Kyoto Tours

Kyoto Tours

    ...Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic this year's Tour has been cancelled, sorry!...

   Would you like a guided Art tour of Kyoto, Japan's beautiful historic city and tourism mecca?


   View of Kyoto from Kiyomizudera Temple on the side of Higashiyama


6th successful year! Places fill fast!

Tour Dates October 12th - October 22nd, 2020

Book a place  (Green = place available, Blue = taken, Grey = holding)

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Connect with Japanese art and Mokuhanga..

See the range of galleries, incredible shops and interesting places of Art and Mokuhanga..

Visit professional mokuhanga artists and teachers..

Experience the temples, shrines, shops and restaurants of Kyoto without spending a fortune..

Enjoy this great experience led by an experienced guide with local knowledge..


For ten days I will guide our small group of five to the best and most interesting places in Kyoto, some where Western tourists seldom or never go! You can have a relaxed guided tour and avoid the tourist traps and unnecessary spending.

Create mokuhanga surrounded by an inspiring and authentic environment in a three day mokuhanga workshop at the studio of Kyoto Teacher, Richard Steiner.

The tour includes a mix of Art & mokuhanga specific experiences as well as visits to a selection of Kyoto's fantastic places.

Having lived in Kyoto for two years and visited several times, I have the knowledge and connections to deliver a once in a lifetime experience of Kyoto for a great price! The previous year's tours have all been full of great experiences for everyone involved.

With only five places available, these are assured to be a comfortable, personalised tours, that I expect to fill quickly.


I found the trip wonderful... it all seemed so uncomplicated being led around by you. Most of all I liked the workshop with Richard and the visit to Shoichi's studio. These were real privileges. - Bernice Lewis 2015

I arrived home after spending ten days of pure bliss on your tour.. it is astounding what we managed to cover in those ten days. This tour was truly a dream, as it covered so much more than was anticipated. The idea of a tour was always appealing, especially as it gave me a good reason to visit Japan, without merely being a tourist. - Margaret McLaughlin 2016

 The Kyoto tour has been exciting and seamlessly put together. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and good humour, being patient with pottering artists... I'd recommend Kyoto for its sheer diversity of things to see and experience, lovely safe place for meandering... Little quaint shops where artisans uphold their traditional crafts, awesome quirky cafe's and eateries, yummo! I particularly enjoyed the temples, shrines and watery nature spots, the tea house at the top of the ancient temple, paper making village so nice. Delightful tour. - Sue Barmos 2017




October in Kyoto is one of the best times to visit. The weather is generally settled and still warm, without the heat and humidity of summer. It is also less crowded than peak tourism seasons, so perfect for stress free sightseeing! Kyoto's famous Momiji (Autumn Leaves) are later in the year.



Stay in a comfortable single room with full ameties only a short walk from convenient train and subway stations, large supermarket and a range of shops and cafes. Just around the corner from Nijo-jo (Nijo Castle), this is out of the bustling main centre. It is also easy access for a bus to the mokuhanga workshop with Richard Steiner. With helpful, English speaking staff and a free breakfast, this is a great place to stay, without costing a fortune. 


Download Tour Brochure (PDF 1mb) 

Kyoto Accommodation


uraraka-p roomKyoto Uraraka Guest House is a studio apartment style hotel. With comfortable single rooms (twin or double rooms are also available) that feature Western style beds, private shower facilites, air conditioning and free wireless internet, it is a convenient and comfotable place to rest after the day's walking and exploring!


Close to Nijo Castle, a large supermarket, and a range of restaurants and cafes, it is out of the busy central area, but only a 10 minute walk to convenient train stations. Buses are even closer at hand!

Our previous tours have stayed here and everyone was happy with the accommodation. The staff are especially helpful, speaking good English.







* Accommodation may be changed according to availablity. In the case of these options being booked out, similar options may be substituted.


Kyoto Food, Transport & Other Information

Food and Eating

Eat truly authentic sushi and other Japanese dishes! One of the great attractions of Japan is the incredible food available. There are literally hundreds of restaurants and choices available! Prices range from several hundred yen obento from Convenience stores or supermarkets up to tens of thousands of yen (=$100's!!) at exclusive restaurants only available to existing customers. Your guide knows many great places to eat, and we can also explore and enjoy finding new ones!


