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Wonders of Japan Cruise: Cherry Blossom Season

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Explore Japan by ship with one of the world's most dynamic expedition teams. Visiting coastal Japan during cherry blossom season in all its stunning glory will leave you speechless.

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Japan: Drink It In

Experience fascinating Japan during springtime with a chance to witness the country’s iconic cherry blossoms alongside a professional photographer. Spanning five islands, this all-encompassing cruise explores Japan’s culturally rich coastline with a pre-cruise stay in Osaka and included shore excursions throughout, including a visit to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, the Adachi Museum of Art and its gardens, and Kanazawa’s historic district.
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Travel Curator’s Insights:

    • Witness private performances by the world-renowned Kodo taiko drummers, Kabuki warriors and geishas.
    • See breathtaking cherry blossoms, plus experience world-renown gardens, architecture, craftsmanship.
    • This world-class operator only offers this itinerary once per year, meaning the expedition staff will be charged up and ready to offer you their enthusiastic and expert best.


Book Early & Save $2000 Per Person in All Categories! (Rates reflect special offer)

From $21,495 per person
Policies and protocols provided before you book.

Sept 20-Oct 3, 2024
March 17-30, 2025
March 30-April 12, 2025
Ask us about later dates.

March, September 2024
Hover here for specific dates


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Trip Sustainability Awards 



Fantastic advances in minimizing carbon footprints at locations.



On the East African Energy Renewal Board



Runs local educational facilities for children.


Day 1: Arrive Osaka Japan

Meet your representative and transfer to your ideally located hotel. Spend the remainder of the day at leisure. Meals on your own.

Accommodation: The Ritz-Carlton Osaka

The Ritz-Carlton Osaka: The gateway to Western Japan, this luxury hotel boasts international cuisine, a spa and luxury rooms.

Day 2: Osaka | Cultural Wonders

Begin your adventure with a chance to explore one of Japan’s most vibrant cities: Osaka. On a full-day excursion to Kyoto, visit the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji Temple), attend a talk about Zen Buddhism at Tenryuji Temple and explore Nijo Castle. You can also enjoy a historic voyage to Nara, the first Japanese capital, including Horyu-ji, the country’s oldest temple. For an incredible overview, take a scenic drive to Uji, possibly enjoying the sight of cherry trees blossoming along Uji River. Gather with fellow guests this evening for a welcome reception and dinner, complete with a Kabuki performance.

Accommodation: The Ritz-Carlton Osaka

Day 3: Osaka | The Adventure Begins

After breakfast at your hotel, enjoy the morning at leisure or join a panoramic tour of Osaka that includes a visit to the Dotonbori district and the imposing Osaka Castle. Enjoy lunch followed by a stroll through the wandering paths of Taiko-en Garden, admiring its ponds and stone bridges. This afternoon, transfer to Kobe where you board your luxurious expedition cruiser and home for the next 11 nights.

Accommodation: Le Soleal

Day 4: Takamatsu | Explore Your Way

Wake up in charming Takamatsu, the gateway to Shikoku Island. Opt for a boat ride to Shodoshima, the heart of Japan’s olive-growing industry, for a full-day tour. You may otherwise remain on Shikoku Island. Here, your day starts with a visit to picture-perfect Ritsurin Park, one of Japan’s finest gardens. Next, explore the Kinashi area of Takamatsu, among the country’s main bonsai production centers, where you learn about traditional methods of growing and caring for these meticulously cultivated little trees. A few others may travel to Naoshima Island by ferry for a full-day excursion, celebrating its architecture and art museums. Visit the hillside Chichu Art Museum and stop at Benesse House, a complex featuring unique work by both Japanese and international artists.

Accommodation: Le Soleal

Day 5: Hiroshima & Miyajima | Memorials & Shrines 

Vibrant and full of historical significance, Hiroshima is home to magnificent memorials and shrines. Start the day with a visit to the beautiful Peace Park and Museum, with its somber cenotaph containing names of atomic bomb victims. Then, take a speedboat ride to Miyajima Island, site of the iconic Torii Gate and the Daisho-in Buddhist temple. Or enjoy a full-day excursion through Hiroshima, visiting the Hiroshima Castle and namesake Peace Park and Museum, where you attend a private talk with an atomic bomb survivor. If you prefer a day in nature, head out to the tranquil island of Miyajima. Ascend Mount Misen by cable car for a hike, admiring the Shinto shrine and Torii Gate from above.

