9 - 17 APRIL 2018

A red-lipped, kimono-clad geisha vanishing around a corner. Riverside cherry trees bursting into cloudlike bloom. Ancient temples, tea ceremony masters and centuries-old craftsmanship. Zen gardens with raked sand and haiku-inspiring rock formations. Join us in historic Kyoto during cherry blossom season. Be part of the celebrations as Japanese people throw away their reserve and decide to party in Hanami tradition, joining picnics and moonlit soirees to view the splendour  of spring. Then be part of one of Japan’s oldest festivals in picturesque Takyama. Join the procession of locals dressed in traditional costume as elaborate floats and the sacred Shinto shrine make their way through the streets in this joyful parade.

Monday 9 April 2018 - Australia to Tokyo

Depart Australia on an overnight flight to Tokyo arriving early the next morning.


Tuesday 10 April 2018 - Tokyo - Kyoto        

Fly straight on to the beautiful city of Kyoto and check into your charming hotel perched in the Higashiyama hills. In the nineteenth century it was a tea-house set in magnificent gardens.

This evening join fellow delegates for a Welcome Cocktail Party

Wednesday 11 April 2018 - Kyoto

Morning conference (4 hours)

This afternoon explore the former imperial capital, visiting some of its many UNESCO world heritage sites. Start with the Nijo Castle complex, built by the founder of the Edo Shogunate in 1603. Pass through three imposing gates in three impressive defensive walls, and step into former times as you survey the palace complex. The buildings feature elegantly decorated ceilings and beautifully painted sliding doors. They are connected to each other by long corridors with “nightingale” floors, which chirp to announce intruders. Stroll through the gorgeous gardens where the cherry blossoms are magnificent. Then we visit the iconic Golden Pavilion – its top 2 floors are completely covered in gold leaf – once the retirement villa of the Shogun and then a Zen temple.

This evening is free for you to explore on your own.

Thursday 12 April 2018 - Kyoto  

Morning conference (4 hours)

This afternoon we visit Arashiyama, once a favourite spot for noblemen to commune with nature. Take in the view of the meticulously manicured gardens, designed to show of the seasons, from the villa of a famous samurai film star (a modern day equivalent to a nobleman). Partake of refreshments in a quaint tea house before strolling through the famous bamboo forest, calmed by the dappled light of the gently sway of the stalks in the wind. Visit Tenryuji Temple, built in 1339 to appease the heavenly dragon. The gardens, resplendent with cherry blossoms, have as their backdrop, the Arashiyama mountains. The composition is a good example of shakkei (borrowed scenery).

This evening enjoy a traditional ‘kaiseki’ meal whilst being mesmerised by the dances of a ‘maiko’ (apprentice geisha). 

Friday 13 April 2018 - Kyoto          

Clinical visit (4hrs)

This afternoon visit the ethereal Kiyomizu-dera, one of the most celebrated temples in Japan and admire some of the most breathtaking vistas across the Kyoto area. Be awed by the natural beauty of the temple’s structure and the surrounding gardens. Then wander the trails of Fushimi Inari Shrine straddled by 10,000 vermillion torri gates leading into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari. This is one of the country’s most important Shinto shrines.

The evening is free for you to explore Kyoto. A must-do is to stroll through the maze of streets and alleys in the Gion geisha district.  Admire machiya, traditional narrow fronted merchant houses, with deep tranquil courtyards behind.  Historic and new shops vie to sell everything from handkerchiefs decorated with cherry blossom motifs to pink and white coloured rice cakes and sweets, all trying to capture the beauty of the sakura (cherry-blossom) season. The chances are you'll glimpse a geisha or two shuffling between teahouses in their cumbersome zori sandals and exquisite kimono.

Saturday 14 April 2018 - Kyoto - Takayama

Today travel to the picturesque town of Takayama with its charming inns, hillside shrines and enchanting riverside walks. Be part of one of Japan’s most famous festivals, dating from the 16th century, to celebrate the spring harvest. Explore the streets of the old town and admire the floats, known as yatai, which decorated with detailed carvings, lacquering and beautiful metal works both inside and out. Follow the Mikoshi, portable shrine of a Shinto deity, carried by a -of priests in traditional clothes around the town.

This evening participate in the highlight of the two day festival as the floats are pulled through the streets of the old town. Join happy throngs of Japanese people for this colourful parade.

Sunday 15 April 2018 - Takayama

Morning conference session (4 hours)

This afternoon enjoy a Karakuri Performance on the street. Several of the festival floats are decorated sophisticated mechanical dolls which are manipulated by master puppeteers to perform re enactments of traditional myths and legends. Perhaps this is where the Japanese fascination with robot’s began. Continue your immersion in this marvellous celebration as you wander the streets of Takayama.

Tonight join fellow delegates for a Farewell Dinner.

Monday 16 April 2018 - Takayama - Australia

Drive by coach to Tokyo visiting Matsumoto Castle, one of Japan’s best, en route.  Depart on a late evening flight arriving in Australia the morning of Tuesday 17


End of arrangements or Join optional post conference tour

Please note that this itinerary and costs may be subject to change.