Takayama since 1652. As part of this festival which takes place in mid-April, large, ornate floats hundreds of years old, decorated with fantastic works of art, are pulled through this Edo period town by dozens of men as taiko drums play and people celebrate. The Sanno Matsuri, and Japan’s many other spring matsuri, are truly spectacular to behold.
Let JapanQuest Journeys introduce you to the sublime beauty of Japan and its wonderful sights and sounds on an extraordinary journey this spring.
Posted on January 4, 2011 within News
Please download and glance at our Flyer— a must for art lovers and those who seek a restful setting at the end of an exciting journey to Japan.
Let JapanQuest Journeys expertly lead you on an unforgettable and compelling trip full of intimate discoveries through the real Japan, through the seasons of a country traditional yet modern, and rich in scenic beauty and cultural heritage.
Posted on January 3, 2011 within News
Imagine a ten-minute ferry ride from the Port of Uno on a beautiful day seeing blue waters and rocky islands jutting out from the serene Inland Sea. Our destination, Naoshima Island, a bastion of contemporary art, was tucked just far enough away to create a mystery of what one would find upon arrival. As the ferry approached Naoshima, I was struck by the natural beauty in front of me and the holistic incorporation of architectural design and sculpture unobtrusively set into the island’s landscape. What a truly remarkable blend of contemporary architecture and natural surroundings.
Riding several minutes to Benesse House, Tadao Ando’s architectural masterpiece, I arrived to find a stunning venue that combines the functions of a contemporary art museum and hotel. The views of the sea were breathtaking and the simplicity and large open spaces of Bennese House were perfect to enjoy this serene setting. As I set out to explore this wonderful place, I had the feeling of being left with the keys to a museum to venture around at my own pace. With colorful paintings, sculpture and photographic images abound, it’s an unforgettable journey—“where one can enjoy enriching encounters with artworks in the changing light over the course of a day”.
A journey to Naoshima is hardly complete without strolling the island, walking the beaches and visiting the Art House Project and Chichu Art Museum. At the Art House Project, artists capture one’s imagination by transforming a series of traditional Japanese homes and a shrine into works of contemporary art each reflecting the individual artist’s unique vision and talents. As the Art House Project is spread out through an active fishing village, wandering from site to site allows one to experience life in this redolent part of Japan that time, in a sense, has passed by. This juxtaposition of contemporary artistic creativity in such perfect harmony with the traditional culture surrounding it is simply fabulous to see.
My last stop, the exquisite Chichu Art Museum, was built to provide a site to “consider the relationship between nature and human beings”. Chichu houses the works of three artists: James Turrell, Claude Monet and Walter De Maria and is a place where one’s experience is stimulated both intellectually and emotionally with the rhythm of the Inland Sea. Approaching the museum, one finds “Chichu Garden” designed with plants cherished by Claude Monet and which holds a beautiful resemblance to Giverny, the garden he himself designed. A one or two night stay in Naoshima is a must for art lovers and those who seek a restful setting at the end of an exciting journey to Japan.