Japan’s Hidden Garden Gems

24 September - 8 October, 2023


Trip Dates:
24 September - 8 October, 2023

Trip Length:
15 days

Trip Price: £6560

Travel to Japan next autumn accompanied by landscape designer and writer, Hannah Gardner on a journey specially designed by her for the  readers of Garden Illustrated.

During this far reaching fourteen-day itinerary, venture north to Hokkaido, Japan’s majestic most northerly wilderness island. Discover the abundant native flora and walk through dramatic mountain scenery, the first location in Japan to be saturated with autumn colour.

The party will visit the internationally celebrated contemporary gardens of Tokachi Millennium Forest designed by Dan Pearson, learning about the spirit of nature, sense of place and how to embrace this energy in one’s own gardening from head gardener and international speaker Midori Shintani. At Tokachi, a cultural workshop has been planned and the party will enjoy a foraged forest lunch prepared by the gardeners.Return to the mainland and delve into the traditional gardens, culture and the unforgettable architecture of Tokyo, Kanazawa, Kyoto and Nara. Kyoto’s gardens provoke thought and delight in equal measure.

Meet with the gardeners of the Chion-in Temple who will demonstrate the fine art of Niwaki pruning. These varied landscapes meld the intimate essence of nature with the disciplines of cosmology, poetry and meditation. Kyoto’s gardens display an enormous range of forms from dry landscape gardens displaying extreme minimalism and subtle hues, to stroll gardens of luscious proportions with sophisticated textures and vibrant colours. Through Hannah’s formal and informal instruction, unpick the complexity and seek to understand the history and meaning of these serene and spiritual landscapes.

The party will visit both renown gardens and discover lesser known hidden cultural gems including the beautifully preserved historic Sumiya Pleasure House in Kyoto. Exhilarating days balancing experience with relaxation are complemented by nights in comfortable hotels.

Trip Leader:

Hannah Gardner is an experienced and established garden designer and horticulturist based in Bath. Hannah founded her own design practice New British Landscapes in 2010 and continues to pursue interests in botanical travel, design, writing, consultancy, plantsmanship and practical horticulture. She has worked on several gold medal RHS Chelsea show gardens and consults on numerous ecological landscape projects and travels extensively studying gardens and plant communities. Having first visited Japan as a student whilst studying at Kew, Hannah spent a further year in Japan as a Daiwa Scholar working with Shunmyo Masuno, Tsujii Landscape architects and gardeners in Kyoto, and with botanists from The University of Hokkaido.

Japan’s Hidden Garden Gems. Trip Comments:

‘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.’

‘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.’

‘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!’

‘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.’