AFAR Experiences Tokyo -  ITINERARY*

November 10 – 13, 2017

We spent 4 nights/3 days in Tokyo filled with compelling speaker talks, intimate and behind the scenes access to the some of the city’s most remarkable people and places, and celebratory evenings full of amazing food, music and entertainment.

Event program commenced with an opening reception on Friday November 10th at 5:30pm, and concluded with a farewell celebration on the night of Monday, November 13th.  *Itinerary details are subject to change.

Welcome to Tokyo

Friday November 10

5:30pm – 8:30pm
Welcome Reception
From the spectacular rooftop of Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills, our World of Hyatt partner hotel, the opening event will be a celebration of seasonal cuisine, local artists, craftsmen and musicians. Hear from Shinichiro Ogata, the founder of leading Japanese design firm Simplicity, and take part in a sake tasting led by renowned expert John Gauntner.

Saturday November 11

Depart from hotel 

9am – 10:30am
Opening Speaker Session
Award winning journalist, author and foreign affairs expert Yoichi Funabashi will open our program with an insightful overview on the current state of Japan in relation to the economics, politics and societal views. Funabashi-san will speak to us on the grounds of International House, a non-profit organization supported by the Rockefeller Foundation created to promote cultural exchange and intellectual cooperation between Japan and other countries.

11am – 1pm
Speaker Session and Lunch
The nuclear disaster of Fukushima, triggered by the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011, devastated an entire region. We’ll hear from Azby Brown, director of Safecast, a globally revered citizen science project, on how the communities affected have recovered, what challenges still remain, and how open data technology has contributed to that recovery. 

1pm – 4pm
Breakout Session I, various locations
Tokyo culture is best experienced in small groups. These breakouts offer more intimate, behind the scenes encounters with local experts. A final list of all breakout sessions will be shared with registered attendees approximately 10 days prior to event date.  

4pm – 6:30pm
Free Time

6:30pm – 10pm
Dine Out with the locals

In small groups, experience Tokyo’s lively streets in the company of a trusted local resident. With your new friend by your side to help navigate, you’ll visit some of their favorite spots, like hole-in-the-wall izakayas and hard-to-find, one of a kind restaurants. Discover the back streets of Tokyo’s many vibrant neighborhoods, from Nakameguro to Shimo-kitazawa and beyond.

Sunday November 12

9:45am – 12pm
Japanese tea ceremony
Experience the exquisite tradition of a Japanese tea ceremony in a private and idyllic setting at the renowned Nezu Museum. Gain rare access to the museum’s traditional teahouse, set among the winding, leafy paths of beautifully tranquil Japanese gardens. 

12:30pm – 2:30pm
Speaker Session and Lunch
The word design could be a synonym for Japan. Kazuko Koike, one of the country’s leading cultural figures and most respected experts in contemporary creative life, will lead a fascinating discussion about the role of simplicity and usefulness in Japanese design culture and in daily life. 

3pm – 6:30pm
Free Time 

7pm – 10pm
Shinto ceremony and Dinner
At the historic Konno Hachiman-gu shrine in Shibuya, learn about Shinto, Japan’s indigenous religion and experience an ancient ritual and blessing by the resident Shinto priest.  

Monday November 13

9am – 11:30am
Breakout Sessions II, various locations 

11:30am – 1:45pm
Lunch and Free Time 

2:30pm – 4pm
Speaker Session
Take a deeper dive into the fascinating and fanciful world of Japanese pop culture phenomena through conversation with Mami Kataoka, chief curator of the contemporary Mori Art Museum, and Matt Alt, pop culture expert. From manga to anime and everything in between, we’ll explore the trajectory of Japan’s biggest, and quirkiest, export.  

4:30pm – 8pm
Farewell Cocktail and Dinner
A visit to Tokyo wouldn’t be complete without visiting the elegant and iconic Park Hyatt hotel. We’ll have private access to its renowned New York Bar and Grill for sunset cocktails followed by a very special dinner high above the magical, neon city lights.  