Accommodation: Le Soleal


Day 6: Uwajima | Seaside Splendor

Spend the day in Uwajima, situated on the west coast of Shikoku and home to Japan’s main producers of pearls, for a glimpse of small-town living. While there, learn the process of cultivating and sorting pearls during a visit to a pearl farm. Continue to the samurai-era gardens of Tensha-en, with their spectacular mountain backdrop.

Alternatively, explore Nanraku-en Garden, the largest on Shikoku, and enjoy a scenic hike in picturesque Yakushidani Canyon. Another option is a historic stroll to Yoshida along a cherry tree-lined lane, followed by an old town visit that includes a historic Kabuki theater. Return to the ship for a relaxing evening on board.

Accommodation: Le Soleal

Day 7: Karatsu | Ancient Trading Post

This afternoon, your luxury expedition vessel arrives at the port of Karatsu. Once an early trading post between Japan and mainland Asia, Karatsu still maintains its medieval heritage. Visit Karatsu Castle, known as the “flying crane castle.” Tour the Hikiyama Exhibition Hall, which houses the floats and artifacts used in the annual Karatsu Kunchi autumn festival. Alternatively, head to the city of Imari to visit its celebrated porcelain pottery kilns and the Mifuneyama Rakuen garden.

Accommodation: Le Soleal

Day 8: Gyeongju, South Korea | Korean Capital 

Disembark and spend a full day exploring Gyeongju, South Korea, the ancient capital of the Silla Dynasty and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gyeongju’s cultural heritage dates back to the first millennium. Witness its excavated temples, tombs and pagodas. Then, view the treasures of the National Museum, which houses an exceptional collection of jewelry, weapons and pottery. Sit down to a lunch of Korean delicacies and witness a traditional dance performance.

Accommodation: Le Soleal

Day 9: Matsue, Japan | Verdant Gardens

Return to Japan and disembark at Sakaiminato to visit Matsue, the “town of water.” Explore the countryside, pausing to wander through the picturesque Yuushien Garden. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before visiting historic Matsue Castle, one of Japan’s few remaining medieval castles, built in original wooden form. Art lovers can visit the Adachi Museum of Art, which melds the founders’ passions for art and garden design. After a traditional lunch at a ryokan (inn), visit Yakumo-mura village to learn about the art of Japanese paper making.

Accommodation: Le Soleal

Day 10: Kanazawa | Immersion Into the Arts

 Spend the day in the thriving art center of Kanazawa, known for its Kutani-style pottery and gold-leaf workmanship, followed by a visit to Edo-period Kenrokuen Garden, considered among the best in Japan. For a more active alternative, take a hike in Kakusenkei Gorge with a soothing onsen (spa) experience in the Yamanaka Onsen district. Wander Omicho Market, which features everything from fresh flowers to fish, and then stroll in the Higashi Chaya-gai geisha district, with its well-preserved historic geisha houses.

Accommodation: Le Soleal


Day 11: Sado-ga-shima | Kodo Taiko Drummers 

Arrive at pastoral Sado Island, with its rice paddies, bamboo groves and surf-pounded seacoasts. Political exiles and deposed emperors were once “banished” to live on this beautiful isle. Enjoy an exclusive, private performance by the Kodo taiko drummers, and then visit the Hakusanmaru Exhibition Hall and Ogi Folk Museum, followed by a farmer’s talk at the rice paddies.

Accommodation: Le Soleal

Day 12: At Sea | Hokkaido Island Cruising 

Enjoy a relaxing day on board while cruising toward Hokkaido. Share stories and photographs with newfound friends and take advantage of the ship facilities, including relaxing lounges, the panoramic fitness room and sauna.

Accommodation: Le Soleal

Day 13: Otaru | Historic Canals

Arrive in Otaru, your gateway to Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. Visit the city known for its canals, sake distilleries, architecture and views of Mount Tengu. Opt for a historical and cultural tour of the city, once a prosperous fishing village. Afterward, discover Otaru’s storied glassmaking and visit a sake distillery, where you may sample the rice wine. Whiskey lovers can learn about Japanese whiskey during a visit and tasting at Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery while others can choose to stroll along the city’s canals.

