with Tanpopo Journeys
Small Group Journey
Tokyo > Iwate > Kanazawa > Takayama > Gifu > Tokyo
Next spring, you are invited to join Atsushi Futatsuya, a sashiko artisan and a story-teller from Upcycle Stitches, and Koshiki Smith, a textile tour guide from Tanpopo Journeys, for an unforgettable journey exploring the roots of sashiko and boro and offering you a chance to partake in textile art. This small-group tour is centered on traditional sashiko’s cultural significance to the Tohoku and Hokuriku regions, learning to recognize regional differences in sashiko and also focusing on local efforts to preserve native arts and crafts.
Sashiko and BORO in Tohoku & Hokuriku Regions
The Tohoku area of Japan is home to the three best-known types of sashiko stitching: Kogin-zashi, Shounai-zashi, and Hishi-zashi, and many pieces with complicated geometric patterns are considered important tangible folk cultural properties. We will meet craftspeople and have in-depth conversations to learn where and how sashiko originated, and how it evolved to become the sashiko and boro of today. Along the way, we will also learn about boro mending, an integral part of sashiko stitching, which will help us to understand the relationship between boro sashiko.
In the coastal town of Iwate prefecture, we will meet with members of a local nonprofit group whose mission is to preserve the lost culture of sashiko in a region hit by a devastating tsunami. In the valleys of the Hida Mountains in Gifu prefecture, Atsushi Futatsuya will welcome you to join his Sashiko Stitching “Origine” and share with you their dedication and passion for artisanal sashiko, an intimate experience you will never forget.
We will learn about other Japanese textiles along our journey, and stay at a hot spring ryokan to relax and relish the local cuisine. We will visit small artist studios, a UNESCO World Heritage site, beautiful small towns, and meet with local people and hear their stories.
This tour is genuinely unique: a journey with a sashiko artisan and storyteller that will deepen your understanding of sashiko’s importance and preservation, and help you to discover sashiko as it exists in the present day. This journey is perfect for you if you have some basic knowledge of sashiko. It will deepen your relationship with sashiko and let you experience it in its native land.
*Single Occupancy-In Tokyo and Kanazawa, every traveler will have their rooms at western-style hotels. In Iwate, Otsuchi, and Takayama, 2-4 travelers will share a large room at a traditional ryokan.
may 8 – may 19, 2022
$5999 per person, single occupancy*
hotels, local transportation
workshops & demonstrations
transportation to/from hotel on the first/last day of tour
$100 charitable donation to Otsuchi Sashiko Recovery Project (NPO)
what’s not included:
travel or medical insurance
flight to/from Japan
personal spending including:
shopping, alcohol, laundry, some meals
online-sashiko workshop prior to the tour (Prerequisite)
- Welcome dinner & sashiko workshop
- Take a tour of the Tsukiji Fish Market and have fresh sushi for lunch
- Visit Tsutaya Edomoji Studio
- Guided arts and crafts tour of Iwate prefecture
- Visit stencil dye and homespun studios
- Take a cooking class from a local women’s group
- Workshop with Otsuchi Sashiko Recovery Project
- Kanazawa sightseeing
- Kutani Pottery Studio Visit
- Feather & needle art workshop (optional)
- Gold leaf application workshop (optional)
- All-day sashiko workshop in Takayama
- Day-trip to Shirakawago, UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Fabric Shopping in Textile Town
- Farewell Dinner
Ideal trip for:
Solo Traveler , Female Traveler , Friends
Qualification: Prospect travelers must complete one or more online sashiko workshops from Upcycle Stitches. Click here for more information.
Hi, my name is Koshiki, and I am your textile tour guide. As a Japan specialist and a travel advisor, I have 20+ years of hospitality experience. I lead numerous special interest tours to Japan, including textile, food, arts and culture, and sports event such as Nagano Winter Olympic. My role as a guide is to help and assist you through your journey to Japan and present knowledge of its textile and culture with personal and attentive service so you can experience the best of what Japan has to offer
Atsushi Futatsuya is a Sashiko artisan and story-teller. Atsushi was born in a Sashiko family in Gifu Prefecture, Japan. Since his childhood, he has spent a great amount of time in Sashiko with Sashiko artisans, including his mother and great Sashiko artist, Keiko. In 2015, Keiko started @Sashi.Co to share the enjoyment of Sashiko with asking Atsushi to help her. In 2017, Atsushi started sharing his Sashiko and stories through @UpcycleStitches.
Atsushi focuses on the importance of Sashiko as a process. His work not only communicates the beauty of hand stitching, but it also reminds us of a more spiritual relationship with cloth and how, through Sashiko, you communicate to the fabric while stitching.
Day 1> Welcome to Japan
We will meet you at Haneda International Airport and help you transfer to the hotel if you are arriving today. At dinner, Atsushi Futatsuya will give you an introduction to sashiko and a small sashiko project to keep your hands busy during the tour.
