Food + Wine

The Dream List: Once-in-a-Lifetime Trips

by Brook Wilkinson

Japan: Crafts in Kyoto

The specialist: Nancy Craft, Esprit Travel and Tours; Telluride, Colorado

The Dream Trip: "I like to think of tea as the great unifier of all the arts in Japan. You need your exquisite lacquer bowl, your perfect bamboo spoon, your season-specific scroll. And so much of what people associate with Japanese culture is aspects of the tea ceremony: humility, politeness, a little bit of ritual. We can arrange a two-day introduction in Kyoto to this quintessential Japanese phenomenon. You'll gain entry into the back rooms of a fourth-generation tea sweet maker, a lacquerware gallery, a tiny incense shop, and more. You'll learn the essentials of the tea kaiseki (the meal served at the ceremony), have a brief lesson in chabana flower arranging, and visit a tearoom from the 16th century. It all culminates in a three-and-a-half-hour tea ceremony, during which your host's movements are as finely choreographed as a ballet [$3,000 for two].

"If you prefer to focus on just one art, we can gain access to the private studios of Kyoto's renowned textiles artisans. Kyoto has been Japan's weaving capital since the 14th century, and its weaving district is one of the few areas of the city that still has wooden buildings and narrow cobblestoned alleys. You'll see demonstrations of indigo dyeing, yuzen silk painting, obi weaving, and kumihimo braiding. Since the work was traditionally done for kimonos, you'll also visit an exquisite custom kimono shop in an old geisha district to learn how one chooses the fabric, is fitted for a kimono, and coordinates the accompanying accessories [$1,200 for two]."

Nancy Craft
Tel: 800 377 7481

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