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Discover the Islands of Japan: A 12-day Voyage of Japan Between Tokyo & Osaka, Including South Korea

Tokyo - Osaka - Example 12 Day Cruise aboard Heritage Adventurer
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Explore Japan's hidden gems on this 12-day Voyage of Japan Between Tokyo & Osaka, Including South Korea aboard Heritage Adventurer. Immerse in the culture, history, and natural beauty of seldom-visited destinations like Matsue, Hagi, and Yakushima Island. Visit pearl farms in Uwajima and iconic gardens like Kenroku-en. Gain insight into Nagasaki's WWII history and explore Fukuoka. Plus, discover South Korea's Gyeongju and Haeinsa Temple. 
Highlights
  • Explore ancient castles, serene gardens, and opulent temples
  • Experience cruise travel to historic Matsue, Hagi, and Yakushima Island
  • Visit Kenroku-en, Koraku-en, Yuushien, and Kawachi Wisteria Garden
  • Explore Fukuoka and Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine
  • Discover South Korea's Gyeongju and Haeinsa Temple on a day trip from Ulsan
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.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Tokyo

  • 1 Dinner
Arrive at Japan’s famed neon-lit capital Tokyo, where tradition meets ultramodern and towering skyscrapers sit alongside ancient temples, and make your way to the hotel where your group spends the first night of the expedition. This evening meet your fellow voyagers and expedition guides over dinner at the hotel.

Day 2: Kanazawa | Embark

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and travel by Shinkansen, ‘bullet train’, to Kanazawa. This afternoon, board Heritage Adventurer and settle into life on board. Take the opportunity to introduce yourself to your expedition team and know the voyage plans as travelers moor overnight with your evening free to explore.

Day 3: 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 more than 250 years old, designed to withstand the heavy snow in winter and provide a large attic space for cultivating silkworms. Alternatively explore the rich art centre 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, 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. This evening, join the expedition team in the Bridge, Observation Lounge or up on the Observation Deck as you set sail for Matsue.

Day 4: Matsue

This morning, arrive at the port of Sakaiminato, entry point to Matsue, known as ‘the town of water’ due to being situated between Lake Shinji and Lake Nakaumi. Plan to visit Matsue Castle, a national treasure and one of Japan’s few largely intact 17th Century castles. Other options today may include exploring Daisen-Oki National Park, steeped in beauty and history it’s also the home of rare flora and fauna including the giant salamander, visiting the picturesque Yuushien Garden which coincides with the iconic annual Yuushien Peony Festival, the Adachi Museum of Art, learning about the art of Japanese paper making at the Yakumo-mura village, or perhaps you may wish to spend some time exploring the picturesque streets and local canals.

Day 5: Hagi

Hagi was a minor fishing port until Mori Terumoto fortified it in 1604 and it was Mori Samurai that helped spark off the anti-Tokugawa revolt in the mid-19th century. Today it is better known for its traditional pottery making. This morning, explore the Teramachi District with its temples and shrines, the Jokamachi District, where you find the old Samurai houses and also take time to explore Hagi Castle, Shizuki Park and Tokoji Temple. This afternoon travel to the outskirts of the city and the Yoshika Taibi Memorial Museum which is dedicated to a large collection of Hagiyaki pottery which was highly prized in the Edo period as wares for tea ceremonies. Alternatively, discover the natural wonders of 300 million year old limestone Akiyoshido Cave.

Day 6: Ulsan, South Korea

Today you cross the Sea of Japan to Ulsan in South Korea where you 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 7: Fukuoka, Japan

The largest city on the island of Kyushu, Fukuoka is the union of the castle town of Fukuoka on the west bank of the Naka River and the merchant town of Hakata on the east bank. This buzzy metropolis combines an effortless blend of trendy yatai food stalls (which made Lonely Planet and The New York Times 2023 travel lists) with vibrant art installations, historic ruins and colourful coastal parks. During your time here there may be opportunities to explore the northern city of Kitakyushu and famed Kokura Castle, TOTO Museum and Kawachi Wisteria Garden or Nanzoin Temple with its reclining bronze Buddha (thought to be the world’s largest bronze statue) and the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, which is built on the gravesite of poet and scholar Sugawara no Michizane and surrounded by beautiful gardens, ponds and bridges with more than 6,000 plum trees.