Accommodation: Le Soleal

Day 14: Depart Sapporo

Disembark luxury ‘Le Soleal’ in Otaru. Transfer to the airport in Sapporo and board your homebound flight or continue on the Tokyo extension. Day includes breakfast.

Please Note: Itinerary is for guidance purposes only and may be adjusted due to unforeseen circumstances including weather, medical emergencies and other conditions beyond this operator's control at the sole discretion of the Captain.

Cherry Blossoms: While the itinerary is scheduled over estimated cherry blossom dates, this natural phenomenon is subject to climate and weather, and cannot be guaranteed. Excursions may be altered to offer optimum opportunities to view the cherry blossoms if available.

Children: Minimum age is 7 years.

Butler Service: Categories 5–8 include room upgrade at the hotel and butler service aboard the ship.

First group event: morning excursion on Mar 29.

Last group event: disembarkation by 9:00 am in Otaru on Apr 11.




Image by David Maunsell


Cabin: 200 sq. ft. (18 sq. m.) Balcony: 43 sq. ft. (4 sq. m.) Solo Supplement: $17,245

Rates from in USD:


Image by David Maunsell


Cabin: 200 sq. ft. (18 sq. m.) Balcony: 43 sq. ft. (4 sq. m.) Solo Supplement: $24,375

Rates from in USD:


Image by David Maunsell


Cabin: 388 sq. ft. (36 sq. m.) Balcony: 86 sq. ft. (8 sq. m.) Solo Supplement: $45,595

Rates from in USD:


Image by David Maunsell


Cabin: 200 sq. ft. (18 sq. m.) Balcony: 43 sq. ft. (4 sq. m.) Solo Supplement: $19,125

Rates from in USD:


Image by David Maunsell


Cabin: 290 sq. ft. (27 sq. m.) Balcony: 54 sq. ft. (5 sq. m.) Solo Supplement: $34,195

Rates from in USD:


Image by David Maunsell


Cabin: 484 sq. ft. (45 sq. m.) Balcony: 97 sq. ft. (9 sq. m.) Solo Supplement: $52,245

Rates from in USD:


Image by David Maunsell


Cabin: 200 sq. ft. (18 sq. m.) Balcony: 43 sq. ft. (4 sq. m.) Solo Supplement: $19,875

Rates from in USD:


Image by David Maunsell


Cabin: 388 sq. ft. (36 sq. m.) Balcony: 86 sq. ft. (8 sq. m.) Solo Supplement: $43,225

Rates from in USD:


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Traveling through Japan by ship is one of the easiest and most rewarding ways to explore this complex culture and country. Unpack just once and travel in style via this highly esteemed operator.

Joy Martinello, Founder



What’s Included & Cancellation Policy:

All accommodations, meals and fully guided sightseeing (including park and entrance fees) as noted in the itinerary; airport transfers to/from hotel/ship in the first/last published city regardless of day of arrival and departure (on Expedition Cruises, transfers may be shared and included on start and end dates only); services of Resident Tour Director or appropriate guide on Pre- and Post-Tour Extensions; coffee/tea/soft drinks/water at included meals; local wine and beer at all designated welcome and farewell dinners and with all lunches and dinners on Connections European River Cruise Journeys; local bottled water during sightseeing; porterage of up to two (2) pieces of baggage per person; complimentary Internet access (where available on cruises and at land accommodations; service levels are not guaranteed); hotel taxes; and gratuities throughout, except to the Resident Tour Director/Extension guide.

Luxury Expedition Cruises Additional Inclusions:
Complimentary select bar drinks, beer, house wine, soft drinks, coffee drinks, juices and bottled water (excluding premium wines, spirits and Champagnes) while on board; complimentary local beer and wine for included meals on shore; complimentary room service on board; all shore excursions and lecture program while on board; Traveler's Valet laundry service for eight (8) pieces per person once during cruise only (dry cleaning excluded); services of an Expedition Staff and local guides; gratuities for the ship's crew and Expedition Staff and Pre- and Post-Tour guides; a complimentary expedition parka and backpack and use of waterproof boots, pants and trekking poles provided on board for all polar cruises.

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