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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 $16,695 USD per person

In the first flourish of spring, enjoy bursts of colour from magnificent tree peonies, Japanese azaleas and peach blossoms. 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

View departure dates & prices

Itinerary

Day 1. Arrive Tokyo

Depart Tokyo Narita International Airport at 10am or the tour hotel at 11.30am to explore Tokyo. Visit the Imperial Palace East Gardens, and the Meiji Shrine and grounds.
Stay: Tokyo, Imperial Hotel
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Lunch

Day 2. Tokyo to Kanazawa

Today you will take a bullet train from Tokyo to Kanazawa. A thriving centre of the arts, Kanazawa is known for its lacquerware, collectable pottery of the Kutani style, gold leaf workmanship, Noh theatre dramas and delicate hand-painted silk kimonos. 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 & Kenroku-en Garden

This morning depart from the port and visit Omicho Market which sells and displays everything from flowers to fish to local handcrafts. 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 the Samurai era remains. You will also view handcrafted items famous in Kanazawa such as the kimono and gold leaf.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 4. Matsue & Yuushien Garden

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. 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, Freedom of Choice

Choose between a visit to the Hyundai automotive manufacturing plant or 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. Take time to stroll through some of the numerous excavated monuments, temples, tombs and pagodas, before discovering more treasures at the National Museum. At lunch, sample Korean delicacies followed by a special cultural performance of traditional dance.
  • Daily Meals Included:
  • • Breakfast
  • • Lunch
  • • Dinner

Day 7. Dejima Island & 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 & 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 & 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 & Kurashiki

This morning, discover 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, Hotel Okura
  • 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 & 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 & pearl farm
  • See Yuushien Garden, famous for growing ginseng & 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 & Ryoanji
  • Learn about Japanese plants & gardens from your Botanical Guide

Map

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

 

Included Experiences

  • All sightseeing as mentioned
  • Services of a Cruise Director & Botanical Guide
  • Airport transfers on first & last day, tipping & port taxes
  • 38 Meals – 13 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches & 12 Dinners
  • Wine, beer & soft drinks included with lunch & 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 & Kyoto in 4 to 5-star hotels
  • Enjoy coastal views from your suite
  • Onboard lectures by the Botanical Guide

Additional Information

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

 

Early Spring In Japan

  • The timing of this cruise has been carefully planned to coincide with Japan’s early spring. It is a time for true garden lovers to see Japanese gardens at their peak. As the late season cherry blossom flutters and falls, delicate blooms of tree peonies, azaleas and peach blossoms emerge from their winter slumber to create a vibrant and glorious vista

 

Botanical Guide/Celebrity Gardener – Simon Rickard

  • On this trip Simon will share his love of Japanese culture, food and gardens, to bring this amazing destination alive for you

 

Fitness Level

  • This tour requires a medium level of fitness – Involves walking on uneven surfaces for more than one hour, multiple two night stay in one location with potential for unexpected changes to itineraries

Trip Notes

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

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