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Japanese & South Korean Spring Gardens & Cruise

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Explore the stunning springtime gardens of Japan.

Enjoy the Japanese Cherry Blossoms and Castles with Botanica.

from $14,140 USD per person

  • Watch video

During cherry blossom season, venture along the historic shores of Japan and South Korea on an incredible botanical journey. Enjoy an 11 night small ship cruise exploring ancient castles, peaceful Japanese gardens and opulent temples. View complete itinerary

Trip code: BTJP14
Duration: 14 days
Accommodation: Boutique Small Ships and Comfortable Hotels
Journey: Tokyo to Kyoto
Meals included: 37

View departure dates & prices

Itinerary

Day 1. Arrive Tokyo

Depart Tokyo Narita International Airport at 10.00am or the New Otani Hotel Tokyo at 11.30am to explore Tokyo. Visit the Imperial Palace East Gardens, and the Meiji Shrine and grounds. This evening, settle in to your accommodation in Tokyo.
Stay: Tokyo, Hyatt Regency or similar

    Day 2. Tokyo to Kanazawa

    Today you will take a bullet train from Tokyo to Kanazawa. Kanazawa is a thriving centre of the arts, known for its lacquer ware, collectible pottery of the Kutani style, gold-leaf workmanship and delicate hand-painting of silk for kimonos and Noh theatre dramas. Board your ship and enjoy a Welcome Dinner this evening.
    Stay: Eleven Nights: MS Caledonian Sky
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 3. Kanazawa and Kenroku-en Garden

    This morning depart from the port and visit Omicho Market that sells and displays everything from flowers to fish to local handicrafts. Afterwards visit one of Japan’s premier highlights the famed Kenroku-en Garden, ranked among the country’s top gardens. This afternoon immerse yourself in Kanazawa culture with a visit to Higashi Chaya Gai Geisha District, where you can see the remains of the traditional form of the town which traces back to Samurai era. You will also view other handcrafted items famous in Kanazawa such as the Kimono and Golden Leaf.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 4. Yuushien Garden and Matsue

    This morning visit Matsue, known as the ‘Town of Water’, which nestles a scenic lake and lagoon. Visit a number of cultural attractions including Matsue Castle. Known as the ‘Black Castle’, it is one of only a few wooden Medieval castles remaining in Japan today. Admire the graceful exterior of the complex structure, then take the opportunity to explore the interior, and its magnificent views of Lake Shinji. This afternoon visit the stunning Yuushien Garden, a real flower garden full of colour and blossom, famous for growing ginseng and peonies.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 5. Hagi

    This morning we visit Hagi, one of Japan’s most beautiful castle towns, where you can explore the old streets, the Hagi Castle ruins, Shizuki Park, and Tokoji Temple. Japan’s revolution began here in Jokamachi’s old Samurai residential quarter, where we will tour a Samurai’s home. We will also visit the historic Daisho Temple, the resting place of the two first Mori daimyo, a family of powerful and territorial pre-modern Japanese lords and all of the even-numbered daimyo. This traditional temple is located on Mount Mison, considered a holy mountain, on the island of Itsukushima. Inside, you will find a flame that is said to have been burning for some 1,200 years.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 6. Pusan, South Korea

    Embark on a full-day excursion to Kyongju, a World Heritage-listed site often described as the world’s finest open-air museum. As the ancient capital of the Shilla Dynasty, Kyongju’s heritage dates back to the first millennium. As we stroll through some of the numerous 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 pottery. At lunch, sample Korean delicacies followed by a special cultural performance of traditional dance.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 7. Dejima Island and Nagasaki

    This morning explore Nagasaki, the second city destroyed by an A-bomb in World War II. Tour the Peace Memorial Park, Atomic Bomb Museum and Glover Garden. This afternoon visit Dejima Island, built during the Edo period to house Portuguese Christian missionaries and prevent the propagation of their religion. It was also the residential quarters of the Dutch, the only foreigners allowed to trade in Japan during the Sakoku isolation period for 200 years, until Japan reopened to the world.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 8. Yakushima Island

    Today we arrive on the island of Yakushima, which became Japan’s first World Heritage-listed site in 1993. Yakushima is famous in botanical circles for many great garden plants, including dwarf plants that have evolved to grow smaller than their mainland cousins. We will spend time here on nature walks, including Yakusugi Land, a nature park populated by a number of the island’s ancient cedar trees, such as the Buddhasugi, Futagosugi and Sennensugi.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 9. Uwajima, Freedom of Choice

