Treasures of Japan with South Korea
Based on the expeditionary nature of our trips, there may be ongoing enhancements to this itinerary.
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.
Depart USAApril 12
Board your independent flight to Japan.
Osaka, Japan / KyotoApril 13
Arrive in Osaka and transfer to Kyoto, Japan’s lovely cultural capital. Check in to the Hotel Okura for dinner and overnight.
After breakfast, visit Ryoan-ji Temple. Founded in 1450, this temple belongs to the Rinzai school of Zen and is the site of Japan’s most famous rock garden. Afterward, visit the stunning Golden Pavilion, a picturesque temple overlooking a serene pond. In the afternoon, tour the exquisite Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for its thousands of bright red Torii gates, and experience a Japanese tea ceremony, receiving insight into the traditional way of serving and drinking green tea.
Kyoto / Kobe / Embark Caledonian SkyApril 15
Today, visit Nijo Castle, one of the best surviving examples of palace architecture from Japan’s feudal era. Afterwards, visit the 12th century Sanjusangendo Temple, housing the Thousand-Armed Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, before lunch at a local restaurant. Then visit Byodo-in Temple, founded in 1052, before transferring to Kobe to board the Caledonian Sky.
Uno-ko / NaoshimaApril 16 — April 17
Visit some of the many contemporary art museums in Naoshima. The Benesse House Museum features interesting displays that combine art and nature through the collaborative efforts of many world-renowned artists and architects. The Chichu Art Museum houses a number of site-specific installations by James Turrell and Walter De Maria and paintings by Claude Monet. The next day, take a relaxing 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. In the afternoon, tour the old merchant quarter of Kurashiki, where many fine examples of 17th-century warehouses, mills, and shops can be found.
Miyajima / HiroshimaApril 18
This morning, 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. After lunch, visit Shukkeien Japanese Garden, Sandankyo Canyon, or 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.
Today, visit an impressive series of hot springs in Beppu and at Yukemuri Lookout, the largest hot spring area in Japan. Following your footbath experience, visit a bamboo craft center and see the faces of 60 stone Buddha statues carved on a natural cliff.
Shimonoseki / Akiyoshi-doApril 20
After breakfast, set out for Akiyoshi-do Cave, a huge limestone cavern filled with a fantastic variety of rock formations and other unique geological features. Before lunch on board the ship, take a stroll through the lively Karato Fish Market and practice ordering and tasting fresh sushi.
Disembark in 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.
Tsushima IslandApril 22
The island of Tsushima is renowned for its rugged, natural beauty. Step ashore in Izuhara and make your way to Watazumi Shrine and its Torii Gates, built in 895 A.D and dedicated to the gods of the sea. Then enjoy spectacular views of the coast and Aso-wan Bay from the Mt. Eboshidake Observatory.
Ulsan, South Korea / GyeongjuApril 23
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. Today’s activities include visiting Tumuli Park to view the Flying Horse Tomb, wandering through Seongdong Traditional Market, and exploring Bulguska Temple, a World Heritage Site.
Matsue, JapanApril 24
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. Continue to Yushien Garden and nearby Yasugi for a tour of the Adachi Museum of Arts, which displays famous Japanese paintings and ceramics.
Kanazawa is a thriving center of the arts, long renowned for its lacquerware and superb collectible Kutani-style pottery. Kanazawa is also home to 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. In the afternoon, visit Higashi Chaya Machi District where you will find a number of well-preserved, traditional teahouses. Browse the shops for local handicrafts, including high quality ceramics, lacquerware, and gold leaf products.
Sado IslandApril 26
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. Learn how to make soba noodles by hand, and experience Taiko Japanese drumming. Or, pair a visit to the Daizen Shrine with the Toki Conversation Center to view the endangered Japanese crested ibis and learn about local conservation efforts.
Niigata / Disembark / TokyoApril 27
Disembark in Niigata this morning and take one of Japan’s famed bullet trains to Tokyo. Upon arrival, visit the Meiji Shrine, entering through the twin 40 feet tall Torii gates, one of the largest in the country. Afterward, check in to the Hotel New Otani Tokyo. This evening, join the group for a farewell dinner.
Tokyo / USAApril 28
After breakfast, transfer to either the Narita Airport or the Haneda Airport for your independent homeward flight. Or, proceed with your own independent travel arrangements.