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Cruising the Land of the Rising Sun (Northbound)

14 days with Tauck   Rating: Deluxe

Itinerary
Click for Dates and Prices Day 1 Arrive Osaka
Tour begins: The St. Regis Osaka, The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka or The Conrad Osaka. A transfer is included from Osaka's Kansai Int'l Airport or Itami Airport to The St. Regis Osaka, The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka or The Conrad Osaka. After settling in to your hotel, depart for a Tauck Exclusive evening in Osaka including a welcome reception followed by a Geiko / Geisha cultural lecture and performance and a welcome dinner. (D)

Day 2 Temples and traditions in Kyoto
Immerse yourself today in the loveliness of classic Kyoto, city of 2,000 temples and shrines. Like a divine dream the Zen Golden Pavilion, bathed in gold leaf and capped by a golden phoenix, sits in a landscape design meticulously preserved since the 1400s, with a strategically placed pond that hauntingly reflects the shimmering golden temple. Next visit the Sanjusagen-do, a Buddhist temple in Kyoto's Higashiyama District - officially called "Rengeo-in" ("Hall of the Lotus King"). After lunch at a local restaurant, attend a traditional Japanese Taiko drumming experience and explore more of Kyoto before returning to your hotel in Osaka. (Please note that sightseeing on days 2 and 3 may alternate.) (B, L, D)

Day 3 Exploring historic Nara
Head to the city of Nara this morning to visit Todai-ji (Eastern Great Temple), a Buddhist temple complex that was once one of the city's powerful Seven Great Temples. Its Great Buddha Hall houses the world's largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana, known in Japanese as Daibutsu. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site officially called the "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara," Todai-ji temple also serves as headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism in Japan. You'll note that deer roam the grounds freely; they are regarded as messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion. After lunch at a local restaurant, enjoy a pleasant visit to Nara Park at the foot of Mount Wakakusa; established in the 14th century, it is one of the oldest public parks in Japan and is considered a national treasure - as are the more than 1,200 free-roaming wild sika deer that call the park home. Return to your Osaka hotel for an evening spent as you please. (B, L)

Day 4 Osaka discoveries & embark L'Austral
Begin the day with a visit to Osaka's impressive Umeda Sky Building; one of the city's most recognizable landmarks, it features two 40-story towers that connect at their two uppermost stories, with a wide atrium in the center criss-crossed by bridges. After lunch at a local restaurant, enjoy a walking tour of Osaka's Dotumburi district followed by some free time to explore as you wish. Then drive to the port of Osaka, where your yacht L'Austral awaits. Begin your cruise along the southwestern coast of Honshu, the largest island in the Japanese archipelago, bound for Uno Ko and Naoshima. (B, L, D)

Day 5 Art, bicycling & beer in Uno Ko & environs
Anchor in Tamano (Uno Ko) and travel to the old merchant town of Kurashiki for a walking tour of its historic quarter, where warehouses, shops, and mills remain virtually unchanged by time, and weeping willows line a koi-filled canal. Another Kurashiki treasure, the Ohara Museum of Art, reveals a great collection of Western art, including works by Matisse, Monet, Gauguin, El Greco, and Pollack. After lunch onboard L'Austral, you'll have a choice of three activities this afternoon. On one, you'll ferry to the unique little island of Naoshima, exclusively devoted to art installations and the work of the world-class architect Tadao Ando. Wander through the Art Houses Project, traditional houses transformed into stand-alone art projects; the Ando Museum; and the Benesse House Museum, designed by Ando to express and explore coexistence among nature, art, and architecture. Another choice is a bicycle ride through Uno Ko. Beer is considered by many to be the most popular alcoholic drink in Japan... and your third choice today is a visit to Kirin Yokohama Beer Village, one of nine factories of the Japan Kirin Group. Your tour winds its way around parts of the factory, offering views from above through observation windows of various parts of the manufacturing process. As you watch, thousands of cans and bottles of beer shoot through factory machines at incredibly high speeds... and some 2,000 cans of beer are filled and packed every minute! Near the end of the tour, you arrive at the tasting bar, where you can sample your choice of several varieties of Kirin beers. Back onboard ship, enjoy your captain's farewell dinner tonight as L'Austral sails for Hiroshima. (B, L, D)

Day 6 Today's Hiroshima & a visit to a shrine or the Mazda factory
In your next port of call, Hiroshima, you'll set off on a morning sightseeing tour and visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and sites associated with the WWII atomic bomb blast of August 1945. After lunch at a local restaurant serving regional fare, you can choose to visit the iconic Miyajima-Itsukushima Shrine that seems to float on water (a photographer's dream); or take a tour of the local Mazda factory. Sail on to Uwajima tonight. (B, L, D)

Day 7 Pearls and squirrels in Uwajima
Today provides a rare chance to spend a morning in a rural Japanese community. Visit a pearl farm, stroll through a market, and check out the Flying Squirrel Temple on a tour led by a Buddhist monk (the squirrels fly only at night!). (B, L, D)

Day 8 From samurai to a volcano in Kagoshima
Called the "Naples of Japan" for its location on a bay, Kagoshima lies on the southwestern tip of Japan's southernmost main island, Kyushu. In nearby Chiran, wander the well-preserved samurai district's stunning Chiran Samurai Gardens, and stop in at the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots. This afternoon you can either ferry across the bay to see the volcano Sakurajima up close or visit the Sengan-en Garden, a traditional Japanese garden and stately home in Kagoshima that has been passed down in the Shimadzu family for over 350 years. Return to the ship late afternoon. (B, L, D)

