Tokyo and Kyoto

May 17 - 28, 2023

Led by David Merritt. With Rigoletto (Petean, Torosyan) and Salome (Penda, Storey, Larmore) at the New National Theatre, plus concerts at Suntory Hall, Orchard Hall and Hakuju Hall. Touring includes Kawagoe, Kamakura, Kyoto day trip and Ueno Park.

Tokyo is a giant – “a concrete, steel and neon sprawl stretching almost to infinity” as one writer put it. Just the central core alone is inhabited by 13 million people. The entire metropolitan area, the largest in the world, eats up nearly 850 square miles with 23 wards in the core, 27 smaller cities, 14 towns and 27,000 islands with a combined population of over 35 million.

Tokyo roars 24/7. But it also has numerous exquisitely designed gardens – true oases of peace and tranquility. It has hundreds of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, a deep reverence for the past, a culinary tradition sans pareil, and a highly developed sensitivity to the arts. And the MUSIC!! Some 4,000 events a year given in 180 halls. Eight full-time professional symphony orchestras and several dozen opera companies large and small contribute to the plethora of concerts. This is Tokyo!

May is a gorgeous time to be in Japan—temperatures in the mid-70s and relatively low rainfalls. Those wishing to indulge further are welcome to extend their trip with stays in Osaka or elsewhere, and we can assist with these arrangements.

Join us for a rare and wonderful opportunity to experience the joy of one of the world’s great cities, with a day trip to glorious Kyoto.


Wednesday, May 17
Departures from your country of residence (for overnight flights), or early arrival day.

Thursday, May 18
Upon arrival in Tokyo, you will be met and transferred to the 5-star Palace Hotel Tokyo.
19.00 This evening we enjoy a Welcome Reception in the hotel’s piano lounge.

Friday, May 19
09.30 After breakfast (included each day), we meet for a brief orientation tour in the area surrounding the Imperial Palace and the Imperial Palace Gardens.
13.00 Transfer to Suntory Hall for a concert (TBA).
19.00 Dinner is included at Tenmasa.

Saturday, May 20
10.00 Late morning we embark on a guided tour of some of Tokyo’s landmark sites, including Tokyo Tower, the Asakusa Kannon Temple, the skyscrapers of Shinjuku, Ginza, Tokyo International Forum.
13.00 Lunch is included at Saryō Ichimatsu.
16.00 Transfer to the Orchard Hall for our first concert: the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra (one of Japan’s best); programme TBA.
22.00 Transfer back to the hotel.

Sunday, May 21
Enjoy the morning at leisure.
13.15 Transfer to Suntory Hall for a concert (TBA). 14.00 start.
19.00 This evening we enjoy an unforgettable dinner at Sushiko Honten.

Monday, May 22
09.30 Today we journey to Kamakura, former de facto capital of Japan and the seat of the Shogunate.
13.00 Lunch is included at Oshino.
15.00 Return to Tokyo.
18.15 Transfer to Suntory Hall for a concert (TBA).
19.00 start.
A champagne reception with the musicians and conductor follows the performance.
22.30 Transfer back to the hotel.

Tuesday, May 23
09.00 Today we embark upon a full-day excursion to Kyoto by Bullet Train. Founded as the new capital of Japan in 794, Kyoto is an oasis of gardens and Buddhist temples. Even after the seat of power moved to Kamakura and then eventually to Tokyo, Kyoto remained the cultural and spiritual heart of Japan. Our touring highlights Kyoto’s Imperial past and its traditional craftwork. Lunch and dinner are included.
Late evening return to Tokyo.

Wednesday, May 24
09.30 Today we embark on an excursion to Kawagoe. Located 25 miles north of Tokyo, this “Little Edo” is famed for its historic core of kurazukuri—black-walled merchant houses, some dating back to the 18th century. Japanese film directors love the place for its ready-made sets that are perfect for historical dramas. Lunch is included.
15.00 Return to Tokyo.
19.00 This evening we enjoy a performance (TBA).

Thursday, May 25
09.30 This morning we tour the Nezu Museum. Nezu Kaichiro Sr, a businessperson whose career included being the president of Tobu Railway, had a penchant for pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art. Founded in 1940 with his private collection, the museum now houses 7,400 exhibits spanning a wide range of genres. The current building, a stunning mix of traditional and modern styles, was designed by architect Kengo Kuma and opened in 2009.
13.00 Transfer to the New National Theatre for a matinee performance of Rigoletto. 14.00 curtain. The title role is performed by George Petean, one of the finest Verdi baritones of our time. The role of Gilda is performed by highly-acclaimed coloratura soprano Hasmik Torosyan. Iván Ayón Rivas makes his house debut as Il Duca, and Maurizio Benini takes up the baton.
Dinner is included after the performance.

Friday, May 26
10.00 Today we visit the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park. With some 87,000 pieces, it is the largest collection of Japanese art in the world.
13.00 Lunch is included at the Tofuya-Ukai
15.00 Transfer back to the hotel.
18.00 Transfer to the intimate and recently-rebuilt Hakuju Hall for a concert featuring the Tokyo Sinfonia (TBA).

Saturday, May 27
Enjoy the final morning at leisure.
13.00 Transfer to the New National Theatre for a matinee premiere performance of Salome. 14.00 curtain. Conducting will be Constantin Trinks. The title role is sung by Alex Penda, and English heldentenor Ian Storey, the stellar Jennifer Larmore and Tómas Tómasson round out the cast. 1 hr 40 mins, no intervals.
19.00 Our Farewell Dinner is included in a private salon in the hotel after the performance.

Sunday, May 28
Transfers to the airport for departure flights are included.