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Experience the unique architecture of Asia.

The Best of Japan - Maizuru to Osaka

Example 9 Day Cruise aboard Le Laperouse
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Explore the best spots of the wonderful island of Japan on this spectacular 9-day small ship cruise aboard the Le Laperouse. Visit Sakaiminato and discover medieval Japan and the ancient dwellings of the samurai, who had lavish homes and castles built. Explore  Hiroshima, the gateway to Miyajima, home to the majestic Shinto shrine whose entrance is guarded by a magnificent vermillion Torii listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Maizuru, Japan | Embark
Day 2 : Sakaiminato, Japan
Day 3 : Busan, South Korea
Day 4 : Nagasaki
Day 5 : Kagoshima
Day 6 : Uwajima
Day 7 : Hiroshima
Day 8 : Tamano (Okayama)
Day 9 : Osaka, Japan | Disembark

Highlights

  • Experience Japan's culture, ancestral traditions and iconic sites
  • Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
  • Explore Sakaiminato and Matsue,the former homes of the Samurais
  • Discover the stunning Osaka, and its famous castle

Ship

Le Laperouse

Places Visited

  • Asia
  • Busan
  • Hiroshima
  • Japan
  • Kagoshima
  • Maizuru
  • Nagasaki
  • Okayama
  • Osaka
  • Sakaiminato
  • South Korea
  • Uwajima

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Hiroshima Peace Memorial or Atomic Bomb Dome Experience the unique architecture of Asia. Traditional architecture of Asia. A young woman walks through a field of flowers Japanese tea ceremony

Day 1 Maizuru, Japan | Embark

Located on the western coast of Honshu island, in the province of Kyoto, the charming town of Maizuru boasts one of Japan’s most exquisite closed bays. A climb to the observatory allows you to appreciate the splendour of this inlet scattered with tiny wild islands. You can also admire the treasures of traditional architecture by visiting the temple of Enryu-ji or the Tanabe-jo castle.The town also bears traces of a rich military past, which you can see in the old arsenals of the navy, red brick buildings that today house a museum.

Day 2 Sakaiminato, Japan

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Located on the south-west coast of Honshu Island, the busy fishing port of Sakaiminato celebrates the comic writer and artist Shigeru Mizuki, who was born here. As well as a museum a dedicated tourist route leads through streets and squares that feature 134 bronze statuesrepresenting his beloved characters. This isn't the only thing Sakaiminato has to offer; try some local seafood specialities and enjoy the stunning views of Mt Daisen and the Yumigahama peninsula

Optional Excursions: 

MATSUE CASTLE & PAPER MAKING EXPERIENCE
  • Length : 5h00
From the pier, embark your coach for the one-hour drive to Matsue Castle. Built in 1611 and still symbol of Matsue City, the Matsue Castle is the only remaining castle structure on the Japan Sea Coast, offering commanding views of Lake Shinji-ko and Mt. Oyama.

The castle is unique in that the second floor is wider than the first-floor base. Most of the original building has been destroyed through time, but the stone wall and six-floor donjon remains. Besides the great view from the top floor, the castle features a museum of swords and samurai armours.
Next, visit Abe Eishiro Memorial hall. This municipal museum contains documents and materials about the life and times of Abe Eishiro (1903-1985), master craftsman in hand-made Japanese paper (washi).

Washi is a style of paper that was first made in Japan. Washi is commonly made using fibres from the bark of the gampi tree, the mitsumata shrub, or the paper mulberry, but also can be made using bamboo, hemp, rice, and wheat. The word washi comes from wa (Japanese) and shi (paper). As a Japanese craft it is registered as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. Washi paper is generally tougher than ordinary paper made from wood pulp, and is used in many traditional arts.

During your visit, try the ancient art of making washi paper.

IZUMO MYTHOLOGICAL TOWN
  • Length : 9h30
From the pier, take your coach for an hour and half westerly drive visit (outside) Izumo Taisha Shrine. It is one of the oldest shrines in Japan, and for many centuries was the largest wooden structure in the country.
Then walk to the Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo for a visit. It shows the unique culture which has been handed down over the generations in Izumo. This museum was established to introduce this unique history and culture. Significant displays include burial mounds with four protuberant corners, bead making of Izumo, the Iwami-Ginzan silver mine, and the iron manufacturing process. Also, experience some of the great ancient history by seeing a specimen of cross-sectional buried tree, and a replica of a silver coin from the Iwami-Ginzan silver mine.

