Japan overview collage

Japan (GENERAL) Textiles Tour 
31 August – 13 September 2019

Shibori, indigo dyeing, sashiko embroidery, boro textiles, saori weaving, traditional silk weaving, kimonos, a tea ceremony, temples, shrines …

Are you fascinated by Japanese textiles?  Join our small group of like-minded textile-enthused women for the experience of a lifetime, travelling to Japan to visit specialist handcraft and textile museums, enjoy four hands-on workshops (saori weaving, traditional silk weaving, shibori stitching, rice paste resist and indigo dyeing), visit sashiko and indigo artisan studios, indulge in fabulous fabric and textiles shopping, explore magnificent scenery and architecture and experience traditional Japanese culture. Plus so much more.

This 14 day women’s textiles tour, hosted by retreat|recreate and fully escorted by a local Japanese and English-speaking guide, commences with five days in Tokyo where highlights include visits to a handcraft and folkcraft museum, shopping in Tokyo’s famous Fabric Town and experiencing Tokyo’s best temples and shrines.  We’ll explore Japan’s largest outdoor antiques and flea market where we hope to pick up a bargain or two.  Of course we also include time to explore Tokyo’s diverse districts, soaking up the bright lights of Shinjuku and the atmospheric little side streets of Asakusa.  Two of our classes (saori weaving and rice paste resist & indigo fabric dyeing) are held in Tokyo. Plus we’ll take you to our favourite shops, a fascinating open air architecture museum and a truly inspiring sashiko artist’s home and gallery.

We travel by bullet train to Japan’s traditional shibori village where we’ll enjoy a shibori (Japanese tie dye) class and watch masters of this intricate craft at work before spending the night in Nagoya.

We continue on to Kyoto to stroll the famous Philosopher’s Path and take in some of the most important Zen temples and gardens in the country, including the justly famous Golden Pavilion. While in Kyoto we’ll spend two nights in a traditional ryokan (Japanese inn). We’ll enjoy a workshop in which we’ll weave with tussah silk, experience a traditional tea ceremony and wander through beautiful Gion one evening, enjoying its traditional wooden houses and tea shops and maybe glimpsing local geiko and maiko (geisha).  A special day trip into the mountains takes us to a rural village of traditional thatched-roof farmhouses where we are privileged to be able to meet a master indigo dyer and visit his workshop and gallery. This particular dyer has been described as one of the most influential textile artists of our time. On the way back from the mountains we’ll stop at the beautiful bamboo groves of Arashiyama. We’ll tour a textiles school and factory, another indigo master’s studio, and the house and studio of a famous ceramicist in the pottery district. Of course we’ll also walk the thousand orange torii gates of the magical Fushimi Inari Shrine and finish our two weeks with a group farewell dinner.


  • thirteen nights accommodation as per the itinerary
  • meals as per the itinerary (daily breakfasts, 2 lunches, 3 dinners)
  • local English speaking guide throughout the tour
  • all transport, sightseeing attractions (museums, galleries, etc) and excursions as per the itinerary
  • four hands-on workshops and classes
  • luggage transfers from Tokyo to Kyoto
  • arrival airport transfer


  • international airfares
  • travel insurance (required)
  • early check in or late check out
  • meals and drinks not included in the itinerary
  • personal spending
  • tip for guide
  • departure airport transfer (can be arranged)

Things to note

  • the tour comprises 13 nights/14 days and operates from 31 August – 13 September 2019 commencing in Tokyo and concluding in Kyoto. The itinerary is a full one to ensure value for money, however free time is built in. We’ve added an extra day to the trip this year to slow the tour’s pace a bit and allow for more free periods;
  • the opportunity exists to extend your trip by extra nights at our hotels in Tokyo before or Kyoto after the tour;
  • the arrival airport transfer may not be included in the price if you book pre tour accommodation at a hotel other than the Tokyo tour hotel. Please check with us before booking alternative pre tour accommodation;
  • retreat|recreate strives to offer culturally, environmentally and economically sustainable tours. To this end, we: engage local guides; partner with a wholesale tour operator whose values align with ours; use public transport where possible; patronise local women’s co-ops and associations where possible;
  • retreat|recreate’s tours are offered in partnership with a fully licensed and well-resourced tour operator for your (and our) peace of mind;
  • your retreat|recreate host on this trip will be Susan Rees-Osborne. Our local guide will be confirmed closer to departure;
  • TripAdvisor rates our hotels at approx 3.5 star. We also stay two nights in a traditional ‘ryokan’ Japanese inn where guests sleep on futons on the floor. Please note the single supplement does not apply at the ryokan accommodation as rooms will be shared;
  • please consider your mobility/fitness levels to determine if this trip is right for you. The tour comprises travel on public transport and involves much walking. Many subway stations feature multiple flights of stairs. Participants also need to be able to manage their own luggage for brief periods. The weather is likely to be warm to hot and humid. Ryokan accommodation comprises futon bedding on tatami mats on the floor;
  • our group size is 12 women;
  • retreat|recreate’s tour groups welcome women from all over the globe. We embrace all ages (18 and over), origins, ethnicities and orientations. Flexibility and a sense of humour are encouraged when travelling as part of a group.

Here’s what our travellers had to say about this tour:

You guys are awesome! I have only been on two other tours but this one was AB FAB! You have created something really special. I feel like I have made friends for life on this trip and that does not happen very often. Abi – Japan 2019

I had been researching textile trips to Japan for 4 years, keeping an eye on reviews and the tone and tenor of the organizers/leaders. I got the best feeling from retreat|recreate. Susan and Susan did not disappoint.   Rachel – Japan 2019