Experience the timeless splendor of Japan while cruising the full length of the tranquil Inland Sea, plus stop in South Korea's port of Ulsan for a special visit to historic Gyeongju, the “museum without walls.”

Starting at: $6,195 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Entrance to Nijo Castle (detail), Kyoto  Himeji Castle  Nijo Castle Garden, Kyoto  Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion, Kyoto  Ryoan-ji Zen Garden, Kyoto  Bulguksa Temple, Gyeongju, South Korea

A Cruise of Japan

From Himeji to Matsue and Osaka With a Stop in South Korea Aboard the 220-guest Le Soléal

12 days from $6,195

Experience the timeless splendor of Japan while cruising the full length of the tranquil Inland Sea, plus stop in South Korea's port of Ulsan for a special visit to historic Gyeongju, the “museum without walls.”

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

I would highly recommend Smithsonian. They are a high quality tour organization. They organize the tour in a highly efficient manner. I would travel again with them.

- Victoria B.

If you enjoy meeting new people, learning new things, and discovering new cultures, Smithsonian Journeys is for you!

- Bill, L.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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Overview

Tokyo Pre-Program Option — 4 Days, 3 Nights

Beneath Tokyo’s layers of thriving innovation and enthralling pop culture, you will find venerable wooden houses fronted by bonsai trees and shrines wreathed in incense smoke—the cultural core of this vibrant capital city. Begin with a panoramic tour, followed by a visit to the Tokyo National Museum, one of the largest art museums in the world with over 110,000 objects and 87 of Japan’s national treasures. Explore collections of Asian artwork and artifacts and the surrounding Ueno Park, opened to the public in 1873. Enjoy a full-day excursion to Hakone, home to iconic Mt. Fuji, a World Heritage site for a cruise on Lake Ashi. Visit vibrant Asakusa, the center of Tokyo’s historic shitamachi district, and tour the 7th-century Sensō-Ji Temple. Travel aboard the hig-speed Shinkansen bullet train to Kyoto. Spend three nights in the five-star ANA InterContinental Hotel Tokyo.

Osaka Post-Program Option — 3 Days, 2 Nights

Get to know Osaka’s interesting culture and history as a merchant city with a visit to the Osaka History Museum. Continue on to the Sky Garden Observatory in the Umeda Sky Building for incredible views of the city.  

Visit famous temples in the former capital of Nara. Todaiji, the Great Eastern Temple holds one of Japan’s largest bronze statues of Buddha. Also, see the beautiful wooden, five-story pagoda of the Horyuji Temple. Experience the art of gripped Sumi making, a craft of the Nara area. Accommodations are for two nights in five-star Intercontinental Hotel Osaka.

Pre- and Post-Program Options are available at additional cost. Details will be provided with your reservation confirmation.

I would highly recommend Smithsonian. They are a high quality tour organization. They organize the tour in a highly efficient manner. I would travel again with them.

- Victoria B.

If you enjoy meeting new people, learning new things, and discovering new cultures, Smithsonian Journeys is for you!

- Bill, L.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart the U.S.

Depart the U.S. and cross the International Date Line

Day 2 — Osaka / Kyoto, Japan

Arrive in Osaka, then transfer to beautiful Kyoto, the impeccably preserved former imperial capital of Japan. Check into the ideally located five-star Kyoto Hotel Okura. The remainder of the day is at leisure. 

Day 3 and 4 — Kyoto

An ethereal setting of grand imperial castles, tranquil Zen gardens, and graceful Shinto shrines, Kyoto manifests Japanese culture in its purest form. Visit three World Heritage sites—14th-century Kinkaku-ji Temple, whose famed “Golden Pavilion” is almost entirely adorned with gold leaf; the peaceful Ryōan-ji Temple, originally an aristocrat’s villa during the Heian Period (A.D. 794 to 1185) and Kiyomizu-dera Temple that houses the temple’s primary object of worship, Kannon, the diety of mercy with 11 faces and 42 arms. Ryōan-ji Temple’s legendary karesansui (dry landscape) rock garden was a place of meditation and inspiration for Steve Jobs, who used its minimalism as the guiding aesthetic principle for Apple™ products.

