Since 2005, I have been fortunate
to travel ten times to Japan, including twice
for conferences (haiku and tanka). The last five
journeys have been as literary adviser to Mitsui
Travel for small group travel, with a focus on
literature and the arts and the opportunity for
firsthand experiences we are unlikely to forget.
These ranged from apple picking to indigo
dyeing; attending purification ceremonies at
temple or shrine: making pottery by hand or
wheel and on two occasions painting it; walking
a UNESCO World Heritage pilgrimage route and
visiting a 300BC archaeological site.
Accommodation was usually in ryokans:
Japanese styled inns with their own onsen,
which often included outdoor hot springs.
On each of the journeys we were escorted by an
experienced and knowledgeable guide. We
travelled comfortably by plane, train or ferry
when appropriate, and at all other times had the
benefit of a private bus. Membership of the
group varies but several people have been
included two, three, or five times! Each journey
has been memorable.
Travel in Japan has been a major highlight of
recent years for me and naturally many thanks
are due, firstly, to Ayako Mitsui, Director of
Mitsui Travel for her imaginative and responsive
itineraries and meticulous attention to travel
details, to each of our expert and hard-working
guides, and also to the many people met along
the way who have made our visits so memorable.
Most importantly, I would like to thank each
traveller on the five Mitsui journeys described
here for their companionship and good cheer.
Kumano Kodo: Sekishoin temple stay