An in-depth tour in Japan with Ace Camps Travel and Prairie Stuart-Wolff of Cultivate Days. Kyoto, Japan - MAY 2019 Learn more here!

Kyoto: exploring the noble flavors and aesthetics of Japan |



About the trip:

Join us for a first-hand look inside the historically rich city of Kyoto where we will explore the noble flavours and aesthetics of Japan. We will meet and learn with local specialists, artisans and makers. We learn about the culture and aesthetics of green tea. We will test your senses with the finest incense in the world, wander through exceptional moss gardens and mesmerizing bamboo forests, examine centuries old Temples + Castles and practice the art of meditation with a Senior Priest from Kyoto's oldest Zen Temple.

This intimate behind-the-scenes experience will be curated and lead by Prairie Stuart-Wolff. Prairie is a writer and photographer, who will bring you on a journey of epicurean ideals from the heart of Japan.

You will enjoy various culinary specialties of the region including Oden, shojin ryori vegetarian Temple cuisine, and different versions of kaiseki. Traditional kaiseki is a course menu of specialty dishes utilizing fresh, local ingredients presented in fine vessels made of ceramic and lacquer.

May is a wonderful time of year to visit Kyoto. Spring is turning into summer, the weeping willows sway in the breeze and the birds are lively with song. The days are sunny and mild and the evenings cool.

Full Itinerary Below.

All photos by Prairie Stuart-Wolff

This Ace Camp includes:

  • Guided workshops and tours by Prairie Stuart-Wolff

  • 6 nights in twin share accommodation*

  • 6 breakfasts

  • 4 Lunches

  • 5 Dinners + sake, each carefully hand picked to include local Kyoto specialties

  • Learn about organic green tea, with a master-guided tasting and educational class

  • Learn about traditional Japanese incense

  • Visit to a Zen temple + Moss Gardens

  • Local Cooking class

  • Meditation Class with Zen Priest

  • Visit to the bamboo forest, Imperial Palace and UNESCO heritage Nijo Castle

  • Transport during tours


Group Size: Minimum 6 guests + Maximum 8 guests. 

*Rooms are shared with one other guest. Single supplement may be available, please inquire.

Transport/airfare to Kyoto, Japan is not included.

This trip does not include alcoholic drinks except where noted.

TRIP PRICE:  $ 3795 USD *

Deposit:  $1795 - due when place in workshop is confirmed 

Final Payment of $2000 due February 1, 2020

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WHO IS THIS TRIP FOR? This trip is for the calm, open minded traveler who is eager to experiment with their taste buds. You should be interested in learning about the local community of artisans, fascinated by ancient rituals and curious about regional culture and cuisine.


A NOTE ABOUT MOBILITY Please note this tour includes considerable walking tours, you may be on your feet for a couple of hours at a time. We ask you are comfortable walking or standing for long periods. You should also be comfortable being seated on the ground during certain meals and workshops.


AN IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT THE FOOD As a culinary focused tour, the meals are a main aspect of the week and the more adventurous you are, the tastier this trip will be for you. Unfortunately we are unable to handle specific dietary requirements, allergies or intolerances on this trip. Seafood dishes will feature prominently during this Ace Camp AND we recommend you enjoy ALL KINDS OF fish + SEAFOOD in particular. While we won’t be challenging you with the strangest aspects of the food culture, even day-to-day eating in Japan can taste quite different to someone unfamiliar with the cuisine.

Prairie Stuart-Wolff

Upon moving to Japan in 2007, Prairie immediately recognized the great depth and beauty of Japanese culinary traditions and her good fortune to have married into a family of accomplished potters, dedicated cooks, and food connoisseurs. For over a decade Prairie has been learning about and documenting the principles and practices of Japanese food and culture in context. From her work with Kodaiji Wakuden, one of Kyoto’s most highly regarded traditional kaiseki restaurants, Prairie has become acquainted with the highly refined historical and contemporary expressions of taste and aesthetics in Kyoto.

You can learn more about Prairie at

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As a zen-inspired building our 4-star accommodation is all about harmony and calmness. This artful boutique retreat blends seamlessly with the cityscape, inviting you to walk Kyoto's historical paths. Please note: Room size and layouts may differ from the traditional North American standards - the two individual beds may be situated closer together.


All photos by Prairie Stuart-Wolff


ACE CAMPS  will email you when it is time to make your travel arrangements. This email will always be sent 90 days or more before your trip departs unless you book within 90 prior to the camp. There will be no refunds for this Ace Camp due to the planning and logistics involved.


May is a wonderful time of year to visit Kyoto. Days are mostly temperate with trees and plants in bloom. Temperatures range from 55°F to 75°F, which means you should pack layered clothes for your stay and a light jacket + umbrella to prepare for the odd shower. 


The ACE CAMP TOUR LEADER is a part of your group and are there to look out for your safety, to help resolve issues, and to make sure you get what you want from your vacation. The Tour Leader will make sure that everyone who wants company has it, including dinners when no group meal is scheduled.