After a traditional Japanese lunch, visit Adachi Museum of Art. Located near Matsue city, it combines superb Japanese gardens with an outstanding collection of modern painting. Adachi's museum is famous for its beautiful garden. In the 2011 ranking of Japanese gardens by the Sukiya Living Magazine, the gardens of the Adachi Museum of Art were ranked number one for the ninth consecutive year. The museum collection includes 1,300 of Japan's most prized paintings since the Meiji Period. Taikan Yokoyama, who is known for harmonizing Western and Japanese painting styles, is the most prominently featured artist. Viewed through the framed windows of the museum, the garden outside also can also seem like a beautiful painting.

Day 3 Busan, South Korea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
With around four million inhabitants, Busan is the second largest metropolis on South Korea, after Seoul. This dynamic harbour city, located in the south-east, surrounded by the warm waters of the Sea of Japan, benefits from a mild, pleasant climate. You can find delightful simply to stroll around the lively streets and explore the city’s outstanding cultural heritage of art galleries, museums, and Buddhist sites, such as the Haedong Yonggungsa temple, which elegantly sits on the waterfront. Rich too in magnificent beaches and superlative natural landscapes, Busan’s peaceful atmosphere will win you over, as will its inhabitants, whom you have the pleasure of meeting.

Optional Excursions: 

HAEDONGYONGGUGNSA TEMPLE & FISH MARKET
  • Length : 4h15
A 45-minute drive from the port will bring you to the Haedongyonggungsa Temple. En route, you will cross the Gwangan Grand Bridge. With its 4.6-mile length, it is the country's longest suspension bridge, offering wide views on the Oryuk Islets, Dongbaek Island and the Dalmaji Hill.
 
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is located on the seaside. Unlike other temples, which are normally located in the mountains, this Buddhist temple is situated near the sea. This temple was originally built in 1376 and then reconstructed in 1970 using all the colours that were traditionally used in the structure.  There are 108 steps down to the Temple, the number of steps representing 108 anguishes in the life in Buddhism. So, you can pray to be out of the 108 anguishes, step by step, 108 times.
 
Next, visit the Yongdusan Park and its Busan Tower. This very popular park is situated in Yongdu Mountain from where the whole Busan area can be observed from the 120 m/370 ft high Busan Tower.
 
Back in Busan, visit the Jagalchi Fishery Market located next to the Fisherman's Wharf. This market was established by women peddlers during the Korean War. Today the market rivals in the world, with a rich variety of fresh catches from shell fish to exotic seaweeds and carved filets, ready to cook.

Day 4 Nagasaki

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Located on the north-west coast of Kyushu, Nagasaki will impress you by its rich heritage. Despite the destruction in 1945, you can visit several ancient sites, including the beautiful 19th-century Catholic Church of Oura and its garden, the sanctuary of Suwa Shrine as well as several Buddhist temples. A visit to the Atomic Bomb Museum gives you insight into the extent of the damage caused by the nuclear attack. Close by, a walk in the Memorial Peace Park leads you to a collection of objets dメart offered as a gift from Japan to the world.

Optional Excursions: 

NAGASAKI HISTORICAL TOUR
  • Length : 4h00
Explore the city of Nagasaki during this remarkable introduction. First, visit the Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture, which is one of the few museums in Japan with the theme of "Overseas Exchange". The museum holds approx. 48,000 precious collections including historical documents and arts & crafts that tell the story of how Nagasaki developed as the sole window opened to foreign countries during the period of national isolation. Next continue to Dejima Island; a Dutch outpost that served as Japan's only contact point with the Western world for over 200 years.  
The Oura Catholic Church, is both the oldest Gothic-style wooden building and oldest church in Japan and is the only Western artifact designated a national treasure. The church was founded by French priest Bernard Petijean, who soon dedicated it to the martyrdom of the 26 saints in Japan in 1597. 
Afterwards, visit Glover Garden: situated on a picturesque hillside looking over Nagasaki Port, you can find a number of late 19th and early 20th century Western-style buildings gathered together. These gardens are said to be the setting for the opera "Madame Butterfly". 

GROUND ZERO & ATOMIC BOMB MUSEUM
  • Length : 4h30
From the pier, take your coach for a short drive to the Nagasaki Peace Memorial Park, commemorating the city's destruction by the atomic bomb dropped on 9 August 1945. After a short walk, you can reach Ground Zero, the hypocentre of the catastrophe marked by a sober black pillar. Then visit the Atomic Bomb Museum, with over 900 artefacts indicative of the city's devastation. But more than just a commemoration, the museum promotes peace by denouncing the abomination of war and by tracing the evolution of the use of atomic weapons.
After the Peace memorial sites, you have some time at leisure at Hamanomachi Arcade, which is a central shopping area of Nagasaki. See the craft shops, restaurants, and local foods stalls. Enjoy the scenic drive through Dejima, a man-made island created to serve as only trading post with foreign countries during the Edo era when Japan was closed to the outside world, and completed in 1635. Dutch who were permitted to trade at that time lived on island. Driving by the China town, you can see the Chinese-style gate, architecture and decorations from the coach (no stop included).

