Arrive in Osaka. Embark your ship between 4 and 5 PM this evening. Settle in to your cabin and familiarize yourself with the ship and her crew.
Join an optional excursion to Okayama, capital of Okayama Prefecture, which developed as a castle town during the Edo Period (1603-1867) and became a significant regional power. First stop at Korakuen garden, one of the best landscape gardens in Japan with an area of 133,000 sq m and built in 1700 by the local feudal lord Ikeda Tsunamasa. The gardens feature a tea-ceremony house, several ponds, a small waterfall, and elegantly designed landscapes. Continue on to Kurashiki City, known for the lovely white walls of its buildings. First stop in the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Area along the Kurashiki River, which still contains old storehouses that point to a time when this city was a vital location in the distribution of goods throughout Japan. Next see the Ohashi family old merchant house, appointed as an Important Cultural Property in 1978. The Ohashi family built their wealth by salt farming and financial business in the Edo period (1603 - 1867).
In the years just following the atomic bomb blast on August 6, 1945, scientists doubted if Hiroshima could ever live again. Yet modern Hiroshima rose like a phoenix from its own ashes, and less than five decades since its obliteration, it is a vibrant city with a population of one million and growing. Today choose between two optional half-day excursions. Join a driving tour to the highlights of the area, during which you can expect to see Hiroshima Castle, the poignant Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and its powerful museum, and Shukkeien Garden. Alternatively travel by coach following a scenic route to Miyajima-Guchi. From here board the local ferry for a 10-minute cruise to the lovely island of Miyajima. This picturesque island, considered one of Japan's most scenic destinations, is the location of the Itsukushima Shrine and its famous large red torii gate that rises up out of the ocean.
Uwajima is located deep inside Uwajima Bay with its coast facing the Bungo Channel in southwestern Ehime. Choose between two excursions today. On one, visit Uchiko Old Town, a pleasant town located northeast of the port. Now a vestige of traditional, rural Japan, Uchiko was once a prosperous center of wax and paper production. See Uchiko's preserved street of houses where most of the town's attractions can be found. This historical district looks just as it did over 100 years ago. You can also stay closer to the port and explore Uwajima on a tour of the city's highlights, including the beautiful terraced field of Yusu Mizugaura; Doi Pearl market where you can learn about pearl culturing, production and distribution, and even purchase pearls; Uwajima Castle; Taga Shrine; and Kisaiya Square - meaning “come and join us or please come” in local dialect - where you can spend time at leisure before returning to the ship.
Take an optional excursion to Chiran, sometimes called "Little Kyoto" for all the samurai residences there. Ten houses have been preserved along with several beautiful gardens, all of which are about 250 years old. The gates to the residences, moss-covered stone walls, hedges, and black tile roofs all combine to recapture the flavor of the Edo Period. Alternatively, tour the highlights of Kagoshima and visit the world's most active volcano, Mt. Sakurajima, located right across the bay! Sights there include a road through an old lava flow, the top of what was once a large torii-style gate, with the remainder buried in hardened lava, and a hot springs. Continue on to the Arimura Lava Observatory, Sengan-en Garden - the former summer villa of the once powerful Shimazu clan, and the Shoko Shuseikan Museum, a former armaments factory. After lunch drive to lovely Chiran to view samurai residences and the Peace Museum dedicated to Kamikaze Pilots.
Your optional excursion in Nagasaki brings you to Ground Zero at the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Park, commemorating the city’s destruction by the atomic bomb dropped on August 9, 1945. Although Fat Man, the name given to the second bomb dropped on Japan, missed its target by over a mile and a half, it leveled nearly half the city. The park’s main attraction is its collection of statues and sculptures donated by countries and groups all over the world. Visit the Atomic Bomb Museum, with over 900 artifacts of the city’s devastation, as well as displays on modern nuclear technology. Some atomic-bomb survivors are active as "kataribe," storytellers who recount their personal atomic bomb experiences to younger generations. Listen to an atomic bomb survivor’s talk about her/his experience and life after the atomic bomb in 1945. Afterwards, enjoy leisure time at Hamanomachi Arcade, a central shopping area, and a scenic drive through Dejima, a man-made island created to serve as a trading post. Alternatively, join a historical tour of Nagasaki, with a visit to the Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture, the Dejima Museum of History, Oura Catholic Church, and Glover Garden, said to be the setting for the opera Madame Butterfly.
Relax on the ship while you cruise towards China. Perhaps take advantage of your ship's luxurious amenities, spend time in the library, or even crack open your book.
Shanghai is China's largest and most cosmopolitan metropolis. In 5,000 years, the city has grown from a tiny fishing village into the world's fifth largest city. Stately European buildings in art deco style line the Bund, the city's spacious waterfront promenade. An endless flotilla of sampans edges along the Huangpu River. Beyond the rush of the city, serene ponds and gardens offer a gentle respite. Shanghai, as you soon discover, has many faces.
You have two days to spend in this bustling metropolis. Choose from a number of full- and half-day excursions to experience all this city has to offer. Visit the renowned Shanghai Museum, stop at the enchanting Yu Yuan Gardens, venture out of town to the ancient water town of Zhujiajiao, attend a Chinese acrobatic show, or take a panoramic tour of all the area's highlights!
On your second day, choose to join an optional all-day adventure to the countryside, arriving at the city of Suzhou. An ancient proverb says "to be happy on earth, one must be born in Suzhou." Come and see why!
Spend your last days at sea reflecting on all you have seen and done, and rest up in preparation for the last leg of your journey.
Three half-day optional excursions offer the sights and sounds of this port city. Choose to get a "Taste of Local Life" as you take a coach tour, leisurely bike ride, attend a traditional Tai Chi class, and partake in a tea ceremony. You can also choose to visit the island of Gulangyu, where many of China's most celebrated musicians come from. Staying closer to town, you can enjoy a coach tour of the city's highlights including the Tang Dynasty-era South Putuo Temple, the comprehensive Xiamen Overseas Chinese Museum, the scenic beaches of Xiamen, and a traditional tea ceremony.
Two optional excursions let you experience Hong Kong on your first day here. Experience local lifestyle on a coach tour of the Tin Hau Temple, where the resident fishing population prays to the Taoist goddess for safety and good catches; vibrant Wet Market; a double-decker tram ride; and a last stop at historic Western District, the oldest Chinese settlement and trading district in Hong Kong. The shops in this area offer dried seafood, aromatic herbal medicine, traditional wedding dresses, paper lanterns and incense, all of which capture the essence of local Chinese traditions and culture. Alternatively enjoy a panoramic tour of the city - exploring scenic and popular landmarks as you orientate yourself.
Following breakfast on board, disembark your ship and transfer to airport for your journey homeward.
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