Special Diets

True vegetarian food is limited, as dashi fish stock is extensively used in many recipes. If you are happy to eat fish, it is no problem. Specialist shojin ryori (Temple food) restaurants are available, and are generally expensive, however even the simplest restaurant has some traditional dish that is suitably vegetarian.

Gluten free used to be virtually unheard of, however some restaurants have become more aware of this. Although most dishes are rice based soy sauce with wheat content is extensively used, so avoiding wheat gluten is more difficult than you first imagine. It is possible to avoid foods containing wheat / gluten, although your food choices are limited.

Your guide has experience in asking for and finding meat-free and wheat / flour free options, and information is freely available on the internet.

If you have special diet needs, please contact us and we can discuss the possibilities with you. Please note the terms and conditions of the tour which outlines your and our responsibilities in regard to special diets on the tour.


Walking and Transportation

It is convenient and interesting to walk to various destinations in Kyoto. Along the way you can see many interesting sights and find small shops and temples that are worth a visit. Our tour is based around walking to many of our destinations, so a degree of mobility and fitness is required. Kyoto is mostly flat but walking in Higashiyama, most temples and Kurama requires some hills and stairs.


For farther destinations we will use local trains and subways - these are convenient and not nearly as crowded as the legendary Tokyo trains!

Hiring a bicycle and riding like a local is great fun if you are up to it. In Japan you are able to ride on footpaths (with consideration of pedestrians) and are not required to wear a helmet. Depending on the tour members wishes and weather, we may hire bicycles and ride alongside the Kamogawa River to sample the local lifestyle.


Health and Insurance

It is highly recommended that you purchase your own travel insurance. Minor health problems and medications for them are easily available at Drug Stores (Chemists). If you require more serious help for any reason, the Japanese health system is very expensive for foreign tourists.



Bring adequate cash - Japanese Yen! Japan is still very much a cash society, although credit cards are increasingly accepted. You may be able to access funds from the ATM's available in convenience stores and banks, but despite what your local bank or Australian Post will tell you, it may be impossible or at the best difficult. I recommend exchanging money through Travelex before departing for the airport in Australia. Don't be like my friends who I met at Kansai airport. They had no money for days until we could find an ATM that worked for them, including no money to get to Kyoto from the airport!


Passport and Visa

Of course, you will need a valid passport to leave Australia and enter Japan. Tourists from Australia* are given a 90 day visitors visa automatically on entry to Japan - there is no need to apply before hand. (*applies to Australian Citizens - other country's citizens please check)


Telephone & Internet

You can use your mobile phone, however check your provider's international roaming rates - these can be very expensive!

Local mobile phones are available for hire at the airport, but are a little expensive. A travel sim is now available to buy at the airport, which comes with a pre-loaded amount of calls, text and data. Your accommodation provides free internet access, and there is a growing number of free internet access points in Cafes etc.



All power in Japan is 110 volts and is supplied through the Japanese style twin plug power points. An adapter is readily available and check if your charger / device will work on 110 volts.




Kyoto Tour Itinerary 2020


Planned Activities October 2020


Monday 12th

Arrival in Kansai airport, travel to Kyoyo, settle in Accommodation and orientation

Tuesday 13th

Ukiyo-e galleries, Chion-in temple area, Sannenzaka Museum, Kiyomizudera, Shopping, Gion Temples and shops, Yasaka Shrine

Wednesay 14th

Mokuhanga workshop with Richard Steiner 1pm—6pm

Morning visit to Shimogamo-jinja

Thursday 15th

Mokuhanga workshop with Richard Steiner 1pm—6pm

Friday 16th

Mokuhanga workshop with Richard Steiner 1pm—6pm

Saturday 17th

Kawaii Kanjiro's House, Kyoto Ceramics Centre, National Museum,
Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine (Sunset Viewing)

Sunday 18th

Gallery visits - venues to be confirmed*

Monday 19th

Visit to Shoichi Kitamura Studio, Yamashina, Daigo-ji Temple Yamashina

Kyoto Tower & Kyoto Station Building Skywalk(evening)

Tuesday 20th

Day trip to Echizen no washi sato (Paper making Village)

Wednesday 21st

Teramachi-dori Shopping precinct, Art / Paper shops, Unsodo
Mokuhanga publishers shop

Thursday 22nd

Leave for Kansai Airport and return to Australia

  *Museums and Galleries haven't released their schedules for the second half of 2020 yet

The schedule is dependant on workshop and visit confirmations, and is also flexible to accommodate weather, museum / gallery open days etc.



