‘Japan: A Cultural Odyssey. The Past, Present and Future’ 

23 September - 7 October 2024


Trip Dates:
23 September - 7 October 2024

Trip Length:
15 days

Trip Price: £6460

This visit has been designed to examine the fascinating art and culture of Japan, from its beginnings during the Nara period, through the rise and fall of the Shoguns into an era of modernisation and economic power. Accompanied by Professor Lewis, explore the country’s cultural heritage as it is reflected in the tranquillity of the Shinto, the great castles of the Samurai culture, the distinct architecture of the Edo period and today’s modern way of life that exists in the skyscrapers of Shinjuku. Learn more of the delicate technique of the fine arts, the expressive drama of the Kabuki Theatre and the exquisite elegance of the tea ceremony.


Begin the journey with a three-night stay in Tokyo where the time has been carefully scheduled to include such well-known sights as the Imperial Palace, but also to get off the beaten track a little and venture through “shitamachi”, a part of the city where the glorious past of the Edo culture still lives on. Enjoy a full day excursion to the small town of Nikko and visit the intricately carved Tōshō-gū Shrine complex, and the Rinnō-ji Temple and the Furtarasan Shrine, a Shinto place of worship. Depart Tokyo and drive to the sacred Shinto shrine at Kamakura before travelling on to Hakone beautifully situated near the foot of Mt Fuji.  


Travel on Japan’s iconic Bullet Train to Kanazawa, where it is still possible to get ‘a pre-modern view’ of the country. Just like Kyoto, the capital of Ishikawa prefecture has managed to preserve many aspects of its long and rich history. Near to Kanazawa, explore Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, two scenic and secluded mountain villages areas, which are famous for their traditional architecture and are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites. From Kanazawa continue by bullet train to Hiroshima and en route visit Kurashiki, one of Japan’s most picturesque towns, celebrated for its Edo-period charm. In Hiroshima, visit the Atomic Dome and Memorial Peace Park, a thought-provoking and moving testament to the horrors of nuclear annihilation. Continue by boat to the exquisitely beautiful island of Miyajima. The journey finishes with four nights in Kyoto, a marvellous cornucopia of Japanese culture, history and tradition.

This journey is open the Alumni of Oxford and Cambridge Universities and their family and friends. Please note that Distant Horizons has sole responsibility for the operation of this tour. The participating University has no direct control over the operation of any tours.

Trip Leader: Professor Jay Lewis

Professor James B Lewis is Associate Professor at the University of Oxford. His courses include an introduction to Japan and Korean history. His particular research interests are the cultural, economic and social histories of premodern Japan and Korea and the history of Korean-Japanese relations prior to 1850.

‘Japan: A Cultural Odyssey. The Past, Present and Future’  . Trip Comments:

‘This was an absolutely first rate tour in every respect. I cannot think of a single criticism. The shape of the tour was superb. The guides were hardworking and super-efficient. I shall run out of superlatives!’

‘Professor Lewis was a delightful dinner companion and friendly and congenial to all of us. I would take another trip with him without hesitation. The itinerary was well planned.’

‘I know Distant Horizons put a lot of time and effort into the planning of this trip and I want to thank you for making the trip one of a lifetime for me.’

‘We enjoyed the trip very much. It was extremely well organised. The food was wonderful.’

‘The trip really exceeded my expectations in all respects. I felt the restaurants selected were extremely good.’

'We so enjoyed the whole trip which exceeded our expectations.’

‘We thoroughly enjoyed our trip, covered so much and was led by an exceptional guide and look forward to travelling with you again.’