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Treasures of Japan by Sea – with Smithsonian Journeys

Kobe Roundtrip - Example 9 Day Cruise aboard Le Soleal
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Set sail on a 9-day cruise aboard Le Soléal to uncover Japan's treasures. Begin in Kobe, renowned for its famous marbled beef, and journey to Takamatsu to visit the tranquil Ritsurin Garden and learn the art of making udon noodles. Hiroshima's Peace Memorial shares a poignant story, while Miyajima charms with its floating torii gate. In Hagi, delve into samurai history at its castle town. Sakaiminato offers diverse experiences including Matsue Castle and the Adachi Museum. Busan, South Korea, impresses with its temples and historic sites. Moji reflects on its trading past, home to Kozan-ji Temple. Finally, marvel at the beauty of Korakuen Garden in Tamano before returning to Kobe. Discover tradition, history, and culinary delights on this unforgettable voyage.
Harbor in JapanRiverside view of HiroshimaExperience the unique architecture of Asia.Hiroshima Peace Memorial or Atomic Bomb DomeHiroshima Peace MemorialA woman admires the spring cherry blossoms, dressed in a kimono
Highlights
  • Discover Kobe's history, home to renowned marbled beef delicacy
  • Explore Takamatsu, unveiling the beauty of Ritsurin Garden and udon
  • Reflect in Hiroshima, witness the UNESCO-listed Peace Memorial's solemnity
  • Delve into Sakaiminato's richness, offering history, art, and craftsmanship
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Kobe | Embark

A coastal city on the main island of Honshū, Kobe is a vital Japanese port. You will be inspired by the authenticity, way of life, and heritage of the capital of Hyōgo Prefecture, which is bordered by the sea. Its beef is internationally renowned, but there is much more to the city’s attractions than this delicate specialty. As soon as you arrive, you will be welcomed by the Kobe Port Tower, located, along with the Maritime Museum, in the much-appreciated Meriken Park. The Mount Rokkō National Park is a real island of greenery in the very heart of the vibrant city. Long frequented by Shinto monks, and then popular with the expatriates who flocked to Kobe during the second half of the 19th century, it is one of the symbols of the city.

Day 2: Takamatsu | Crossing The Kurushima Strait

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
A former fortified city, ruled over by the Matsudaira clan from the Tamamo castle with its seawater moats, the city is home to one of the most beautiful classic gardens in Japan, the Ritsurin. It was created by the barons of the city at the start of the Edo period, during which time gardening became a profession in its own right. Its landscape incorporates Mount Shiun in the background, an example of what is known as the Shakkei technique, which uses the surrounding landscapes to increase the beauty of the gardens.

Between the islands of Honshu and Shikoku, in the very heart of the emblematic Seto Inland Sea, the Kurushima Strait will unveil a traditional and picturesque Japan. This 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) maritime route, with swift currents, will give you the opportunity to discover certain great feats of engineering, such as the mythical Kurushima Kaikyō Bridge. This colossal construction is the first triple bridge and the longest set of suspension bridges in the world, with a total length of 4,105 meters (almost 13,500 feet) In the footsteps of the Japanese traders from the middle of the 18th century, it fell under the spell of the charming picturesque fishing ports that line this historic maritime route.

Day 3: Hiroshima | Miyajima Island

  • 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.

At the heart of the Inland Sea, Miyajima, the “island sanctuary” will reveal its treasures. In the background, you will see the Shinto Grand Sanctuary, whose entrance is guarded by a magnificent vermillion “Torii“. Considered to be one of the most beautiful sites in the Japanese islands, you will be transported by the unique character and the serenity of this sacred site.

Day 4: Crossing The Kanmon Straits | Hagi

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Sailing in the Kanmon Straits, between the Japanese islands of Honshu and Kyushu, promises an unforgettable experience. During the crossing of this emblematic maritime passage linking the Sea of Japan to the Seto Inland Sea, fall under the spell of this traditional Japan, with its charming picturesque fishing ports and its shrines built in the heart of enchanting nature, between verdant hilly peaks and captivating granite cliffs.

In the south of Honshu island, surrounded by mountains, Hagi is a city of water. For good reason; it was built on the delta of the Abu-gawa river. Its castle was built in the 17th century and its outer walls remain in the lovely Shizuki Park. The old town was one of the cradles of the Meiji revolution. You will discover its rich past in streets lined with old houses and samurai manors, or within the walls of the many museums and Hagi-yaki ceramics workshops.

Day 5: Sakaiminato

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Located on the southwest 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 statues representing his beloved characters. This isn't the only thing Sakaiminato has to offer; try some local seafood specialties and enjoy the stunning views of Mt Daisen and the Yumigahama peninsula.

Day 6: Busan, South Korea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
With around four million inhabitants, Busan is the second largest metropolis in South Korea, after Seoul. This dynamic harbor city, located in the southeast, surrounded by the warm waters of the Sea of Japan, benefits from a mild, pleasant climate. You’ll find it 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’ll have the pleasure of meeting.