Day 5 Kagoshima

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The seaside city of Kagoshima, at the south of Kyushu Island, ᅠis best known for Sakurajima, an active volcano that faces Kinko Bay. A visit to this busy metropolis will remind you just how much the volcano is part of the inhabitantsメ everyday life: in the wake of the almost daily eruptions, a delicate layer of ash settles on everything. The top of a buried torii (traditional Japanese gate) measuring three metres that was モswallowed upヤ by a giant lava flow in 1914 can still be seen. The power of nature will send a shiver down your spine.

Optional Excurisions: 

KAGOSHIMA HIGHLIGHTS & VOLCANO
  • Length : 9h00
Mount Sakurajima is the symbol of Kagoshima City, and one of the world's most active volcanoes. It sits on an island that was turned into a peninsula by the lava flow of 1914. You will reach Mt Sakurajima by coach, followed by a short ferry ride. Sights there include a road through an old lava flow and the top of what was once a large torii-style gate, with the remainder buried in hardened lava. Mt Sakurajima also sports a hot spring and is known for the enormous radishes that grow in its volcanic soil. Your first stop is at the Arimura lava Observatory, located on the small hill which was created by eruption in 1946. Enjoy grand views of Sakurajima and calm Kinko-wan Bay while walking along the 3/4-mile promenade. (many steps to access).
Back on the mainland, visit The Shoko Shuseikan Museum which was once a factory established by lord Shimazu Nariakira in 1852 to produce armaments and promote the weapons industry. Today, it is a museum of the 700-year Shimazu family history.
Continue with the visit of the Sengan-en garden, the former summer villa of the once powerful Shimazu clan, which overlooks Kinko Bay and Mt Sakurajima. Built in 1648, the garden has 48 hectares, but was once three times that size. The garden includes artificial rivers and mountains, a bamboo grove, plus a waterfall... Views of the bay and the volcano are exquisite.
After a traditional Japanese lunch, drive to lovely Chiran. Different samurai residences have been preserved along with several beautiful gardens, all perhaps 250 years old. Several of the residences are still being used by samurai descendants, and some gardens are open to the public. Though small in size, each garden is a fine example of "borrowed landscaping," in which surrounding mountains and scenery have been made part of the garden design. Next, proceed to the Peace Museum, dedicated to the young "kamikaze" pilots who trained near Chiran before embarking on suicide missions against Allied sea vessels in World War II. The museum commemorates the bravery and sad sacrifice of these young Japanese men, and makes a plea for world peace.

Day 6 Uwajima

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Located on the west coast of Shikoku island, Uwajima delights lovers of history and traditional customs. The magnificent Uwajima Castle was built in the 17th-century by the powerful Date clan and has a beautiful ornamental garden and bridge. The much-visited Taga Shrine is dedicated to fertility and is full of phalluses. Another interesting tradition is togyu, a Japanese variant of bull-fighting where two bulls are pitted against each other without a toreador. As for eating, you must taste jakoten, a local delicacy based on fried fish.

Optional Excursions: 

UCHIKO OLD TOWN
  • Length : 5h00
From the pier, embark your coach for the one-hour drive to Uchiko. Located about 50 km northeast of Uwajima, the pleasant town of Uchiko is a vestige of traditional, rural Japan. Uchiko was once a prosperous centre of wax and paper production. One of the town's main attractions, the Kamihaga Residence, explores this historical industry.
Next, enjoy a guided walk on the streets of Yokaichi, which is 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, when wealth and prosperity came to Uchiko through its wax trade.
Omori Candle maker is one of the long-established makers and you can observe the sensitive work of the Japanese handmade candles. Your guided walk continues to the old pharmacy called museum of commercial and domestic life. See the various scenes of pharmacy life displayed by dolls dating back to 1921.
Another symbol of Uchiko is found outside of the old district: Uchiko-za is a full-scale kabuki theatre equipped with trap doors, hidden entrances and a rotating stage.
Reboard your coach for the one-hour drive back to your ship.