Visit grandiose Nijō Castle, built by the shogun of the powerful Tokugawa dynasty (1603 to 1867).

Enjoy a welcome reception one evening in Kyoto. (2B,1R)

Day 5 — Kyoto / Himeji

This morning is at leisure.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before your scenic transfer to see the extraordinary Himeji Castle complex, a World Heritage site regarded as the oldest and grandest surviving feudal castle in the world, dating from 15th- to 17th-century Japan. Admire this elegant structure, which was crafted entirely out of wood and comprises 83 buildings. 

Later this afternoon, embark the Le Soléal. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Hiroshima / Miyajima

Visit Hiroshima’s compelling Peace Memorial Park, a tranquil, urban green space where the remains of the Genbaku Dome, which survived the forces of the atomic bomb, are a designated World Heritage site and stand as a universal symbol of peace. Visit the Peace Memorial Museum, which chronicles the history of Hiroshima.

Continue to Miyajima, or “Shrine Island.” Tour the impressive 6th-century Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage site.

Attend the Captain’s welcome reception this evening. (B,L,R,D)

Day 7 — Hagi

Originally a small fishing port, the cultural town of Hagi was fortified by Môri Terumoto in 1604. On the walking tour of the old samurai quarter, where many former samurai dwellings still stand and roads are lined with original 19th-century earthen walls, visit 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. Tour the 17th-century Toko-ji Temple, from the Obaku School of Japanese Zen Buddhism, and see its 500 moss-covered stone lanterns honoring the Môri clan lords. Visit the Hagi Uragami Museum, which displays over 5,000 traditional woodblock prints and porcelain works of art. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Sakaiminato for Matsue

Enjoy a scenic drive through Matsue to tour the acclaimed Adachi Museum of Art. This stunning combination of Japanese art and garden design features a collection of 20th-century paintings and modern art, while the perfectly landscaped gardens, featuring a kare-sansui (dry landscape) garden, are widely considered to be the best in the country.

See distinctive Matsue Castle, a feudal structure whose five-story keep is the tallest in Japan, en route to the ship for lunch and an afternoon of cruising with lectures by our onboard study leaders. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Ulsan, South Korea for Gyeongju

Travel across South Korea’s verdant rural landscape from Ulsan to the cradle of the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C. to A.D. 935) in the historic city of Gyeongju. Visit the glorious Bulguksa Temple, a 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 Vairocana 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.  

Visit Gyeongju National Museum, which houses priceless archaeological and historical artifacts. Enjoy a specially arranged Korean lunch and a traditional dance performance.

After lunch, visit the Royal Burial Mounds at Tumuli Park where, in 1974, the 43-foot-high Cheonmachong Tomb (Heavenly Horse), dating from the 5th century, was excavated, revealing over 10,000 royal treasures inside. (B,L,D)

Day 10 — Moji, Japan

Visit the beautiful Akama Shrine, near Moji, dedicated to the child Emperor Antoku. Then, experience the lively excitement of the Karato Fish Market, a wholesale market where professional chefs come to purchase the freshest seafood to prepare time-honored recipes and sushi in their restaurants.

Enjoy the captain’s farewell reception on board this evening. (B,L,R,D)

Day 11 — Uno for Kurashiki and Koraku-en Garden:

From the port of Uno, visit the famous Koraku-en Gardens, situated on the outskirts of Okayama. Commissioned by Lord Ikedo in 1700, it is a classic strolling garden divided into three sections featuring bamboo, pine, plum and cherry trees and tea bushes.

Enjoy a scenic drive to the lovely town of Kurashiki, which translates to “storehouse village,” one of the best-preserved mercantile towns in Japan; its distinctive black and white latticed buildings remain from the 17th-century Edo period. Visit the old merchant quarter and walk among the traditional kara (granary) buildings beside small, tranquil canals framed by weeping willows.  (B,L,D)

Day 12 — Osaka / U.S.

Disembark in Osaka and continue on the Osaka Post-Program Option, or transfer to the airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)