Japan Craft Tour 2024

an enthusiastic small group tour of Japan exploring modern interpretations of traditional Japanese craft

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  • October 30-November 7, 2024

    2 Nights in Tokyo, 6 Nights in Kyoto, with a side trip to Tokushima.

  • Craft Workshops

    Workshops taught by Japanese artisans in temari, sashiko, indigo dyeing, knitting and more!

  • Cultural Exploration

    Visit both must-see and out-of-the-ordinary cultural sites and museums

Tell me more...

Our Japan Craft Tour is built around the premise that relationships build a deeper understanding. We already share the appreciation and language of craft, what else we can learn about each other?

Our workshops are taught by skilled professional artisans, craftspeople, and business owners. They represent the best of their trades and years of practice, but are also some of the most heart-felt, generous and down-to-earth people you would ever hope to meet. 

Our group is kept small on purpose (8 or fewer), to facilitate communication, hands-on learning, and one-on-one attention, and the occasional special request.

See what's in store...

Indigo dyeing at Watanabe's

one of Japan's few indigo farms and dye-houses

Knitting & Sashiko at Setsuko Torii

a day-long knitting workshop with a renown Japanese knitwear designer

Fushimi Inari Shrine and other cultural sights

a visit to Japan's iconic and peaceful shrines

The Details & More

Itinerary

You will receive a detailed itinerary prior to departure. Additional group activities may be added, as well as opportunities for solo exploration.

Day 1: arrive in Tokyo, welcome dinner

Day 2: visit Cohana & Temari workshop at Nona Temari

Day 3: wagashi (Japanese sweets) workshop, Shinkansen to Kyoto

Day 4: Sashiko and/or knitting workshop with Setsuko Torii

Day 5: Antique market and Yubi-nuki workshop

Day 6: Sightseeing (Kiyomizudera, Ginkakuji and Fushimi Inari Shrine), walking tour through Gion and Nishiki market

Day 7: Indigo dyeing workshop at Watanabe's (Tokushima)

Day 8: free day in Kyoto; Sayonara dinner

Day 9: return to Tokyo for return flights home

FAQs

How many people will be on this trip?

Eight or fewer. This is truly a small-group trip, for many reasons but primarily because we are visiting working studios, and like many places in Japan, they are small. We are being invited in and we don’t want to overwhelm.

How do I get to Japan?

There are non-stop flights to Japan from most major US cities on most US carriers. We are partial to flying ANA (All Nippon Airways) which is in Star Alliance with United Airlines. If you’re unsure of how you’d like to get there, contact us for recommendations.

When making your reservation, keep in mind that our tour starts in Tokyo, but ends in Kyoto. You can choose to return home directly from Kyoto or via Tokyo.

What happens after I arrive in Tokyo?

Tokyo has two airports—Haneda which is more centrally located—and Narita, which is about a 90 minute train ride from Tokyo. Both airports are well marked and easy to navigate through immigration and customs and onto public transportation. You will receive specific instructions as to how to reach our hotel after registering for the trip.

Japan has excellent and safe public transportation, but there are lots of stairs and not many escalators or elevators. Consider this when packing.

My Japanese is a bit rusty…

No worries! If you’re out and about on your own, most signage in Tokyo and Kyoto is also in English (and a few other languages). All our workshops and visits come with English-speaking interpreters. And if all else fails, a big smile and a laugh go a very long way.

What if I’m not interested in a specific activity for the day?

That happens! We’ve planned thoughtful options for our plus ones—at any time you can opt for that day’s activity. Upon registering, you’ll be sent a complete itinerary along with options. No need to make any choices though until the day arrives.

My craft skills are, let’s say, meager…

It’s not about perfection! Our workshops instructors expect us to have little to no experience (with the exception of the knitting workshop—that requires knowing both knit and purl stitches, as well as cast on/bind off). The experiences are designed to teach not only the skill, but also provide a cultural context for the tradition. Bring your positive attitude and all is good!

Are we sleeping on futons on the floor?