The three day workshop will be taken by master teacher and mokuhanga artist, Richard Steiner, at his studio in Kyoto, near to the famous Shimogamo shrine. You can receive professional instruction from Steiner Sensei at his own studio / workshop. The cost of the workshop and materials are included in the fee All tools, pigments and other equipment will be provided. As Sensei has retired from teaching short workshops, this is one of the last opportunities to experience his wonderful teaching style and knowledge.


Echizen Washi no Sato

We include a one-day trip to Echizen washi no sato (Echizen Papermaking village), an historic area making Japan's best washi. Visit the paper making workshops, see the techniques, meet the artisans and visit washi galleries and museums. This is about a 1 1/2 hour trip into the next province (Fukui) and we will travel past Lake Biwa. A great one-day trip out of Kyoto!



Travel by train where needed, otherwise walk! Kyoto is a walking city, generally flat and you will see many amazing sights and shops along the way. There is no need for a Japan Rail pass or to travel by shinkansen (Bullet train) in Kyoto. Jump on the local trains and experience normal life in Japan. Using the train system is easy and I will guide you how to use it. We may use buses occasionally however they tend to get very crowded!


Tour Fee 

The fee is only $3399 per person, which includes: transfers from Kansai Airport to Kyoto accommodation on the first and last days of the tour (if needed), local transport, visit to Exhizen Washi no Sato, entry to tour venues, accommodation at Uraraka Guest House, workshop fee with Richard Steiner, and the fee for planning and guiding the tour.


Secure Your Place Now with a 25% deposit of $850. The balance must be paid by August 12th, two months prior to departure. 

Early Bird Booking - $220 discount! Book and pay in full before February 14th, 2020. Full cost only $3179!

*Paypal Surcharge - if paying by credit card through Paypal, an extra charge of 2.9% will be added, (fee free payment in Japanese yen available).


Your Costs - Not Provided in the Tour Fee

Airfare - You can choose your preferred options / carrier, but should arrive in the morning 12th October at Kansai Airport. I possible, it is recommended to arrive the evening before and stay close by, then meet at the airport. You can also choose to arrive in Kyoto by another method.

Food - You can choose to eat wherever you like, there is a huge range of restaraunts and costs! (5,000 yen per day = $AU62 = moderate eating - I will show you how you can live cheaply in Japan!)

Shopping - You can find many beautiful gifts or interesting objects for yourself or others. I am happy to advise you where some great shops are located.

Travel Insurance - It is highly recommended you purchase travel insurance for yourself.

Visa - Australian citizens are automatically granted a free 90 day visitor visa on entry to Japan.


Kyoto Tour Booking and Payment

Tour Booking - Conditions and Payment Options

  1. Your place on the tour can be reserved with a 25% deposit of $850.
  1. You can also pay in full at time of reservation - Early Bird $3179, Full Price $3399. 
  1. It is also possible for you to pay directly in Japanese yen.
  1. A place cannot be held for you if you have not paid.
  1. Booking is on a "First come - first served" basis.
  1. Balance of $2549 must be paid before August 12th, 2020.
  1. An early bird booking discount will be given for payment in full before February 14th, 2020. (Full cost with early-bird discount: $3179)
  1. Payment by credit card through Paypal (Australia) will incur an additional 2.9% fee (Paypal's fee)
  1. Payment options are:

Payment Method


*Preferred Method* 

Direct Transfer to Bank Account

Pay direct to our bank account through internet banking. Convenient, instant and no fees.

BSB: 193-879
Account number: 439 500 781
Account Name: Australian Mokuhanga School
Reference: Kyoto Tour & Your Name

Pay Pal - Japanese Yen

*no fees for using this option

Japanese Paypal Account, where you can pay with your credit card through their secure system.

