The most unexpected of places
In the small coastal city of Kanazawa, far from the international airports and crowds of Tokyo and Kyoto, sat an unlikely group of people.
Here, inside an intricate wooden machiya townhouse, sake brewers mingled with designers, gold leaf artists conversed with architects, and kimono silk makers debated with artisans.
They shared a common purpose: sustaining the arts, crafts, and culture of the Kaga region, and of Japan as a whole. Many worked in traditional businesses that had been passed down from generation to generation, for thousands of years. Now it fell upon them to wonder:
How to protect their traditional craft legacies in this modern age?
Connecting people and culture
They decided to establish an organization with a catchy name to promote maki-e lacquerware, one of the Kaga region’s most famous exports during the Edo Period.
The Traditional Craft of Kanazawa Cooperative Association for Promotion of Kanazawa Kaga Maki-e was born.
This was a turning point. With the support of a prestigious grant from Japan’s national government, they pursued a number of outreach projects, and their mission began to capture the imagination of people around the the world.
Their team grew more international as they recruited the help of American designers, educators and travel professionals living in Kanazawa at the time. They met curators and collectors, but also many individuals who simply had a passion for passionate people and beautiful things.
A leap of faith
Many of those they met were interested in visiting Japan and experiencing its craft and culture for themselves. The most meaningful connections happened upon meeting the artists and artisans, visiting their studios, and understanding where the art had come from. Slowly, the idea of helping visitors with this kind of worthwhile travel took hold.
Fast forward to 2012. Japan was slowly recovering from the Tohoku earthquake that had decimated its tourism industry, when one member of the association took a leap of faith. A third-generation kin-paku gold-leaf artist, Mr Yoshii officially established The Art of Travel as a Japan Destination Management Company.
He believed that the mission of promoting the country’s powerful art, history and culture was more important than ever.
Local luxury travel
Today, The Art of Travel is made up of 20 staff members based in Kanazawa, Tokyo, Kyoto and New York, with Sales Representatives across the United States and Latin America. The company has grown from a determined group of artisans from Kanazawa to a global organization offering luxury travel throughout Japan.
The original mission remains. We design every trip to feature unique experiences that connect travelers to the essence of what makes Japan special. We strive for our guests to come away from their travels with a deep appreciation for the country’s rich cultural treasures, and a desire to see them preserved as much as we do.