An unparalleled exploration of Japanese art, culture and the soul of craft with Heath Ceramics.
An unparalleled exploration of Japanese art and culture
Sold OutNovember 9 - 17, 2021 with Robin Petravic & Cathy Bailey
May 17 - 25, 2022 with Tung Chiang
Sold OutOctober 4 - 12, 2022 with Robin Petravic & Cathy Bailey
The very best of Tokyo, Naoshima and Kyoto
You stare at sapphire waters through a darkening haze of wildflowers, shielding your eyes against the blaze of the tangerine-and-pink setting sun. Stars will be out soon, shining bright and close as an art installation. And maybe they are. After all, you’re in Naoshima, the famed Japanese art island nestled in the heart of the Inland Sea, a place where each field and slope is just another canvas for some of the world’s greatest art. You took a train, a bus, and ferry to get here, and there’s plenty of exploration still to come. But for right now, just breathe it all in.
Your companions on this nine-day journey are the creative forces behind Heath Ceramics. The iconic San Francisco pottery house is famed for making beautiful things slowly and painstakingly, producing some of the world’s most highly regarded ceramic home goods. In May, we’ll travel with husband-and-wife owners, Robin Petravic and Cathy Bailey. In June, Heath studio director Tung Chiang will accompany us. On both departures, we’ll explore the materials and techniques that make Japan a deep and ongoing source of inspiration for Robin, Cathy and Tung.
If you possess a boundless passion for art, design and cultural exploration, this trip is for you. If you’re fascinated by ancient rituals and generations of artisans who’ve been perfecting their craft for centuries—and believe that every second of every day should be filled with adventure and moments of quiet wonder alike, join us in Japan.
Connect with Japan’s world-class art scene and some of its most inspiring working artists and craftspeople.
Honor the grace and beauty of an ancient civilization, from monumental shrines to artful tea ceremonies.
Iconic museums, Naoshima art installations, ancient kilns firing ceramics since the Middle Ages.
“It’s inspiring to see so many small businesses in Japan that do not compromise on their craft. The beauty in the objects they create is simply understood.” —Cathy Bailey
“Japan is a lesson in balance. Modernism and craft coexist. Technology is so advanced, yet tradition is deeply woven in.” —Tung Chiang
A collection of expertly curated experiences to the world’s most inspiring destinations. Designed to broaden your perspective, expand your exploration and connect you to a community the world over. Travel deeper with AFAR and Modern Adventure.
We’ll experience Japan in good company. In May, we’ll be exploring with company owners Robin and Cathy, while in June we’ll travel with Studio Director Tung Chiang.
Our November 2021 and October 2022 departures are with Robin and Cathy, the husband-and-wife owners of Heath Ceramics. They travel the world in search of inspiration, always looking to further refine their objects, materials and techniques.
Our May 2022 departure is with Tung Chiang. A gifted designer and ceramist, Tung's career spans graphic design, advertising and industrial design and ceramics. He's constantly moving toward a fusion of thinking, designing and making.
We’ll explore the country’s kinetic urban centers, surreal art islands, and ancient towns and cities, each with its own character and significance. And we’ll meet and learn from the artisans, experts and specialists who have dedicated their lives to making, studying and understanding beautiful ceramics.
Welcome to Tokyo! For newcomers and seasoned visitors alike, this city never disappoints. It’s a comingling of the centuries-old and the futuristic, a place of tradition and innovation. This morning we’ll dive right into one of Japan’s cultural treasures with a live Noh performance. This 600-year-old classic art form blends theater, music, dance and drama with performers in vibrant masks (instead of the make-up of Kabuki). After we’ll visit Musée Tomo, with its exquisite collection of contemporary Japanese ceramics.
Our first meal together is a real treat: lunch at NOBU, owned by legendary chef Nobu Matsuhisa. After lunch, we’ll turn our sights toward Tokyo’s most beautiful Japanese garden, Kiyosumi, a delicate warren of lakes and stepping stones and a royal tea house. We’ll round out the evening with an intimate welcome dinner to remember!
This morning we’ll head deep into the Japanese countryside to visit Mashiko and meet well-regarded potter—and close friend of Robin and Cathy—Akio Nukaga, who will give us a behind-the-scenes look at his studio and introduce us to other local potters, including Toyo Kobayashi.
After a soba lunch, we’ll continue our art-filled afternoon with a visit to the Hamada studio kiln, located in the awe-inspiring house of master ceramicist Shoji Hamada. His decision to set up his kiln here in 1930 was largely responsible for transforming this once-sleepy town into a center of the mingei Japanese folk art movement. Next, we’ll turn our sights to further artful exploration at Daisengama pottery studio before heading back to Tokyo for an evening to explore on our own.
