BRIDGE TO ANOTHER WORLD—SEI MEE TEA JAPAN TOUR  

BRIDGE TO ANOTHER WORLD—SEI MEE TEA JAPAN TOUR March 22-29, 2019

DAY 1 Fri 22 Departure JL 069 12:35pm  Los Angeles
DAY 2 Sat 23 Arrival 6:15pm  Osaka, Japan
Kyoto Kansai Int’l Airport to Hotel
Kyoto Century Hotel https://www.keihanhotels-resorts.co.jp/kyoto-centuryhotel/english/
DAY 3 Sun 24 Sight Seeing by private bus with English guide
Kyoto Gekkeikan Sake museum http://www.gekkeikan.co.jp/english/kyotofushimi/museum.html
Fushimi Inari http://inari.jp/en/
Kyoto Imperial Palace http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/index.html
Kiyomizu-dera https://www.kiyomizudera.or.jp/en/
Ninen-zaka http://www.2nenzaka.ne.jp/EN/
Kyoto Century Hotel https://www.keihanhotels-resorts.co.jp/kyoto-centuryhotel/english/
DAY 4 Mon 25 Visit Uji tea farm by private bus
Uji Sightseeing in Uji
Byodo-in Temple https://www.byodoin.or.jp/en/
Kyoto Century Hotel https://www.keihanhotels-resorts.co.jp/kyoto-centuryhotel/english/
DAY 5 Tue 26 Kyoto to Kagoshima by Shinkansen
Kagoshima “Bento” lunch on Shinkansen
Visit a tea farm & facility near Kagoshima City
Hotel Silk Inn with spa https://www.silk-inn.jp/en
Day 6 Wed 27 Tea farm & sight seeing by private bus with English guide
Kagoshima Sakurajima hiking https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4601.html
Green Tea Lunch at Wakoh En http://www.wakohen.co.jp/saonkura/saonkura.htm
Wakoh En tea farm & processing facility
Sakamoto Gyokuro tea farm
Hotel Silk Inn with spa https://www.silk-inn.jp/en
Day 7 Thurs 28 Kagoshima station to Kagoshima Airport
Namba Kagoshima Airport to Itami Airport
Itami Airport to Namba
Shopping in Namba
Koyasan Visit Koya san https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4900.html
Sukubo (Overnight temple stay) https://sojiin.book.direct/en-us
Vegetarian dinner
Day 8 Fri 29 Meditation & Breakfast @ temple
Free time in the morning
Departure from Airport JL 060 KIX 540P LAX 1150A
Note that all arrangements are tentative at this moment and remain to be finally confirmed, but we intend to follow this plan closely as possible, making any needed changes to enhance our experience.

 

Osaka, Uji, Kyoto, Kagoshima, & Mt. Koya in Spring

Sei Mee Tea is pleased to announce a very special tour of two of the premier tea growing areas in Japan.  One, very ancient and revered, known as “Uji” and located near Kyoto, is the birthplace of Matcha.  Another, gaining rapidly in reputation and in some ways yet to be discovered, is known as Kagoshima and is at the very south end of the southernmost island of Japan—Kyushu.  Although the tour is “tea centered” and will focus on green tea as a food and beverage, we will be visiting some of the most scenic and historic areas of Japan, during a tour designed by Kiyomi Koike and her collaborators, to tease the senses and the mind, in profound ways.

The tour is from Friday, March 22, 2019 through Friday, March 29, 2019—eight days that will leave you changed and stimulated to learn more.  The idea for this tour was born at this year’s Northwest Tea Festival in Seattle, Washington.  We appreciate Bruce Richardson, a tea master if there ever was one, for his suggestions and encouragement, as well as the participants in Kiyomi’s Green Tea Party workshop for their enthusiasm for the idea.

 

Here is a brief outline of the tour.  You will note “live links” in the above table of activities.  We invite you to visit the links, but you do so at the risk of being unable to resist participation in this rich, unique, and absolutely fresh visit to the tea world of Japan.  Please note that our travel is scheduled to coincide with Cherry Blossom blooming season (Sakura).  Of course, the exact timing of the best blooms varies not only from year to year but also from place to place.  Since we will be traveling from the middle of the main island – Honshu– clear down to the southern extreme of Kyushu, the south island, we will constantly be monitoring bloom activity and will do our best to partake in “Hanami” – a cherry blossom appreciation picnic.  But, as the Cherry blooms are metaphors for the fleeting and unpredictable nature of our lives, we cannot say exactly when or where we will enjoy.

 

Day one and two-Friday/Saturday, March 22/23

 

Depart from Los Angeles for Kansai International Airport, Japan (Note—participants will book and pay for their individual flights directly with IACE, our travel agent, but we plan to join up and fly on the same JAL flight from Los Angeles, to assure we all arrive at the same time).  From Kansai we will travel to the fabled Kyoto Station, whose towering open air escalators and entertainment venues will seem like a star ship here on earth. Our hotel, the stylish Kyoto Century, where we will stay for three nights to avoid packing and unpacking, is convenient to the bustling Kyoto Station area.  Remember that you are losing a day due to the International Date Line and so tomorrow is March 24.  See the hotel link for views of  the hotel and area.