Deposit ¥65000

Early Bird Full ¥242000

Full Fee ¥262400

Log on to Paypal and pay to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Pay Pal - $AU

Please contact us by email so we can confirm the right amount. We will send you an email with a link to Paypal, where you can pay with your credit card through their secure system.

*incurs additional 2,9% charge, see the following:

Deposit +$24

Early Bird Full +$92

Full Fee Balance +$96

Log on to Paypal and pay to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Refunds & Cancellations

If we cancel the Tour

 If you cancel your booking

1. If there are insufficient numbers to run the tour and the tour is cancelled, a full refund will be given.

2. If the tour is cancelled by us for reasons to do with our operation / personal circumstances a full refund will be given.

3. If the tour is cancelled due to circumstances outside our control, some fees (accommodation and non-refundable expenses) may be deducted, depending on the closeness of the cancellation date to the tour start date. 

 1. Within 3 months of the tour start date a $50 administration fee will be deducted

 2. Within 2 months of the tour start date a $200 fee will be deducted to cover administration and other costs

 3. Within 4 weeks of the tour start date 50% fee will be deducted

 4. Within 2 weeks of the tour start date 100% fee will be deducted

Tour Changes

  1. The tour itinerary may be changed due to unforeseen circumstances. Every effort will be made to deliver the itinerary as planned.
  1. Days or tour items may be swapped due to weather, closures or other circumstances.
  1. Accommodation may be changed due to availability or other circumstances beyond our control. Every effort will be made to secure alternative comparable quality, location and cost accommodation.


  1. You are accepted on the tour as represented, the tour requires walking and stair mobility.
  1. If you are not able to walk 2 to 3 kilometres at a time, at a leisurely pace, without problem, or climb stairs as required, then you may not be able to participate in all the activities of the tour. Some days our combined walking distance may be over 10 kilometres.
  1. In this event we take no responsibility for your participation on a day to day basis. However guidance will be given to the best of our ability.

Allergies and Medical Emergencies

  1. You are asked to disclose relevant allergies, particularly food, so your guide can assist you with food and restaurant choice. Before booking the tour, please contact us to determine any degree of difficulty your allergy / food restrictions might cause. Information is available about food restrictions / diet / allergies, please contact us before booking the tour.
  1. Your guide is not a native speaker / reader of Japanese, or medically qualified, so cannot take responsibility for your food choices. There is a degree of risk involved due to language / labelling understanding and differing cultural approaches to allergy etc.
  1. You are strongly advised to prepare yourself for your needs and to have adequate and appropriate medical insurance. Any medication you require is your own responsibility.


2017 Kyoto Tour Report & Photos

Once again we had a great time in Kyoto and on our day trips to Fukui and Shiga. This year we had not one but two typhoons arrive! The rain dampened out clothes but not our spirits as we got out and about and enjoyed our planned activities.

Sunday 22nd

Arrival in Japan & Kyoto

Most of us arrived in the morning and made our way to Kyoto and were lucky to catch the last day of Richard Steiner's solo exhibition in downtown Kyoto. A second trip to the airport and back to Kyoto as typhoon 21 intensified. Luckily we made it back - I heard that trains were stopped in the evening!

Monday 23rd

Gion Art street Ukiyo-e galleries, Chion-in temple area, Sannenzaka Museum, Kiyomizudera, Shopping, Gion Area Temples and shops, Yasaka Shrine

The rain gradually cleared during the day and we had a lovely walk to Kiyomizudera, where we encountered the big crowds of this famous attraction. Some of us drank from the sacred spring, which the name of this temple comes from, giving us longer life! Afterwards, making our way downtown we tried okonomiyaki for dinner!

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Tuesday 24th

Visit to Shoichi Kitamura Studio, Yamashina, Daigo-ji Temple Yamashina

We had a fascinating and informative visit to Kitamura san's home studio and afterwards enjoyed the peace and tranquility of Daigo-ji. No big crowds and shopping madness here. In the evening we went to Kyoto station for dinner, then enjoyed the spectacular building and amazing night time view of Kyoto from the Skywalk.