Today we explore Tokyo the Heath Ceramics way. We’ll each receive a list filled with favorite galleries, shops, and restaurants, curated by Robin, Cathy and Modern Adventure. We’ll use these recommendations as our guide, feeling free to stop at anything else that catches our eyes. With its Blade Runner-like highways, subways, and skyscrapers, its seedy back alleys, vast temple complexes, tiny shops and tinier speakeasies, there’s no such thing as a wrong turn.
We’ll meet back up in the evening for dinner, an immersive hands-on experience in making delicious sushi. We’ll prepare different types of rolls including temari (ball-shaped), nigiri (hand-shaped) and gunkan maki (oval with nori wrap). We’ll learn all about the history of sushi-making in the process, then enjoy the fruits of our labor as we go.
Today we’ll head to Naoshima, the once-sleepy fishing island nestled along the Inland Sea. Today, Naoshima is a destination for art pilgrims the world over, thanks to the vision of artist Saichiro Fukutake. Getting here will be half the fun: first, we’ll take a Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Okayama, making sure to arrive at the station early enough to the elaborate, clockwork-like rituals with which porters greet each train. Next, we’ll take a short drive to Uno Port, where we’ll catch the ferry to Naoshima, reveling in the soft breezes off the sapphire waters.
Upon arrival, we’ll turn to the work at hand: tackling the dozens of museums and art projects that adorn the island, turning every new path, corner, and horizon into something whimsical and unexpected. Our highlights include the Chichu Museum, built mostly underground to avoid disrupting the natural landscape; and House Project, with seven formerly empty homes taken over by artists for truly unique gallery and installation spaces.
This morning we’ll cross the deep blue waters of the Inland Sea by private ferry to visit another renowned art island, Teshima, the “island of abundance.” We’ll visit the Teshima Art Museum, a concave shell of a building that perches on a hill overlooking rice terraces and the sea below like a water droplet trembling at the moment of landing. We’ll also spend time exploring Christian Boltanski’s Les Archives du Cœur to hear the heartbeats of thousands of people gently humming, with a chance to have your own heartbeat recorded as part of the exhibition.
After lunch, we’ll explore Teshima Yokoo House, a lovingly restored traditional private house facing the harbor with three separate exhibition areas. Then we’ll hop back aboard our ferry and cruise back to Naoshima for an afternoon on your own to explore the island further (preferable by bike) or even stop by the Naoshima Bath house, created by artist Shinro Ohtake, where visitors drink in incredible art while—you guessed it—taking a bath. We’ll reconvene in the evening and enjoy dinner together.
After breakfast, we’ll head by Bullet Train to Kyoto with time to explore and enjoy lunch, before a private visit to the gallery and studio of Jun Kawajiri. He is the 14th generation of a family making pottery since the 18th century, a master artisan of exquisite contemporary ceramic works melding extruded shape, bright color and imaginative wistfulness. He will be on hand to introduce us to his masterfully produced tablewares.
In the afternoon we’ll have a time to settle into our hotel before meeting back up for dinner, courtesy of a traditional Kyoto geisha. For the first half of the evening, we’ll be treated to an ancient performance that requires years of schooling and apprenticeship to perfect; afterward, we’ll enjoy a conversation with the geisha over dinner.
Today starts with an early morning visit to the spectacular Sanjusangendo Temple, which houses 1,001 carved wooden statues of Kannon, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. Next we head to Kennin-ji Temple, the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto. It was founded in 1202 by Yousai, the father of the Japanese tea ceremony, whose travels to China led to the cultivation and popularization of green tea. After a meditation led by a local abbot, we’ll enjoy the epitome of traditional tea ceremonies, admiring the quiet beauty and grace of the hushed, painstaking ritual.
After lunch, we’ll have the rest of the afternoon to explore Kyoto on our own, wandering its canals and back lanes and admiring its traditional townhouses and bustling food markets. Our dinner tonight has a firm focus on traditional tsukemono (pickled vegetables) in a hip modern setting: pickled lotus root, white turnips, komatsuna (mustard spinach), and plenty of pescetarian options.
We spend today in pursuit of inspiration, looking at how art and design can carry influence across industries. First, we journey to Osaka to visit Truck Furniture. Owners—and Japanese counterpart husband-wife-duo to Robin and Cathy—Kose Tokuhiko and Karatsu Yumi use their designs to emphasize and accentuate the natural beauty of materials and connection. Their approach is an inspiration for Heath Ceramics and you’ll see why.
