Cruise through the Inland Sea and the Sea of Japan/East Sea on a delightful springtime exploration of Japan, with time ashore in both Kyoto and Tokyo. This small nation of nearly 7,000 islands is wonderfully suited for exploration by small ship, and our chartered vessel, the 114-passenger Caledonian Sky, conveys us comfortably to a fascinating variety of tranquil historic towns, artistic centers, and remote islands.
Home / Kyoto, Japan
Depart home on an overnight flight to Osaka and transfer to the Kyoto Hotel Okura in the heart of Kyoto.
KYOTO HOTEL OKURA
TUESDAY, APRIL 17
Visit Tenryu-ji, a Rinzai Buddhist temple and UNESCO World Heritage site; the atmospheric Arashiyama bamboo grove; and UNESCO World Heritage– designated Kinkaku-ji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), whose shimmering central pavilion is covered in bright gold leaf. This evening, enjoy a private presentation by a former geisha and maiko (apprentice geisha) and a festive welcome reception and dinner. KYOTO HOTEL OKURA (B,L,R,D)
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18
ALL: Travel east of Kyoto to the Miho Museum, built into a mountain slope and considered one of the master achievements of architect I.M. Pei. Return to Kyoto for afternoon options.
OPTION 1: Visit Sanjusan-gendo temple, part of the Tendai school of Buddhism and famous for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The temple’s name means “Hall with Thirty-three Spaces between Columns,” which describes the architecture of Japan’s longest wooden structure.
OPTION 2: Participate in an ikebana (flower-arranging) workshop (additional $40 per person). KYOTO HOTEL OKURA (B,L)
THURSDAY, APRIL 19
Kyoto / Kobe (Embark)
Depart Kyoto this morning and drive to nearby Nara. During the short time that Nara was the capital of Japan (710–784), Buddhism became firmly established and some of the country’s most magnificent temples and works of art were created. Visit the National Museum and two UNESCO World Heritage sites: Todai-ji, famous for its monolithic statue of the Great Buddha, and Horyu-ji, Japan’s oldest surviving Buddhist temple and the world’s oldest wooden structure. Embark the Caledonian Sky in Kobe. CALEDONIAN SKY (B,L,D)
FRIDAY, APRIL 20
Disembark in Uno Ko and take a ferry to Naoshima, an island in the Inland Sea that has become a mecca for cutting-edge art and contemporary architecture. Explore the world-class Chichu Art Museum and Benesse House Museum, both designed by Tadao Ando. CALEDONIAN SKY (B,L,D)
SATURDAY, APRIL 21
Anchor offshore of Miyajima Island this morning and board Zodiacs to access the island. Visit the 6th-century Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, with its iconic vermilion torii, a grand wooden gateway that appears to float on the sea at high tide. Enjoy ample free time for hikes, visits to tiny temples, and strolling the picturesque streets of the town. CALEDONIAN SKY (B,L,D)
SUNDAY, APRIL 22
Explore Japan’s medieval heritage at Hagi, which boasts one of the best-preserved samurai and merchant quarters in Japan as well as a ceramics tradition nearly 400 years old. Stop at the kiln of a master artisan to observe how the highly acclaimed Hagi-yaki pottery is made. Walk the grounds of Toko-ji temple, where hundreds of moss-covered stone lanterns guard the graves of five Mori lords. Cruise overnight across the Korea Strait. CALEDONIAN SKY (B,L,D)
MONDAY, APRIL 23
Ulsan, South Korea
From the South Korean port of Ulsan, drive inland to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Gyeongju, ancient capital of the Silla kingdom, which ruled for 1,000 years. Visit Bulguksa, one of the most beautiful Buddhist temples in South Korea, with intricate paintings inside and out and two original 6th-century pagodas. After a lunch of Korean specialties and a performance of Korean folkloric music, choose an afternoon option.
