See Japan’s highlights with a luxury cruise extended with private city touring
- Cruise in all-inclusive luxury between the Japanese islands
- Enjoy private tours and stays among the neon bustle of Tokyo and Osaka
- Take in the fascinating history of Japan’s castle cities
- Head off the beaten track for hot-spring towns and remote islands
- Sweep north on a bullet train for a private tour of Hakodate
- 3 Nights Tokyo
- 2 Nights Hakodate
- 10 Nights Aboard L'Austral
- 2 Nights Osaka
All-inclusive | Exploration cruise | History & culture | Off the beaten track
In between stays in Japan’s megacities, a luxury cruise through will showcase the country’s myriad delights. You’ll travel in all-inclusive luxury, enjoying open bars and full-board gourmet dining as you pause at the likes of temple-dotted islands, Hiroshima and castle cities alive with samurai and geisha heritage. There’s even everything from a hop over to Korea to stops at sacred temples and bustling local markets. Either side, you’ll enjoy private tours of Osaka and Tokyo’s skyscraping wonders along with a bullet-train sprint to Hakodate – the charming gateway to the north.
Day by day itinerary
Begin your trip with complimentary airport lounge access before your direct, overnight flight to Tokyo.
On arrival, you’ll be met by a private driver who’ll see you to your cutting-edge design hotel next door to the Kaminarimon Arch, the city’s thousand-year-old gate that leads to its oldest temple – Senso-ji. In between two days left free to explore with your included transport pass, you’ll enjoy a full-day private tour. Your local expert will tailor a route to your interests, making use of Tokyo’s world-leading public transport. Perhaps you’ll want to take in the bustle of Tsukiji Fish Market, the skyscraping neon of Shinjuku or the shrine-dotted serenity of Yoyogi Park. Or, you might just want to stop off at a locals-only ramen counter.
Stay: The Gate Hotel, Tokyo (Superior)
Today, you’ll catch the Shinkansen to Hakodate – the gateway to the north island. On arrival, a private driver will see you to your spa accommodation for pretty views of the Hakodate’s homonymous mountain. Be sure to take the next-door cable car up for citywide panoramas. You’ll also enjoy a full-day private tour of the city, your expert guide bringing you among its uniquely international influences. While the rest of the country was annexed, Hakodate stayed open – something evidenced today by British cottage consulates, Chinese memorial halls and a great pentagonal, Western-style citadel. However, everything from morning markets to hot springs and tiered shrines firmly site you in Japan.
Stay: Villa Concordia Resort & Spa, Hakodate (Superior)
From Hakodate, you’ll board an express train to Sapporo, tracing the island’s coast to reach its leafy capital. You’ll then be met at the station by a private driver who’ll see you to your luxury ship – L’Austral. A lesson in contemporary elegance, you’ll settle into your luxurious stateroom as you set sail from Otaru’s redbrick-lined old town, heading out for a day on the Japan Sea. You’ll also enjoy the all-inclusive luxury of open cocktail bars and included fine dining, with grill favourites and gourmet delicacies paired with varietals from the wine cellar. There’s also everything from afternoon tea to an open-air pool bar. Lunch is also included on day eight.
Meals: B D
Your first port of call is Mano Bay on Sado Island. A lesser-visited gem, this is your chance to see rural Japan at its authentic best. Arriving into a wild cove lined with sapphire-blue waters, you’ll be greeted by a land of carpeted contours spotted with small villages, pretty temples and the iconic ibis bird. You’ll also have the choice of a guided tour that will see you visit the Crested Ibis Conservation Center and descend into the cleft mountain of the Kinzan Gold Mine. It’s all washed down with a tasting visit to the Obata Sake Brewery.
Meals: B L D
Continuing south, you’ll arrive into Kanazawa, a castle city of great historical importance. A rival to Kyoto, it features one of Japan’s best-preserved samurai quarters, its great walled timber houses only matched by those of its geisha district. There are also the koi ponds, delicate bonsai trees and lakeside pavilions of Kenrokuen – one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. But, it’s the city’s 17th-century castle that demands the most attention, its white tiers rising high above giant stone walls. There’s also the option of joining tea ceremonies, visiting local markets and learning about the city’s gold craftsmen. Or, perhaps head to UNESCO-listed Shirakawago – a nearby village of 250-year-old thatched houses.
Meals: B L D
Your next stop is Sakaiminato on the southwest coast of Honshu – Japan’s main island. A busy fishing port, it’s famous for its superb seafood, showcased across a full spread of superb sushi restaurants. It’s also the birthplace of Shigeru Mizuki. Perhaps Japan’s favourite comic artist, his work is immortalised across the city’s streets and squares in a 100-strong-collection of bronze statues. For something more active, perhaps make your way to the temple-dotted slopes of Mt. Daisen for spectacular views over the Yumigahama peninsula. Touring can also bring you out to Japanese gardens, Meiji-era art galleries and Izumo Taisha – one of Japan’s oldest shrines.
