A Cruise of Japan and South Korea
Experience the timeless splendor of Japan while cruising the historic Inland Sea, plus two nights in Kyoto.
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Save $1,000 per person when you book by October 7, 2015!
Experience the timeless splendor of Japan and South Korea on this unique, custom-designed itinerary cruising the full length of the tranquil Inland Sea of Japan from Himeji to historic ports of Japan and Ulsan, South Korea. On board the exclusively chartered, Five-Star, small ship M.S. Le Soléal, launched in 2013 featuring only 110 ocean-view Suites and Staterooms, enjoy this 280-mile stretch of scenic, tranquil ocean with port calls at captivating points of interest, including four UNESCO World Heritage sites. In the enchanting city of Kyoto, visit its opulent temples and the Nijo Castle, an imperial gem. Walk through the imposing Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, tour the Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima with its awe-inspiring Torii Gate, and visit the impressive Himeji Castle, the oldest surviving feudal structure from medieval Japan. In Gyeongju, South Korea, see the glorious Buddhist Bulguksa Temple and the ancient Silla Kingdom royal burial mounds. Spend three nights in the Five-Star Kyoto Okura Hotel.
Tokyo Pre-Program and Kanazawa Post-Program Options are available.
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Day 1 — U.S.
Depart the U.S.
Day 2 — Osaka / Kyoto, Japan
Arrive in Osaka and transfer to beautiful Kyoto, the impeccably preserved old imperial capital of Japan. Check into the Five-Star Kyoto Okura Hotel.
Day 3 — Kyoto, Japan
In timeless Kyoto, enjoy an ethereal setting of grand imperial castles, tranquil Zen gardens and graceful Shinto shrines which manifest Japanese culture in its purest form. Many of Kyoto’s ancient buildings and gardens are designated by UNESCO as World Heritage sites. Visit some of these historic properties, including grandiose Nijo Castle, built by the shogun of the powerful Tokugawa dynasty; the iconic Kinkaku-ji Temple, the famed 14th-century Temple of the Golden Pavilion whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf; and the Ry¯oan-ji Temple, originally an aristocrat’s villa during the Heian Period, featuring a serene, contemplative rock garden. Join your traveling companions for a Welcome Reception this evening. (B,R)
Day 4 — Kyoto, Japan
Visit the Kiyomizu Temple, which literally translates to “Pure Water Temple” and is one of the most celebrated temples in Japan and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Founded in 780, it was originally part of the Hosso sect, one of the oldest schools of Japanese Buddhism. This elegant structure is known for the impressive wooden stage that juts out from its main hall approximately 43 feet above the hillside. The vibrantly hued Jishu Shrine stands behind the Kiyomizu’s main hall honoring the Okuninushi, deity of love and good matches. Enjoy a traditional Japanese tea ceremony in Kyoto’s famous Gion District, known for its historical beauty, distinctive Japanese architecture and geisha entertainment. (B)
Day 5 — Kyoto / Himeji, Japan
Enjoy your last morning in Kyoto at leisure before checking out of the hotel and departing for the historic town of Himeji. Upon arrival, visit the extraordinary Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site regarded as the oldest and grandest surviving building from 15th- to 17th-century Japan. This elegant structure was crafted entirely out of wood and comprises 83 buildings. In Japanese, it is referred to as Shairasagi-jo, meaning “white egret castle,” for its resemblance to a bird taking flight. This evening, embark the M.S. Le Soléal. (B,D)
Day 6 —Hiroshima / Miyajima, Japan
Visit Hiroshima’s compelling Peace Memorial Park, a tranquil, urban green space filled with memorials that stand in honor of those who lost their lives here during World War II. Continue to Miyajima, or “Shrine Island,” and tour the impressive sixth-century Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and its stunning Torii Gate, both of which appear to float on water during high tide. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Hagi, Japan
Originally a small fishing port, the cultural town of Hagi was fortified by Môri Terumoto in 1604. Enjoy a walking tour of the old samurai quarter, where many former samauri dwellings still stand and the roads are lined with original 19th-century earthen walls. Visit Hagiyaki Pottery, where highly prized tea wares are produced using centuries-old skills and craft techniques; the early 17th-century Kikuya House, the former residence of a merchant wealthy enough to live among the samurai and one of the best-preserved examples of merchant style architecture from the Edo Period, and the 17th-century Toko-ji Temple, from the Obaku School of Japanese Zen Buddhism, with its 500 moss-covered stone lanterns honoring the Môri clan lords. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Matsue, Japan
Arrive in Matsue, capital of the Shimane Prefecture and known as the “City of Water” for its scenic location between Lakes Shinji and Nakaumi and for the Ohashi River and a network of canals that bisect this picturesque town. Matsue is home to a 17th-century feudal castle, one of only 12 remaining Japanese castles with original wooden towers. Travel inland to the Adachi Museum of Art. This stunning combination of Japanese art and garden design features a vast collection of 20th-century paintings and modern art, while the perfectly landscaped garden is widely considered to be the best in the country. (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Ulsan / Gyeongju, South Korea
Travel across the magnificent landscape from Ulsan, South Korea, to the cradle of the eighth-century Shilla Kingdom in the historic city of Gyeongju. See the glorious Bulguksa Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site and part of a religious architectural complex that represents a material expression of Buddhist utopia on earth. The complex is divided into three areas—the Vairoana Buddha Hall, the Hall of Great Enlightenment and the Hall of Supreme Bliss—and comprises a series of wooden buildings on raised stone terraces, featuring multiple bridges and two pagodas. (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Moji, Japan
Enjoy a panoramic tour of Moji, located alongside the Kanmon Straits. Visit the beautiful Mekari Shrine, built by Empress Jingu, wife of the 14th Emperor of Japan, to give thanks to the gods. See Mimosusogawa Park and its monuments honoring the Genpei War, which took place here between 1180 and 1185. Visit the Akama Shrine, dedicated to the child Emperor Antoku, then experience the lively excitement of traditional Karato Fish Market, where professional chefs come from surrounding areas to purchase the freshest seafood to prepare different recipes and sushi in their restaurants. (B,L,D)
Day 11 — Uno / Kurashiki, Japan
From the port of Uno, enjoy a scenic drive to Kurashiki, one of the best-preserved mercantile towns in Japan, its distinctive black and white latticed buildings remaining from the 17th-century Edo period. Kurashiki translates to “storehouse village,” which references the kura (granaries) that comprise this lovely town. Visit the old samurai quarter and the walk amongst the traditional buildings beside tranquil canals framed by weeping willows. (B,L,D)
Day 12 — Osaka, Japan / U.S.
Disembark in Osaka and continue on the Kanazawa Post-Program Option, or transfer to the airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)
Pre- and Post-Cruise Options are available at additional cost. Details will be included with your reservation confirmation.