Day 1 Saturday 13 April, 2019 Tokyo, Japan
Today we board our flight to Tokyo. We will arrive late evening and will be transferred to our hotel.
Day 2 Sunday 14 April, 2019 Embarkation
This morning we have an orientation tour of the city. We visit the famous Ginza shopping district, renowned as the most expensive real estate in the world. We then visit the Imperial Palace East Gardens, which is part of the Royal residence, and a superb example of traditional Japanese landscape design. Later we are transferred to Yokohama to board MS Westerdam.
Day 3 Monday 15 April, 2019 Shimizu
Today we arrive at Shimizu at the base of Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain and the focal point of the sprawling Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. This morning we will enjoy a sightseeing tour of this very special area, named for the Buddhist fire goddess Fuchi, and is sacred to the Shinto goddess Sengen-Sama, whose shrine can be found at the summit. Mount Fuji is the holiest of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains”. This evening join us for welcome drinks to celebrate the beginning of this incredible cruise holiday.
Day 4 Tuesday 16 April, 2019 Osaka
Today we arrive into Osaka and travel to Kobe, the capital of Hyogo Prefecture and one of Japan’s ten largest cities. Located between the sea and the Rokko mountain range, Kobe is also considered one of Japan’s most attractive cities. On our sightseeing tour we will enjoy an orientation tour of the city including a cable-car ride in the Shin-Kobe Ropeway that lifts us up the southern slopes of the Rokko mountain chain. As it ascends, it passes by the Nunobiki Waterfall and the Nunobiki Herb Garden, giving a lovely aerial view of both. The highlight of the ride lies in the observation deck which offers spectacular views of Kobe.
Day 5 Wednesday 17 April, 2019 Kochi
This morning we arrive in Kochi, the capital of Kochi Prefecture on the southern coast of Shikoku, and we enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city. We visit Kochi Castle, one of just 12 Japanese castles to have survived the fires, wars and other catastrophes of the post feudal age. The castle used to be the seat of the Yamauchi lords, who ruled over the surrounding region, then known as Tosa, during the Edo Period. The castle buildings have since been designated “important cultural properties”, and now house local treasures and historical objects. We then visit the Chikurinji Temple on Godaisan, one of the eighty-eight temples along the Shikoku Pilgrimage.
Day 6 Thursday 18 April, 2019 Kanmon Strait/Fukuoka
Westerdam cruises along the Kanmon Straits, which separates Yamaguchi prefecture on the western edge of Honshu and Fukuoka prefecture on Kyushu Island. About 6,000 years ago a crustal change divided Honshu in two, and the straits and Kyushu Island were born. This afternoon we arrive in Hakata, the ancient port of Fukuoka. We will have an afternoon tour of this historic city.
Day 7 Friday 19 April, 201 At sea
A day at sea is the perfect opportunity to explore the fabulous facilities of this magnificent ship. Perhaps visit the Spa for a relaxing massage. This afternoon join us for a fun game of The Senior Bingo.
Day 8 Saturday 20 April, 2019 Kanazawa
Kanazawa, which means ‘marsh of gold’, draws its name from an old legend in which a Japanese peasant, digging for potatoes, found flakes of gold in the ground. Today, gold leaf is a major art form synonymous with the city. We will enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city, known for its intricate kaga-nui embroidery and delicate kutani porcelain, among other handicrafts, making it a shopper’s paradise. Once boasting geisha houses and a labyrinthine samurai village, the city was built around Kanazawa Castle. Fire destroyed all but a few small 16th-century castle structures such as the elegant Ishikawa Gate. Just outside the castle park we visit the enchanting Kenroku-en Garden, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, and the home of the country’s oldest fountain.
Day 9 Sunday 21 April, 2019 At sea
Another day at sea to explore the fabulous facilities of this magnificent ship. This afternoon join us for a fun game of Scattergories with prizes for the winners.
