Q: Do you know of organizations that offer trips to Japan focusing on the country's arts and crafts and design, perhaps with the possibility of visiting artists' studios or seeing craftspeople at work?
A: Journeys East, 2443 Fillmore Ave., San Francisco, Calif. 94115, (415) 647-9565, offers "Brushes With Past and Present," which focuses on traditional Japanese arts. The 16-day trip out of San Francisco includes an ikebana (flower arranging) class in Tokyo, visits to a master potter's studio in Mie Prefecture and a woodblock carving studio in Kyoto (with the option of seeing craftspeople engaged in silk dyeing, weaving, paper making or other arts and crafts).
Many accommodations are in traditional inns. The next trip is Oct. 23 to Nov. 7, and the cost is $3,725 a person, based on two people sharing a room, which includes transportation, accommodations and most meals, but not air fare. There are April and October trips planned in 1993.
The company says it can arrange visits to artisans' studios on any of its itineraries.
Another option is the Explore Japan Culture program, offered by the Japan National Tourist Organization, in which travelers can visit practitioners of a wide variety of traditional cultural pursuits, including crafts such as ikebana, calligraphy and bonsai.
A traveler who wants to learn about doll making, for example, will be given the names, addresses and telephone numbers of several doll making schools and shops. The visitor then arranges a visit with the host, and on arrival in Japan stops at the local tourist office to get directions and to confirm the appointment. Other focuses include breweries, martial arts centers and Zen
meditation. Most hosts speak some English, the tourist office says. The hosts sometimes charge a small fee. More information: Japan National Tourist Organization, 630 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10111, (212) 757-5640.
Q: Is there a book that lists major hiking trails and recreation areas in California, Oregon and Washington?
A: There is not one book, but there are two in combination, according to the Sierra Club Bookstore in San Francisco. They are "The Sierra Club Guide to the Natural Areas of California" and "The Sierra Club Guide to the Natural Areas of Oregon and Washington," both by John Perry and Jane Greverus Perry and each $9.95.
Once you have decided on hiking a specific area, there are a number of Sierra Club hiking guidebooks that provide mile-by-mile descriptions. Some examples are "Hiking the Bigfoot Country: The Wild Lands of Northern California and Southern Oregon," by John Hart, $8.95; "Starr's Guide to the John Muir Trail and the High Sierra Region," by Walter A. Starr, $8.95, and "Hiking the North Cascades," by Fred T. Darvill Jr., $10.95.
These books are sold at some outdoor equipment and other stores, but all are available from the Sierra Club Bookstore, 730 Polk St., San Francisco, Calif. 94109; (415) 923-5600. For orders up to $20, there is a $3 shipping charge; for $20 to $40, the charge is $5; for $40 to $80, $7, and for more than $80, $9.
Q: I understand there is a set of botanical prints in the private collection of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England. Are these prints available for public view?
A: The Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew has thousands of botanical prints stored in their archives. In order to arrange to view them you must write for permission. Not all requests are granted; those engaged in research or who have a "serious amateur interest" in botanical prints or particular artists are considered, according to a librarian at the gardens.
Write to Sylvia Fitzgerald, Chief Librarian, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AE. Perhaps once a year there are occasional exhibitions of selected prints in the gallery within the gardens, but dates for the next show have not been set. However, there is a permanent display of about 100 botanical paintings by Marianne North, who painted in the mid- and late 19th century, in the Marianne North Gallery at the gardens. To be notified of upcoming exhibitions and other events, contact Royal Botanic Gardens, Inquiry Unit, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, telephone (44 81) 940 1171.