OPTION 1: Explore the royal tombs, shaped like domes, gourds, or half-moons, in Tumuli Park. Also visit the Sokkuram Grotto, part of the Bulguksa temple complex. A Korean National Treasure and UNESCO World Heritage site, the grotto contains a large Buddha sculpture, an acclaimed piece of Buddhist art.
OPTION 2: Visit the world’s largest automobile assembly plant, operated by Hyundai Motor Company. CALEDONIAN SKY (B,L,D)
TUESDAY, APRIL 24
Drive through lush countryside to the Adachi Museum of Art to explore its collection of modern Japanese works, set in exquisite gardens. Continue to charming Matsue and visit one of the few surviving castles in Japan, built in 1611. Enjoy free time to stroll through Matsue’s historic samurai quarter. CALEDONIAN SKY (B,L,D)
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25
Call at the artistic center of Kanazawa for a visit to Kenroku-en, considered by many to be the finest landscape garden in Japan. Also visit the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, whose collections are focused on works produced since 1980, and enjoy time to explore Kanazawa’s historic neighborhoods. CALEDONIAN SKY (B,L,D)
THURSDAY, APRIL 26
Arrive at remote Sado Island, once a place of exile for intellectuals and political dissidents and now the home base of the taiko drumming group Kodo (“heartbeat”). Enjoy a hands-on drumming workshop and short performance by several of the resident drummers, as well as a guest lecture on this ancient art form. Also explore the picturesque fishing village of Shukunegi, where more than one hundred traditional Edo-period houses line the narrow streets. Ride aboard one of the unusual local boats called tarai-bune, circular wooden tubs rowed with a single oar that are used to collect shellfish and seaweed. Conclude with a tour and tasting at a local sake brewery. This evening enjoy a farewell reception on board the ship. CALEDONIAN SKY (B,L,D)
FRIDAY, APRIL 27
Niigata (Disembark) / Tokyo
Disembark the Caledonian Sky in Niigata port and board a high-speed “bullet train” for Tokyo.
OPTION 1: Explore the Nezu Museum’s impressive collections of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean calligraphy, painting, sculpture, and ceramics, and its lovely traditional gardens dotted with waterfalls, ponds, and teahouses.
OPTION 2: Visit the Toto showroom in Shinjuku, where the company’s innovative lavatory products are on display.
ALL: Gather this evening for a special farewell dinner with a private demonstration of kabuki, followed by an optional Tokyo-by-Night motor coach tour. IMPERIAL HOTEL (B,L,D)
SATURDAY, APRIL 28
Tokyo / Home
Transfer to Narita or Haneda Airport for flights home (arriving the same day). (B)
APRIL 10–16, 2018
Kii Peninsula & Iya Valley
After an initial night near Osaka, travel to the remote and peaceful Kii Peninsula. Weather permitting, delight in the gorgeous blooms of the cherry trees. Continue to Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s main islands, for a two-night stay in the remote Iya Valley (above), where vine suspension bridges, thatched-roof farmhouses, and village traditions date back to the Edo period. En route to Kyoto to start the main tour, stop in Takamatsu to stroll through Ritsurin Park’s 17th-century gardens, with graceful bridges arcing over ponds, then continue by coach and high-speed train to Kyoto. Hotels in the Kii Peninsula and the Iya Valley are traditional Japanese inns, or ryokans.
APRIL 28–MAY 1, 2018
Kamakura & Hakone
Travel outside Tokyo for a two-night stay in the hot springs resort of Hakone. Explore the Hakone Open- Air Museum, featuring renowned sculpture and artwork; enjoy the Lalique Museum’s collection of Art Nouveau and Art Deco objects; cruise along Lake Ashi; and ride the Hakone Ropeway for views of Mt. Fuji (weather permitting). Also visit the historic center of Kamakura, with its Zen temples and famous Daibutsu, a giant bronze statue of Buddha (above).
Additional details and pricing for both optional extensions will be sent to confirmed participants.