Day 1 Friday 20 March, 2020 Departure
Today we board our flight to Tokyo, Japan. We arrive in Tokyo later the same day. Upon arrival we are transferred to our city hotel.
Day 2 Saturday 21 March, 2020 Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo is the political, economic and cultural capital of Japan. There are over 12 million people living in Tokyo and many millions more living within a radius of 50 kilometres. We will have a city tour of exciting Tokyo. We see the famous Ginza area and visit the Imperial Palace East Garden, which is still part of the Royal Residence. It is a superb example of traditional Japanese landscape design. We continue with a visit to Asakusa, the heart of traditional Japan. The main attraction is Sensoji, a popular Buddhist temple built in the 7th century. We will have time to walk along Nakamise-dori, the bustling market area, where we are able to buy souvenirs and wooden sandals. This evening we will enjoy a welcome dinner to meet Sue McDougall and other tour members.
Day 3 Sunday 22 March, 2020 Tokyo, Japan
Today we visit the Omiya Museum, the most outstanding centre for bonsai in Japan. Opened in 2010, it has a collection of over 100 bonsai masterpieces. In addition, we will see bonsai pots, miniature landscapes, books and woodblock prints. We continue our day with a visit to the Hama-Rikyu-Teien garden. The landscape garden features seawater ponds which change level with the tides and gorgeous views of lakes and hills.
Day 4 Monday 23 March, 2020 Tokyo, Japan
This morning we visit Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens, which is named after a poem. Built in 1629, it is one of the three Great Gardens of Japan. In the afternoon we travel to Rikugien Garden created in 1702 and donated to Tokyo by the founder of Mitsubishi. It is a traditional garden which exhibits the main elements of a Japanese garden. It boasts a gorgeous pond with islets, tea houses on the edge of the pond, arched bridges and includes man-made hills.
Day 5 Tuesday 24 March, 2020 Embarkation
This morning is free for individual exploration. Late morning we are transferred to the port of Yokohama to board the Diamond Princess for our cruise around Japan.
Day 6 Wednesday 25 March, 2020 Toba, Japan
After docking in Toba we will visit Hinjitsukan, a reception house for honoured guests, where we will see traditional architecture from the Meiji era. We continue with a visit to the Ise Jingu Shrine Naiku, which is dedicated to the Goddess of the Sun. We will visit the nearby shopping street, which has been recreated into a shopping street from the Meiji era. We will have an early afternoon return to the ship.
Day 7 Thursday 26 March, 2020 Takamatsu, Japan
Today we arrive at the stunning city of Takamatsu on Shikoku, the smallest of the four main Japanese Islands. On our tour today we travel over the Seto-Ohashi Bridge and visit Kinashi Bonsai Town. Later we visit Ritsurin Park, a 350-year-old garden, famous for its magnificent spring colours, koi pond and landscaped hills. It also contains the Chrysanthemum-Moon Pavilion.
Day 8 Friday 27 March, 2020 Kochi, Japan
This morning we dock in Kochi, the capital of Kochi Prefecture on the southern coast of Shikoku, where we enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city. We visit Kochi Castle, one of just 12 Japanese castles to have survived the fires, wars and other catastrophes of the post feudal age. The castle used to be the seat of the Yamauchi lords, who ruled over the surrounding region, then known as Tosa, during the Edo Period. The castle buildings have since been designated ‘important cultural properties’, and now house local treasures and historical objects. We visit Kochi Prefectural Makino Botanical Garden, which has many lovely trees and flowers with well-maintained paths. We will enjoy gorgeous views over the city of Kochi. We continue with a visit to the museum dedicated to Tomitaro Makino a botanist and illustrator.
Day 9 Saturday 28 March, 2020 Matsuyama, Japan
On our tour today we visit Ninomaru Historical garden located in the foothills of Mount Katsuyama in the restored Matsyama Castle. We will have a wonderful bird’s eye view of Matsuyama and the Seto Inland Sea. There are about 200 cherry trees in the castle grounds, making this a lovely cherry blossom spot. We also visit Koshin-an Historical garden. Located in the garden is the humble cottage of poet Hurita Chodo, built in 1800, which has been restored.
