Eternal Japan & South Korea

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Japan is a fascinating combination of unique heritage and culture contrasting with the sprawling metropolises of the world’s most advanced technological civilisation. Made up of 6,852 islands, the perfect way to explore the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ is by sea and the Heritage Adventurer is the ideal vessel for such a voyage. Our fascinating itinerary offers the opportunity to visit ancient castles, serenely beautiful gardens and opulent temples and shrines combined with witnessing some of Japan’s stunning natural landscapes.

During our voyage we will visit the historic and serene castle town of Matsue and the ancient feudal town of Hagi, experience the tranquillity of scared Miyajima and discover one of Japan’s most famed gardens, Koraku-en. Although we will also visit the awe-inspiring contemporary landscape of Tokyo, what makes our itinerary truly unique is our visits to parts of Japan where relatively few tourists set foot such as Shikoku Island, one of the more traditional islands where we learn about pearl cultivation and our excursion inland from Ube to the picturesque five-storied Pagoda of Rurikoji Temple which dates back to 1442.

In addition to our partial circumnavigation of Japan, our course takes us past the south eastern tip of South Korea where we will spend a day in Gyeongju, the ‘Museum Without Walls’ and also visit the Haeinsa Temple, considered one of the three great temples in Korea. Such places invoke the strongest of memories and allow you to immerse yourself in the myth and mystique of these ancient lands whilst returning each evening to the peace and comfort of our vessel. Helping us understand all we will see and experience, and travelling with us throughout the voyage, will be our expert Guest Speaker and Japanese guides who will add immeasurably to your enjoyment and understanding of this captivating country.


Day 1 London to Tokyo, Japan.

Fly by scheduled flight.

Day 2 Tokyo.

Arrive this afternoon and transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Day 3 Tokyo to Kanazawa.

After breakfast in the hotel our morning city tour will include the Meiji Shrine and Sensoji Temple. We continue to the train station to join our bullet train to Kanazawa where, on arrival, we will transfer to the Heritage Adventurer and embark. Enjoy welcome drinks and dinner as we moor overnight.

Day 4 Kanazawa.

Kanazawa is a thriving centre of the arts, long known for its lacquerware, outstanding collectable pottery of the Kutani style, gold-leaf workmanship, delicate hand painting of silk for kimonos and Noh theatre dramas. The narrow and winding cobblestone streets have a quaint photogenic charm with old fashioned streetlamps and wooden lattice windows hiding elegant restaurants and craft galleries. Around each bend is a traditional house, museum, art gallery, craft shop, historic samurai residence and even a geisha house to explore. The fascinating open-air market displays a vast variety of items from flowers to fish and local handicrafts and next to the Kanazawa Castle ruins is one of Japan’s premier highlights, the famed Kenroku-en Garden, ranked among the country’s top three gardens.

Day 5 Matsue.

From the port of Sakaiminato we visit Matsue, the ‘town of water,’ which nestles between a scenic lake and a large lagoon. We will visit the cultural attractions of the town including the 17th century Matsue Castle before enjoying a boat ride along the local canals. After lunch on board spend the afternoon at leisure or visit the Adachi Museum of Art which is set in a beautiful natural environment. The museum is well known for both its superb Japanese gardens and its collection of contemporary Japanese paintings, comprising approximately 1500 of the country’s most highly regarded paintings produced after the Meiji period.

Day 6 Hagi.

Hagi was a minor fishing port until Mori Terumoto fortified it in 1604 and it was Mori Samurai that helped spark off the anti-Tokugawa revolt in the mid-19th century. Today it is better known for its traditional pottery making traditions. This morning we will explore the Teramachi District with its temples and shrines, the Jokamachi District, where we find the old samurai houses and also take time to explore Hagi Castle, Shizuki Park and Tokoji Temple. Return to the vessel for lunch and this afternoon is free to relax or perhaps travel to the outskirts of the city and the Yoshika Taibi Memorial Museum which is dedicated to a large collection of Hagiyaki pottery which was highly prized in the Edo Period as wares for tea ceremonies.

Day 7 Ulsan, South Korea.

Crossing over to South Korea we embark on a full day excursion to magnificent Gyeongju, a World Heritage Site which is often described as the world’s finest open-air museum embracing ancient Korean history and Buddhist culture. As the ancient capital of the Shilla Dynasty, Gyeongju’s cultural heritage dates back to the first millennium. Today, as we stroll through some of the hundreds of excavated monuments, temples, tombs and pagodas, there will be time to explore the National Museum with its exceptional collection of finely worked gold jewellery, metal weapons and distinctive pottery. At lunch time, we will sample Korean delicacies and enjoy a cultural performance of traditional dance.

Day 8 Masan for Haeinsa.

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 802 AD 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. After lunch in a nearby restaurant we will return to Masan this afternoon where you may want to visit the vibrant fish market selling the daily catch.

Day 9 Ube, Japan.

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.

Day 10 Uwajima.

This morning we land on Shikoku Island and the port of Uwajima situated deep inside the saw-toothed 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 Tensha-en Garden, built in the Samurai era. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore at your own pace.

Day 11 Hiroshima & Miyajima.

Arrive this morning in Hiroshima for our visit to the compelling Peace Memorial Park. The park is dotted with memorials, including the Cenotaph which contains the names of all the known victims of the A-bomb and the permanently lit “Flame of Peace”. Just outside the park, the A-Bomb Dome is a haunting reminder of the destructive forces that were unleashed on the city being one of the few original buildings to survive. In the museum we will see photos, videos and victims’ personal effects relating to the bomb. Over lunch we sail to Miyajima which is considered one of Japan’s top scenic wonders and provides a picture postcard vista of the scarlet Torii gate, the giant camphor wood gates at the entrance to the Shinto Shrine. We will use our Zodiacs to go ashore and explore the Itsukushima Jinja Shrine, founded in the 6th century and dedicated to three sea goddesses.

Day 12 Koraku-en & Kurashiki.

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 of walking trails, ponds, plum and cherry trees. After a Japanese lunch in a local restaurant 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 mingei movement including ceramics by Hamada Shoji.

Day 13 Kobe to London.

Disembark this morning and transfer to Osaka airport for our scheduled flight to London.

Please Note:

Itineraries are subject to change.


• Voyage on board in selected cabin category
• House wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner on board
• Expedition team
• Shore excursions as per the itinerary (Note: Some itineraries have optional excursions as per the specific exclusions)
• Gratuities
• Port Charges/ Taxes
• Transfers as per the itinerary (Note: Transfers are offered in conjunction with group flights only when booked together, both can be taken off if included in the itinerary and credited)


• Passport and Visa costs where applicable
• Travel insurance
• Beverages other than those listed in inclusions
• Meals when not on board the ship unless otherwise stated
• Pre and post voyage accommodation unless otherwise stated
• Optional excursions as per specific itinerary
• Any items of a personal nature

Images courtesy of World Earth Travel