8:30pm – 11pm
The Final Final
Let’s not say goodbye just yet. After dinner, we’ll carry on with an after party at a local establishment where the sake will continue to flow, as we toast our final night together. Kampai!



Cool Japan's Ground Zero: a Tour of Nakano Broadway

Godzilla. Giant robots. Anime. Manga. Cosplay. Video games. The Nakano Broadway complex is like a diamond-polished window into the hearts and souls of the otaku — “hyper-consumers" who worship at the altar of Japanese pop culture. Nakano Broadway is a scruffy, homegrown, grassroots free-for-all that’s evolved over the decades from a simple shopping center into a sprawling super-complex of shops, restaurants, and event spaces — the beating heart of Japan’s vibrant nerd culture and home to some of its most interesting retailers and creators, ranging from anime and manga artists to pop artist Takashi “Superflat" Murakami, who keeps his business offices there. Writer and translator Matt Alt leads a journey into this real-life wonderland to learn what makes these quirky Japanese creations so enduringly popular around the world.

Bike Ride through historic Asakusa

Tour and discover the city of Asakusa in a fun and informative way by cycling alongside your local guide. During this two-hour experience, you will pass a variety of interesting locations like Sensō-ji Temple, Old Geisha House, Tokyo Skytree, Kappabashi (Tokyo's famous kitchen supply area), and traditional crafts stores. The guide will lead at your preferred pace, and you can stop occasionally to admire and snap photos of the sights. Enjoy an atmospheric east-end town that is preserving the boisterous feel of old-time Tokyo. PLAEASE NOTE: Must be comfortable riding in traffic.

Beautiful Blue: Indigo Dye workshop

If you’re a true fan of Japanese traditional art and culture, you can’t miss this incredible activity. The Indigo Dye workshop will take you to an Atelier in Asakusa, Tokyo, where you can experience Aizome, or indigo dyeing, firsthand. Characterized by its naturally rich, blue shade, Aizome is also known by many as “Japan blue.” Passed down from ancient times in Japan, the rich indigo color and dyeing process has entranced visitors for generations.

Shopping for Mingei - the beauty of Japanese Craftsmanship

Japanese crafts range from folk art to fine art, and we’ll enjoy the whole range of functional traditional crafts from the south-most islands of Okinawa to Hokkaido. KYOKO MIMURA takes you to Bingoya, the one and only shop in Tokyo that displays the widest range of resilient traditional folk arts. Afterward, travel to Aoyama Square, where works from government designated official traditional craft industries are displayed. You can compare the beauty of pure-traditional to contemporary design-oriented works—and buy them too!

The World of Ramen

Did you know there are over 10,000 ramen shops in the Tokyo metropolitan area alone? Meet Hiroshi Shimakage—a ramen expert who, aside from having eaten at thousands of ramen shops, has also worked in the kitchen alongside some of Japan's most famous ramen masters. Join Hiroshi to check out a few of Tokyo's leading new ramen shops to learn what makes these bowls so special—and just how deep this ramen world goes. PLEASE NOTE: Not suitable for vegetarians.

Craft Sake Tasting

There’s a revolution happening in the sake world. Small craft brewers are combining centuries-old techniques with modern knowhow to create complex, genre-smashing brews that tease extraordinary flavours from rice. Drink writer Nicholas Coldicott, co-founder of the Kurokura craft sake label, will lead a tasting of some of the finest and rarest sakes around, from umami bombs to citrus stunners. PLEASE NOTE: Location is at Andaz Tokyo Hotel.

Historic Walk in Yanaka

Join tour guide Yumiko Nakamura for a walking tour of Yanaka, Tokyo's most traditional district. One of our first stops will be Ueno Sakuragi Atari, three restored houses from 1938 that now hold a beer hall, shops, and community spaces. Ueno Sakuragi Atari is a unique chance to see the charming architecture of the early Showa period. We’ll also explore the Asakura Museum of Sculpture, which was once the former residence and studio of renowned sculptor Asakura Fumio. Lastly, the Yanaka Ginza shopping district will give participants the chance to explore unique specialty shops.

