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 Nijo Castle, one of the best surviving examples of palace architecture from Japan’s feudal era. Then visit the stunning Golden Pavilion, a picturesque temple overlooking a serene pond. In the afternoon, tour the exquisite Kiyomizu-dera Temple with its sacred waterfall, and the Heian-jingu Shrine and its gardens, built in 1895 to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Kyoto / Kobe / Embark Caledonian SkyApril 15
Today, visit the 12th-century Sanjusangen-do Temple, housing the Thousand-Armed Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, before lunch at a local restaurant. Then take one of Japan’s famed bullet trains for the port city of Kobe. Board the Caledonian Sky this afternoon.
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, literally, “in the earth,” 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. Enjoy lunch in Hiroshima, then 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.
Beppu is one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts, thanks to the geothermal activity of the lush Tsurumi Volcanoes that rise behind the town. Join a tour of the town that includes a series of hot springs with distinctive features. Or, take a walk through the Tadewara Wetlands to observe unique flora and search for resident birds and wildlife.
Akiyoshi-do / KaratoApril 20
After breakfast set out for Akiyoshi-do, a huge limestone cavern, filled with a fantastic variety of rock formations and other unique geological features. After lunch on board, take a stroll through the lively Karato Fish Market. After this, enjoy some free time to browse the shops or take a walk along the lovely seaside promenade.
Shimonoseki / HagiApril 21
Disembark in Shimonoseki this morning and 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.
Tsushima IslandApril 22
The island of Tsushima, renowned for its rugged beauty, was blasted apart in 1896 by the Japanese navy to create a ship canal. Today, an 80-meter arched bridge connects the two island segments. Step ashore on the northern island of Kami to visit Watazumi Jiniya, a shrine dedicated to the god of the sea, built in 895 A.D. 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.
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 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, 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 conservation efforts.
Niigata / Disembark / TokyoApril 27
Disembark in Niigata this morning and board the bullet for Tokyo. Check in to the Hotel New Otani with the rest of the day at leisure.
Tokyo / USAApril 28
After breakfast transfer to the Tokyo airport for your independent flight, arriving in the USA the same day.