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Osaka's city lights after sunset

Japan's National Parks, Art and Culture

Honshu, Osaka to Osaka - Example 16 Day Cruise aboard Heritage Adventurer
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Explore Japan's National Parks, Art, & Culture on this 16-day cruise from Osaka to Osaka, including South Korea, aboard Heritage Adventurer. Experience Japan's seamless blend of ancient customs with ultramodern living, incredible wilderness, wildlife, & renowned arts as you cruise from iconic cities to remote coastlines & islands. Highlights include Kanazawa's thriving center of the arts, pottery of the Kutani style, gold leaf workmanship, delicate hand painting of silk for kimonos, classical Noh theater dramas performed since the 14th century, & Naoshima Island, Japan's Art Island. Visit two of Japan's best contemporary art museums, the recently-opened Hachinhoe Art Museum & the Towada Art Center. Get the chance to sail around Japan, exploring its unspoiled nature, world-renowned art scene, culture, & history.
Night view of Kobe Port, JapanRiverside view of HiroshimaHiroshima Peace Memorial or Atomic Bomb DomeOsaka's city lights after sunset
  • Explore Kanazawa's center of the arts & Naoshima Island, Japan's Art Island
  • Discover the unique wilderness & wildlife on Dogojima & Izu Oshima Islands
  • Experience the iconic landmarks of Miyajima & Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
  • Visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with its eternal Flame of Peace
Places Visited
Activity Level: Variable
Activity options vary depending on destination and operator. Activity level is determined by the range and intensity of activities you choose to participate in. Discuss with your Trip Planner which options are best for you.

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Osaka

  • 1 Dinner
Arrive at Honshu’s largest port city Osaka where modern architecture and a vibrant dining scene are nestled alongside the 16th Century shogunate Osaka Castle, and make your way to your hotel where your group spend the first night of the expedition. This evening meet your fellow voyagers and expedition guides over dinner at the hotel.

Day 2: Osaka | Embark

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before exploring Osaka, opportunities here include visiting Minoh Park and Osaka Castle. With an area of just 9.6 square kilometers (963 hectares), Minoh Park is one of Japan’s smallest National Parks and home to the iconic 33-metre high Minoh Waterfall and diverse wildlife including Japanese Salamander and protected Mino Monkeys. Explore Osaka Castle, one of Japan’s most famous landmarks, take in the views from Osaka Castle Main Tower, and relive dramatic stories of warlords and Osaka’s fascinating history. Board Heritage Adventurer for lunch as your Captain and Expedition Team welcome you aboard.

Day 3: Ise-Shima National Park

Expect a day like no other as you explore Ise-Shima National Park. Often likened to a living museum the peninsula of Ise-Shima, or just ‘Shima’ as it is known to the locals, there is much to discover here including endless forests and abundant nature, rich maritime history, incredible coastal scenery, and Japan’s most sacred shrine complex Ise Jingū. Comprising some 125 different shrines hidden among a labyrinth of mossy walls and dating back to the third century Ise Jingū is considered the spiritual home of Shinto cosmology. Explore the grand shrine, Kotai Jingū, made entirely of Japanese cypress where no metal nails or screws have been used in its construction and, in accordance with Shinto practice, is rebuilt every 20 years in order to preserve its purity. Currently in its 62nd iteration, it was last rebuilt in 2013. Shima has been an official source of seafood for Japan’s imperial family since the 5th Century and the iconic amulet-wearing ama divers, female seabed foragers have been responsibly harvesting these waters since Japan’s Jomon era. At Ago Bay gaze out over the fascinating seascape created by more than 60 islands dotting the water and observe Shima’s sacred Meoto Iwa, Wedded Rocks, connected by a shimenawa rope near the Futami-Okitama Shrine.

Day 4: Izu Oshima Island

Izu Oshima is the largest of the Izu Islands, a chain of islands lying to the south of the Japanese mainland, which preserves its own unique natural and human history. Mount Mihara towers over the landscape at the island’s center, to the east a dramatic cliff drops into the ocean, while gently sloping plains extend towards the west. Almost entirely covered by forests, Oshima Island was certified as a Japan Geopark in September 2010 in recognition of its unique status. This morning you explore and discover the unique plants and birds that call the island home as well as meeting the local inhabitants to discover their way of life.

Day 5: Ishinomaki

After a morning at sea with presentations from the onboard experts you arrive in the port city of Ishinomaki. The city is renowned for the Shiogama Seafood Wholesale Market and its colorful urban core showcasing its ‘manga’ culture – the art of Japanese comic books and illustrated novels – thanks to famed pioneer Shotaro Ishinomori and creator of the popular Kamen Rider series. Throughout the city, you can observe artworks and statues celebrating the importance of the artist and the art in Japanese culture. South of the city is Matsushima Bay, studded with more than 200 pine-covered islands and considered one of Japan’s three most iconic views, take the opportunity to explore this beautiful landscape from the shores or discover from the water.