Nope! While I personally love a good ryokan (Japanese-style inn), it’s not for everyone. During our trip (and in the interest of being well-rested), we’ll be staying at comfy 3 star hotels with familiar amenities. The hotels may be western in style and name, but the level of service and care is most definitely Japanese.

What’s the weather like in the fall?

Beautiful! Early November is lovely in Japan, and we’ll be in Kyoto for prime fall foliage (second only to cherry blossom season).

How fit do I need to be for this trip?

We will be exploring cities, and that includes a lot of walking between venues or to/from public transportation. Keep in mind, Japan’s cities are built up, and stairs are the norm. If you have questions about your ability to get around, please email Paige at hello@mabelstyle.com.

And the food…?

Japan, rightly so, is very proud of its culinary heritage. In both cities we’ll explore regional dishes and traditional favorites. If you have any dietary restrictions, let us know. Japan can be very vegetarian-friendly, but if you have severe food allergies or restrictions, please assess your comfort level eating in a different culture with a language barrier.

I’m in, how do I sign up?

You can register with a deposit here.

After making your deposit, you can pay remainder here. If you prefer to pay in installments, email Paige at helllo@mabelstyle.com

What if I need to cancel?

Keep scrolling for our cancelation and COVID policies.

We want to make things as simple as possible for anyone who wants to travel with us. We understand that unexpected events pop up, and that may prevent your attending the tour you’ve signed up for, requiring the need to cancel your reservation. 

We strongly encourage you to purchase travel insurance, with cancellation and curtailment provisions, including medical provisions with specific clauses for Covid-19 issues.  Please read and understand the cancellation policy before you book your reservation, to avoid any disappointment. 

COVID Policy

Non-COVID cancellation

Non-COVID related cancellations more than 60 days from the start of the event may result in a partial refund (amount paid - deposit and any expenses already committed on your behalf) if we are able to fill your spot. There is no refund for cancellations less than 30 days before the start of the event.

COVID Cancellation

If you need to cancel your trip within 10 days of the event due to COVID-related issues, we will require proof of a positive PCR test.  We will refund you less any expenses already committed by us, including but not limited to your room fees, any food/beverage commitments, and sundries already purchased. 

You are responsible for any cancellation or change fees related to pre- or post- trip flights, rental cars, hotels, etc. 

Should you develop COVID-19 symptoms while on our trip, we will assist you with testing and receiving medical attention to the best of our ability.  We urge all guests to purchase travel insurance; we recommend that you buy a policy that includes coverage for expenses should you fall ill from COVID-19, as you are responsible for any fees incurred due to testing, hospitalization, treatment, or quarantine.  There is no refund for arriving late or leaving a retreat early. 

If your tour is canceled due to Japan closing its borders to travelers, a full refund (minus your deposit) will be made which constitutes a full settlement. Your deposit will be applied to a future trip. In the event of a tour cancellation, m.a.b.el is not responsible for any additional expenses prepaid by you, such as airline tickets, passport fees, or visa fees.

If your tour, or portion of it, is forced to cancel due to inclement weather, or any other occurrence beyond our control, including but not limited to fire, flood, natural disaster, or if the venue and/or location of the event is closed or provides notice to m.a.b.e.l of its inability to hold the event, or if a local government declared emergency status or regulation is in effect for the location of the event, or in the event that our force majeure clause is initiated, every attempt will be made to reschedule the tour, or that particular portion , and your reservation costs paid will be applied to the rescheduled event date at the rate you locked into when you registered. 

Cost

If you’re coming by yourself, single occupancy early bird price is $5200. After March 1, the price increases to $6000.

If you’re bringing a +1 or traveling with your crafty bestie, early bird double occupancy is $4800 per person. After March 1, it increases to $5600.

The non-refundable deposit is $800; the remainder is due August 1, 2024 If you prefer to pay in two installments, email Paige at hello@mabelstyle.com.

We do not match roommates, but if you’re interested in sharing a room, let us know and we can facilitate introductions.

The trip includes nine hotel nights, all ground transportation, all activity and entrance fees, the sake tasting experience, and most meals. It does not include your airfare to Japan, and incidentals along the way.