Day 10 Sunday 29 March, 2020 At sea
A day at sea is the perfect opportunity to explore the fabulous facilities of this magnificent ship. Perhaps visit the Spa for a relaxing massage. Late morning, join us for gardening trivia led by Sue.
Day 11 Monday 30 March, 2020 Busan, South Korea
We call into the port of Busan, South Korea where we will travel to the ancient Silla capital, Gyeong-Ju, a place UNESCO designated as one of the world’s top 10 historic sites. We enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city including the 8th-century Bulguksa Temple, located on the slopes of Mount Tohan.
Day 12 Tuesday 31 March, 2020 At sea
A day at sea is the perfect opportunity to explore the fabulous facilities of this magnificent ship. Perhaps visit the Spa for a relaxing massage. In the afternoon Sue will chat about her life in the media.
Day 13 Wednesday 1 April, 2020 Mt Fuji, Japan
Today we arrive at Shimizu at the base of Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain and the focal point of the sprawling Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. This morning we will enjoy a sightseeing tour of this very special area, named for the Buddhist fire goddess Fuchi, and is sacred to the Shinto goddess Sengen-Sama, whose shrine can be found at the summit. Mount Fuji is the holiest of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains”. We travel through the Owakudani Valley and enjoy a ride on the Hakone Ropeway’s aerial cable car. This offers amazing views of nearby Hakone National Park. We will then enjoy a cruise on beautiful Lake Ashi.
Day 14 Thursday 2 April, 2020 Kyoto, Japan
This morning we arrive in Yokohama. After disembarking we will travel by the Bullet Train to Kyoto which will be our home for four nights. On arrival we will have a panoramic tour of Kyoto to see the main sights. We will visit the Kyoto Imperial Palace, completed in 1855 and home of the Imperial household from that date until the Meiji Restoration, when they moved to Tokyo. There is an attractive garden surrounding the Palace.
Day 15 Friday 3 April, 2020 Kyoto, Japan
This morning we visit the gorgeous garden of Saihoji, known as the Moss Temple. Within a walled garden a unique and fragile landscape of mosses unfolds around a central pond. It is the most famous moss garden in the world with more than 100 varieties. We continue with a visit to Fushimi Inari, the most famous shrine dedicated to the Shino God of rice. It is most famed for its thousands of red torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings, offering amazing photographic opportunities. The afternoon will be free for individual activities.
Day 16 Saturday 4 April, 2020 Kyoto, Japan
Today we visit the Kinkakuji Temple, also known as the temple of the Golden Pavilion. It was built in the late 14th century with three stories topped with gold leaf. It extends over a pond, which reflects the building and is surrounded by a beautiful landscaped garden. We also visit the Silver Pavilion and the nearby picturesque Philosopher’s path, which extends along the river under cherry trees. In the afternoon we will visit the Ryoanji Temple, and its famous rock garden. Attributed to the artist Soami, it was created in the 16th century in a space of 30 by 10 metres. Following the waterless stream style, the garden is composed of 15 rocks set into raked white gravel. The Zen garden with its arrangement of rocks represents mountains, and the sparse vegetation is symbolic of an individual’s journey through life.
Day 17 Sunday 5 April, 2020 Kyoto, Japan
Today we travel to the nearby hills to visit Jojakko-ji, a temple originally built in 1640. It is set in a gorgeous grove of trees. The temple platform provides a viewing space for the beautiful garden. In the afternoon we visit the Tenryu-ji Temple garden whose main attraction is the Zen garden dating back to the 14th century. We may see blossoms of wild cherries in the hills behind the garden. We will enjoy a farewell dinner tonight to say farewell to Sue and other group members.
Day 18 Monday 6 April, 2020 Departure
This morning is free for independent sightseeing. Later we are transferred to the airport for our flight back to Australia.
Day 19 Tuesday 7 April, 2020 Arrival Australia
This morning we arrive back in Australia and tour activities conclude.