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MIHO Museum and Shigaraki Pottery Town

Highlights

  • The magnificent architecture of MIHO Museum embedded in a breathtaking landscape of green mountains
  • A rich collection of ancient art treasures from around the world
  • Scenic views of countryside and densely forested valleys on the way to and from MIHO
  • Visits to local pottery artisans in Shigaraki to view their kilns and studios
  • Strolls around quaint narrow streets in the old town centre of Shigaraki
  • Leisurely train ride on the Shigaraki Kogen (Highland) Railway

Description

The tour starts from Kyoto with a short JR (Japan Railway) ride to Ishiyama, a town at the southern edge of Biwa-ko. From here we head by bus into the deep mountains for MIHO Museum. During the 50 minute bus ride, you can soak up the scenery of the countryside and the densely forested valleys.

What takes your breath away first at the museum is its 500m approach to the main building. As you pass through the beautifully illuminated tunnel and the suspension bridge spanning the hidden valley, you will feel as though you stepped into "Shangri-La" --- the legendary Buddhist paradise --- on earth. Inside, the museum's fantastic collection is introduced with the permanent exhibit consisting of hundreds of ancient art treasures from Asia, the Middle East and Europe, many of which are thousands years old! Special exhibitions on various themes are continually held as well. Moreover, the museum building itself, designed by I. M. Pei, is a jewel of contemporary architecture. To achieve harmony with the natural setting, most of the building is humbly embedded into the ground. This unique structure provides the inside with a rich contrast of lights and shades, and allows you to experience continuous shifts between dimness in the exhibition rooms and brightness in the glassed lobbies. We stay here for about 3 and a half hours, including lunch at the on-site organic food restaurant.

After leaving "Shangri-La", we will make our way to the second destination, Shigaraki town --- home of the world famous "Shigaraki-yaki" (Shigaraki ware). Blessed with the special clay from the bed of ancient Biwa-ko, this hillside town has a centuries-long history in pottery making and is counted as one of the towns of Japan's "Six Old Kilns". The central area of Shigaraki retains the nostalgic atmosphere of the old pottery town; its studios, galleries and houses stand close together along the quaint narrow streets, dotted throughout with the remaining traditional-type kilns, "anagama" (literally "cave kiln") and "noborigama" (multi-chambered climbing kiln). On a stroll around the area, we visit some local pottery artisans, where we can talk with them, and view their kilns, workshops, and galleries. Interestingly, most of the studios and galleries in Shigaraki are attached to the potter's residences, providing you the opportunitiy to not only see their workspaces but experience parts of the artisan families' daily life. As the shadows lengthen, our stroll concludes at Shigaraki Station.

One more treat remains to enjoy on the homeward leg --- the Shigaraki Kogen Railway. The leisurely journey on a local train through the peaceful evening countryside adds more colours to the ending part of your day. Changing to JR at Kibukawa Station, we head home to JR Kyoto Station.

Itinerary

JR Kyoto Station (Departure)

Train

JR Ishiyama Station

Public Bus

MIHO Museum
- Lunch

Taxi

Town centre of Shigaraki
- Strolling around the town
- Visiting local potters' studios and galleries

Walk

Shigaraki Station

Train (Shigaraki Kogen Railway)

JR Kibukawa Station

Train

JR Kyoto Station (Return)

Tour includes

  • English-speaking tour conductor (licensed guide interpreter)
  • Admission fee for MIHO Museum
  • Fare for all transportation listed above
  • Insurance
  • Local tax

Tour does NOT include

  • Lunch (Order and pay as you like at the lunch venue)

Remarks

  • If you stay in Shiga Prefecture, our departure and return point may be changed into a more convenient place.
  • In MIHO Museum, an English-speaking museum guide will take you a tour round their collection (free of charge). Otherwise, you can navigate yourself at your own pace. A English audio guide is available as well (¥500).
  • The potters we visit may vary depending on date, although we generally visit three or four potters.
  • You can purchase pottery from potters in Shigaraki, but please note that not all of them handle international shipping and accept credit cards.
  • From late October to December, the ride on the Shigaraki Kogen Railway is to be after the sunset.
  • Packing light and wearing comfortable walking shoes are recommended. We walk 3-4 km in this tour. A coin-operated locker is available at JR Kyoto Station.
  • Be sure to be prepared for all weather conditions depending on the season.
  • A few more places may be visited in accordance with your request if time and other conditions allow.
  • Seats in public transportations are not guaranteed.
  • Itinerary may change without earlier notice due to weather and transport conditions or any unforeseen circumstance(s).

Gallery

"Noborigama" (multi-chambered climbing kiln) in Shigaraki
The pink of cherry blossoms reflecting on the tunnel wall on the approach to MIHO Museum Bridge leading to the museum building Entrance lobby of the museum
Local pottery artisans's kiln on fire Pottery in progress Townscape of Shigaraki
Raccoon dog pottery figures (for which Shigaraki is famous today) Pottery drying in the sun Shigaraki Kogen Railway
Booking Enquiry Form »

Price (per person):

No. of person(s)Price
1¥23,000
2-3¥16,000
4-5¥13,500
6-10¥11,500

Children under 5 are free of charge and not included in guest count.

Discounts!

  • ¥1,000pp off for adults with a valid JR pass
  • ¥2,000pp/¥1,500pp off for children aged 6-11 with/without a valid JR pass

Tour operates:

(In 2017)

  • Every Tuesday to Sunday from 18 Mar - 18 Jun, 01 Aug - 03 Sep, and 16 Sep - 17 Dec
    (exceptionally, the tour is available on Mondays on 21 Mar, 18 Jul and 10 Oct, and is NOT available on Tuesdays on 21 Mar, 19 Sep, 10 Oct, Saturday on 13 May and Sunday 14 May.)

Group size:

Minimum 1 / Maximum 10

Language:

English (and of course Japanese)


Meeting time:

8:30 am

Meeting point:

JR Kyoto Station (In front of the Railway Information desk in the central concourse)  » MAP

Your tour conductor with a YUtour's logo card hung from his neck will be waiting to greet you.

Returning time:

6:30 pm approx.