Day 9 A day in Nagasaki
Called the "Naples of Japan" for its location on a bay, Kagoshima lies on the southwestern tip of Japan's southernmost main island, Kyushu. In nearby Chiran, wander the well-preserved samurai district's stunning Chiran Samurai Gardens, and stop in at the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots. This afternoon you can either ferry across the bay to see the volcano Sakurajima up close or visit the Sengan-en Garden, a traditional Japanese garden and stately home in Kagoshima that has been passed down in the Shimadzu family for over 350 years. Return to the ship late afternoon. (B, L, D)

Day 10 Busan, South Korea
Your crossing of the Strait of Korea to Busan, South Korea, today is a perfect time to enjoy some of the amenities aboard ship. After docking in Busan, city sightseeing includes the United Nations Memorial Cemetery, honoring troops from many nations who fell during the Korean War; and a tour of the renowned Jagalchi Fish Market, a traditional seafood market on Busan's waterfront, and the largest in the country. In Korea as in Japan, seafood has been a mainstay of local cuisine for millennia, and your visit to this vast cooperative market offers an in-depth look at this longstanding cultural tradition. Return to the ship this afternoon and set sail for Sakaiminato. (B, L, D)

Day 11 Matsue's Black Castle
Your yacht arrives in Western Japan's fishing industry center, Sakaiminato for a visit to the Adachi Museum. Following lunch, you can take an excursion to Matsue, known as "the water city" for its river, canals, and setting on two lakes and the Sea of Japan (weather permitting, take in a great view of the city and beyond from its feudal fortress; visit the Black Castle, which presides over the city in solemn majesty); or enjoy free time in Sakaiminato to pursue your own interests. Tonight say goodbye to captain and crew of your Tauck small ship at the captain's farewell dinner. (B, L, D)

Day 12 Bullet Train to Tokyo - and Ginza
After disembarking your small ship in Maizuru, take a scenic drive to Kyoto to board the Bullet Train for a quick trip to Japan's capital city, Tokyo. Walking from your premier Tokyo hotel, your guide introduces the luxury shopping district of Ginza. Enjoy dinner and time to check out this remarkable city on your own. (B, L)

Day 13 From shrine to sumo in Tokyo
Plunge into an eclectic day in cosmopolitan Tokyo with a visit to the Meiji Shrine - honoring the deified spirits of Japan's Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken, who died in 1912 and 1914, respectively - plus a guided tour of the Edo-Tokyo Museum. Lunch is at a local restaurant before an afternoon spent poking around on your own. Finish the day in style with our farewell reception and dinner at Happo-en with traditional music and what's sure to be a highlight of your cruise adventure in Japan, an unforgettable sumo wrestling demonstration that has to be seen to be believed. (B, L, D)

Day 14 Journey home
Tour ends: Tokyo. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from the Mandarin Tokyo, Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo or Palace Hotel Tokyo to Narita International Airport or Haneda Airport. (B)
Map
All This Included
Spend fourteen days discovering the people and places of the "land of the rising sun" on this best of Japan cruises - enjoy eight nights aboard our elegant yacht L'Austral and five nights at premier hotels in the heart of Osaka and Tokyo. Your explorations begin during your stay in Osaka and include nearby Nara and Kyoto - city of two thousand temples and shrines - and end in Tokyo; on your cruise, sightseeing excursions include Uno Ko, Uwajima, Kagoshima, Nagasaki... Uncover layers of Japanese culture - past and present; explore historic sights and trend-setting neighborhoods... attend a taiko drumming performance, a geisha performance, a sumo wrestling demonstration... and more. You'll explore the volcano Sakurajima, visit a pearl farm, tour modern and historic museums, and see how the Japanese produce one of their most popular beverages - Kirin beer. Travel in style aboard L'Austral - with outside staterooms; a choice of chic or casual dining; and all-day complimentary beverages, including wine and spirits. And that's just the beginning of the amenities and services onboard.

  • Private Tauck Shore Excursions - $2,267 Value!
  • All gratuities to Tauck Director, ship staff, local guides and drivers
  • 8-night cruise aboard the yacht L'Austral
  • Your cruise may be a shared ship experience with non-Tauck guests onboard as well; all Tauck guests will be accompanied by one Tauck Director for approximately every 40 Tauck guests, and your itinerary will always be highlighted by exclusive, private Tauck shore excursions
  • 3 nights in Osaka and 2 nights in Tokyo at premier hotels
  • Special Tauck Experiences featuring local cultural entertainment include a sumo wrestling demonstration, geisha and taiko performances and more
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available throughout the day aboard ship including house wines and spirits; premium spirits and wines are available at extra cost.
  • Airport transfers upon arrival and departure as noted
  • 35 meals on land and at sea, service charges, applicable fuel surcharges, taxes, and porterage
Highlights
  • 8-night cruise aboard the yacht Le Soléal
  • 3 nights in Kyoto and 2 nights in Tokyo at premier hotels
  • Special Tauck Experiences featuring local cultural entertainment including a sumo wrestling demonstration, geisha and taiko performances and more
Accommodations
Osaka: The St. Regis Osaka, The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka or The Conrad Osaka
Cruising: Standard cabin onboard L'Austral
Tokyo: Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo or Shangri La Hotel, Tokyo or Palace Hotel, Tokyo
Notes
  • Cabin upgrades are available.
  • Land / Cruise Price includes everything described in General Information as well as Tauck shore excursions, cruise fare, port charges, applicable fuel surcharges, bar and restaurant beverages throughout the day aboard ship, including house wines and spirits, entertainment and gratuities to Tauck Director and ship staff. Departures will be hosted by one Tauck Director for approximately every 40 guests.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Tauck terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.