Tokyo Architecture Walk I

Explore Tokyo’s equivalent of an inner-city Beverly Hills in Omotensando—a finely interwoven fusion of wealth and eccentricity, which makes it Japan’s most desirable urban neighborhood. This tour with JONI WAKA will cover contemporary architecture, design, and fashion with historical references and behind-the-scene accounts. This tour includes notable buildings and their interiors, and will be led by internationally acclaimed architect Yoshio Taniguchi, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki, and the hottest of Japan’s new wave architects, Klein Dytham architecture.

Tokyo Architecture Walk II

JONI WAKA leads you to explore Tokyo’s equivalent of Madison Avenue, the glamorous Ginza shopping district. This area has enjoyed a recent revival as a major commercial center in Japan, and the tour will cover art, architecture, design and fashion. Notable highlights will include buildings by the Centre Pompidou-Metz architect Shigeru Ban, 2020 Olympic Stadium architect Kengo Kuma, Italian architect Renzo Piano and Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill.

Nikon Photo Walk

Join acclaimed photographer, and Nikon Ambassador, Matthew Jordan Smith for a walking tour of Tokyo, seen from a photographer’s perspective. You’ll receive your own Nikon D7500 to use for the duration of the photo walk, with hands on instruction to ensure everyone captures memorable photos. The tour will begin at Meiji Shrine, one of Japan’s most popular shrines. Our second stop will be Yoyogi Park, a popular gathering spot for rock music fans, jugglers, acting and hobby groups. We’ll finish the tour at Harajuku, a famous section of Tokyo and the epicenter of teen fashion and pop culture. Here, you’ll experience Japanese crepes, fashion boutiques, gift shops and more.

Tsukiji Market Tour

Tsukiji fish market is known as the world's largest, busiest fish market. Here, we’ll learn about Japanese food culture and Japanese local life, with an emphasis on how fresh fish are delivered to local Japanese people. This 80-year-old historical market is planning to relocate to another part of Tokyo next year, so this is the very last chance to experience the original, traditional market! PLEASE NOTE: Must wear closed-toe, flat shoes.

The History of the Kimono

Kyoko Yoshii, the fifth-generation owner of Chojiya Kimono, a traditional kimono craftsman shop with a 200-year history, is offering guests the chance to experience a customized fitting of a silk-made authentic Kimono. This activity allows guests to learn about this culturally significant garment and to wear the authentic garment in the center of Tokyo. PLEASE NOTE: wide-neck undershirts, such as tank tops, V-necks or scoop necks, must be worn on the activity day.

Seasonality in Japanese cuisine: Cooking Demo

Washoku, Japan’s indigenous food culture, is characterized by its seasonal sensibility—enjoying the bounty of each season, in its turn. One of November’s culinary delights is edible chrysanthemum. Elizabeth Andoh, a Japanese food authority, has invited us to her home for a cooking demonstration and to enjoy a gluten-free, vegetarian obentō that includes yellow and purple chrysanthemum flowers and their leafy greens. The menu celebrates Shichi-go-san (literally “Seven-Five-Three”), an autumnal festival honoring children aged seven, five and three. If clear skies prevail, we get an extra treat: a view of Mount Fuji from Elizabeth’s kitchen window!

Tokyo Tour with the Animals

Join SONOE AZUMA of Unagi Travel, a Japanese travel agency exclusively for stuffed animals, for a behind-the-scene walking tour of Tokyo—with fluffy stuffed animals from around the world in tow. Making stops at Meiji Shrine, Imperial Palace, Tokyo Station, and more. Sonoe will show you how she entertains and takes photos of the stuffed animal travelers in her care.