Day 6: Hachinohe | Lake Towada

With a Pacific shoreline of outstanding natural beauty, a clutch of fantastic cultural sights, thronging markets, and delectable seafood, there is a lot to see and experience during a visit to Hachinohe and the Aomori Region. Today there is the opportunity to explore the region’s fascinating connection with contemporary art through visits to two of Japan’s best contemporary art museums – the recently opened Hachinhoe Art Museum and the Towada Art Center. Reflecting a new approach to contemporary art, Hachinhoe Art Museum, also known as an ‘art farm’ offers a dynamic new interpretation of how and where art is created, housed in an innovative design intended to bring the community together to utilize the space. At Towada Art Centre, one of Japan’s foremost contemporary art institutions, the striking Ryue Nishizawa-designed building features contemporary artists such as Leandro Erlich, Yayoi Kusama, and Ron Mueck. Alternatively, join a visit to the stunning Lake Towada, a thousand-year-old flooded double caldera some 400 meters above sea level, and its surrounding forest in Towada Hachimantai National Park. Lake Towada is the largest caldera lake on Honshu and is characterized by two large peninsulas which extend nearly a third of the way across the lake. On a clear day, Mt Towada is reflected in the still waters of the lake creating a picture postcard scene. While a short walk brings you to Oirase Stream with its beautiful and dynamic cluster of 30 waterfalls.

Day 7: Muroran

Adventures abound at Shikotsu-Toya National Park, named after its famous twin caldera lakes. Another picturesque natural hot spot, the park’s spectacular scenery including its impressive lakes, hot springs, and volcanic wonderland, are all easily accessible and offer multiple hiking and walking options. Activities here could include riding the cable car to the top of Mount Usu to take in the grand scale views over Lake Toya or visiting the geothermal spectacle of steaming vents and sulfurous streams at Jigokudani aka ‘Hell Valley’ and the Upopoy National Museum of the Ainu which stands on the shores of Lake Poroto where you have the opportunity to see and experience the Ainu culture including cuisine, music, and crafts. This afternoon enjoy free time to explore Muroran at your leisure, visit the scenic cape and lighthouse, or take in the city from above after a walk up Mount Sokuryo.

Day 8: Akita

A key city in the Tohoku region since medieval times, Akita was once a castle town of the Satake clan, but today is a vibrant, prosperous city that seamlessly honors its past while still embracing its young energetic spirit. Noted for its burgeoning art community, there are several fine museums to explore including the Hirano Masakichi Art Museum housing a collection of work by Western and Japanese artists as well as the Akita City Folklore Museum. Venture inland to discover the Kakunodate Samurai District, a living museum that showcases the samurai way of life in a picturesque setting that remains largely unchanged since it was established in 1620. Beyond Kakunodate in the mountainous spine of Honshu is Mount Akita-Komagatake where there are excellent hiking opportunities in sub-alpine and alpine habitats at the southernmost extension of Towada-Hachimantai National Park.

Day 9: Niigata

Today visit the bustling port town of Niigata, famous for snow, rice, sake, hot springs, and the six-arched, granite-sided stone Bandai Bridge, designated as an Important Cultural Property in 2004, and one of the most scenic spots in the city. Highlights here include Bandai-Asahi National Park, Japan’s second largest national park, combining stunning volcanic scenery and hot springs with lush forests, verdant highlands crisscrossed with walking trails and home to Asiatic black bears, squirrels, foxes, and migratory birds. Elsewhere Takada Castle Site Park, with its 3-story castle from the Edo Period, offers panoramic views of the Takada Plain, while the 193 hectares of Fukushimagata Wetlands is home to endangered flora and fauna, including the rarely seen gigantic lotus Euryale Ferox, and listed on Japan’s 100 greatest natural environments.

Day 10: Kanazawa

Options today include exploring the historic mountain settlement and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go, high in the remote mountains of the Shogawa River Valley in Hakusan National Park. Take in the sights on mountain walks and experience the unique cultural traditions including the region’s iconic Gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are hundreds of years old, designed to withstand the heavy snow in winter and provide a large attic space for cultivating silkworms. Alternatively, explore the rich art center of Kanazawa discovering some of the unique styles of Japanese art. Kanazawa is rightly famous for its Kutani-style pottery, exquisite lacquerware, gold-leaf workmanship, hand-painted silk, and classical Noh dance-drama performed since the 14th Century. Wander winding cobblestone streets, elegant restaurants, and craft galleries and visit the impressive Edo-period Kenrokuen Garden, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, and explore the Omicho Market boasting everything from flowers to crafts and food.

Day 11: Dogojima

Picturesque and otherworldly, Dogojima Island is the largest of the Oki Islands in the Sea of Japan and part of the Daisen-Oki National Park and a UNESCO-registered Global Geopark. Accordingly, it is home to outstanding coastal scenery to explore and experience. With its clear water beaches, bays, inlets, and coves, impressive towering cliffs and rock formations eroded by the elements to the dense forests and steep mountains, including Mount Daimanji which rises more than 600-meters, and ancient sacred sites of its interior, today you discover a rarely visited corner of Japan.

