The tour starts with a visit to the internationally celebrated contemporary gardens of Tokachi Millennium Forest, designed by Dan Pearson and situated on Japan’s most northerly island, Hokkaido.

Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech
© Michelle Chaplow/Alamy Stock photo

You’ll learn about the spirit of nature and sense of place from head gardener and international speaker Midori Shintani, as well as enjoying a cultural workshop and foraged forest lunch prepared by the gardeners. Returning to the mainland you will delve into the traditional gardens, culture and the unforgettable architecture of Tokyo, Kanazawa, Kyoto and Nara, where gardens will provoke thought and delight in equal measure.

Tokachi Millennium Forest, Hokkaido
Tokachi Millennium Forest, Hokkaido. © Shogo Oizumi

Meet with the gardeners of the Chion-in Temple who will demonstrate the fine art of niwaki pruning and offer advice on the tools they use. Discover both renowned gardens and lesser-known hidden cultural gems, such as the beautifully preserved historic Sumiya Pleasure House in Kyoto. The varied landscapes visited meld the intimate essence of nature with the disciplines of cosmology, poetry and meditation and through Hannah’s formal and informal instruction, your journey will unpick the complexity and seek to understand the history and meaning of these serene and spiritual landscapes.

Booking details

Tour dates September 2023 – exact dates to be confirmed.

Tour leader Hannah Gardner Kew trained horticulturist, Hannah works as a head gardener and garden consultant with a particular passion for studying plant communities worldwide – including time spent in Japan. She has written The Outsider column for Gardens Illustrated.

Booking details Final pricing to be confirmed. It will be based on all hotels, trains, other transportation, most meals and all sightseeing. It does not include hotel extras or travel insurance, or international flights, although these can be arranged through Distant Horizons if required. For more details and for an in-depth itinerary with details of day-to-day visits, meals, etc, please contact Distant Horizons.

To express an interest or to book please contact Distant Horizons, 13 Melloncroft Drive, Caldy, The Wirral, Cheshire CH48 2JA, UK. Tel 0151 625 3425, email website


This tour has been arranged exclusively for readers of Gardens Illustrated by Distant Horizons, organisers of cultural and garden journeys since 1996. Please note that itineraries may be subject to change for reasons beyond Gardens Illustrated’s control.