I'll Do My Own Thing

Featured Locals

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    Azby Brown

    Azby Brown has lived in Japan since 1985 and is a leading authority on Japanese architecture, design, and environmentalism. His groundbreaking writings on traditional Japanese carpentry, compact housing, and traditional sustainable practices of Japan are recognized as having brought these fields to the awareness of Western designers and the general public. As founder and director of the Future Design Institute at the Kanazawa Institute of Technology, he conducted joint research in the neurobiology of the hand and hand-based creativity and communication. Since 2011 he has been a core member of Safecast, a highly successful global volunteer-based organization formed in close collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, devoted to developing new technology platforms for crowdsourced environmental monitoring which promote on open-source and open data principles. He is the lead author of the Safecast Report on the consequences of the Fukushima disaster. His current focus is on the reuse of obsolete military bases in Europe and Japan, and evaluating the rebuilding process of Japanese coastal towns destroyed by the 2011 tsunami.

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    Mami Kataoka

    Mami Kataoka has been chief curator of Mori Art Museum in Tokyo since 2003 where she has curated a number of exhibitions, including “Ai Weiwei: According to What?” (2009/ US Tour 2012-13), “Lee Bul”(2012), “Makoto Aida” (2012), “Lee Mingwei and His Relations” (2014-15), and “N. S. Harsha: Charming Journey” (2017). Prior to this position, Kataoka was Chief Curator at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery and researcher at the NLI Research Institute on cultural policies and urban development projects. She was also International curator at the Hayward Gallery in London from 2007 to 2009. In 2012 she guest curated “Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past” at Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, and was a Co-Artistic Director for the 9th Gwangju Biennale in South Korea. She has served as a professor at Kyoto University of Art and Design Graduate School of Art and Design Studies since 2016. Kataoka has now been appointed as artistic director of the 21st Biennale of Sydney in 2018.

    Photo by Daniel Boud

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    Kazuko Koike

    A Tokyo native, born in 1936, Kazuko Koike is a leading cultural figure and one of the most respected experts in contemporary creative life. She has been an advisory board member of MUJI since its establishment and is the founder and former director of the city's Sagacho Exhibit Space—a pioneering gallery that has helped propel the careers of artists such as Tadao Ando. Koike is currently professor emeritus of Musashino Art University and the director of the Towada Art Center. She has written and edited numerous design books, notably: ISSEY MIYAKE East Meets West; Ikko Tanaka and Future/Past/East/West of Design;  Aura of Space; and the TASCHEN Issey Miyake.

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    Shinichiro Ogata

    Shinichiro Ogata is a designer, entrepreneur, and visionary, bringing his modern, minimalist aesthetic to life in every project his design company—aptly named SIMPLICITY—takes on. His firm has infused traditional Japanese culture into every project, from restaurants to retail locations to products and packaging and more. One of Ogata’s most notable accomplishments: the interior design of the Hyatt Hotels’ Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills.

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    Matt Alt

    Writer, translator, and longtime Tokyo resident Matt Alt is the co-founder of AltJapan Co., Ltd., a localization firm that produces the English versions of Japanese video games, comic books, and other entertainment for Japan’s top media companies. He is the co-host of the popular NHK World TV show Japanology Plus, the co-author of the bestselling Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide, and a regular contributor to publications including Slate Magazine, Newsweek Japan, the Japan Times, and the New Yorker.

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    Elizabeth Andoh

    Born, raised and educated in America, Elizabeth Andoh has made Japan her home for more than half a century. A leading English-language authority on Japanese food culture, Ms. Andoh’s formal culinary training was taken at the Yanagihara School of Classical Japanese Cuisine (Tokyo). She directs A Taste of Culture, a Tokyo-based culinary arts program. Author of award-winning Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2005), Ms. Andoh. teaches Japanese Classics on the CRAFTSY platform, an online culinary classroom. Thousands of food and Japan-enthusiasts subscribe to her electronic newsletter; highly engaged followers on Face Book view and share with others what she posts there.