    Arrive in Uwajima, deep inside the saw-toothed coast of Uwajima Bay. Today you have two choices. Uwajima is the nation’s largest pearl cultivation centre, learn the process of cultivating and sorting pearls on a visit to a pearl farm before continuing on to Tensha-en Garden which is a typical example of a Japanese garden built during the Samurai era. Alternatively, explore the historic Uwajima Castle as well as a visit to Tensha-en Garden.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 10. Miyajima and Hiroshima

    Arrive in Hiroshima to visit the compelling Peace Memorial Park. The park is dotted with memorials, including the cenotaph that contains the names of all the known victims of the A-bomb. Return to the ship for lunch, then continue on to Miyajima. Considered one of Japan’s top scenic wonders, Miyajima provides a picture-postcard vista of the scarlet Torii Gate, the giant camphor wood gates at the entrance to the Shinto Shrine. We will go ashore to explore the World Heritage-listed Itsukushima Jinja Shrine, founded in the 6th century and dedicated to three sea goddesses.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 11. Takamatsu and Ritsurin Park

    Today tour the city of Takamatsu on Shikoku, the smallest of the four main Japanese Islands. We will journey over the Seto-Ohashi Bridge and visit Kinashi Bonsai Town. Next visit Ritsurin Park, a 350-year-old garden, famous for its magnificent spring colours and Chrysanthemum-Moon Pavilion.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 12. Okayama Koraku-en Garden and Kurashiki

    This morning, we will visit Koraku-en Garden, one of Japan’s most significant gardens - the name meaning ‘garden of pleasure after’. Visit a classic Japanese teahouse with garden views. After lunch, continue to Kurashiki, to see its fine 17th century wooden warehouses. The beautiful houses are painted white with traditional black tiles, and are situated along a canal framed with weeping willows. This evening enjoy a Farewell Dinner on board the ship.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 13. Kobe to Kyoto

    This morning, arrive into Kobe and be transferred from the ship to Kyoto. Enjoy a sightseeing tour including Ryoanji and Kinkakuji gardens and a visit to the Gion District - where the world-famous Geisha reside.
    Stay: Kyoto, Granvia Hotel or similar
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 14. Depart Kyoto

    After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport by shuttle bus for your flight home.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast

    Trip Highlights

    • Learn about the history of Japan during onboard lectures
    • Tour the Imperial Palace Gardens and Meiji Shrine in Tokyo
    • Travel by bullet train from central Tokyo to Kanazawa
    • Explore Kenroku-en Garden, ranked among the country’s top gardens
    • Visit a Samurai’s home and Pearl Farm
    • See Yuushien Garden, famous for growing ginseng and peonies
    • Discover Kyongju, a World Heritage-listed site in South Korea
    • Visit Ritsurin Park, a 350-year-old garden famous for its spring colours
    • Travel to Yakushima, Japan’s first UNESCO World Heritage-listed site
    • Visit the stunning city of Takamatsu
    • See Koraku-en Garden, the famous landscape garden of Okayama
    • Explore the majestic Western Kyoto Gardens including Kinkakuji and Ryoanji
    • Learn about Japanese plants and gardens from your Botanical Guides

    Included Experiences

    • Services of a Cruise Director and Botanical Guides
    • All sightseeing and shore excursions as per the itinerary

    • Airport transfers on first and last day, tipping and port taxes
    • 37 Meals - 13 Breakfasts, 12 Lunches and 12 Dinners
    • Wine, beer and soft drinks included with lunch and dinner on board the ship
    • 11 nights on the small ship, the MS Caledonian Sky, which holds a maximum of 100 guests
    • 1 night each in Tokyo and Kyoto in 4-5 star hotels
    • Enjoy coastal views from your suite
    • On board lectures by the Botanical Guides

    Suite Floor and Ship Plan

    MS Caledonian Sky

    Cruising speed: 11 knots | Length overall: 90.6 m | Width overall: 15.3m | Draught maximum: 4.2m | Flag/Registry: Bahamas | Built: 1991 | Tonnage: 4200 | Guest capacity: 114 | Classed by: BV | Upgraded: 2010 and 2011/2012

    See Deck Plans here for MS Caledonian Sky.

    Enjoy all the comforts of home in your spacious Standard Suite aboard the Caledonian Sky with APT.Castle Deck – Standard Suites

    Standard Suites on the Castle Deck measure 22.7 square metres and feature four port holes, an en-suite bathroom with shower and spacious wardrobes.


