Ceramics, Sushi, and Sightseeing in Japan!

Cancelled due to travel restrictions.

We hope to visit again next year! Stay safe! Arigato Gozaimas!

May 25th – June 8th, 2020

$3,900 Includes: Rail Pass, Hotels, Activities, and Select Meals. Flights are not included.

$569 deposit due upon registration, balance due 2/25/20, or full payment if registration is after this date.

Take an amazing trip to Japan this summer! We’ll start out in Osaka, then take the bullet train to Kyushu, in southwestern Japan, then Kyoto; going to various potteries, art museums, castles, temples, shrines, and art studios. The trip will take you to parts of Japan very few Americans get to see. We’ll participate in some hands-on art workshops and get to experience the peaceful, different Japanese culture.

The meals are incredible – an experience, not just food. It’s like edible sculpture on a plate. You’ll wear a yukata to some meals, (a house kimono), dress in a formal kimono and experience a brief tea ceremony, and do many more unforgettable, unique experiences. Registration is open to any adult.  Couples are welcome. Rooms can be single or double occupancy, same price.

There will be a fair amount of walking with your luggage, as well as hopping on and off trains, busses and subways.

“Japan is over the top great!”

Sheri Leigh O’Connor, who has been studying Japanese for years, has been to Japan over 20 times. She is the chair of the Fine Arts department at SNU Tahoe, where she teaches ceramics. Her work has been featured in the magazines Ceramics Monthly, and Clay Times , and several books. She has participated in numerous art exhibitions, including in Utsonomiya, Japan. Her passion lately has been building Serendipity Art Center, near Unzen, and traveling to Japan.

“I’ve never taken anyone to Japan who didn’t absolutely love it!”

Itinerary – Subject to Change:

May 25th – Leave for Japan from your home airport

May 26th – Arrive in Osaka – KIX airport in time for 7:30 pm meeting, stay at the Nikko hotel in the airport.

May 27th – Osaka – Guided tour – charter bus

  • Visit the Rikyu museum. Learn about the origins of the tea ceremony.
  • Visit knife maker, and watch amazing knife making process.
  • Visit the Oriental Ceramics Museum

May 28th & 29th – Takeo

  • Create your original Indigo dyed piece
  • Visit Kyushu Ceramics museum in Arita

May 30th & 31st – Unzen – Small quaint town – European style architecture – geopark

  • Walk around “Unzen Hell” breathtaking natural geopark
  • Visit Unzen Pottery – Volcanic Ash glazed work
  • Enjoy Japanese bath house – onsen
  • Vidro Glass and Ceramics gallery/museum

June 1st & 2nd – Gokanosho

  • Visit Waterfall – breathtaking!
  • Shodo Workshop – Japanese Calligraphy – learn how to write some Japanese with brush and ink
  • Bamboo Workshop – Make a variety of pieces with freshly cut bamboo
  • Gokanosho Museum – Learn about the samurai who hid in this mountain town
  • Stay at Heike-so – or Sakura-so,  very special small inns with incredible Japanese dinners and wonderful breakfasts. A unique and memorable experience.

June 3rd – Yatsuhiro & Kumamoto

  • Kimono Experience – dress in traditional kimonos and enjoy Japanese tea ceremony
  • Koda-yaki Pottery demonstration – 15th generation potter since 1602
  • Traditional Crafts Center



Golden Pavilion – Kinkaku-ji – Kyoto


June 4th – 8th – Kyoto and surrounding area

  • Visit Raku Museum
  • Tour of Shrines and Temples in Kyoto
  • Contemporary Art Museum
  • Kinkaku,  (the golden pavilion) – Gorgeous Zen temple and garden
  • Travel to Shigaraki – “pottery town” Meet potters, see a lot of unique pottery/ceramics
  • Travel to the temples at Nara


Hami Seiho, volcanic ash potter in Unzen


Early registration is recommended as trips often fill up quickly. $549 deposit required at registration. Balance due on February 25, 2020 and non-refundable after this date. You can petition for a refund if medical or family emergency occurs.

Video from Japanese TV station featuring 2017 group


Teapot demo in Kyoto


2019 group at historic teahouse in Yatsushiro

Shigaraki pottery

Kyoto Ceramics Institute

Knife maker in Osaka

Koda-yaki inlay process


Koda-yaki style Agano Pottery in Yatsushiro – 15 generations!

Nightly dinner at the Yumei hotel – incredibly enjoyable food and experience!

Tea ceremony in Yatsushiro

Shigaraki potter – Arakawa Sotashi

Dinner at Sakura-so in Gokanosho – fresh trout and venison

Amazing food! Cook flavorful beef while enjoying sushi and tempura! Oishi! Delicious!


Lord Ogata of Gokanosho – 49th generation of Heike Clan Samurai! – This is his Family Tree!

2019 Group – Shodo (calligraphy) workshop. Everyone learns how to write their name in Japanese

Waterfall in Gokanosho

Kiyoko Koyama – Shigaraki Potter

Dinner experience in Gokanosho at the Heike-so, with our great guide – Ken San  –  sake in freshly cut bamboo! Such a treat!

Just down the street from our hotel in Gion, Kyoto – There’s so much to see and do within walking distance of the hotel.

Takahashi Rakusai’s Naborigama in Shigaraki