top of page
  • Thomas Kruse

Beyond Meetings: Sustainable, Bespoke Corporate Travel in Yamanashi Inspiring Innovation

Updated: Jan 16

I had the privilege of embarking on a three-day journey through Yamanashi, meticulously organized by Tricolage in collaboration with the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA).


Tricolage specializes in crafting custom itineraries designed to immerse corporate travelers in the countryside, fostering communication among team members and enhancing overall work output. Much like a custom-tailored suit that perfectly fits your physique, Tricolage is the bespoke equivalent in the realm of travel companies.


Right from the beginning, every facet of our tour was impeccably curated and expertly arranged. I am sincerely grateful for our dedicated team who flawlessly planned and executed our bespoke itinerary, offering us a unique opportunity to delve into the deeper aspects of Japan, an experience often unavailable to most international visitors. Our three-day tour took us to Yamanashi, a scenic mountainous region two hours from Tokyo with scenic views of Mt. Fuji.


Yamanashi prefecture exudes an upscale rustic atmosphere, reminiscent of luxurious mountain escapes in Colorado or the Alps. Our journey provided a captivating exploration of the region's distinctive blend of traditional Japanese culture, cutting-edge design, sustainable bio-regionalism, and thrilling adventures. Notably, our unique travel experience was captured by the Discovery Channel for an upcoming program, showcasing the extraordinary offerings of Yamanashi.


In the realm of corporate success, the well-being of individuals is paramount. Efficient teamwork is the cornerstone of producing the best products and services. An often overlooked avenue for improving a company's success is to ponder: How can we enhance the well-being of our team members? I hope that sharing my experience with Tricolage in Yamanashi will help executives to realize the importance of corporate retreats and travel for building stronger teams, fostering healthy work environments, and improving the bottom-line.



Highlights of the Tour

Shinto Spiritualism


Our journey commenced at the beautiful Misogi Shrine, with the rare chance to partake in a Shinto blessing ceremony.


A guided tour by the shrine’s chief priest, a rare privilege exclusive to our group, delivered profound insights into the shrine's unique architectural heritage as one of only two shrines with Noh theaters built over water (to create optimal acoustics and beautiful reflection of the shrine).


Receiving the blessing from the Shinto priest was the perfect beginning for the adventure, and gave us a chance to separate from the chaos of everyday life and reconnect with myself and with nature.



Pure Mountain Waters


We took a rest stop at a roadside marketplace and filled our bottles to prepare for the upcoming hike with the delicious local spring water. The region’s artisanal water is recognized among Japan's top 100 waters list and famous for its usage in Suntory’s Hakushu whiskey. During the cool autumn afternoon, we hiked through Ojiragawa Valley alongside a meandering river strewn with mossy boulders. Our hiking path took us across a wooden suspension bridge with scenic views of the valley allowed us to connect with nature. The emerald-green pond under the Sengafuchi waterfall provided an incredible natural swimming pool with mesmerizing scenery at the valley's heart. Our group enjoyed relaxed conversation as we took in the atmosphere – “forest bathing” provided a chance to unwind, destress, and reconnect on our journey.



Art & Culture


Our visit to The Nakamura Keith Haring Museum offered a unique fusion of art and social consciousness. As the world’s only museum dedicated to NYC legend Keith Haring (contemporary of Basquiat and Warhol), whose works have become especially prominent in Japan through various collaborations. Expertly guided by the senior director Hiraku-san, we dove into Haring’s world, not only gaining appreciation of modern art but also insights into social advocacy, particularly the advancement of LGBTQ rights. This cultural experience provided a unique contemplation of identity to the corporate travel experience and an opportunity to reflect on the importance of acceptance and understanding of difference.



A Harmonious Evening


Our first day’s adventure concluded with a delicious course dinner at brand-new corporate retreat facility with meeting and dining spaces perfect for hosting MICE retreats, featuring a Japanese-style kaiseki meal rich with local ingredients. Flutist Aimi Hayashi's performed alongside a rare vintage phonograph, providing a one-of-a-kind listening experience. intimate setting exemplified the Tricolage’s commitment to providing a relaxed and leisurely atmosphere for corporate bonding.



Western-style Horseback Adventure


The second day began with an exhilarating horseback riding experience in Kobuchizawa around the scenic forests of the area. One of the forest clearings was formerly used as a horse racetrack and for Yabusame (Japanese style horseback archery), which gave a sense of heritage and history to the riding experience. The opportunity to try a challenging new sport is a great chance to foster self-confidence; for myself, having rode horses often when I was younger, it felt great to reconnect with an almost forgotten hobby.