    Enjoy the luxury of a Superior Suite aboard the Caledonian Sky on your APT expedition cruise.Caledonian Deck – Superior Suites

    Superior Suites on the Caledonian Deck measure 21.6 square metres and feature an en-suite bathroom with bath tub and shower (except for suites 329, 330 and 331 which feature only a shower), a spacious wardrobe and large window.


    Indulge in the luxury of a Premium Balcony Suite aboard the Caledonian Sky with APT.

    Promenade Deck – Premium Balcony Suites & Premium Suites

    The Premium Balcony Suites on the Promenade Deck measure 20.2 square metres and feature a walk-in wardrobe, en-suite bathroom with shower and a private balcony measuring 5.6 square metres.

    Premium Suites on the Promenade Deck measure 20.2 square metres and feature an en-suite bathroom with shower (cabins 431 & 432 feature a bath tub), spacious wardrobes and a large window.

    Quality design and attention to detail make your spacious suite a gracious treat on your APT small ship expedition cruise.

    Promenade Deck – Owner’s Corner Balcony Suites

    The two corner suites on the Promenade Deck measure 22.6 square metres and feature a private balcony measuring 5.6 square metres and two forward facing portholes, a walk-in wardrobe and en-suite bathroom with shower.


    Relax in your Premium Balcony Suite on board the Noble Caledonia.Bridge Deck – Deluxe Balcony Suites

    Suites on the Bridge Deck measure 20 square metres and feature a walk-in wardrobe, en-suite bathroom with bath tub and shower and a private balcony measuring 4.2 square metres.


    Additional Information

    Fitness Level

    • Our tours and cruise cater to various fitness levels
    • This tour requires a medium level of fitness – Involves walking on uneven surfaces for more than one hour, multiple two-night stays in one location with potential for unexpected changes to itineraries

    The MS Caledonian Sky

    • Botanica has elevated adventure travel to a new standard. With 57 suites and just 100 guests, the MS Caledonian Sky is designed for intimate small groups with the décor of a grand English country hotel, while our crew of 75 will assure personalised attention.

    Botanical Guides

    • Simon Rickard, a former head gardener for The Diggers Club is one of Botanica’s most experienced
    • Dr Toby Musgrave is a worldwide authority on garden history and design.

    Japanese Spring Blooms

    • Embark on a voyage of horticultural discovery of this fascinating region during the first flourish of spring. This remarkable season brings a myriad of spectacular blooms and bursts of colour from tree peonies, Japanese azaleas and peach blossoms. Venture along the historic shores of Japan, exploring ancient castles, peaceful gardens and opulent temples. Take in the colourful hues of the plum, apricot and peach blossoms that colour the streets, parks and temple gardens, providing a vivid display for us to enjoy.

    Trip Notes

    • Itinerary and inclusions are subject to change
    • Shuttle transfers are provided in Tokyo and Kyoto
    • Ask about pre and post accommodation
    • Prices are for land/cruise only. Flights not included

    Explore the stunning springtime gardens of Japan.

    Enjoy the Japanese Cherry Blossoms and Castles with Botanica.

    Request quote

    • Watch video

    During cherry blossom season, venture along the historic shores of Japan and South Korea on an incredible botanical journey. Enjoy an 11 night small ship cruise exploring ancient castles, peaceful Japanese gardens and opulent temples. View complete itinerary

    Trip code: BTJP14
    Duration: 14 days
    Accommodation: Boutique Small Ships and Comfortable Hotels
    Journey: Tokyo to Kyoto
    Meals included: 38

    Itinerary

    Day 1. Arrive Tokyo

    Depart Tokyo Narita International Airport at 10.00am or the Hyatt Regency at 11.30am to explore Tokyo. Visit the Imperial Palace East Gardens, and the Meiji Shrine and grounds. This evening, settle in to your accommodation in Tokyo.
    Stay: Tokyo, Hyatt Regency or similar
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Lunch

    Day 2. Tokyo, Kanazawa, Embark Ship

    Today you will take a bullet train from Tokyo to Kanazawa. A thriving centre of the arts, Kanazawa is known for its lacquer ware, collectible pottery of the Kutani style, gold-leaf workmanship, Noh theatre dramas and delicate hand-painting of silk for kimonos. Board your ship and enjoy a Welcome Dinner this evening.
    Stay: 11 Nights: MS Caledonian Sky
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 3. Kanazawa and Kenroku-en Garden

