Day 1 Wednesday 6 November 2019 Kyoto, Japan
Today we board our flight to Kyoto. In autumn, Japan turns all shades of yellow and red in a breathtaking display of autumn colour, the turning of the leaves is called koyo. Kyoto is old Japan with atmospheric temples, sublime gardens, traditional teahouses and the heart of Japan’s geisha world. It is most well known in Japanese history for being the former Imperial capital of Japan for more than one thousand years.
Day 2 Thursday 7 November 2019 Kyoto
On arrival we meet our guide and transfer to Kyoto for an overview sightseeing tour before transferring to our hotel in Kyoto. We will visit the Philosopher’s Path, a pleasant stone path through the northern part of Kyoto’s Higashiyama district that follows a canal, lined by hundreds of cherry trees (cherry trees bloom in April). This afternoon will be at leisure before we come together for an included Welcome Dinner this evening.
Day 3 Friday 8 November 2019 Kyoto
Today our sightseeing tour of Kyoto commences at Kinkakuji, better known as the Golden Pavilion, a Zen temple in northern Kyoto whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Formally known as Rokuonji, the temple was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and according to his will, it became a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect after his death in 1408. We then visit the Ryoanji Temple, the site of Japan’s most famous rock garden. Originally an aristocrat’s villa during the Heian Period, the site was converted into a Zen temple in 1450 and belongs to the Myoshinji School of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. Later we visit Gion, Kyoto’s most famous geisha district made famous from the novel and film Memoirs of a Geisha. It is filled with shops, restaurants and ochaya (teahouses), where geisha and maiko (geisha apprentices) entertain.
Day 4 Saturday 9 November 2019 Kyoto
Today we will visit Ginkakuji, consisting of the famous Silver Pavilion and Nanzenji Temple, whose spacious grounds are located at the base of Kyoto’s forested Higashiyama Mountains, and is one of the most important Zen temples in all of Japan. In 1482, shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa built his retirement villa on the grounds of today’s temple, modelling it after Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion), his grandfather’s retirement villa. The villa was converted into a Zen temple after Yoshimasa’s death in 1490. After visiting Ginkakuji, we travel to Nanzenji. Later we visit the Imperial Palace, which was the residence of the Imperial family until the capital was moved to Tokyo in 1869. Within the Imperial Palace grounds, which are enclosed by a roofed earthen wall, are the Seiryo-den (Palace Hall) and the Kogosho (Minor Palace) – reminiscent of the dynastic age.
Day 5 Sunday 10 November 2019 Tokyo, Japan
This morning we are transferred to the railway station for our exciting Bullet Train ride on the famous Shinkansen train to Tokyo, travelling up to 270 kmph. On arrival we visit Meiji Shrine, a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings and Asakusa, Tokyo’s old town is where you can soak up the atmosphere of what Tokyo must have been like hundreds of years ago. We then visit Sensoji, also known as Asakusa Kannon and Tokyo’s oldest temple.
Day 6 Monday 11 November 2019 Tokyo
Today we first visit the famous Tokyo Fish Market, the largest and busiest fish market in the world. We visit the famous Ginza shopping district, renowned as the most expensive real estate in the world. We visit the Imperial Palace East Gardens, which is part of the Royal residence and a superb example of traditional Japanese landscape design.
DAY 7 Tuesday 12 November 2019 Embarkation Yokohama
The morning is free for individual sightseeing and shopping. Early afternoon we are transferred to the port of Yokohama to board the Diamond Princess. Make sure you’re up on deck as the Diamond Princess slips her moorings and we start our cruise around Japan.
DAY 8 Wednesday 13 November 2019 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. This afternoon we will play a game of Bingo.
