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A Hundred Gourds 5:3 June 2016

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In the Footsteps of Bashō: small group travel in Japan
with a focus on Japanese Literature


by Beverley George

| Introduction | page 2 | page 3 |page 4


Introduction


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.


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Kumano Kodo: Sekishoin temple stay garden



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