Accommodation: Mitsui Garden Hotel or equivalent, 2 nights
Day 2 >Tokyo, Ginza, Tsukiji Outer Market
What is the best way to understand Japanese culture? It’s to visit the Tsukiji market! So, today we will get up early in the morning to see the Tsukiji Outer Market. Along the way, we will visit a century-old Noren textile and design studio nestled in a small alleyway: this studio has been providing Noren curtains, lanterns, and tenugui for festivals and cultural ceremonies in the area. The afternoon can be spent visiting museums, touring gardens, or just relaxing.
Accommodation: Mitsui Garden Hotel or equivalent
Meals: Breakfast & Lunch
Day 3 & 4 > Iwate Prefecture, textile arts
Tuesday 5/10/2022 & Wednesday 5/11/2022
After breakfast, we will take the Shinkansen bullet train to Iwate prefecture, a three-hour journey. We will tour the city of Iwate, a former political and cultural center of the Tohoku region, to discover the rich history of textile, and folk and craft arts. For the next two nights, we will stay at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn; we will relax in the hot springs and relish regional cuisine.
Accommodation: Traditional style ryokan, 2 nights
Meals: 5/10-Breakfast & Dinner (kaiseki style)
5/11-Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Luggage: 5/11 luggage transfer to Kanazawa
Day 5 > Coastal town of Otsuchi
Today, we will take a local train to meet with a local group for a cooking class. We will take a stroll along the seashore and then get ready for an all-day workshop the next day. We will be staying at a local inn.
Accommodation: Minshuku (Guest House)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch/cooking class & Dinner (seafood)
Day 6 > All-day sashiko workshop in Otsuchi
Today, we will participate in an all-day sashiko workshop hosted by the Otsuchi Sashiko Recovery Project (NPO) and Atsushi Futatsuya. After the devastating tsunami that hit the region in 2011, Atsushi and local sashiko artists formed the Otsuchi Sashiko Recovery Project; their mission is to help preserve and recover the lost art of sashiko. You will learn more than just sashiko; you will also learn about the wisdom, resilience, and humility of the people who cherish sashiko and about their determination to continue the folk art traditions of the region.
Meals: Breakfast & Lunch
Day 7 & 8 > Kanazawa, art and craft town of Hokuriku region, fiber art
Saturday 5/14 & Sunday 5/15/2022
We will spend two days in Kanazawa, one of the best-preserved Edo period (1603-1868) cities in Japan, known for its arts and crafts. We will visit Kenrokuen, one of the three best-known Japanese gardens, the Kutani Kosen pottery studio, and spend an afternoon in the Geisha district.
Accommodation: Mitsui Garden Kanazawa or equivalent, 2 nights, laundry service available
Luggage: 5/15 luggage transfer to Takayama
Day 9 > Takayama, sashiko and boro workshop in Hida region
In the next two days, Atsushi will invite us to his hometown, the birthplace of sashiko in Hida, and we will take part in an all-day sashiko workshop. We will be working with naturally dyed threads and indigo-dyed cotton fabric to each create our own sashiko art piece (future boro).
Day 10 > Gifu, Shirakawago, UNESCO World Heritage Site
We will take a day trip from Takayama to Shirakawago, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Hida valley. This small traditional village showcases a building style known as gassho-zukuri (prayer-style architecture). Enjoy a relaxing day strolling in the village, getting to know the long-established architecture, beautiful scenery, and having a local lunch.
Day 11 > Tokyo, textile shopping and farewell dinner
Today we will say goodbye to Takayama and head back to Tokyo. We will have the afternoon for shopping in Nippori textile town, Asakusa, and Kappabashi kitchen town, and then gather together as a group one last time for a farewell dinner to reflect on our journey.
Accommodation: Asakusa View Hotel or equivalent
Meals: Farewell Dinner
Day 12 > To Haneda
Our tour includes a shuttle service to Haneda International Airport. We hope you enjoyed the trip and have a safe journey home.
Itinerary is subject change.
Studios and Partners
“Images of sashiko and boro by Atsushi Futatsuya“
Please book a round-trip flight to Haneda International Airport in Japan. There are many direct flights from the United States for hassle-free travel. Please be informed of any updates on travel restrictions.
Please bring one suitcase that you can manage yourself, preferably a carry-on size, and a day bag or backpack for hikes or overnight trips when our luggage is being forwarded to our next hotel.
Bring comfortable walking shoes. We recommend you pack a waterproof jacket or a small folding umbrella. There is no dress code for any places listed in this itinerary; however, you may choose to have a nice outfit for dinner and sightseeing as people in Japan tend to dress less casually for everyday occasions. There will be laundry service and coin laundry available at our hotels in Tokyo and Kanazawa.
Our Commitment to You
Tanpopo Journeys is an independently-owned travel company located in St. Paul, MN, USA. Our mission is to work with artists, farmers, craftspeople, and small businesses to foster and help them preserve traditional Japanese crafts and food production methods and to share them with you.
We are proud of the quality of the services we provide and would love to curate a one-of-a-kind experience for you.
Mon – Fri: 10am – 5pm (CST)
Sat: 10am – 3pm (CST)