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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Free time in Tokyo until your transfer by private car to the airport.
Download this tour’s PDF brochure and start your planning offline!
**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.