2024 November 1 to 13
Prices listed are per person:
Shared Room: to be determined
Private Room: to be determined
Tour doll-themed museums, exhibits, doll shops, and exquisite gardens.
Visit the renowned Yoshitoku Doll Company.
Gaze at the original Licca-Chan Castle and the nearby home of maneki-neko crafts.
Wander deep into the doll traditions of mountainous Shikoku Island.
Explore the incredible art island of Naoshima.
Indulge in a unique ningyo shopping experience at an antique ningyo specialty gallery.
Savor traditional multi-course Japanese culinary traditions.
Our Japan Ningyo Tour is hosted by Alan Scott Pate, author of several well-researched books about Japan’s ningyo traditions. These dolls are an integral part of Japanese family customs and theatrical themes. They encompass heroes, icons, courtesans from the pleasure districts, fairy tales, fanciful amusements, objects for diplomatic exchange, as well as play dolls.
Days 1-4: Tokyo Area
Tour the former studio of Tsujimura Jusaburo, one of Japan’s most famous puppeteers.
Visit the renowned Yoshitoku Doll Company and see doll-making demonstrations by some of the country’s most prominent artists of the URARA Doll Maker collective. Savor a festive Welcome Dinner on a Sumida Riverboat with Japanese artists, collectors, and friends from Yoshitoku.
Wander through the Yokohama Doll Museum and nearby Chinatown.
Head north from Tokyo to visit the enchanting original Licca-Chan Castle. Our next stop will be the nearby Deko-Yashiki Crafts Village with its Miharu folk toys such as wooden horses and maneki-neko.
Day 5: Shizuoka and Himeji
Board a Shinkansen bullet train to Shizuoka to visit the Hayashi Doll Cafe. Continue on to Himeji, where we will tour Himeji Castle, one of the best-preserved of Japan’s traditional Samurai castles.
Days 6-7: Shikoku Island
Stop at the Awaji Puppet Theatre while crossing Awaji Island to Shikoku, then explore the remote Iya Valley near the town of Miyoshi.
Visit Chiiori, a traditional Japanese house restored by American Alex Kerr (subject to availability). Next, head to Nagoro Doll Village to gaze at the life-size dolls scattered around the village. They represent past residents of this mostly depopulated town and other notable figures.
Wander through the Yotsuya Simon Doll Museum in the seaside town of Sakaide.
Days 8-9: Naoshima and Okayama
Take a ferry from Takamatsu to Naoshima Island, then spend a day visiting some of the incredible art installations of the Benesse Art Site.
Later, cross back to the main Honshu Island to stroll through Okayama’s 300-year-old Korakuen Garden, considered one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan.
From Okayama, drive into the mountains to see the unique Maneki Neko Museum.
Days 10-12: Kyoto
Take the Shinkansen from Okayama to the most classical city of Japan, Kyoto.
While in Kyoto, witness the unique creations of Volks Angel Den, and Kondaya Genbei textiles (specializing in elaborate silk obis). We will also visit ningyo displays from Okamoto Shozo (Doll artist in the Mensho tradition dating to 1704) and Itoh Hisashige. (We visited his Shizuoka museum during our 2019 Bunraku Tour.)
Enjoy a shopping visit to the arts and crafts boutiques of the Shinmonzen District near Gion and a store with the finest collection of antique dolls.
Conclude our tour with a day with a memorable farewell dinner.
Days 13: Farewell to Japan
Enjoy breakfast and then transfer to the airport for your flights home.
Price Includes: 12 hotel nights in deluxe hotels in Tokyo, Himeji, Shikoku, Naoshima-Okayama, and Kyoto; Daily breakfast and several special lunches and dinners; All group ground transportation after arrival at our Tokyo hotel until the last morning in Kyoto; Private touring with English-speaking Japanese guides; Expert commentary by Japanese Antique Doll expert Alan Scott Pate; Logistics coordination by HE Travel tour director; Admission fees for included sightseeing; Medical and evacuation insurance should anything happen during the trip for anyone not otherwise covered (due to insurance regulations, this is only offered for residents of the US.)
Not included: International flights; Transfer from either Haneda or Narita Airport to Tokyo hotel, and from Kyoto to Kansai International or Osaka Airport or Kyoto train station; Meals not shown as being included; Gratuities; Personal expenses such as telephone, Wi-Fi, beverages; Cancellation insurance.
Optional Tour Choices:
TBD Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
We strongly recommend the purchase of Trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance to protect your vacation investment in case of unforeseen circumstances such as flight delay, illness, or injury. Click Here to learn more about our Insurance partner.
Please advise if you would like assistance with personal travel in Japan before or after our tour.
- What if I am traveling alone?
- Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends. You don’t need to pay the single supplement if you’re traveling alone. We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself. For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
- What is the physical activity level of this tour?
Physical Activity Level
- What company is operating this tour?
- This tour is arranged through Hanns Ebensten Travel, Inc. (HE Travel) of Salt Lake City, Utah (Florida Seller of Travel License ST34543)
- What is the payment schedule for this tour?
- The $1000 deposit is due at the time of tour registration. Final payment is due 90 days before tour departure, payable by check to HE Travel. The tour deposit is non-refundable from one week after payment. The balance is non-refundable as of 90 days before departure.
- What travel insurance is available for this tour?
- Cancellation and Interruption travel insurance is highly recommended to protect your financial investment. Medical and evacuation insurance offers protection should anything happen during the tour. Please notify HE Travel if you would like a travel insurance quote.
- Does HE Travel offer flight assistance?
- HE Travel’s flight specialists are available to research and issue air tickets. Airfare prices are subject to change by the airlines until the ticket is issued. HE Travel charges a $60 non-refundable Flight Consultation Fee for international airline reservations. HE Travel will assist with any changes or disruptions to flights when tickets are issued by HE Travel. In the event of flight changes or cancellation, airline terms and conditions apply.
- Additional Questions
- For answers to your additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-294-8174