This expedition has no scheduled departures at this time.
Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.
An itinerary from a previous expedition is displayed below.
Day 1 Depart USA
Depart on your independent flight to Tokyo, Japan.
Day 2 Tokyo, Japan
Arrive in Tokyo and transfer to the Hotel Niwa for dinner and overnight.
Day 3 Tokyo / Niigata / Embark Caledonian Sky
This morning join a city tour that showcases the modern and ancient highlights of Japan’s dynamic capital city. After lunch, ride one of the famed bullet trains to Niigata where you will embark the Caledonian Sky.
Day 4 Sado Island
Well off the beaten path of most travelers, Sado Island possesses both the pastoral charm of verdant rice paddies and bamboo groves, and the dramatic beauty of surf-pounded seacoasts. Visit a sake brewery to learn about the venerable process, make soba noodles by hand, then explore the Sado Kinzan Gold Mine in Aikawa which operated for over 300 years. In Toki Forest Park, view the endangered Japanese crested ibis and learn about conversation efforts.
Day 5 Kanazawa
Kanazawa is a thriving center of the arts, long renowned for its lacquerware, superb collectible Kutani-style pottery, gold-leaf workmanship, delicate hand-painted kimonos, and Noh theater dramas. The narrow and winding cobblestone streets have a quaint photogenic charm—around each bend is a traditional house, museum, art gallery, crafts shop, historic samurai residence, or even a geisha house to explore. Next to the Kanazawa Castle ruins is one of Japan’s premier botanical highlights—the famed Kenroku-en Garden. Sophisticated, centuries-old designs create an artful aura of seclusion and contemplation. A serene teahouse perches on a small peninsula in the middle of a pond, while carved stone lanterns line the footpaths.
Day 6 Matsue
The coastline along the north shore of Honshu offers splendid views of craggy rock faces and rugged shores sculpted by waves. Matsue, the “town of water,” is nestled between a scenic lake and a large lagoon. Visit the cultural attractions of the town which include the Matsue Castle and a 250-year-old samurai house complete with tatami rooms. Then tour the Adachi Museum of Arts, which displays famous Japanese paintings and ceramics, and take a stroll through the beautiful surrounding gardens.
Day 7 Ulsan, South Korea / Gyeongju
This morning disembark in the bustling port of Ulsan and depart overland for magnificent Gyeongju. Considered by UNESCO as one of the world’s ten most historically significant sites, it is often described as a “museum without walls.” As the ancient capital of the Silla Dynasty, Gyeongju’s cultural heritage dates back to the first millennium when the dynasty began its rule of Korea after conquering and uniting divergent monarchies. The cultural flowering of Gyeongju reached its artistic pinnacle in the 8th century as craftsmen created masterpieces in wood, metal, stone, and pottery.
Day 8 Shimonoseki / Hagi
Disembark in Shimonoseki this morning for a visit to the bustling Karato Fish Market. Then depart overland for Hagi, an exquisite medieval samurai town which served as the capital of the local daimyo, feudal lords, between 1603 and 1868. Stroll through the serene Tokoji Temple and burial site of the daimyo which is surrounded by thousands of stone lanterns. Hagi is also world-renowned for its pastel-glazed pottery and you will have the opportunity to watch a master-potter at work.
Day 9 Uwajima
Uwajima Castle was built in the early 17th century and is one of only 12 surviving castle towers built in the Edo Period. The castle houses a small museum which includes armor, furnishings, and archives of the Date family. Then stroll through Tensha-en, a traditional Japanese landscape garden constructed in 1868 as the retreat of the Date’s seventh lord, Munetada.
Day 10 Hiroshima / Miyajima
In Hiroshima, visit the compelling Peace Memorial Park located in the heart of the city. A World Heritage Site, the park and its monuments are dedicated to the hope for world peace; an arch-shaped cenotaph includes the names of all the known victims of the atomic bomb. After lunch visit one of Japan’s scenic wonders, Miyajima, or “shrine island.” Photograph the iconic scarlet torii, a giant camphor-wood gate at the entrance to the Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage Site and a sacred site of pilgrimage. At high tide it appears to float in the surrounding waters.
Day 11 Uno-Ko / Naoshima
Naoshima is known for its many contemporary arts museums. Visit the Benesse House Museum, with interesting displays that combine art and nature through the collaborative efforts of many world-renowned artists and architects. The Chichu Art Museum, literally, “in the earth,” houses a number of site-specific installations by James Turrell and Walter De Maria, and paintings by Claude Monet. Return to Uno-Ko and enjoy a walk through one of Japan’s most beautiful gardens, Koraku-en, a 17th-century formal garden encompassing 28 acres of walking trails, ponds, plum and cherry trees, and a classic teahouse.
Day 12 Takamatsu
Enjoy a tour of Shikoku Village, an open-air museum which exhibits a variety of traditional structures dating from the Edo and Meiji periods, including farmhouses, workshops, bridges, and a kabuki theater. Take a stroll through Noguchi Sculpture Park to view over 150 works of art on display in a traditional Japanese garden setting.
Day 13 Kobe / Disembark / Kyoto
Disembark in Kobe for a morning city tour, including a museum that chronicles the devastating 1995 earthquake and recovery efforts. After lunch at a local restaurant, continue to a spectacular city overlook on the verdant slopes of Mount Rokko. Board a bullet train for the trip to Kyoto. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Okura.
Day 14 Kyoto
After breakfast enjoy a morning tour of Japan’s lovely cultural capital. Among the tour highlights is a visit to the Heian-jingu Shrine and its gardens, built in 1895 to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto; the 12th-century Sanjusangen-do Temple, housing the Thousand-Armed Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy; and the exquisite Kiyomizu-dera Temple with its sacred waterfall. After lunch at a local restaurant the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure followed by overnighting at our hotel.
Day 15 Kyoto / Osaka / USA
After breakfast transfer to the Osaka airport for your independent flight, arriving in the USA the same day.