Day 8: Nagasaki

Arrive this morning in Nagasaki, the second city destroyed by an A-bomb in World War II. Tour the Peace Memorial Park, Atomic Bomb Museum and Dejima Island which was built during the Edo period to accommodate Portuguese Christian missionaries and prevent the propagation of their religion. It was also the residential quarters of the Dutch, the only foreigners allowed to trade in Japan during the Sakoku (isolation) period. For 200 years, until Japan reopened the country in the 19th Century, Dejima was its only window to the world. With the reopening of the port to Westerners in the latter half of the 19th Century, Nagasaki blossomed as a prosperous and sophisticated international city. Suitable housing was required for the sudden influx of foreigners who made their homes here and many of the stone and clapboard residences that were built during this period survive today and are preserved in Glover Garden which travelers will visit this afternoon. The best known European-style residence here is Glover House, built in 1863, was the setting for Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly.

Day 9: Yakushima

During the morning at sea, sail to the very south of Kyushu and the island of Yakushima which became Japan’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 and has a particularly diverse flora. Spend the afternoon on a choice of nature walks in Yakusugi Land in Yakushima National Park, home of the endemic Yakushima Macaque, and populated by a number of the island’s ancient cedar trees, such as the Buddha Sugi, Futago Sugi and Sennen Sugi, which are over 3,000 years old.

Day 10: Uwajima

This morning, explore Shikoku Island and the port of Uwajima situated deep inside the sawtoothed coast of Uwajima Bay. The city of Uwajima is emerging as the nation’s largest pearl cultivation centre and learn the process of implanting, harvesting, extracting and sorting pearls on a visit to a pearl farm. See Uwajima Castle which is built on top of the hill with panoramic views over the town and harbour and the Tenshaen Garden, built in the Samurai era. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure.

Day 11: Koraku-en | Kurashiki

From the port of Uno-Ko, visit one of Japan’s most famed gardens, Koraku-en, which translates as ‘garden of pleasure after’. This 17th-century formal garden has 28 acres to explore. This afternoon you continue to Kurashiki where you explore the old merchant quarter and its fine 17th Century wooden warehouses
painted white with traditional black tiles, along a canal framed with weeping willows and filled with koi. There is the opportunity to visit the Ohara Museum of Art which includes rare works by Matisse, Picasso, and Renoir as well as collections from Japan’s renowned Mingei movement including ceramics by Hamada Shoji.

Day 12: Osaka

  • 1 Breakfast
This morning, set sail into Honshu’s largest port city Osaka where modern architecture and a vibrant dining scene are nestled alongside the 16th Century shogunate Osaka Castle. After breakfast there will be a complimentary coach to a central hotel or to the Osaka airport.

To allow time for disembarkation procedures and travel from Osaka, it is recommended to book flights departing after 1300 hours. 

During the voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader is going to keep you fully informed. Please note: Voyages are planned and scheduled pending final regulatory approval.

Ship/Hotel

Heritage Adventurer

Dining area
Heritage Adventurer Restaurant

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$9,185 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.

Notes

- 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.

TECHNICAL SPECS
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
Included
  • 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 11 Dinners
  • 11 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-cruise bullet train transfer and post-cruise transfer
  • One night hotel accommodation equivalent to your on board accommodation (incl. dinner/breakfast)
Excluded
  • 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

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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Beyond expectations! Then again we weren't sure what to expect. Lovely stay at the lodge, met other like-minded travelers (many had their trips planned by Adventure Life) and the owner was a gracious hostess. It felt like you were one happy family, visiting with a favorite aunt.
Nancy Sin

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