Day 7: Moji, Kitakyushu

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
At the mouth of the Kanmon Straits lies Mojiko, the northernmost port of Kyushu, one of Japan’s four main islands. For many years, Mojiko was the gateway to the island. Today, the old boats are gone, but as you stroll around the picturesque streets you will discover a well-preserved architectural heritage that evokes traditional Japan from the first Meiji era of the late 19th century. From the heights of the Mojiko Retro Observation Room, you can enjoy the amazing views that take in the Shinto shrine and coastal landscape like a postcard of the Land of the Rising Sun.

Day 8: Uno

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The small port of Uno, at the southern end of the town of Tamano, provides access both to the city of Okayama and to the "Art Islands" of Naoshima, Teshima, and Shodoshima. In Okayama, Korakuen Garden, considered one of the three best landscape gardens in Japan, invites you to stroll through its expansive lawn and admire its ponds, rice paddies, and waterfall. Okayama Castle, now completely restored after its destruction during World War II, offers a glimpse of life in 17th-century Japan. Uno itself is a virtual open-air museum with sculptures inspired by the Setouchi Triennale art festival, including the emblematic Chinu-the Black Sea Bream, constructed entirely of waste material that washed up on the shore.

Day 9: Kobe | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
A coastal city on the main island of Honshū, Kobe is a vital Japanese port. You will be inspired by the authenticity, way of life, and heritage of the capital of Hyōgo Prefecture, which is bordered by the sea. Its beef is internationally renowned, but there is much more to the city’s attractions than this delicate specialty. As soon as you arrive, you will be welcomed by the Kobe Port Tower, located, along with the Maritime Museum, in the much-appreciated Meriken Park. The Mount Rokkō National Park is a real island of greenery in the very heart of the vibrant city. Long frequented by Shinto monks, and then popular with the expatriates who flocked to Kobe during the second half of the 19th century, it is one of the symbols of the city.

Disembark after breakfast.

Ship/Hotel

Le Soleal

Enjoy a show in the movie theater.
Bar and lounge with a view.
Restaurant aboard the Le Soleal.

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$8,478
Rates are dynamic and fluctuate based on capacity. Contact us for a specific quote.
Superior Stateroom
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Superior Stateroom
The Superior Stateroom has a capacity of up to 3 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds.
Deluxe Stateroom
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Deluxe Stateroom
The Deluxe Stateroom has a capacity of up to 2 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and a private balcony.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 4
The Prestige Stateroom on Deck 4 has a capacity of up to 2 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and a private balcony.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 5
The Prestige Stateroom on Deck 5 has a capacity of up to 2 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and a private balcony.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom Deck 6
The Prestige Stateroom on Deck 6 has a capacity of up to 2 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and a private balcony.
Deluxe Suite
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Deluxe Suite
The Deluxe Suite has a capacity of up to 2 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and a private balcony.
Prestige Suite
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Prestige Suite Deck 5
The Prestige Suite on Deck 5 has a capacity of up to 4 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and an 8m² private balcony.
Prestige Suite
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Prestige Suite Deck 6
The Prestige Suite on Deck 6 has a capacity of up to 4 passengers per cabin, with a king-sized bed or twin beds and an 8m² private balcony.
Owner's Suite
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Owner Suite
The Owner's suite is situated on Deck 6 with a capacity up to 2 passengers per cabin. With a king-sized bed, it has been decorated by French interior designers and provides you with a breathtaking panoramic sea view.

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 are subject to change without notice.

Discounts are available for children sharing a cabin with two adults and third adult passengers in select cabin categories. Please contact us for details.

Single travelers can opt for a solo cabin - supplements start at 50%.
Included
  • 8 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 8 Dinners
  • 8 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Port Fees
  • Unlimited Wifi
  • Onboard Entertainment 
  • Captain’s Welcome Cocktail and Gala Dinner
  • Gratuities to Onboard Crew
  • “Open Bar” (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands...list available upon request)
  • 24h Room Service (special selection)
  • English-Speaking Lecturer 
  • Highly experienced and bilingual (French-English) expedition staff
  • Park Entry Fees into Protected Areas
  • Water sports activities (except scuba diving) using the ship’s equipment, when permitted by local authorities and confirmed by ship Master according to safety and sea conditions onsite. 
  • A program of onboard enrichment provided by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts
  • Transfer from the ship to the airport at the end of the cruise on the morning of disembarkation.
  • One included shore excursion in each port of call (see “Itinerary” for more information and choice of excursions, if applicable)
  • Transfers and luggage handling from the airport to the ship on the day of embarkation.
Excluded
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Visa Fees
  • Optional Excursions - Ponant allows you to pre-book your excursions approximately six to two months prior to the cruise* departure. Please note that this is subject to change. Please contact us for more details.
  • Any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned
  • Luggage Handling 
  • Laundry Services, Hair Salon, and à La Carte Spa Treatments
  • Pre or post cruise programs, overland programs or shore excursions 
  • Beverages other than the ones mentioned in inclusions
  • CDP recommends that every Traveler has full and adequate travel insurance covering the risks of cancellation, assistance being required, repatriation, damages to and loss of baggage, and medical expenses

Map

When to Go

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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