Japan overview collage

Japan Textiles Tour: 19-31 Jan, 2019
(including Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival)

The Tokyo International Great Quilt Show, plus … explorations into shibori, indigo dyeing, sashiko embroidery, boro textiles, saori weaving, yuzen painting, botanical dyeing, a tea ceremony, temples, shrines, onsen …

Are you fascinated by Japanese textiles?  Have you always wanted to go to the world famous Tokyo International Quilt Show? Join our small group of like-minded textile-enthused women for the experience of a lifetime on our winter visit to Japan to visit the Tokyo International Quilt Show, specialist handcraft and textile museums, enjoy hands-on workshops (saori weaving, shibori, botanical dyeing, wax & indigo dyeing and yuzen fabric painting), 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 13 day women’s textiles tour, hosted by retreat|recreate and fully escorted by a local Japanese and English-speaking guide, commences in Kyoto where highlights include private classes in yuzen stencil painting and botanical dyeing, a silk textiles centre, an indigo master’s studio, a museum specialising in the handcrafts of Kyoto and the atelier of a famous ceramicist in the pottery district. Of course we’ll stroll the famous Philosopher’s Path and take in some of the most important Zen temples in the country, including the justly famous Golden Pavilion. We’ll browse the city’s best monthly flea market too and have the privilege of a private traditional tea ceremony. A particular highlight is our wander through beautiful Gion one evening, enjoying its traditional wooden houses and tea shops and maybe glimpsing local geiko and maiko (geisha).  A day trip into the mountains takes us to a rural village of traditional thatched-roof farmhouses where we are privileged to meet a master indigo dyer and visit his atelier. On the way back we’ll stop at the beautiful bamboo groves of Arashiyama and enjoy an optional onsen (hot springs bath). Our last evening in Kyoto features a dusk visit to the magical Fushimi Inari Shrine. A highlight of our time in Kyoto is two nights in traditional ryokan (Japanese inn) accommodation.

Leaving Kyoto we travel by shinkansen (bullet train) to Japan’s traditional shibori village where we’ll enjoy a Japanese tie dye class with local artisans and visit the shibori museum.

Back on the bullet train and on to amazing Tokyo! We’ll explore handcraft and textile museums including one specialising in boro textiles, shop in the famous Nippori Fabric Town and experience Tokyo’s best temples and shrines.  Handcraft classes in Tokyo include saori weaving and wax & indigo fabric dyeing. We’ll take you to our favourite shops, a folk arts & crafts museum and a truly inspiring sashiko artist’s home and gallery. Of course we’ll leave time to explore the bright lights and tiny alleyways of districts including Shinjuku and Shibuya. And finally, we’ll spend a whole day at the fabulous Tokyo International Great Quilt Show.


  • twelve nights accommodation as per the itinerary
  • meals as per the itinerary (daily breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners)
  • local English speaking guide throughout the tour
  • all transport, sightseeing attractions (museums, galleries, etc) and excursions as per the itinerary
  • 5 x hands-on workshops and classes
  • 1 day entrance ticket to Tokyo International Great Quilt Show
  • luggage transfers from Kyoto to Tokyo
  • 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 (shopping, laundry, mobile phone charges etc)
  • tip for guide
  • optional onsen (hot springs bath)
  • departure airport transfer

Things to note

  • the tour comprises 12 nights/13 days and operates from 19 – 31 January 2019. The itinerary is a full one to ensure value for money, however some free periods are built in. The opportunity exists to extend your trip by extra nights at our hotels in Kyoto before or Tokyo 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 Kyoto tour hotel;
  • 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; include a carbon offset in the tour price;
  • retreat|recreate’s tours are offered in partnership with a fully licensed, globally recognised 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 3.5 star – perfectly comfortable but not luxury. 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 are shared;
  • please consider your mobility/fitness levels to determine if this trip is right for you:- The tour comprises travel on public transport as well as private charter bus and involves much walking and many subway station stairs. The winter weather will be cool to cold. Ryokan accommodation comprises futon bedding on tatami mats on the floor. Several of the activities involve sitting or kneeling on tatami mats or low stools. Participants need to be able to manage their own luggage;
  • our maximum group size is 12 women;
  • retreat|recreate welcomes women from all over the globe – all ethnicities,  backgrounds, beliefs and cultures.  We welcome women of diverse sexualities and those who identify as women,   Flexibility and a sense of humour are encouraged when travelling as part of a group.