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: $35,194AUD per person
Deck 4 Superior: $28,752AUD per person
Deck 5 Superior: $29,797AUD per person
Superior Single: $36,539AUD per person
Worsley Suites: $34,562AUD per person
Heritage Suites: $37,807AUD per person
Arrive at Japan’s famed neonlit capital Tokyo, where tradition meets ultramodern and towering skyscrapers sit alongside ancient temples, and make your way to the hotel where our group will spend the first night of the expedition. This evening meet your fellow voyagers and expedition guides over dinner at the hotel.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before travelling by Shinkansen, ‘bullet train’, to Kanazawa. This afternoon you will board Heritage Adventurer and settle into life on board. We will also take the opportunity to introduce you to your expedition team and our voyage plans as we moor over night.
Options today include exploring the historic mountain settlement and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go, high in the remote mountains of the Shogawa River Valley in Hakusan National Park.
Take in the sights on mountain walks and experience the unique cultural traditions including the region’s iconic Gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old, designed to withstand the heavy snow in winter and provide a large attic space for cultivating silkworms.
Alternatively explore 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 crafts and food.
We set sail towards the port of Sakaiminato and the entry point to 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 17th Century castles.
Other options today may include exploring Daisen-Oki National Park, steeped in beauty and history it’s also the home of rare flora and fauna including the giant salamander, visiting the picturesque Yuushien Garden, the Adachi Museum of Art, learning about the art of Japanese paper making at the Yakumo-mura village, or perhaps you may wish to spend some time exploring the picturesque streets and local canals.
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 Temple’, the Jokamachi
District with its old Samurai houses, Hagi Castle ruins at Shizuki Park, and beautiful Zen Tokoji Temple.
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 Shilla 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 experience Korean delicacies, cultural performances, and visit the National Museum with its gold jewellery, metal weapons, and distinctive pottery. Today provides a perfect taste of the best South Korea has to offer.
From our berth in Masan we head inland to the Haeinsa Temple. Regarded as one of the three great temples in Korea, it was first settled in 802AD and its name derives from a verse in a Buddhist Sutra as ‘reflections on a smooth sea’. In the 13th Century when Korea was at war with the Mongols, the government commissioned the Tripitaka Koreana, a complete copy of Buddhist scriptures, in the hope of Buddha’s intervention in the war. They were carved onto 81,258 double sided wooden blocks and stored on floor to ceiling shelves in the Janggyeong Panjeon building.
We also visit the main worship hall of the temple. Returning to Masan this afternoon
you may wish to visit the vibrant fish market selling the daily catch.
After a leisurely morning at sea we return to Japan and the port of Ube for our exploration of the historic, southern Yamaguchi prefecture.
There will be a choice of tours and you may wish to travel inland to visit the picturesque five-storied Pagoda of Rurikoji Temple and the surrounding park. Dating back to 1442, the pagoda was built in memory of Yoshihiro Mori Terumoto who ruled the area during this period. Alternatively drive to Hofu Tenmangu, believed to be the oldest Tenmangu in Japan having been built in 903 at the site where the court officials and scholar Sugawara Michizane stopped on his way to Fukuoka following his exile.
Afterwards visit the museum which houses more than 20,000 national treasure items, including swords, armoury, calligraphy and scrolls. We will then have a chance to explore the beautiful gardens.
This morning we land on Shikoku Island and the port of Uwajima situated deep inside the sawtoothed coast of Uwajima Bay. The city of Uwajima is emerging as the nation’s largest pearl cultivation centre and we will learn the process of implanting, harvesting, extracting and sorting pearls on a visit to a pearl farm. We will also see Uwajima Castle
which is built on top of the hill with panoramic views over the town and harbour and the Tenshaen Garden, built in the Samurai era. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure.
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 sombre cenotaph containing names of atomic 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 Torri Gate.
From the port of Uno-Ko we will visit one of Japan’s most famed gardens, Koraku-en, which translates as ‘garden of pleasure after’. This 17th century formal garden has 28 acres to explore.
This afternoon we will continue to Kurashiki where we explore the old merchant quarter and its fine 17th Century wooden warehouses painted white with traditional black tiles, along a canal framed with weeping willows and filled with koi. There will also be the opportunity to visit the Ohara Museum of Art which includes rare works by Matisse, Picasso and Renoir as well as collections from Japan’s renowned Mingei movement including ceramics by Hamada Shoji.
This morning sail into Kobe, Japan’s seventh-largest city and third largest port. Considered one of Japan’s most beautiful cities, Kobe was rocked by the Great HanshinAwaji 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, head to Osaka by private coach with your tour leader to explore the Kuromon Ichiba market. Sheltered under arcades, you’ll discover the richness of local gastronomy thanks to more than 100 stalls selling fresh products. Then, we visit the castle; the last witness to Osaka’s feudal past, where the memory of Shogun Hideyoshi, who had made it the
largest fortress in Asia at the time, lingers. 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
Today, you’ll take your private coach with your tour leader to Ine, one of the most 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. Take a chairlift to Kasamatsu Park from where a panoramic view of Miyazu Bay and the sandbar can be enjoyed.
Dinner and overnight at Monjusou hotel.
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 17th century for the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu.
In the evening, your tour guide will show you the beauty of Gion, 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
Overnight at the Thousand
This morning, you’ll start with Fushimi Inari. This shrine is best known for its thousands of vermilion 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 Inari.
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 date from 1633. Enjoy a walk in Higashiyama district with its traditional and charming streets.
After lunch, you will experience tea 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 Rikyûu 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 1950.
Overnight at the Thousand
Travel by private vehicle just 35 minutes to Japan’s ancient capital city, Kamakura. As the birthplace of Zen in Japan, the city has a stunning array of temples, gardens, and a giant bronze statue of Buddha (The Great Buddha, ‘Daibutsu’). It also happens to be a charming seaside town with a delightful shopping street, Komachi Dori,
which offers excellent local streetfood, dining and quality souvenir options.
Here, you may participate in the Zen art of Bento with ‘Shojin Ryori’, which 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. She
personally curates and occasionally hosts an experience at her local café, Café Guri, which also showcases the finest Kamakura-bori lacquerware.
Overlooking Yamashita Park and Tokyo Bay, we check in to the iconic Hotel New Grand, where you spend the night. Afterwards, we explore the local 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.
Next, we take in the spectacle of Yokohama’s Minato Mirai (meaning ‘harbour of the future’), which is best enjoyed via a short cable car ride across the bay to Sakuragicho station. For a truly authentic dining experience, take the short walk to the old downtown entertainment district of Noge, which has the iconic nightlife feel of Shinjuku, but on a smaller, more intimate scale. It also happens to be the birthplace of jazz in Japan.
This morning, early birds may wish to head to the lively and intriguing Yokohama fish market, which 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 is Ameyoko, a bustling shopping street offering cheap souvenir 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 (an entertainment boat) for entertaining, 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 the yakatabune.
Overnight at Hyatt Centric Ginza
Enjoy some free time in Tokyo until your transfer by private car to the airport.
Download this tour’s PDF brochure and start your planning offline!
NOTE: During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed. Please note: Voyages are planned and scheduled pending final regulatory approval.
**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.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.