    This morning depart from the port and visit Omicho Market which sells and displays everything from flowers to fish to local handicrafts. Afterwards visit Kanazawa Castle ruins and the famed Kenroku-en Garden, ranked among the country’s top gardens. This afternoon immerse yourself in Kanazawa culture with a visit to Higashi Chaya Gai Geisha District, where the traditional town tracing back to Samurai Era remains. You will also view handcrafted items famous in Kanazawa such as the Kimono and Golden Leaf.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 4. Yuushien Garden and Matsue


    This morning visit Matsue, known as the ‘Town of Water’, nestled between a scenic lake and lagoon. Visit a number of cultural attractions including Matsue Castle. Known as the ‘Black Castle’, it is one of only a few wooden Medieval castles remaining in Japan today. Admire the graceful exterior of the complex structure, then take the opportunity to explore the interior and its magnificent views of Lake Shinji. This afternoon visit the stunning Yuushien Garden, a real flower garden full of colour and blossom, famous for growing ginseng and peonies.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 5. Hagi

    This morning we visit Hagi, one of Japan’s most beautiful castle towns where you can explore the old streets, Hagi Castle ruins, Shizuki Park and Tokoji Temple. Japan’s revolution began here in Jokamachi’s old Samurai residential quarter where we will tour a Samurai’s home. We will also visit the historic Daisho Temple, the resting place of the two first Mori daimyo, a family of powerful and territorial pre-modern Japanese lords and all of the even-numbered daimyo. This traditional temple is located on Mount Mison, considered a holy mountain on the island of Itsukushima. Inside, you will find a flame that is said to have been burning for some 1,200 years.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 6. Pusan, South Korea

    Embark on a full-day excursion to Kyongju, a World Heritage-listed site often described as the world’s finest open-air museum. As the ancient capital of the Shilla Dynasty, Kyongju’s heritage dates back to the first millennium. As we stroll through some of the numerous 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 pottery. At lunch, sample Korean delicacies followed by a special cultural performance of traditional dance.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 7. Dejima Island and Nagasaki

    This morning explore Nagasaki, the second city destroyed by an A-bomb in World War II. Tour the Peace Memorial Park, Atomic Bomb Museum and Glover Garden. This afternoon visit Dejima Island, built during the Edo Period to house Portuguese Christian missionaries and prevent the propagation of their religion. It was also the residential quarters of the Dutch, the only foreigners allowed to trade in Japan during the Sakoku isolation period for 200 years until Japan reopened to the world.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 8. Yakushima Island

    Today we arrive on the island of Yakushima which became Japan’s first World Heritage-listed site in 1993. Yakushima is famous in botanical circles for many great garden plants, including dwarf plants that have evolved to grow smaller than their mainland cousins. We will spend time here on nature walks, including Yakusugi Land, a nature park populated by a number of the island’s ancient cedar trees such as the Buddhasugi, Futagosugi and Sennensugi.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 9. Uwajima, Freedom of Choice

    Arrive in Uwajima, situated deep inside the saw-toothed coast of Uwajima Bay. Today you have two choices; Uwajima is the nation’s largest pearl cultivation centre, learn the process of cultivating and sorting pearls on a visit to a pearl farm before continuing on to Tensha-en Garden which is a typical example of a Japanese garden built during the Samurai era. Alternatively explore the ancient Uwajima Castle and Tensha-en Garden.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 10. Miyajima and Hiroshima

    Arrive in Hiroshima to visit the compelling Peace Memorial Park. The park is dotted with memorials, including the cenotaph that contains the names of all the known victims of the A-bomb. Return to the ship for lunch, then continue on to Miyajima. Considered one of Japan’s top scenic wonders, Miyajima provides a picture-postcard vista of the scarlet Torii Gate, the giant camphor wood gates at the entrance to the Shinto Shrine. We will go ashore to explore the World Heritage-listed Itsukushima-jinja, a shrine founded in the 6th century and dedicated to three sea goddesses.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 11. Takamatsu and Ritsurin Park

    Today tour the stunning city of Takamatsu on Shikoku, the smallest of the four main Japanese Islands. We will journey over the Seto-Ohashi Bridge and visit Kinashi Bonsai Town. Next visit Ritsurin Park, a 350-year-old garden, famous for its magnificent spring colours and the feudal era Chrysanthemum-Moon Pavilion.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 12. Okayama Koraku-en Garden and Kurashiki