Foraged Fungi Cuisine


We originally planned to forage our own mushrooms from the forest, but due to a sudden temperature drop, mushroom foraging became impossible; fortunately, our chef had especially prepared for this possibility by stockpiling locally sourced, imported, and cultivated mushrooms, showcasing his adaptability in the face of unexpected challenges. Since I enjoy cooking meals from collected wild sansei (mountain vegetables) and mushrooms, the opportunity to experience. We also had a steak of wild-caught deer served with a locally-produced wine sauce. This meal especially expressed the bounty of the forests and mountains of Yamanashi.



Fireside Culinary Connection


The experience of making hot wine around a campfire at Auberge Kiyosato created an opportunity for our group to bond and get to know each other. We chatted and formed a sense of camaraderie as we selected the ingredients together from various herbs, spices, and honey collected on-premise. The bond created by sitting around a campfire sharing homemade drinks offered an opportunity for deep conversation and connection among out group.



Coffee in the Forest


The final day began with a light breakfast and coffee at a local café. Even though we were surrounded by forest and mountain views, the café could have fit into trendy neighborhoods of New York or Paris. After spending two days enjoying Yamanashi together, our group really connected while lounging in the forest over breakfast.



Mindful Reflection


In the afternoon, we enjoyed a Yoga class at Jisso-ji Temple, led by our interpreter and guide Mika. Even though I often practice Yoga in Tokyo, the feeling of Yoga in a Japanese temple was brand new for me! It’s difficult to put into words, but my mindfulness practice was definitely enhanced by the setting.


Yoga in the temple
©️JTA

We walked around the temple ground and took in the presence of the oldest cherry blossom tree in Japan, estimated to be over two thousand years old. One of the trees seeds was carried to space by JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata and spent months on the International Space Station. After returning to Earth and being planted, it started blooming years before the typically expected of Sakura trees – a mystery that has confounded scientists. The time spent marveling the cherry blossom trees at Jisso-ji temple reminds me that some profound experiences are beyond explanation, made me feel empowered for self-actualization, and reminds me that there still remains much magic and mystery in the natural world.



Rustic, Charming Ramen


©︎JTA

Our journey concluded with a healthy, light ramen lunch in a renovated traditional house, a century-old private dwelling-turned-restaurant in Hokuto City. The restaurant served unique ramen noodle sets featuring vegetables grown in the garden beside the renovated kominka. This charming locale reflected the warmth of local hospitality and showcased Tricolage’s dedication to preserving cultural heritage and showcasing the local region.



Reflecting on my three days in Yamanashi, the experience provided a profound opportunity to reconnect with my sense of purpose and meaning, prompting thoughtful contemplation on the value I can contribute to the world. Stepping away from the routine of everyday work and life and spending time with colleagues in new environments offers a chance to be inspired and energized. The well-calibrated balance of adventurous activities and relaxing downtime afforded the time and space for introspection, allowing me to reflect on various aspects of my life.



Exemplifying Sustainable Travel in Corporate Retreats

I was impressed by the ability to take into consideration the needs of individual travelers such as dietary restrictions, the ability to smoothly handle unexpected circumstances, and with the high-level tailored feeling of the entire tour experience. Tour operators and traveler planners need to be ready to respond to anything, and the reaction to unexpected circumstance is perhaps the best gauge to measure. When a participant became unwell during the trip and needed medical treatment, the Tricolage team demonstrated remarkable composure and smoothly arranged for care. Thankfully, the situation was efficiently resolved with a positive outcome, turning what could have been a major concern into a minor incident that paled in comparison to the overall excellence of the trip. Both Tricolage and local staff were not only incredibly helpful and knowledgeable, but went above and beyond with everything that our group required on our tour.


The optional pledge at the beginning of our journey reminded me of why I value sustainability, and encourages me to take further steps towards improving my own practices. The various aspects of the pledge were incorporated into the tour design and planning, and opened up the opportunity for mindful consideration of how we engage with our community and with the broader world. Moreover, I sensed a meaningful contribution to the community as our expenditures directly supported local businesses and talented artisanal craftspeople.


For business travelers working in a corporate environment increasingly attuned to environmental and social goals, first-hand exposure to sustainability-oriented and regenerative practices in action serves as an educational catalyst. This experience prompts thoughtful consideration of how we can innovate our company practices. Recognizing the pivotal role of holistic employee well-being in corporate success, investing in staff personal development through events like corporate retreats fosters improved relationships, self-understanding, and an enhanced ability to contribute value to both the company and society. Immersing teams in novel settings inspires them to innovate, achieve, and perform out their best when they return to the office.


This three-day monitor tour, centered on MICE-oriented sustainable travel, encapsulated the essence of a transformative journey. Our journey seamlessly balancing tradition and modernity, human creativity and natural beauty. For corporate travelers seeking meaningful engagement, Tricolage exemplifies the power for sustainable travel to redefine business excursions, providing holistic experiences that leave a lasting transformative impact.




bottom of page