Spirit of Japan

21 Days
from AUD$ 34,738

Highlights

  • Cruise aboard 140-passenger luxury expedition vessel, Heritage Adventurer
  • Five-storey Pagoda of Miyajima
  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
  • Insight to Japanese paper making in the town of Matsue
  • A day in South Korea’s Ulsan visiting UNESCO World Heritage Site Gyeongu — the ’museum without walls‘
  • Traditional pearl farm at Uwajima
  • Flower farms of Hokkaido
  • Renowned Tenshaen and Kenroku-en gardens
  • Kinashi, one of Japan’s leading bonsai centres
  • An insight into the city’s feudal past at Osaka Castle
  • Sake brewery in the fishing village of Ine
  • Wood carvings at UNESCO Heritage Site, Nijo Castle
  • Ancient Capital of Kyoto & Samurai district of Nagamchi

In partnership with Heritage Expeditions, uncover the true essence of The Land of the Rising Sun on this land and sea adventure, as we experience medieval castles and temples, magical gardens, beautiful landscapes, and discover a strong cultural history. Our explorations take us beyond well-known highlights to remote the coastline, islands and pockets tourists rarely have the opportunity to experience. A country rich in history and tradition, Japan seamlessly blends ancient customs with ultramodern living which we will experience as we make our way from iconic cities to remote coastlines and islands. Our intended destinations are designed to showcase contemporary cities and modern museums alongside medieval castles and shrines from the Edo period, culturally rich islands and fascinating wilderness and wildlife.

There is also the opportunity to explore traditional as through visiting galleries and meeting local artists. For those with a passion for nature we plan to venture into several national parklands, observe wildlife and experience the swathes of colourful flowers in bloom.

Pricing for cruise and land:

Main Deck Single:  $34,194AUD per person

Deck 4 Superior: $27,734AUD per person

Deck 5 Superior: $28,709AUD per person

Superior Single: $35,194AUD per person

Worsley Suites: $33,259AUD per person

Heritage Suites: $39,759AUD per person

Click here to view the ships deck plan

Journey map

Fitness level

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Itinerary

Day 1 - Otaru

Arrive in Otaru, a port city in Hokkaido known for glassworks, music boxes, sake distilleries and the picturesque Otaru Canal flanked with shops and cafes built within its repurposed 1920s warehouses. Transfer to your hotel where our group will spend the first night of the expedition, This evening meet your fellow voyagers and expedition team over dinner at the hotel.

Day 2 - Otaru

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before exploring this unique city. This afternoon you will board your ship, settle into your cabin and familiarise yourself with Heritage Advenfurer. We will also take the opportunity to introduce you to your expedition team and our voyage plans.

Day 3 - Hakodate

Today we sail into the port of Hakodate, located at the southern tip of Hokkaido. This morning will see us venturing to Onuma Park where we plan to explore its picturesque, island-dotted lakes and majestic dormant volcano, Mount Komagatake. Explore the lakes’ endlessly fascinating and Instagram-worthy peninsulas and islands, many of which are connected by small bridges and easily traversed on foot.

Back in Hakooate, this afternoon, there will be an option to enjoy a city tour including the enchanting Fort Goryokaku. This massive star- shaped citadel was built in the last years of the Edo Period, but repurposed now as a quirky public park boasting more than 1,000 cherry trees along its moats.

Day 4 - Noshiro

Famous for its local beef, pork and chicken and rice soup known as Kiritanpo, tranquil Noshira is a modern city flanked by nature with the Yoneshiro River winding through its heart. Gateway to the iconic juniko (12 Lakes) park, this national treasure is actually a collection of 33 crystal clear ponds and lakes formed by an earthquake in 1704 and surrounded by ancient beech forest. Here we will have the option to explore the forested walks that lead to these serene blue holes including 10-metre-deep Aoike (Blue Pond). Other options may include visiting stunning Lake Towada, a 2,000 year old double caldera 400 metres above sea level, and its surrounding forest In Towada- Hachimantai National Park and Japan’s largest pine forest, Kaze no Matsubara, where more than seven million trees were planted to prevent coastal erosion. Known as the ’Wind of Matsubara’, in 1996 it was designated as one of the 100 Soundscapes of Japan.

Day 5 - Sado Island

Today we plan to explore remote Sado Island off the coast of Niigata. Comprising the mountain ranges of Osado and Kosado flanking the Kokunaka Plain, Sado was once a destination of political exile. It now boasts its own rich cultural and religious life incorporating pupoet theatre, Okesa folk songs, Ondeko drumming and demon dances, and Noh theatre thank to some of its more famous displaced figures.

