Springtime Voyage to Classic Japan

Springtime Voyage to Classic Japan



Modern, glittering, dynamic cities coexist with centuries-old Buddhist temples, sublime Shinto shrines, feudal castles, and samurai estates. Throughout this voyage to the Inland Sea and Japan’s southern islands, we will experience these contradictory aspects of Japan as they are reflected in the art, architecture, and culture of its towns, cities, and gardens. Featuring Special Guest Lecturer Admiral James Stavridis.

Pricing from

No Single Supplement!

Trip Type
Group Travel Tour, International Ocean & Sea Voyages
Departure Dates
May 17, 2023 - May 30, 2023


All accommodations aboard Minerva are spacious staterooms and balcony suites. They are elegantly decorated, face outside, affording sea views, and include a queen-size bed that can be arranged as two twin beds, a spacious bathroom, mini-refrigerator, safe, ample closet space, climate control, telephone, TV, Wi-Fi, and USB connections, as well as other amenities. Minerva Details


CANCELLATIONS & REFUNDS: All cancellations are subject to a $300 per person administrative fee. Cancellations received 61-90 days prior to departure will be assessed a penalty equal to 50% of the total program cost per person. Cancellations received within 60 days of departure are subject to 100% cancellation penalties. Requests for cancellations must be made in writing. No refunds will be made for any part of this program in which you choose not to participate.


Japan map


  • day 1 & 2


    Arrive in Osaka and transfer to the Hotel Hankyu International (or similar) for overnight. This evening, join fellow travelers for a welcome dinner. (D)

  • day 3


    After breakfast, join an excursion to Himeji Castle, widely acclaimed as Japan’s most spectacular castle and a World Heritage Site. Unlike many Japanese castles, Himeji was never destroyed by war, earthquake or fire, and remains much as it was when it was completed in 1609. Its 83 buildings are described by UNESCO as “a masterpiece of construction in wood, combining function with aesthetic appeal.” After lunch, continue to nearby Kobe to board Minerva and sail. (B,L,D)

  • day 4


    Okayama, the capital of Okayama Prefecture, is the second largest city in the Chugoku Region. Our first stop is at the Koraku-en Garden, recognized as one of the three best landscape gardens in Japan. Encompassing about 33 acres, it was built in 1700 by the local feudal lord as a strolling garden for his relaxation and contemplation. It features a flat lawn with attractive ponds, a hill in the center, a tiny tea plantation with rice paddy, and a small waterfall. In the afternoon, we travel to Kurashiki, where we explore the Ohara Museum of Art and tour the Ohashi Family House, typical of wealthy merchants of the 18th century. Also stroll in the historic town center, lined with beautifully-preserved old buildings. (B,L,D)

  • day 5


    Today we pay a solemn visit to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park and Museum and the Atomic Bomb Dome, one of the most sobering monuments anywhere in the world. We also explore the Itsukushima Shrine, a holy place of Shintoism since the earliest times, and home to an iconic ‘floating’ tori gate. The present shrine dates from the 13th century and is a reflection of the style favored by the most powerful leader of the time, Taira no Kiyomori. Itsukushima’s balancing of the sea, the buildings, and the primeval forest on Mt. Misen are accepted as this tradition’s standard of beauty. (B,L,D)

  • day 6


    Hagi, once the seat of the powerful Mori Clan of Japan’s feudal period, is now best known for its well-preserved castle town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although only ruins remain of the castle itself, the basic plan of the Edo-period town has survived. Most of the streets are laid out exactly as they were four hundred years ago and retain the characteristic pure white walls and gray roof tiles of that period. (B,L,D)

  • day 7


    Made entirely of pine, Matsue Castle was built in 1611, and, with a partial reconstruction in 1692, never having been ransacked or burned, remains as it was in the late 17th century. Explore the five-story façade, including the uppermost floor, which offers views of the city, Lake Shinji, and the distant mountains. In the afternoon, we visit the Adachi Museum of Art and its gardens. The Museum houses numerous works by the great masters of modern Japanese art – Yokoyama Taikan, Takeuchi Seiho, Uemura Shoen, and Ito Shinsui, among others. Most of the works were selected by Adachi Zenko (1899-1990), the museum’s founder, who favored a wide and eclectic range of styles. (B,L,D)

  • day 8


    From Busan, our excursion takes us to Gyeongju, the ancient capital of the Silla Kingdom. The Gyeongju Historic Areas, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, contain outstanding examples of Korean Buddhist art from the flowering of Silla culture between the 7th and 10th centuries. We will visit Bulguksa Temple, home to many cultural relics protected as National Treasures, including the Dabotap and Seokgatap Pagodas, the Yeonhwa-gyo & Chilbo-gyo Bridges, and the Golden Seated Vairocana Buddhist Figure. We also spend some time exploring the Gyeongju National Museum. (B,L,D)

  • day 9


    Nagasaki is a busy and colorful city which was an early center of trade with the Portuguese, Dutch, and Spanish. We will explore the Sofukuji Temple, one of the finest examples of Chinese Ming dynasty temple architecture in the world, and we will pay a visit to the Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park, which commemorates the awesome power of the weapon that brought an end to WWII in the Pacific. Visit also the Oura Cathedral, the oldest Christian church in Japan. (B,L,D)

  • day 10


    From Kagoshima drive through picturesque tea plantations to reach Chiran, a small town that resonates with the memory of its samurai past. Several of the authentic 18th- and 19th-century residences we will see are still used by descendants of the original owners. Their enclosed gardens, shut off from the narrow streets by walls and hedges, are fine examples of the samurai style of “borrowed landscaping,” in which surrounding mountains and scenery are made part of the garden design. We will also visit Sengan-en Garden, another example of borrowed landscaping, built on the coast north of Kagoshima in 1658 by the head of the local feudal clan. (B,L,D)

  • day 11


    Explore the small and seldom-visited Yakushima Island, located about 50 miles south of the main Japanese islands. Yakushima was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993 in recognition of its incredible variety of ecosystems—ranging from subtropical coastal vegetation, through a temperate rainforest of thousand-year-old cedar trees, to bamboo grasslands on the peaks of its mile-high central mountains. (B,L,D)

  • day 12


    Visit Uwajima Castle, one of the few original Edo-period castles that remain, and then travel to the nearby town of Uchiko, whose picturesque old street of Yokaichi is lined with buildings dating from the final years of the Edo period and the early years of the Meiji Restoration. As we walk along this street we will encounter an old sake brewery, the Amazake Chaya Teahouse, the Uchiko-za Theater and the Kami Hagi-tei, the former home and workshop of one of Uchiko’s most influential families. (B,L,D)

  • day 13


    Spend the day in Takamatsu, where we will explore Shikoku Mur, an open-air museum situated at the base of Yashima Mountain that exhibits traditional buildings and structures relocated here from all over Shikoku Island. We will visit the nearby studio of sculptor Isamu Noguchi, an extension of the famous Garden and Museum in lower Manhattan. We will travel to the small island of Naoshima, home to a vibrant art scene that includes an underground museum designed by famed architect Tadao Ando. (B,L,D)

  • day 14


    After breakfast aboard, transfer to the Osaka airport for flights homeward. (B)

Everything you need to know about the tour

Save this information for later by downloading the full tour brochure.

Be prepared with the National Trust Travel Plan

Since 1973, USI Affinity Travel Insurance Services has served travelers just like you, to help protect their travel plans