HIGHLIGHTS OF UWAJIMA
  • Length : 4h30
Uwajima is located deep inside Uwajima Bay with its coast facing the Bungo Channel in southwestern Ehime. Since the early 17th century, the city has flourished as a castle town of the Date family.
Upon arrival, your first visit is to the beautiful terraced fields of Yusu Mizugaura. An epithet used for these terraced fields is "Plough a way to heaven". The steep mountain slope has been transformed with stacked stones into a staircase of farmland. Its majestic scenery has been selected as an important cultural landscape and one of hundred famous views of rural Japan.
Next, visit Doi Pearl. The Uwajima Pearl is one of the highest graded pearl in the world. Here, you will learn about natural pearls: the method of pearl culturing, the production and distribution of pearls. After a lecture, you have a chance to purchase pearls.
Driving back to Uwajima city, visit Uwajima Castle, located in the heart of the city and built by Lord Takatora Tohdoh, who was a master castle designer during the Edo era. The well-balanced donjon is one of the very few which remain as originally built and is designated as national important cultural assets.
Your last stop is at Kisaiya square, a place with several types of shops selling local products, snacks, souvenirs and other goods, as well as some restaurants. Kisaiya means "come and join us", or "please come" in the local dialect of this region. Enjoy some time at leisure to take in the atmosphere and observe local life.
After the visit, return to the shipside.

Day 7 Hiroshima

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Visiting Hiroshima is a moving experience. The town spreads along Honshu Island, along the inside coasts of Seto. While firmly focused on the future, Hiroshima doesn't forget its past, and a visit to the Peace Memorial Park and Genbaku Dome is a must. You'll enjoy the city's modern, cosmopolitan atmosphere and effervescent nightlife just as much as the peaceful stillness of its natural parkland areas such as splendid Shukkei-en, the town's historic garden.

Optional Excursions: 

A TRIP TO MIYAJIMA
  • Length : 4h30
Travel by coach following the route to Miyajima-Guchi, here you board the local ferry for the 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.
Depending on the tide, the view of the torii gate can be totally different. At high tide the torii seems to be floating while at low tide, visitors can walk up to the gate.
The sight of the torii in the background with Mount Misen is designated as one of the “Three most famous views of Japan” with the Amanohashidate sand bar and Matsushima Bay.
The shrine was established in 593, the first year of the reign of Empress Suiko, and is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The current torii was erected in 1875 after the original one was destroyed. The shrine's torii rises 48 feet above the sea, its columns, made of camphor are 30 feet in circumference and supported by smaller pillars, which are buried in the seabed.
The construction of the sanctuary, consisting of structures on piles and pontoons, is due to the sacred status of the island. The visitors had indeed no right to dismount; when they arrived by boat, they passed under the torii and floating dock on the pontoons. Scene from Noh theatre, also on stilts, is close to the temple.
After your visit to the shrine, you will enjoy a free time to discover the numerous shops located in the narrow streets.
Finally, walk back to the ferry terminal for the trip back to Miyajima-Guchi, where your coach awaits to transfer you to the pier in Hiroshima.

HIGHLIGHTS OF HIROSHIMA
  • Length : 4h00
In the years just following the atomic bomb blast on 6 August 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 vital city with a population of one million and growing.
From the pier, reach the poignant Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and its powerful museum. Following the bomb attack, only a few concrete buildings remained standing. Though unusable, one of these ruins is now a symbol of the city and the Memorial Park: the Hiroshima Prefecture Industrial Promotion Hall, now known as the Atomic Bomb Dome, located near the epicentre of the blast. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996, the Dome remains a stark and powerful symbol of the destructive force created by humankind. See the Cenotaph, shaped like an ancient tomb and holding the names of the dead, as well as the Flame of Peace, visited daily by monks offering prayers and burning incense.
Continue to the serene Shukkeien Garden, modelled after the famous West Lake of Hangzhou in China. Shukkeien Garden is a quiet respite from the bustle of Hiroshima's busy streets. Plum trees, azaleas, cherry trees and other plants guarantee a blooming landscape, regardless of the season, and its sculpted gardens, paths, ponds, bridges, waterfalls and bamboo groves make the garden an extremely pleasant and photogenic place for a stroll.

Day 8 Tamano (Okayama)

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Located on the island of Honshu, hugging the banks of the Sento Inland Sea, Tamano is a popular destination thanks to its sun-drenched climate. Upon arrival, marvel at the way in which the city has been built along the coast at the foot of a deep, dark forest. In the area surrounding Tamano, stroll down the streets of Kurashiki, known as the 'white-walled city' in a nod to the pretty façades of the houses that line the streets of this ancient Edo-period trading town. Another major regional attraction is the Seto Ohashi bridge. Its 12.5 kilometres make it the world's longest double-decker bridge.