Home to the japanese Crested Ibis, extinct on the Mainland, and the iconic taraibune tub boats, this island off the beaten path combines stunning natural scenery including Senkakuwan Bay and Ogi Peninsula, and wilderness and wildlife with a rich history incIudin.g gold and silver mining, Samurai warrior culture and unique agri-and aqua-culture practices. Sado Island ¡s widely considered a perfect, miniature version of Japan.

Day 6 - Kanazawa

Today spend the day exploring the rich art centre of Kanazawa discovering some of the unique styles of Japanese art. Kanazawa is rightly famous for its Kutani-style pottery, exquisite lacquerware, gold-leaf workmanship, hand painted silk, and classical Noh dance-drama performed since The 14th Century. Wander winding cobblestone streets, elegant restaurants, craft galleries and visit the impressive Edo-period Kenrokuen Garden, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, and explore the Omicho Market boasting everything from flowers, to drafts and food.

Day 7 - Matsue

We set sail towards the port of Sakaiminato and the entry point co Matsue, known as ’the town of water’ due to being situated between Lake Shinji and Lake Nakaumi. A highlight of our visit will be the Matsue Castle, a national treasure and one of japan’s few largely intact 7th century castles.

Other options today may include exploring Daisen-Oki National Park, which is steeped in beauty and history. It’s also the home of rare flora and fauna, including the giant salamander. A visit to the picturesque Yuushien Garden is also an option, as is the Adachi Museum of Art, learning about the art of Japanese paper making at the Vakumo-mura village, and perhaps some time spent exploring the local streets and canals.

Day 8 - Hagi

Relax on board as we sail south to Hagi, originally a minor fishing port but now famously known for its traditional pottery making, which you will have a chance to learn about. We will also have the opportunity to discover the Teramachi District with its temples and shrines, including the famed Ninja Tempte,’ the Jokomachi District with its old Samurai houses; Hagi Castle ruins at Shizuki Park, and the beautiful Zen Tokoji Temple.

Day 9 - Ulsan, South Korea

Today we cross the Sea of Japan to Ulsan in South Korea where we plan to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Gyeongju. The capital of the Shi1la Dynasty and dating back to the first millennium, Gyeongju is known as ‘the museum without walls‘ and is full of ancient Korean history and Buddhist culture. Enjoy strolling through hundreds of excavated monuments, temples, tombs and pagodas and enjoy Korean delicacies, cultural performances, and visit the National Museum with its gold jewellery, metal weapons, and distinctive pottery. Today provides a perfect taste of South Korea.

Day 10 - Karatsu

Once a major stop for ships and trading post between Korea and China, Karatsu is well known for its medieval herita.ge including the Karatsu Castle. Built on a plain, construction began in 1602 and the Castle is also known as the ’flying crane castle’ as its shape resembles a bird in light. We will tour the castle including the Exhibition Hall, which houses the floats and artefacts used in the annual Karatsu Kunchi autumn festival. If you have an interest in plants and/or pottery, an alternative option for today is a visit to the city of Imari celebrated for its porcelain pottery kilns and the flower-laden Mifuneyama Rakuen garden.

 

Day 11 - Ube

From our base at the historic pot city of Ube, today we will be exploring the Yamaguchi prefecture, the last paint an the main island of Honshu. Options here include visiting the Hafu Tenmangu Shrine, believed to be the oldest Tenmangu in japan having being built in 903, and dedicatea to the god of learning.

Alternatively, visit the five-storied Pagoda, symbol of Yamaguchi and national treasure Rurikoji Temple. Built in 1442, this Buddhist temple is considered one of Japan’s top three temples and set amidst the beautifully manicured Kozan Park. Take the opportunity to visit the museum which houses thousands of national treasures and explore the beautiful gardens.

Day 12 - Uwajima

Today sees us exploring the city of Uwajima, on Japan’s Shikoku Island. One of Japan’s premier pearl producers, we will have the chance to learn about the traditional process of cultivating and harvesting pearls during a visit to a pearl farm. We also plan to visit the Uwajima Castle, built in the Edo Period (1603 – 1 867), it features spectacular panoramic views of the town, harbour, and the tranquil Tenshaen Garden built in the Samurai era.

We will make sure you have free time today to explore the town or perhaps visit one of the many gardens including Tenshaen and the island’s largest Nanrakuen Gardens. Other options include a meander along a cherry tree-lined Jane in Yosbida, or visiting the historic Kabuki theatre.

Day 13 - Hiroshima and Miyajima Island

Despite its history including being the site of the world’s first atomic- bomb attack on the 6 August 1945, Hiroshima is a vibrant and thriving cosmopolitan community. We plan to visit the beautiful Peace Park and Museum, with its somber cenotaph containing names of atomlc bomb victims, and the permanently lit ’Flame of Peace’.