DAY 9 Thursday 14 November 2019 Akita, Japan
This morning we arrive in Akita, where year-round festivals and street parades are colourfully integrated into daily life. A key city in the Tohoku region since medieval times, Akita was once a castle town of the Satake clan, but today is a vibrant, prosperous city that seamlessly honours its past but embraces its young energetic spirit. We take a 50-minute scenic drive to Namahage Museum in Oga Peninsula showcasing cultural and folklore traditions. Enjoy a large exhibit of the Namahage handmade customs & masks used over the years. We also visit Mt. Kanpu Panorama Observation Deck located on top of the grass-covered mountain Mt. Kanpu on Oga Peninsula. The observation deck rotates and you can view the Sea of Japan and the surrounding scenery all at once while rotating 360 degrees. Our final stop is the Sake Brewery where you can taste the local sake and learn the secrets to its fine flavour.
DAY 10 Friday 15 November 2019 Niigata, Japan
Niigata is the place to go to experience Japan’s natural bounty. With four seasons of dramatic beauty – with a full month of cherry blossoms in spring, lush greenery in summer, golden hues in autumn and snow-capped mountains in winter – this port city on the Sea of Japan is a nature lover’s dream. We head to Bandai Pier, where you can sample the most famed white fish in Japan from the local vendors and explore Niigata’s opulent history at the tatami-clad Northern Culture Museum. We then take the cable car to the summit of Yuzawa and take in the panoramic views.
DAY 11 Saturday 16 November 2019 Tsuruga, Japan
We arrive in the port city of Tsuruga this morning. Tsurgua is surrounded by mountain ranges on three sides and opens to the Sea of Japan and renowned for its natural beauty, its coastline scenery with white-sand beaches and pine forests. Its city centre boasts historic landmarks, shrines, a bustling seafood marketplace and a charming population of bronze statuettes, characters from artist Leiji Matsumato’s anime comic books that were erected in celebration of the city’s 100th anniversary. We will visit Kehi-no-Matsubara pine grove, one of the largest pine forests in Japan, see the impressive torii gate that greets visitors to the Kehi-jingu Shrine, Tsuruga Red Brick Warehouse, Port of Humanity Tsuruga Museum and Nihonkai Sakana-machi Fish Market.
DAY 12 Sunday 17 November 2019 Sakaiminato, Japan
Nestled between the sea and the sky, Sakaiminato is surrounded by water, with the Sea of Japan to the west, Lake Nakaumi to the west and Sakai Channel to the north. We will visit the Adachi Museum of Art housing an impressive collection and Matsue Castle which stands proudly surrounded by stone walls and moats. Dating back to 1611, it is one of the oldest castles in Japan. This onyx-black castle with a six-story donjon sits atop a stone foundation and features black wooden walls beneath its gables. The castle dates to the early years of the Edo Period.
DAY 13 Monday 18 November 2019 Busan, South Korea
We call into the port of Busan, South Korea where we have a sightseeing tour and visit the ancient Silla capital, Gyeong-Ju, a place UNESCO designated as one of the world’s top 10 historic sites. We explore the royal tombs at Tumuli Park, then experience the serenity of an 8th-century Bulguksa Temple.
DAY 14 Tuesday 19 November 2019 At sea
Another day at sea to explore the fabulous facilities of this magnificent ship. This afternoon join us for a fun game of Scattergories with prizes for the winners.
DAY 15 Wednesday 20 November 2019 Shimizu, (Mount Fuji), Japan
Today we travel halfway up Japan’s highest mountain, Mt Fuji, to enjoy a spectacular view from a height of 2,300 metres, followed by a Japanese-style lunch. In the afternoon we travel through the Owakudani Valley, enjoy a ride on the Hakone Ropeway’s aerial cable car, offering amazing views of nearby Hakone National Park. This evening we will have farewell drinks to celebrate our journey.
DAY 16 Thursday 21 November 2019 T okyo, Japan – Disembarkation
This morning we arrive back in Yokohama, and after disembarking, we transfer to the airport for our overnight flight back to Australia.
Day 17 Friday 22 November 2019 Arrive Australia
Tour members arrive back in Australia. The tour concludes.