Optional Excursions: 

HIGHLIGHTS OF OKAYAMA
  • Length : 4h30
Okayama is the capital of Okayama Prefecture, and the largest city in the Chugoku Region after Hiroshima. The city developed as a castle town during the Edo Period (1603-1867) and became a significant regional power.
From the pier, embark your coach for the one-hour drive to the Bizen Osafune Samurai sword Museum. This is one of the few sword museums which features a variety of Japanese Samurai swords on display. Learn about the history and manufacturing process for Japanese swords as well as experience the beauty and power of the swords up close.  At the workshop, see how the craftsmen are maintaining the traditional skills of sword manufacturing.
Continue with a visit to the Korakuen garden, which is one of the three best landscape gardens in Japan along with Kairakuen Garden in Mito and Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa. With an area of 133,000 sq m, the garden was built in 1700 by the local feudal lord Ikeda Tsunamasa in the Enshu landscape style of stroll garden. The garden houses a tea-ceremony house, several ponds, a small waterfall and elegantly designed landscapes. As the seasons change, pine trees, maples, cherry and plum trees reach their peak of beauty.

HISTORICAL KURASHIKI
  • Length : 4h00
Located in the western part of Okayama Prefecture, Kurashiki is an historic city, developed as a port town along the Kurashiki River. It is also called the "white-wall town", for its lovely houses with white walls and black tile roofs.
From the pier, embark your coach for the one-hour drive to the Kurashiki Bikan historical area. This district along the Kurashiki River has preserved the atmosphere of the Edo Period, and still contains old storehouses that were a vital location in the distribution of goods throughout Japan at that time. The area includes numerous museums and sightseeing spots. All electrical wires are buried beneath the ground so there is nothing to mar the view of the buildings. Many of the buildings you can see were originally rice granaries built in the late 18th century. The tiled roofs, white-washed walls, black-tiled walls with lattice windows were the characteristics of Kurashiki.
works, metal works, pictures and so on.
Next, walk to the Ohashi family old merchant house, this 200-year-old merchant's house was appointed as an Important Cultural Property in 1978. The Ohashi family built their wealth on salt farming and financial business in the Edo period (1603-1867). The main wing is simple and solid, designed with fire-resistance architecture. A gate terrace, that was privileged to the high-class family, demonstrates their outstanding prosperity in the area.
From the variety of museums, you will visit the Kurashiki museum of folk craft, which exhibits more than 10,000 items collected by Mr Kichinosuke Tonomura, the first President of this museum. His collection includes the whole range of practical goods for everyday use, such as ceramics, textiles, lacquers, baskets, wood.

Day 9 Osaka, Japan | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Like its big sister Tokyo, Osaka is the product of ancestral traditions and amazing technological innovations. And despite its size, its location on the Pacific Ocean give it a sense of serenity.ᅠThe main historic landmark is the 16th-century Osaka Castle, which stands proud in the midst of majestic skyscrapers. The lively streets of Dotomburi and the bizarre Shinsekai district attract thousands of locals and visitors. A multitude of restaurants offer menus full of regional specialities: takoyaki, made with octopus, and other succulent dishes such as kushikatsukebabs.

Disembark after breakfast in Osaka. 

Le Laperouse

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Notes

Please Note:
Fares are based on double occupancy and are capacity controlled. Rates may increase at any time as the ship sells out and subject to change without notice.

*Rates are capacity controlled and are subject to change without notice.

Cruise fares are per person and include the following:
• English speaking lecturer
• All meals while on board the ship 
• Captain’s welcome cocktail and gala dinner
• "Open Bar” (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands...list available upon request)
• Evening entertainment and events
• Luggage transfer from pier to the ship and vice versa
• 24-hour room service (special selection)
• Water sports activities using the ship’s equipment, when permitted by local authorities and confirmed by ship Master according to safety and sea conditions onsite
• Park entry fees into protected area
• Port taxes, fuel surcharge and gratuities
• Airport taxes (subject to modification)
• Free and unlimited Wi-Fi (Internet access may be slower or in some situations interrupted, depending on certain geographic locations or other circumstances beyond our control).
• Gratuities to onboard crew, local guides and drivers

Cruise fares do not include:
• Any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned
• Optional Spa package to be booked prior your departure; please ask for more information
• Optional shore excursions
• Beverages other than the ones mentioned
• Laundry services, hair salon and à la carte Spa treatments
• Personal expenses, on board medical consultations and drug prescriptions
• Cancellation/luggage/assistance/repatriation/medical insurance(s)
• Visa expenses and/or immigration reciprocity taxes if applicable
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen

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