After visiting the Peace Park we will travel to Miyajima Island, considered one of japan’s most scenic spots and the location of the Torii Gate and the Daisho-in Buddhist temple. For those after a nature fix, ascend Mount Misen on Miyajima Island by cable car and enjoy a hike. admiring the views below of the Shinto Shrine and Torii Gate.

Day 14 - Takamatsu

Our next stop on Shikoku Island is Takamatsu. Takamatsu has had a long history as a port town earning itself the nickname ’Gateway to Shikoku’, although more recently locals have been calling it ’Udon Kingdom’. If you have an interest in plants a visit to Ritsurin Park, considered one of Japan’s finest gardens, is sure to be a highlight. Next you will enjoy a visit to Kinashi, one of Japan’s main bonsai production centres, where you will learn about traditional methods of growing bonsai. Far those interested in history and art you may wish to travel to Naoshima Island for a full-day excursion. Shikoku Island is known fD7 its art and this excursion to Naoshima will have you admiring its architecture and art museums, including Chichu Art Museum and Benesse House, featuring work by japanese and international artists.

Day 15 - Kobe/Osaka

This morning sail into Kobe, japan’s seventh-largest cix and third largest port. Considered one ofjapan’s most beautiful cities, Kobe was rocked by the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake of 1995. which killed more than 5,000 people and destroyed tens of thousands of buildings. Today the city is completely rebuilt, though a few signs of the terrible event remain. After breakfast, you‘ll be transferred to Osaka by private coach with your tour leader. You’ll start with Kuromon Ichlba market.

Sheltered under arcades, you’ll discover the richness of local gastronomy thanM to more than 100 stalls selling fresh products.

Then, visit the castle, the last witness to Osaka’s feudal past, where the memory of Shogun H ideyoshi lingers had made the largest fortress in Asia, Dominating the skyline, the imposing Osaka Castle is a reconstruction erected on the original walls in the largest park in the city. Free time in the evening to enjoy the lively shopping arcades of Dotomburi.

Overnight at Nikko or similar

Day 16 - Osaka - Amanohashidate

Today, you’ll take your private coach with your tour leader to  me,  one  of the mast beautiful landscapes in the Sea of Japan. This small and charming fishing village is nestled between sea and mountains and far from mass tourism. With  a  local guide, learn more about Ine history, visit a sake brewery and a famous funaya or boat house. Enjoy also a boat cruise on the bay.

After lunch at a local restaurant, your next destination will be Amanohashidate recognised one of the three most scenic views of japan. Tgke a chairlift to Kasamatsu Park from where a panoramic view of Miyazu Bay and the sandbar can be enjoyed.

Overnight at Mommou Hotel or similar

Day 17 - Amanohashidate - Kyoto

Road to Kyoto. For lunch, explore the narrow streets of Nishiki Market and its family-run stalls. After lunch, you‘ll discover Nijo castle, whose delicate wood carvings are remarkable witnesses of Japanese refinement. Listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site, this fortified castle is a former family home built in the 1 7th century for the shogun Tokugawa leyasu. In the evening, your tour guide will show you the beauty of Gion in Kyoto’s best preserved traditional district. With its wooden constructions, Gion is home of geishas. It is not uncommon, while strolling through the small streets at the end of the afternoon, to see a geisha painted with rice powder, dressed in a kimono enhanced with an obi, slipping into an alley in the shade of the umbrella.

Overnight at the Thousand or similar

 

Day 18 - Kyoto

This morning, you’ll start with Fushimi Inari. This shrine is best known for its thousands of vermilian torii forming a path on the hill on which the temple is built.

These torii are mostly donations made by individuals, families or companies to lnari. The names of the donors often appear on the uprights of the torii. Then, you’ll head to Kiyomizu temple, whose terraces offer a beautiful perspective on the ancient capital imperial. Dedicated to the 11 – headed goddess Kannon, whose statue is only exhibited once every 33 years, this temple was founded in 798, The current buildings dare from 1633. Enjoy a walk in Higashiyama district with its traditional and charming streets. After lunch, you will experience sea ceremony at a private garden.

Originally a means of relaxation and meditation, the tea ceremony (Chanoyu) has evolved into an extremely precise ritual requiring hours of learning and practice. The principles of the most famous tea master, Sen No Rikyñu are taught in schools across japan. Nearby, visit Kinkaku-ji temple, nicknamed the “Golden Pavilion”. A wonderful garden stretches out in front of this pavilion covered in gold leaf, a perfect replica of the original building destroyed in 950.