Day 12: Ulsan, South Korea

Today you cross the Sea of Japan to Ulsan in South Korea where the plan to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Gyeongju. The capital of the Shilla Dynasty and dating back to the first millennium, Gyeongju is known as ’the museum without walls and is full of ancient Korean history and Buddhist culture. Enjoy strolling through hundreds of excavated monuments, temples, tombs, and pagodas, and experience Korean delicacies, and cultural performances, and visit the National Museum with its gold jewelry, metal weapons, and distinctive pottery. Today provides a perfect taste of the best South Korea has to offer.

Day 13: Karatsu, Japan

Once a major stop for ships and trading posts between Korea and China, Karatsu is well known for its medieval heritage including the Karatsu Castle. Built on a plain, construction began in 1602 and the castle is also known as the ‘flying crane castle’ as its shape resembles a bird in flight. You tour the castle including the Exhibition Hall, which houses the floats and artifacts used in the annual Karatsu Kunchi autumn festival. If you have an interest in plants and/or pottery, an alternative option for today is a visit to the city of Imari celebrated for its porcelain pottery kilns and the flower-laden Mifuneyama Rakuen garden.

Day 14: Hiroshima | Miyajima Island

Despite its history including being the site of the world’s first atomic bomb attack on the 6 August 1945, Hiroshima is a vibrant and thriving cosmopolitan community. The plan is to visit the beautiful Peace Park and Museum, with its somber cenotaph containing names of atomic bomb victims, and the permanently lit ‘Flame of Peace’. After visiting the Peace Park, travel to Miyajima Island, considered one of Japan’s most scenic spots, and the location of the Torii Gate and the Daisho-in Buddhist temple. For those after a nature fix, ascend Mount Misen on Miyajima Island by cable car and enjoy a hike, admiring the views below of the Shinto Shrine and Torri Gate.

Day 15: Takamatsu

Shikoku Island’s Takamatsu has had a long history as a port town earning itself the nickname ‘Gateway to Shikoku’, although more recently locals have been calling it ‘Udon Kingdom’. If you have an interest in plants a visit to Ritsurin Park, considered one of Japan’s finest gardens, is sure to be a highlight. Next, you enjoy a visit to Kinashi, one of Japan’s main bonsai production centers, where you learn about traditional methods of growing bonsai. For those interested in history and art you may wish to travel to Naoshima Island for a full-day excursion. Shikoku Island is known for its art and this excursion to Naoshima have you admiring its architecture and art museums, including Chichu Art Museum and Benesse House, featuring work by Japanese and international artists.

Day 16: Osaka | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
This morning sail back into Osaka, after breakfast there is a complimentary coach to a central hotel or to the Osaka airport. To allow time for disembarkation procedures and travel from Osaka, it is not recommended booking flights departing before 1300 hours.


Heritage Adventurer

Dining area
Heritage Adventurer Restaurant

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$12,250 2-3 travelers
Superior Triple
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Superior Triple
Superior Triple Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, two single beds, and one Pullman bed which folds down from the wall, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Main deck
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Main Deck Triple
Main Deck Triple Cabins on Deck 3 is a spacious 22m2 and feature two porthole windows, two single beds, and one Pullman bed which folds down from the wall, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Deck 4 Superior
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Deck 4 Superior
Superior Cabins on Deck 4 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Deck 5 Superior
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Deck 5 Superior
Superior Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Main deck
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Main Deck Single
Main Deck Single Cabins on Deck 3 is a spacious 22m2 and feature two porthole windows, king bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Adventurer - Superior Single
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Superior Single
Superior Single Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Worseley Suite
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Worsley Suite
Located on Deck 6, Worsley Suites are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable chaise-style lounge suite, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Suite
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Heritage Suite
Located on Deck 6, Heritage Suites are an expansive 44m2 and feature large double panoramic windows, king bed, large living area with a sofa, coffee table, and chairs, and grand marble bathroom with a double basin, bathtub, and shower, large writing desk, floor to ceiling cabinetry for storage and a flat-screen entertainment system.


- Single clients are matched with a sharer of the same sex in a twin-share cabin. Payment of a single supplement guarantees a single cabin. The single supplement is 1.8 times the price of the voyage with the exception of the suites which are double the single rate.
-Emergency medical evacuation coverage for a minimum of US$100,000 per person required. Contact us for details on arranging travel insurance.

Year Built: 1991
Shipyard: Rauma, Finland
Classification: Lloyds 1AS, GL E4
Accommodation: 140 guests
Length: 124 metres
Beam: 18 metres
Draft: 4.97 metres
Gross Tonnage : 8,378gt
Engines: 3,940 horsepower (x2)
Maximum Speed: 15 knots
Cruising Speed: 12 knots
Range: 8,600 nautical miles
Zodiacs: 14
  • 15 Breakfasts, 14 Lunches, 15 Dinners
  • 15 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • House beer, wine and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
  • Landing fees
  • All expedition shore excursions
  • Programme of lectures by noted naturalists
  • Pre- & Post- Cruise Transfers
  • One night hotel accommodation equivalent to your on board accommodation (incl. dinner/breakfast)
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Required Visas if applicable
  • Laundry 
  • Mandatory medical evacuation insurance


When to Go

Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.


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