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Cherry blossoms in historic Kyoto

Japanese Ancestral Traditions and Legendary Shrines

Osaka - Maizuru - Example 13 Day Cruise aboard Le Soleal
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Embark on a 13-day cruise aboard Le Soleal, immersing in Japanese ancestral traditions and legendary shrines. Explore Himeji's UNESCO castle and Miyajima's iconic Itsukushima Shrine. Witness Hagi's UNESCO town and Beppu's hot springs. Cross to South Korea for Busan's vibrant contrasts. Discover Karatsu's feudal charm and Izumo's emblematic shrine. Encounter Tottori's sand dunes, Kyoto's picturesque towns, and Maizuru's charm. Delight in excursions at each port, from exploring ancient pilgrimage routes to marveling at vermillion Torii gates. Sail through the Sea of Japan's whims to Kyushu's historic Toba, home to the revered Ise-jingu shrine. Experience the tranquility of Shingu's Kumano Kodō pilgrimage routes. Get ready for a diverse journey filled with unforgettable moments.
Colorful trees in OsakaOsaka's city lights after sunsetCherry blossoms frame Osaka castleJapanese tea ceremonyLocal Japanese woman in traditional dress.Traditional architecture of Asia.Experience the unique architecture of Asia.Cherry blossoms in historic Kyoto
  • Discover Himeji’s UNESCO castle and Miyajima's iconic Torii gate
  • Sail to Kyushu, explore Toba's historic city and Ise-jingu shrine
  • Explore the captivating Miyajima Island and Beppu's volcanic springs
  • Experience the contrasts of Busan, South Korea's second largest metropolis
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.

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Osaka, Japan | Embark

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 gives it a sense of serenity. The 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 specialties: takoyaki, made with octopus, and other succulent dishes such as kushikatsu kebabs.

Day 2: Toba

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Toba is a coastal city located in Japan’s Mie Prefecture, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Situated in the Ise-Shima National Park, Toba has given its name to a majestic bay sheltering a string of small islands, famous for the beauty of its forests and the production of cultured pearls. You will have the possibility of discovering the Ise Shrine, a residence of the Imperial family and venerated by the Japanese people as the “soul of Japan”.

Day 3: Shingu

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
To the southwest of the Japanese archipelago, Shingu is a port town in the Kansai region. Founded in 1933, it belongs to the peninsula of Kii, the country's largest. Take a trip around the Kumano Sanzan religious complex dedicated to three sacred mountains and home to two Shinto temples, Kumano Hongu Taisha and Kumano Hayatama Taisha.ᅠThe latter features the famous sacred nagi tree, said to have been planted around 1159. Pilgrims flock to these two sanctuaries that feature on UNESCO's World Heritage list. Hop on a boat and journey to the Dorokyo Gorge, a natural beauty spot carved out by the emerald waters of the Kumano River.

Day 4: Himeji

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
You may get the impression that you have already seen Himeji Castle, as it has been featured many times on the big screen. The feudal edifice seems to spread its wings over the town like a white heron, in fact, its nickname is the "White Heron Castle". Originally started in the 15th century and then rebuilt in the 17th century, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. At its feet lies the gorgeous Koko-en garden, which has nine different gardens designed to flourish in each of the four seasons.

Day 5: Miyajima Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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 6: Beppu, Oita

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
A favorite destination for the Japanese, Beppu is now famous throughout the Japanese archipelago thanks to its onsen – volcanic hot springs in which people immerse themselves to relax with family or friends. From Beppu, you will set off to discover a lush, peaceful valley in which 60 majestic stone Buddhas carved out of the cliff face between the 12th and 14th centuries. Exuding a soothing air of serenity, the Mangetsuji site seems to have drifted off to sleep in the heart of a dense bamboo forest surrounded by rice fields. Recognized as a National Treasure of Japan, this set of sacred sculptures offers travelers a unique, wonderful experience.

Day 7: 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 8: Karatsu

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Karatsu Bay is edged with long sandy beaches and a huge pine forest that was planted over 350 years ago to protect the coast from the winds and tides of the Genkai Sea. From the top of the donjon of Karatsu Castle or Mount Kagami, you will be able to admire magnificent panoramas. In the north of the Higashi-Matsuura Peninsula, the waves have eroded the lava plateau and carved a magnificent natural site, the seven Nanatsugama Caves, out of the basalt. The city of Karatsu is famous for the quality of its pottery, which is influenced by the craftsmanship of nearby Korea. Very fine pieces are displayed in the city’s galleries and at Karatsu Castle, alongside magnificent samurai armor.

Day 9: Hagi

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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 10: Izumo

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Disembarking at Izumo, dive into mythical Japan, that of legends and gods. The city is home to one of the oldest and most important shrines in Japan, the “Izumo Taisha”, considered the cradle of the spiritual history of the Land of the Rising Sun. In Izumo, you will discover traditional Japanese life, between paddy fields, temples, hot springs, and beaches. There are many traditional inns and artisanal boutiques, bearing witness to a typical and ancestral local culture. You will perhaps taste the local specialty, Izumo Soba, noodles made from buckwheat flour…

Day 11: Tottori

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
On the San-in coast, Tottori, the Japanese island of Honshu’s northernmost city, offers tranquillity and a change of scenery. Lined with lush forests containing mountain sanctuaries long considered to have been the homes of the gods, Tottori has retained its authenticity of yesteryear. A symbol of Japan off the beaten track, this city in the eponymous region promises to be a surprising interlude on your cruise. With good reason, this ancient fortified city with vestiges of its past is home to the largest sand dunes in Japan. Bright sunshine, golden dunes edged by the Sea of Japan, camels with a captivating gait... Here, in this majestic landscape where wind waves rise to caress the sand giants, time seems to stand still. 

Day 12: Ine | Miyazu

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
In the north of the Kyoto prefecture, along the Sea of Japan and anchored in the Bay of Ine, this small fishing village nestling between lush green mountains and emerald waters is considered to be one of Japan’s most beautiful villages. Calm and picturesque, Ine has successfully preserved its authenticity of yesteryear, as evidenced by the Funaya, these traditional wooden dwellings built above the water to house fishermen and store their small boats. Ine takes you on a beguiling voyage into the 18th century, to the epoch of Edo and the Kitamae trade route.

In Kyoto Prefecture, along the coast of the Sea of Japan, lies the charming city of Miyazu. As you explore this interesting blend of lush nature and rich heritage, you will be captivated by the numerous places of worship that dot the town, such as the Manai Shrine and Nariai-ji Temple. You will also discover one of the “Three Views of Japan”, the country’s most beautiful panoramas: Amanohashidate, a sand bar covered with 8,000 pine trees, lying between the Asokai Inland Sea and Miyazu Bay. It is known as the “bridge to heaven” and legend has it that this sand bank is a ladder that fell out of the sky and was once used by the gods Izanagi and Izanami to ascend into the clouds.

Day 13: Maizuru, Japan | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
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 splendor of this inlet scattered with tiny wild islands. Visitors 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, and red brick buildings that today house a museum.


Le Soleal

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

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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.
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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.


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%.
  • 12 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 12 Dinners
  • 12 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
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  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
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  • 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 
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  • 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.
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  • 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


When to Go

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


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