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Wednesday 25th

Day trip to Echizen no washi sato (Paper making Village)

We took the train to Fukui prefecture to Echizen washi village where we saw papermaking, talked at lenght to the craftsmen, visited the paper museum and also walked to Okami-jinja - and amazing shrine in the mountain village. Again - lovely peace and quiet enjoying the rustic atmosphere.

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Thursday 26th

Our Mokuhanga workshop with Richard Steiner started and everyone got busy with their projects!

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Friday 27th

Our Mokuhanga workshop continued and with Richard's expert tuition everone made progress. Afterwards we visited a small traditional clothes shop where some of us bought samue - traditional craftsperson's clothes in japan. The shop owner was so happy to help everyone!

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Saturday 28th

Teramachi-dori Shopping precinct, Art / Paper shops, Unsodo Mokuhanga publishers

Starting with Kyoto Shibori Museum we visited various Art supply shops, Ukiyo-e shops, stopped at some interesting cafe's and finished with a lovely kaitenzushi (Sushi train) dinner!

The rain was starting to fall for Typhoon 21 - only one week after the previous one!

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Sunday 29th

Kawaii Kanjiro's House, Kyoto Ceramics Centre, Kyoto Museum

The rain from Typhoon 22 continued nearly all day, changing our plans a little. We went to the fantastic Kawai Kanjiro museum, which is his old home, then to the newlt opened Kyoto Ukiyo-e Museum where we could see Hiroshige's 36 Views of the Tokkaido, as well as some beautiful old Hokusai prints. Afterwards we visited Nishiki-dori to see and experience the incredible array of food shops there.

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Monday 30th

Mokuhanga Workshop with Richard Steiner - Last day with Richard. Beforehand we made an early morning visit to Shimogamo Shrine.

Nice mokuhanga!

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Tuesday 31st

We took a trip to Shiga prefecture to visit Sagawa Art Museum, which had an awesome exhibition of "10 Masters of Ukiyo-e" with excellent examples of the most famous artists of that time, such as Utamaro, Kunisada, Kuniyoshi, Hokusai, Hiroshige etc. The museum itself is amazing and again it was nice to visit normal, everyday Japan

 Afterwards we visited Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine and caught a perfect sunset view of Kyoto to end the last day.

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Wednesday 1st

In the morning we left for Kansai Airport and return to Australia, or to travel elsewhere in Japan.

2016 Kyoto Tour Report and Photos


Our tour in October 2016 was again fantastic...


We had great weather most days - a little cooler this year, and sometimes cloudy, but still very mild and enjoyable. This year we included a day trip to Echizen Washi village, which was most enjoyable! As our numbers suddenly were less than planned, we were able to extend the planned two day workshop with Richard Steiner into four days. This allowed participants to engage in a deeper project and learn more. 


 Tuesday 4th

Arrival in Kyoto..

We had an enjoyable dinner together in downtown Kyoto, Kaitenzushi (sushi train) as well as an orientation to Kyoto city and our accommodation.

Wednesday 5th

Beginning of mokuhanga workshop with Richard Steiner.

In the morning there was time to take in an exciting print exhibition featuring Japanese and Canadian printmakers.

 Richard Steiner Workshop

 Kyoto Print Exhibition

Thursday 6th 

Walking to Kamogawa (river) and enjoying the beautiful morning on Sanjo Ohashi. Nearby is an amazing old family business selling brushes of all sizes and purposes. Afterwards, off to Richard's amazing studio.


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Friday 7th

In the morning before going to Richard's studio we looked at several interesting places and shops in Kyoto, including a great shop to buy washi.

After yet another delicious dinner we visited Kyoto Station, enjoying the fabulous architechture.





Saturday 8th

Morning visit to Kyoto's best art supply shops, then the final day of workshop with Richard. That evening we all ate Okonokiyaki together.. oishii!! (delicious)




Sunday 9th

We visited Kawai Kanjiro's house / museum, the Kyoto Ceramics Centre, walked up the hill for agreat view across southern Kyoto and caught the sunset at Fushimi Inari Taisha (Shinto shrine) while enjoying a variety of snacks from the food stalls..





Monday 10th

Starting at Kamo gawa (river) we walked through some historic precincts, visited Ukiyo-e shops, past incredible wooden temple gates to Kiyomizu-dera. There we joined the throngs to view the scenery from the hillside Buddhist temple. Did I mention we chanced to see real Maiko san?




