Opulent Journeys

Japanese Gardens:The Borrowed Landscapes

18 October - 31 October 2021

From (AUD)


14 DAY

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1300 219 885 (AU)

0800 456 219 (NZ)

The Japanese have long used the art of shakkei or borrowed landscape to enhance their garden designs, but they also have a talent for borrowing ideas and making them their own – especially in their gardens.  Japanese Gardens: The Borrowed Landscapes is an introduction to the three best-known styles of gardens in Japan. We look at the sources of inspiration, ranging from ceramics to textiles, as well as some of the design principles for each style of garden, how the styles have evolved over time and borrowed from each other. We also explore the rich variety of ways that landscapes are represented in Japanese culture, from Chinese inspired ink paintings on screens, to richly decorated kimonos and even the way food is served.
The tour showcases the finest exemplars of the three types of gardens in Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara, whilst also providing a fascinating peek into the beautiful landscapes that have inspired them.  We’ll also get a feel for how the Japanese lived in earlier times.
We will enjoy traditional Japanese cuisine at a Japanese-style hotel and there will be the opportunity to explore the delicious different local foods offered by small specialty restaurants.
Our 4-5 star accommodation is well-situated and includes its very own gardens in Tokyo. We will travel in comfort by both coach and Shinkansen (bullet train).
Discover why Japanese culture has had such a profound influence on global design culture, not only on gardens, but also on many areas of the decorative arts.

Dates & Prices

Tour Prices                                    


Per person, twin share                               $10,790
Single room supplement $3,295

 *Tour price is Land Only, starts in Tokyo and finishes in Kyoto.

About your tour leader - Su Laird
Su Laird brings years of experience to this tour. She has travelled extensively through the best gardens in Europe and Japan. She has postgraduate qualifications in horticulture, ceramics and education, and many years of design experience, as well as more than a passing interest in history, textiles, painting and cookery. She runs her own garden design practice, as well as teaching horticulture and lecturing on garden history and design.
Su spent many years as a selector with Open Gardens Australia, where she also served on its Victorian Committee. Su’s Garden has featured on ABC’s Gardening Australia and opened regularly as part of the OGA programme.
What's Included


  • 13 nights’ twin-share accommodation with breakfast daily
  • Meals as stated in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees as stated in the itinerary
  • Air-conditioned coach with English speaking local guide in each city during the tour
  • Bullet train from Lake Kawaguchi to Kyoto
  • Luggage transfer (1 piece per person) from Tokyo to Kyoto

Not included:

  • International flights to Japan
  • Arrival/departure transfers (individual transfers can be pre-booked on request)
  • Travel insurance
  • Porterages & gratuities
  • Personal expenses
  • Anything not mentioned in the itinerary
To enquire or book this tour, please contact

Phone: 1300 219 885            Email: enquiries@opulentjourneys.com.au

Please Click Here to download the tour details.

To make a booking

As all our tours are bespoke, we aim to provide a seamless, individual service to you. We are aware you may have many questions about the tour and are very happy to assist, so please contact us directly.

Fitness level

Moderate, but please be aware that there are many steps and slopes to climb during the tour.


Arrival in Tokyo. The day is spent at leisure. We meet in the evening for a welcome dinner.
(Meals: D)
Our exploration of Japanese gardens starts with the Edo Period stroll garden, Rikugien, also known as the ‘Six Poems Garden’ which contains 88 symbolic representations of scenes taken from Japanese literature. We then visit the Tokyo National Museum for an overview of Japanese arts and crafts. After lunch in the Ueno area, there’s time for a visit to the scholars’ shrine of Yushima Tenmangu.
(Meals: B)
After a tour of the Imperial Palace East Garden, we make our way to Asakusa to the Sensoji Temple and the Nakamise shopping street, where you can try some of the Tokyo food specialties. After lunch we step back in time and visit a garden created by a feudal lord, before visiting the Fukugawa Edo Museum.
(Meals: B)
Today we travel to the fashionable Aoyama district, where tradition meets high-end luxury and offers plenty of interesting places for lunch. We visit the Nezu Museum, which houses an extensive collection of Far Eastern Arts, and which sits within glorious landscaped gardens. In the afternoon we visit Ota Memorial Museum of Art to see the ukiyo-e woodblock prints.
(Meals: B)
Well-known landscapes are often “borrowed” by Japanese gardens. Today we drive to the Mt Fuji region to admire the views and spend time in Hakone visiting the Okada Art Museum and a garden. On the way to the hotel at Lake Kawaguchi, with its magnificent views of Mt Fuji, we will explore a number of historic sites.          
(Meals: B, D)
Itchiku Kubota was a textile and kimono artist. His stunning representations of landscapes on kimonos are displayed in his museum, and surrounding the museum there are also the small gardens he designed. On the way to catch the bullet train to Kyoto, we stop to admire some places of great scenic beauty.        
(Meals: B)
Originally the villa of a Shogun, Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion) features unusual raked and sculpted gravel gardens set within larger woodland gardens. Just nearby is the very personal garden of a well-known artist, complete with tea houses and exhibitions of his work. The Raku family have been intimately involved with the tea ceremony since the late 16th century and continue to make ceramic wares for the tea ceremony even today. Following an afternoon visit to their museum, we will experience “The Way of the Tea” with a formal tea ceremony.
(Meals: B)
A day trip to Nara, the ancient capital of Japan, where we first visit Byodoin Temple, a rare surviving example of a Paradise Garden, then the picturesque Isuien Garden, with its borrowed scenery. After lunch there is a visit to Todaiji Temple, with the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha. There’s time to see the deer in Nara Park, before we visit the Kasuga Shrine with its own botanical garden.              
(Meals: B)
At your leisure in Kyoto. Time to pursue other interests, do a spot of shopping, or just catch your breath.
(Meals: B)
Kiyomizu Temple means ‘Pure Water’ Temple. From its dizzying heights we can enjoy the views of the surrounding parklands and Kyoto and wish for longevity when drinking from the waterfall. After a visit to the residence of the artist Kawai Kanjiro, and Nijo Castle with its several gardens, we take time to explore traditional shopping and leisure areas of Kyoto.            
(Meals: B)
Lake Biwa is often mentioned as the inspiration for garden design. We can admire the stunning lake views from the lofty heights of Hieizan Enryakuji Temple and its gardens. The historic town of Omi Hachiman is the next stop, with its merchant houses and canals and the opportunity to visit a town garden. Finally, we stop by the floating Torii in Lake Biwa before returning to Kyoto.
(Meals: B)
Fushimi Inari Shrine is famous for the many hundreds of Torii along the paths leading up to the sacred Mount Inari. We stroll through the Torii and the woodlands, then pay a visit to the street market near the Shrine. In the afternoon Tofukuji Temple, a large Zen temple, offers us the opportunity to view autumn colours as well as admire a number of contrasting Zen gardens.              
(Meals: B)
We start the day in one of the most abstract Zen gardens, Ryoanji Temple, set within a much older remnant of a Paradise Garden. The ink landscapes within the Hojo provide inspiration for garden designers around the world. Next we visit perhaps Kyoto’s most famous temple, Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), which provides a stark contrast to the almost spartan design of the Zen temple. In the afternoon we stroll around the Kyoto Botanical Gardens, which includes a collection of bonsai and eight sections of native Japanese plants. We will enjoy a Japanese farewell dinner together.            
(Meals: B, D)
The tour ends after breakfast. Please make your own arrangements for departure.           
(Meals: B)

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