Overnight at the Thousand or similar

Day 19 - Kyoto to Yokohama
In order to travel light in the train, you’ll leave your main luggage at the front desk and simply take an overnight bag for the night. It will be delivered the day after at your hotel in Tokyo (your tour leader will help)
Travel by private vehicle just 35 minutes to Japan’s ancient capital city, Kamakura. As the birthplace of Zen in Japan, this has a stunning array of temples, gardens, and a giant bronze statue of Buddha (The Great Buddha, ‘Daibutsu’). It also happens to be a stunning seaside town with an absolutely delightful shopping street, Komachi Dori, with excellent local street-food, dining options, and irresistible/non-tacky souvenir shopping options.
Participate in the Zen and Art of Bento. “Shojin Ryori” was introduced to temples in the Kamakura period, as a cleansing, karma-neutral meal for monks seeking enlightenment. To this day it is revered as being gentle on the mind and body. Mari Fujii, celebrated author of “Enlightened Kitchen”, has spread the food culture of Shojin Ryori as a philosophy and lifestyle for over 30 years in Kamakura, the birthplace of Zen. She is personally curating and occasionally hosting an experience at her selected local Café, Café Guri, which also showcases the finest Kamakura-bori lacquerware, in the area and today is your chance to experience this.
After your Shojin Ryori experience, transfer to check in to the iconic Hotel New Grand, overlooking Yamashita Park and Tokyo Bay. After a brief rest at the hotel, it is time to explore the environs on foot including Yamashita Park, built on reclaimed land from the ruins of the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. Nearby highlights include Osanbashi Pier, Yokohama Archives of History Museum and Aka-Renga.
After taking in old Yokohama, take in the spectacle of new Yokohama’s Minato Mirai (meaning ‘Harbour of the future’). This can be best enjoyed through a short cable car ride (the Air Cabin) across the bay to Sakuragicho station.
For a truly authentic and memorable dining experience, take a short walk from Sakuragicho to the old downtown entertainment district of Noge. This offers the iconic nightlife feel of Shinjuku, but more intimate, quaint and local feel. It also happens to be the birthplace of jazz in Japan.
After dinner return via a short train ride to your hotel (not included).
*The walk is approximately 2-3km in total on flat terrain. Rickshaw rides are also available
Overnight at The Hotel New Grand or similar
Day 20 - Yokohama - Tokyo
This morning, early birds may wish to consider experiencing Yokohama fish market. This can be arranged on a private basis. Alternatively, enjoy breakfast at the hotel and take in the sea air and early morning park life at Yamashita Park. Depart to Tokyo by train – it is one hour to Ueno station from your hotel.
A short walk from the train station, head to Ameyoko, a bustling shopping street offering cheap souvenirs shops and various restaurants. After lunch, your tour leader will guide you to Asakusa, the traditional district of Tokyo, along the Sumida River. Visit Senso-ji one of Tokyo’s most spectacular and revered temples. On the shopping street that leads to the temple, “Nakamise Dori”, there are many shops selling all kinds of traditional items.
Tonight, your farewell dinner will be on a yakatabune, a boat cruising on Sumida river from Asakusa to Odaiba. After dark, take in the spectacular sight of bright city lights and the famous Rainbow Bridge from the deck of your cruising yakatabune.
Day 21 - Tokyo

Free time in Tokyo until your transfer by private car to the airport.

Don’t have time now?

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What’s included

Cruise:

  • Landing fees to the value of AUD700
  • Pre/post cruise transfers
  • One night hotel accommodation equivalent to your on board accommodation (incl. dinner/breakfast)
  • All on board ship accommodation with meals, house beer, wine and soft drinks with lunch and dinner and all expedition shore excursions.
  • Programme of lectures by noted naturalists

Land:

  • 6 nights accommodation
  • Transportation by air-conditioned private vehicle for all included sightseeing
  • All entrance fees during t0uring
  • Services of local English-speaking guides
  • Meals as per itinerary
  • Bottle of water during sightseeing
  • VAT Government tax and services charge
  • Crooked Compass Escort
Exclusions
  • International flights
  • Domestic flights unless otherwise mentioned
  • Drinks unless otherwise mentioned
  • Visas
  • Travel Insurance
  • Tips
  • Inoculations
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Anything not mentioned in the itinerary

**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.

* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.

* A minimum of 4 adults is required to guarantee this departure.

A non-refundable deposit of 25%  per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.

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Availability

Start Date
End Date
Duration
Availability
Price
Start Date
01st Jun 2023
End Date
21st Jun 2023
Duration
21 Days
Availability
Enquiry Only
Price
$34,738 AUD