Tuesday 11th

Shopping in downtown Kyoto, including a great brush shop. Nishiki market street has the most amazing variety!




Wednesday 12th

The exciting day trip to Echizen washi village had at last arrived. Setting off earlier than usual, we caught an express train past Lake Biwa to Fukui prefecture. At Echizen we were able to see the paper making process, visit artisans studios and buy great Kozo washi direct from the makers. Along the way we had the local specialty for lunch - Oroshi Soba! Oishii!!!!





Thursday 13th

We were priveliged to visit the home studio of master craftsman Shoichi Kitamura. Afterwards, a change of plan and we amazed ourselves with the incredible wooden temple at Higashi Honganji, near to Kyoto Station.



Friday 14th

The wonderful toiur was over and each of us made our way to our next destinations, either the airport to return to Australia, or other parts of Japan.






2015 Kyoto Tour Report and Photos


Our tour in October 2015 was fantastic...


We had great weather throughout and all had a great time exploring Kyoto's shops, temples and restaurants... These are a few of the photographs I took, I hope it gives you an idea of the variety of places and activities.


"I have enjoyed it so much. Your expert introduction to Kyoto has been invaluable and made it easy to get around.. thank you for all your guidance and patience with us (especially all the shopping!)...Thank you again for a wonderful tour. Ciao Putch"


See below for some of the photos!



Wednesday 7th

Arrival in Kyoto - there is Kyoto Tower!

We had an enjoyable dinner together in downtown Kyoto, Kaitenzushi (sushi train) as well as an orientation to Kyoto.

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Thursday 8th 

Walking by the bank of Kamogawa (river) and finding our way to Kiyomizu-dera, overlooking Kyoto. Along the way, many great, cute, interesting and fascinating shops.



Friday 9th

Visit to Shoichi Kitamura's workshop for an inspiring introduction to his work.

Afterwards visiting Daigo-ji (temple) in Yamashina - away from the hordes of tourists!

That evening we had a great dinner together in one of Yamashina's Izakaya.

Kitamura san demonstrates carving

Shoichi Kitamura Studio

 Daigo-ji tower

Daigo-ji Garden

Saturday 10th

Visit to the mountain village of Kurama. Some of us walked to the mountain top temple.. amazing!

That evening we went to Kyoto Station, an architechtural masterpeice with great views of Kyoto city at night.

Kyoto tower at night

Kurama-dera top


Sunday 11th

We took in the great exhibition "Rinpa - 400 years of Kyoto Style" (sorry - no photos), visited Kawai Kanjiro's house / museum and caught the sunset at Fushimi Inari Taisha (Shinto shrine)

Kanjiros house


Fushimi inari taisha torii


Monday 12th

Shopping! At downtown Kyoto's incredible array of shops selling beautiful and amazing goods. Many of us had a wish list, so we could go straight to the shops we wanted.

brush shop


knife shop

Tuesday 13th

Split into two groups after a relaxed lunch at a small sushi bar, one group started their workshop, and the other went on a tour of specialist shops.

sushi for lunch

Richard's workshop

laquer shop

Wednesday 14th

The first group completed their workshop and the other went on a mission to Arashiyama!


Arashiyama ohashi

bamboo forest


Thursday 15th

Swapping over, the second group started their workshop with Richard Steiner while the other group visited some specialist shops in Kyoto city.

paper shop 2

Richards Door

Friday 16th

The second group completed their workshop while the first went on a guided shopping mission to a variety of art shops and others on the wish list.

That evening we had a great dinner together at a small restaurant just around the corner from our accommodation.

Julies hanga

Putchs hanga

paint shop

Saturday 17th

Leaving to return home... some of us stayed on for further adventures!



Some of the great photos from the previous tours:

Bamboo Forest in Kyoto Kyoto Tour Print Shop Munakata Shiko Original Print Shoichi Kitamura Studio Kyoto Daigo-Ji Garden At Fushimi Inari Taisha Echizen Washi Village gwasendo shopping Lucky to see Maiko san (Young Kyoto Geisha) Brush Shop Richard Steiner WorkshopIn the Paper Shop