    This morning, we will visit Koraku-en, one of Japan’s most significant gardens meaning ‘garden of pleasure after’. Visit a classic Japanese teahouse with views over the stunning garden. After a local lunch, continue to Kurashiki where we explore the old merchant quarter and its fine 17th century wooden warehouses. Houses are painted white with traditional black tiles, and are situated along a canal framed with weeping willows. This evening enjoy a Farewell Dinner.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 13. Kobe to Kyoto

    Arrive this morning in Kobe where you will disembark and be transferred to Kyoto. The former Imperial Capital of Japan, Kyoto is now ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities. Soak up the tranquil natural beauty of this peaceful place. Visit the rock garden masterpiece of Ryoanji and Kinkakuji, a fine example of Muromachi period garden design. Afterwards enjoy a city sightseeing tour including the Gion District where the world-famous Geisha reside.
    Stay: Kyoto, Granvia Hotel or similar
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast
    • • Lunch
    • • Dinner

    Day 14. Depart Kyoto

    After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport by shuttle bus for your flight home.
    • Daily Meals Included:
    • • Breakfast

    Trip Highlights

    • Learn about the history of Japan during onboard lectures
    • Tour the Imperial Palace Gardens and Meiji Shrine in Tokyo
    • Travel by Bullet train from central Tokyo to Kanazawa
    • Explore Kenroku-en Garden, ranked among the country’s top gardens
    • Visit a Samurai’s home and Pearl Farm
    • See Yuushien Garden, famous for growing ginseng and peonies
    • Discover Kyongju, a World Heritage-listed site in South Korea
    • Visit Ritsurin Park, a 350 year-old garden famous for its spring colours
    • Travel to Yakushima, Japan’s first World Heritage-listed site
    • Visit the stunning city of Takamatsu
    • See Koraku-en Garden, the famous landscape garden of Okayama
    • Explore the majestic Western Kyoto Gardens including Kinkakuji and Ryoanji
    • Learn about Japanese plants and gardens from your Botanical Guide

    Map

    Included Experiences

    • All sightseeing as mentioned
    • Services of a Cruise Director and Botanical Guide
    • Airport transfers on first and last day, tipping and port taxes
    • 38 Meals - 13 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches and 12 Dinners
    • Wine, beer and soft drinks included with lunch and dinner on board the ship
    • 11 nights on the small ship, the MS Caledonian Sky, which holds a maximum of 100 guests
    • 1 night each in Tokyo and Kyoto in 4 to 5-star hotels
    • Enjoy coastal views from your suite
    • On board lectures by the Expedition Team and Botanical Guide

    Suite Floor and Ship Plan

    MS Caledonian Sky

    Discover personalised small ship coastal cruising around Japan and Korea aboard the MS Caledonian Sky with large viewing decks and sun lounge..

    Technical Data

    Length: 90.6m, Width: 15.3m, Max. Cruising Speed 12 knots, Tonnage: 4,200, Crew: 75, Guest Capacity: 114, Total Refurbishment: 2012

    See ship plans for the MS Caledonian Sky here

    Suite Floor Plans


    The standard suite aboard the Caledonian Sky.Standard Suite
    224 square ft / 22.7 square metres featuring four portholes

     

     

    The Premium Balcony Suite aboard the Caledonian Sky.Premium Balcony Suite
    260 square ft / 20 square metres featuring a 45 square ft / 4.2 square metres private balcony

     

    Additional Information

    Fitness Level

    • Our tours and cruise cater to various fitness levels
    • This tour requires a medium level of fitness – Involves walking on uneven surfaces for more than one hour, multiple two-night stays in one location with potential for unexpected changes to itineraries

    The MS Caledonian Sky

    • Botanica has elevated adventure travel to a new standard. With 57 suites and just 100 guests, the MS Caledonian Sky is designed for intimate small groups with the décor of a grand English country hotel, while our crew of 75 will assure personalised attention.

    Botanical Guides

    • Simon, a former head gardener for The Diggers Club, is one of Botanica’s most experienced Botanical Guides. On this trip he will share his love of Japanese culture, food and gardens, to bring this amazing destination alive for you.

    Trip Notes

    • Itinerary and inclusions are subject to change
    • Shuttle transfers are provided in Tokyo and Kyoto
    • Ask about pre and post accommodation
    • Prices are for land/cruise only. Flights not included

    Request a Brochure

    View a brochure online or request it be posted to you.

    Related Video

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    Let Botanica introduce you to the beauty of Japan during cherry blossom season.

    View all videos

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