Travel Day - plan to arrive in Kyoto, Japan

Make your way to our hotel in Kyoto, located a short distance from Kyoto’s main train station.  

Welcome dinner this evening to meet Prairie and your group.


Breakfast at the hotel

We start our morning with a visit to Kishin Kitchen which is run by Atsushi Nakahigashi. Through an educational lecture and cooking class, we will learn about the foundation of the Japanese meal with Atsushi’s principle of ‘one rice, one soup’. We will then enjoy lunch together.

This afternoon we visit Saihoji, also known as Kokedera, a UNESCO Zen temple with a visually stunning, sprawling, moss garden. The garden has been selected as one of the ‘Historic Sites and Places of Scenic Beauty’ by the Government of Japan. Following this we will visit Uneno Dashi, where we will learn about the different ingredients of dashi (Japanese soup stock). We’ll learn how to make it and tour the locally owned production facility.

Dinner this evening will be Oden, a Japanese simmered dish featuring dashi that has been developing for over 1,000 years.


Breakfast at the hotel

Start this morning with a moment of tranquility during a Zazen Meditation class. Senior Priest Toryo Ito of Kyoto’s oldest Zen temple (Kenninji Ryosokuin) is stepping outside the Temple confines to teach this very special Zen meditation. (optional)

Continuing our morning of zen, we will visit the mesmerizing Tenryuji temple. Built in 1339, Tenryuji is the most important temple in Kyoto's Arashiyama district. We will have a very special lunch of a shojin-ryori (Zen vegetarian cuisine) on the temple grounds.

After lunch, we take a stroll through the serene beauty of the Arashiyama bamboo forest, where you will stand amid soaring stalks of bamboo. After our walk we will visit a beautiful property called Okochi Sanso Villa and Garden. The grounds of the villa feature multiple buildings, including a Japanese-style home, tea houses, and shrines, amidst carefully maintained Japanese gardens.

This evening we have a multi-course dinner at Kyoto Wakuden.

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Breakfast at the hotel

This morning we will focus on traditional incense making. We will visit a 200 year old incense company, and learn about incense through Monko, a codified practice of enjoying scent. The burning of incense in Japan began during the 6th century (the Asuka period) with the introduction of Buddhism and was then refined into an art form. As with flower arranging or tea, the appreciation of incense is practiced in both ceremonial and common settings for intellectual play, relaxation, and communion with companions and the seasons.

Lunch will be a picnic on the grounds of the Imperial Palace, featuring classical Japanese style architecture.

This afternoon we’ll visit the Nichinichi gallery, regarded as one of the finest galleries for contemporary applied and decorative art in Japan. The gallery also houses Toka tearoom. We’ll enjoy a seminar on the history, culture and aesthetics of Japanese green tea including an extensive tasting of organic green teas and peruse the fine crafts in the gallery.

Dinner this evening is a special restaurant in the historic Higashiyama neighbourhood, where we’ll enjoy an elegant family style meal. The restaurant founder is considered by many the doyenne of Kyoto cooking, the experimentation extends from the kitchen to the dining room, where there’s only one table and we will all share plates.


Breakfast at the hotel

We begin early this morning with a visit to the 17th Century Nijo castle. Its palace buildings are arguably the best surviving examples of castle palace architecture of Japan's feudal era, and the castle was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994.

Our morning continues with a visit to Shoyeido, where after nearly three hundred years, the Hata family continues the legacy of their innovative ancestors, offering a wide variety of unique, hand-blended incense. Here we will tour the small production facility where they make incense by hand. Today, this maker is considered the highest quality, most natural incense available in the world.

The afternoon and evening are open for you to explore on your own or with others from the group. You will have time to wander the canals and back lanes, admire the traditional architecture and navigate the frenzy of the food markets. Or just sip coffee in the one of the very cool coffee shops that dot the city.


Breakfast at the hotel

This morning we visit the stunning Imperial Villa. Katsura Imperial Villa (Katsura Rikyu) is a cherished cultural treasure. The villa’s elegant buildings are among the finest examples of the Sukiya Style of the Edo Period (1603 to 1868).

Lunch TBD

Consider this afternoon a personally guided, curated shopping experience for the gourmand and culinary artist a like. We’ll visit a myriad of Kyoto shops specializing in items for the cooking and dining enthusiast. Think finely crafted chopsticks, placemats, dishes, storage containers, knives and other distinctly Japanese kitchen utensils. All of our favourite insider spots.

Our farewell group dinner this evening is special Kaiseki dinner. Kaiseki cuisine is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner that presents a completely unique dining experience consisting of a series of beautifully presented dishes. This meal is set to intrigue the senses!


Departure Day

Breakfast at the hotel. This morning we pack our bags and say our farewells. Thank you for joining us on this incredible and often unexpected journey to the heart of Kyoto.

さようなら !

Nota Bene: this is a prospective itinerary. It is subject to modest modifications, dependent on local weather, new opportunities and the desires of the group.