 

Day three-Sunday, March 24

 

After Breakfast at the Hotel, we head out in our private bus for an astonishing array of Kyoto sightseeing, accompanied by a professional local English speaking guide, beginning with the Gekkeikan Sake Museum and the Fushimi Inari, the most important Shinto shrine to Inari, God of Rice.  After lunch, we stroll through Ninen-zaka, a charming narrow pedestrian walkway featuring ancient classic Japanese architecture, tea houses, and wonderful shops.  On the outskirts of Kyoto,we tour one of many World Heritage sites in Kyoto, the Kiyomizu dera, a temple which overlooks Kyoto and seems to float on stilts.  Next, we journey to Kyoto Gosho, the Imperial Palace until 1868, when the seat of Imperial Japan was moved to Tokyo.  After dinner, we return to the Kyoto Century and seek adventure and “people watching” around Kyoto Station. See links for views of our day.

 

Day four-Monday, March 25

 

We will eat breakfast at the Hotel and then travel for about an hour through the attractive countryside by private bus to Uji, a rural tea production center where we will be surrounded by the sounds and smells and views of Green Tea fields and their products.  After visiting the Uji tea farm that supplies certified Organic Matcha to Sei Mee Tea, we will lunch in Uji and on our return we will stop by a National Treasure, the Byodo-in Temple and its captivating garden, as well as Phoenix Hall, one of the few surviving wooden structures from the Heian period (circa 1153) ending a day of rural enjoyment back at our Kyoto hotel.

 

Day five-Tuesday, March 26

 

Today we travel by our “magic carpet,” the Shinkansen or “bullet train” from Kyoto Station to Kagoshima, some 560 miles to the south on the southern tip of Kyushu, at speeds up to 200 miles per hour—this very special 4.5 hour way of seeing the rural areas and cities on the way will be a delight to all the senses and sometimes, except for the rapidly passing scenery, you will not believe you are moving at all.  After arriving in Kagoshima, we will visit our largest tea farm “Shimodozono,” and, later on, enjoy our Spa hotel, the tasteful and modern “Silk Inn Kagoshima Hotel and Spa”.  As the name implies, the hotel has natural mineral bath hot springs that bubble up from beneath the hotel to the delight of guests.  We shall partake (massages are also available) and enjoy the views and shops of downtown and marvel at the majestic beauty of Sakurajima, a looming volcano island in Kagoshima Bay.

 

Day six-Wednesday, March 27

 

This day we will enjoy visits to Kagoshima Tea Farms and farmers as well as a ferry boat ride to Sakurajima Island for hiking and enjoying the extraordinary landscape and views.  Lunch will be most special—at Wakoh en Tea Farm and processing facility where they serve amazing Green Tea meals to delight the senses.  Later on, we go to Sakamoto Gyokuro tea farm to discover Green Tea in yet another incarnation. We travel by private bus with a local English speaking guide who will help us to see and understand.  Return to the Silk Inn and enjoy the spa, or go shopping.

 

Day seven-Thursday, March 28

 

We leave Kagoshima and become pilgrims—to discover Koyasan on the summit of Mt. Koya, the birthplace and center of Shingon Buddhism, introduced to Japan in 805 by Kobo Daishi, also known as Kukai.  This monastic headquarters includes about 100 ancient temples and we will spend the night in one (Sukubo) – enjoying vegetarian meals (“shojin ryori”) prepared by the attendant monks.  We will visit many of the temples, and Okunoin, Japan’s largest cemetery, and experience the awe inspiring silence of it’s towering cedar forest, where Kobo Daishi is believed to have entered the next World.  It is said that there are no dead in Okunoin, but only “waiting spirits”–perhaps you will commune with one of the Tokugawa Shoguns including Tokugawa Ieyasu and Tokugawa Hidetada or the incomparable Samurai warrior and Daimyo Shingen Takeda who lie at rest here!  The memory of your visit here will linger long in your mind, as it does in mine.  I can still recall in my imagination the massive deep tones of the bronze bell that tolled the hours, reverberating and echoing through the misty night.

 

Day eight—Friday, March 29

 

After a special morning meal and meditation with the monks, we begin our return to that other world from which we came—step by step.  By tram from Koyasan to Hashimoto station and then onward to bustling Namba station and finally Kansai International.  We give farewells to our fellow travelers and new friends and begin the long flight home, arriving about noon Friday, savoring recollection of all that we have discovered along with the somewhat disconcerting memories of having been to another place and time.

 

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COST:

We expect the total cost, including round trip airfare Los Angeles to Kansai, to be less than $4,500 plus meals and admission charges not included in the tour price (see itinerary table).  Single supplements may apply, if available, and of course your own shopping expenses are additional.

 

EXTENSIONS:

You may arrange an earlier flight to Japan before the tour begins or extend your visit after the tour ends for additional private sightseeing or visits.  For example, Kiyomi and her family plan to go to nearby Tokushima Island—the “Pilgrimage Island” for a couple of days to visit her aging mother.  The IACE travel agent who has helped with tour arrangements will be glad to assist you upon request (see below).

 

Please study the attached itinerary and the links.  If you would like to join this tour, please be in touch with us right away with any questions or concerns.   We are planning on a group of 12 travelers and we have four reservations in hand.  As you might imagine, the hotels and other lodgings we intend to use are filling up fast as late March is Sakura season and a very busy travel time.  To secure the listed hotels, we need to act very quickly.  So please let us know if you want to join us.

 

HOW TO JOIN:

Contact us right now if you are interested to find more details. We have only 8 seats left.  Email: info@GroundGreenTea.com   Toll Free 1-866-844-9448

 

Note that all arrangements are tentative at this moment and remain to be finally confirmed, but we intend to follow this plan closely as possible, making any needed changes to enhance our experience.