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    Kyoko Utsumi Mimura

    Kyoko Utsumi Mimura is an independent scholar on Japanese traditional popular crafts and arts (mingei). She was the long-time International Programs Director of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum and currently lectures at Waseda University. Kyoko is also producer and director of Friendship Bridge Classical Music and Arts Society, a non-profit organization that produces educational programs, lectures and exhibitions on Japanese art and culture, as well as world-class opera and classical music concerts.

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    Nicholas Coldicott

    Nicholas Coldicott is a Brit who has been writing about Japan’s drinking scene for 15 years, He’s a former editor of Japan’s Eat Magazine and Whisky Magazine Japan, a former drink columnist for The Japan Times and CNN, and a judge for the annual World’s 50 Best Bars competition. He is also the co-founder of Kurokura, a craft sake bottler that selects distinctive, complex brews made with passion by small-scale artisans.

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    Soukou Kitami

    Soukou Kitami is the Tokyo-based Tea Ceremony Master of Urasenke, a top tea ceremony school. He has served as a lecturer of tea ceremonies for various corporations, including Toyota Motor Corporation and Kureha Corporation. Passionate about passing on his knowledge of traditional Japanese cultures, Soukou has published books and articles on the tea ceremony. He was also awarded the title of “Cultural Meister” for his contribution to the subject.

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    Yoichi Funabashi

    Yoichi Funabashi is co-founder of the Asia Pacific Initiative, a think tank that includes the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation, a research program established in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear accident. An award-winning journalist and author, Yoichi has written extensively on foreign affairs, the US-Japan Alliance, geo-economics and historical issues in the Asia Pacific. He was awarded the first Japanese laureate of Stanford University’s prestigious Shorenstein Journalism Award.

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    Paul Martin

    Paul Martin is an expert on Japanese swords and their history. A former Japanese sword specialist of the British Museum in London, Paul was the first non-Japanese to win a “kantei-kai” or sword appraisal competition. Paul has dedicated his life to the promotion and preservation of the Japanese sword, offering his translation services to institutions and museums as well as translating/producing books and DVDs on the topic.

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    Matthew Jordan Smith

    Matthew Jordan Smith, a Nikon Ambassador, is a renowned celebrity, fashion and beauty photographer with clients that include Oprah Winfrey, Danial Day-Lewis, and many more. Matthew’s love of photography has inspired several personal projects including three published books and prestigious teaching assignments. He is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Microsoft Icon of Imaging Award, China’s Power of Image Award and the WPPI Vision Award.

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    John Gauntner

    John Gauntner is recognized as the world’s leading non-Japanese sake expert. In fact, he was awarded the very first Sake Samurai designation, which should come as no surprise considering he’s the architect of the Sake Professional Course and has written newspaper columns, magazine articles, and half a dozen books on sake over the last two decades. John’s latest book, Sake Confidential, is a beyond-the-basics guide to understanding and enjoying sake.

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    Joni Waka

    Joni Waka has kept the tradition of Japanese influence in contemporary arts and architecture alive for more than thirty years by providing spaces for exhibitions, film screenings, performances, book launches, promotional events, and residencies. He has produced events with such notables as Gilbert & George, Francesco Clemente, Joseph Kosuth, Tracey Emin, Tracey Moffat, the Guggenheim Museum, the Tate Gallery, the Asia-Pacific Triennial in Brisbane and the Venice Biennale.

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    Sonoe Azuma

    Sonoe Azuma runs Unagi Travel, a Japanese travel agency exclusively for stuffed animals. The company’s vision is to provide adventures for everyone around the globe: kids, students, parents, entrepreneurs, teachers, artists, and more by touring Japan in real time via their stuffed animals’ adventures. Her business has fascinated and entertained the world via social media. Sonoe also collaborates with businesses and local governments to offer a variety of tour services.