We then set out for culinary inspiration, walking Osaka’s heavenly markets in search of the perfect bites. From juicy and vibrant fruits and Japanese pickles to Osaka’s specialty takoyaki pancake balls, everything is fuel for the imagination. We’ll have a delicious lunch in the country’s foodie heart and soul, followed by a demonstration of Wabōchō, or fine Japanese cooking knives, which are all about the perfect cut. We’ll return to Kyoto and have the rest of the afternoon to take in any last sights, eat any last bites, then meet up for a last amazing farewell shabu shabu dinner with the group.
Our journey has come to an end. As we say goodbye to our new friends, we know that we’ll have to return, and soon. In the meantime, the soul of Japanese craft will travel home with us, helping us find the beauty wherever we look.
Japan leads the world in thoughtful design, and its hotels are no exception. Each of our hotels is a work of art unto itself, perfectly blending modern aesthetics with traditional hospitality.
It's among Tokyo’s top hotels, a five-star icon famous for its starring role in the film Lost in Translation alongside Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. The service is flawless, the design modern and elegant, the rooms as luxurious as you'd expect. Added bonus: the views of Mount Fuji and one of the world’s most atmospheric cocktail bars.
Few experiences in life can prepare you for staying at Benesse House, a breezy, light-filled gallery space that just happens to moonlight as one of the world’s coziest, most luxurious hotels. The brainchild of architect Tadao Ando, its expanses of concrete, glass, and wood are designed to showcase one of the world’s most stunning indoor-outdoor art collections, the perfect foil to the gently sloping meadows and azure sea just beyond.
Decorated with minimal touches and tamo wood floors and windows for walls, each room at this modern, stylish hotel aims to provide uniquely sophisticated service of ryokans to each and every guest. It's located in the Higashiyama hills, literally steps away from Kyoto's iconic stone-paved slopes and narrow alleys. Keep an eye out artwork and design elements by local craftspeople.
That’s OK, we have answers. Read our FAQs below or call +1 (267) 668-0057 to ask us any questions you have. We're here weekdays 8am to 5pm Pacific time.
Eight nights at unique five-star accommodations; private travel for all day trips and excursions; departure airport transfers; private tours with local guides and cultural experts; exclusive VIP access and tastings; guided activities, adventures and expeditions; entrance fees; daily breakfasts, many lunches and most dinners; local beverages with meals; gratuity for local guide and tour leader.
International roundtrip airfare; travel insurance; transportation to the trip’s starting point; activities not included in the trip itinerary; hotel incidentals including room service, laundry service and hotel bar tabs; food and beverages not included in itinerary; gratuity for tour leader.
For all departures, our adventure begins at 9am at the Park Hyatt Tokyo hotel, in Tokyo, Japan. The closest airports are Tokyo's Haneda Airport (HND) and Narita International Airport (NRT). We recommend arriving on or before our first day to ensure you're at our starting point on time. On our last day, the closest airport is Kansai International Airport (KIX). Your flight home should be scheduled to depart at 2pm or later from KIX.
US citizens are not required to have a visa for tourist visits to Japan for visits under 90 days, however are required to show a valid US passport. It is recommended that your passport is valid for six months after your travels are over.
For solo travelers, there is a $3,000 single-supplement fee—paid at the time of booking to secure a private room. If you would like us to pair you with a roommate of the same gender, that option may be available upon checkout—these spots are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Our adventures typically have between 10 and 18 guests, and our Modern Adventure Team. Our experiences are fun and inclusive and you can expect to be joined by a diverse group in terms of age, background and interests—including solo travelers, couples and friends traveling together. This adventure is for travelers age 18 and above.
This trip is led by an expert Modern Adventure Trip Leader. They're an experienced travel guide, a representative of Modern Adventure and your go-to person for questions or concerns on the trip. We’ll be joined throughout our adventure by local, expert guides who are deeply knowledgeable with respect to local cultures, customs and history and are passionate about sharing that with us.
For all departure, you may cancel up to 120 days of travel and receive a full refund, minus a $500 per-person service fee. Within 119 days of travel, there is a 50% cancellation fee; within 60 days of travel, there is a 100% cancellation fee. We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance as we are not able to make exceptions to this policy in cases of family/medical emergency or of the trip being canceled for unforeseeable reasons (see our Terms and Conditions for full details). Please note that for guests who are transferring trips or traveling on rescheduled trip dates, your cancelation terms will vary from the above, and are generally non-refundable. Please refer to your correspondence from our Customer Experience team for specific details.