Meals: B L D
Ulsan, South Korea
Today, you’ll hop over to South Korea to arrive at Ulsan – one of the country’s megacities. But, outside of its skyscraping glass-and-steel, there are coastal parks, bamboo groves and pretty beaches to keep your entertained. However, we highly recommend the optional trip out to Gyeongju – the country’s ancient imperial capital. While Paris and Rome were simple wooden villages, Korea’s Silla dynasty thrived. And, today, its 7th-century heyday is remembered by wooden temples, fascinating museums and royal tombs hidden in barrow mounds that you can still walk into.
Meals: B L D
Hopping back to Japan, you’ll arrive onto the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands. For centuries, Mojiko was the port gateway to Kyushu, something still evident today in perfectly preserved architecture from the 1800s – the first Meiji era. Optional touring will also bring you out to the 17th-century Kokura Castle and the moat-ringed views over its surrounding gardens. You’ll then continue over the Kanmon Bridge – one of Asia’s largest – to Honshu for a spectacular panorama over the Kanmon Strait and a visit to a fish market.
Meals: B L D
Continuing around the coast, you’ll quickly discover why Beppu is a national favourite. Its onsen hot springs are perfectly heated by volcanic waters, making for ideally soothing soaks. After indulging with this quintessential Japanese pastime, you’ll also want to head out and discover its peaceful valley frame. Here, 12th-century stone Buddhas are carved out of cliff faces and sacred sculptures hide among bamboo forests. There’s also the chance to visit the former residence of the region’s Edo-period rulers.
Meals: B L D
A visit to Hiroshima is a moving experience. Although in its culinary renaissance and verdant, teahouse-lined parks the city has turned over a new leaf, its former tragedies are remembered by the Peace Memorial Park and Genbaku Dome. The latter is particularly poignant, a ravaged shell of building that’s been left as it stood following the atomic blast. There’s also the option of catching the ferry out to Miyajima – the shrine island. Here, vermillion lacquered torii gates and even whole temples appear to float on its waters. You can even take a cable car up its deer-animated mountain for spectacular views, over the Seto Inland Sea, towards Hiroshima.
Meals: B L D
This fortified town was once ruled over from the moat-clad Tamomo Castle. This 16th-century treasure is a prime example of Edo-period architecture, its sweeping roofs looking down on stern, whitewash walls. The city is also famed for its Ritsuirn; this centuries-old sculpted garden incorporates views of Mt. Shiun among its bridge-swept lakes and stunning horticulture. You might also want to book onto a tour of nearby Shikokumura, a restored Edo-period village, and Yamaji Sanshoen – a lauded bonsai centre. In between, you’ll also stop off at Nakano Udon School to learn how to make your own lunch of traditional noodles.
Meals: B L D
Arriving into Osaka, you’ll be met by a private driver who’ll see you to your chic accommodation in the city’s neon centre. You’ll have the first day at leisure before getting your bearings with a private tour. Again making use of your included transport pass, your expert guide will once more tailor the day to you. There’s everything between skyscraping modernity and ancient traditions here, best exemplified by the 16th-century Osaka Castle. After taking in its dramatic, double-moated setting, perhaps head down to Dotonbori where great neon signs line a buzzing canal network. Don’t also miss its thriving restaurant scene – the savoury pancakes are a particular highlight.
Stay: Cross Hotel, Osaka (Standard)
Depart for UK
A final private transfer will see you to the airport for your overnight flight home.
Any element of this cruise can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.
20-day fly, stay & cruise on board L'Austral (Ponant) from £8,635 incl. flights
Departure: 22 May 2018
Superior Stateroom - Deck 3 (E):
Deluxe Suite - Deck 6 (DS6): £8,930
Prestige Stateroom - Deck 4 (C): £9,410
Prestige Stateroom - Deck 5 (B): £9,635
Prestige Stateroom - Deck 6 (A): £9,865
Deluxe Suite - Deck 6 (DS6): £11,840
Prestige Stateroom - Deck 5 (B): £14,330
Prestige Stateroom - Deck 6 (A): £14,795
Owner's Suite - Deck 6 (OS6): £21,000
Exclusive tailor-made fly, stay and cruise holiday
- Flight between the UK and Tokyo with British Airways
- Private transfers
- 5-nights hotel accommodation in 5-star hotels on a BB basis in Tokyo and Hakodate
- Private tours of Tokyo and Hakodate
- Train tickets
Includes on board:
- Captains welcome cocktail and gala dinner
- Open bar
- Evening entertainment and events
- Port and safety taxes
- 24-hour room service
- Private transfers
- 2-nights hotel accommodation in a 5-star hotel on a BB basis
- Private tour of Osaka
- Flight from Osaka to Tokyo
- Flight between Tokyo and UK with British Airways
Meet our experts
Speak to someone who has been there on 020 7590 0615Meet the team