Day 10 Monday 22 April, 2019 Vladivostok, Russia
Vladivostok has served as Russia's bastion in the Far East since Czarist times. Located on the hills above Golden Horn Bay, the city is the terminus for the fabled Trans-Siberian Railroad, the longest continuous rail line in the world. The homeport of Russia's Pacific Fleet, Vladivostok was closed to the outside world until 1992. It now offers visitors an exciting opportunity to unravel its mysteries as we explore Central Square, Arseniev Museum and Vladivostok’s military attractions, including a tour of a restored submarine.
Day 11 Tuesday 23 April, 2019 At sea
A day at sea to explore the fabulous facilities of this magnificent ship.
Day 12 Wednesday 24 April, 2019 Otaru
Otaru is an important port city on the northern island of Hokkaido, close to Sapporo. The city was home to a thriving herring fleet, as shown by the display of wealth in the “Herring Mansions”. During the 19th and early 20th Centuries ships regularly plied the waters between the port and the island of Sakhalin. Coal was mined in the hills, and Otaru even won a reputation for producing fine music boxes. We will visit one of the Mansions and see the famous Otaru Canal, a historic mile-long canal that provides both a nostalgic look at the Otaru of yesteryear as well as a unique shopping experience.
Day 13 Thursday 25 April, 2019 Hakodate
In 1859, the port of Hakodate became the first Japanese city fully opened to Westerners under the Treaty of Amity and Commerce. Hakodate, once a fishing port famed for its high-quality fish and shellfish, quickly became Hokkaido's largest city and one of Japan's most important ports. We will visit the local fish market before taking the cable car to the summit of Mt. Hakodate for a spectacular panoramic view.
Day 14 Friday 26 April, 2019 Aomori
This morning we arrive in Aomori, in the northernmost prefecture on Japan’s main island Honshu. On our tour today we will visit Hirosaki, once the political and cultural capital of the Tsugaru Region, the western section of present day Aomori Prefecture. The city remains one of the culturally richest cities in the northern Tohoku Region. We visit Hirosaki Castle, built in 1611 with its three-storey keep the only one in the Tohoku Region that was not rebuilt in the modern era, amongst only a handful in all of Japan.
Day 15 Saturday 27 April, 2019 At sea
A day at sea to explore the fabulous facilities of this magnificent ship. This afternoon test your knowledge at our group Trivia with prizes for the winners.
Day 16 Sunday 28 April, 2019 Tokyo
We disembark in Yokohama this morning and continue our sightseeing in Tokyo. We will visit the Asakusa district, well-known as a region of Old Tokyo, the Asakusa Kannon Temple, a Buddhist temple also known as Sensoji, built in 645 A.D with the finest Japanese architecture. We check into our hotel late afternoon.
Day 17 Monday 29 April, 2019 Kyoto
This morning we are transferred to the railway station for our exciting Bullet Train ride on the famous Shinkansen train to Kyoto, travelling up to 270 kmph. On the way we will see the summit of Mt Fuji, weather permitting. Our afternoon sightseeing of Kyoto commences at Kinkakuji, better known as the Golden Pavilion, a Zen temple in northern Kyoto whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Formally known as Rokuonji, the temple was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and according to his will, it became a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect after his death in 1408. We then visit the Ryoanji Temple, the site of Japan’s most famous rock garden. Originally an aristocrat’s villa during the Heian Period, the site was converted into a Zen temple in 1450 and belongs to the Myoshinji School of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism.
Day 18 Tuesday 30 April, 2019 Kyoto
Kyoto is the cultural and historical focal point of the country. Our tour today commences at The Philosopher’s Path, a pleasant stone path through the northern part of Kyoto’s Higashiyama district that follows a canal, lined by hundreds of cherry trees. Usually, in early April, these trees explode with colour, making this one of the city’s most popular hanami (cherry blossom viewing) spots. We will visit Ginkakuji, consisting of the famous Silver Pavilion, half a dozen other temple buildings, a beautiful moss garden and a unique dry sand garden. We will also visit Nanzenji Temple, whose spacious grounds are located at the base of Kyoto’s forested Higashiyama Mountains, and is one of the most important Zen temples in all of Japan. Later we visit Gion, Kyoto’s most famous geisha district made famous from the novel and film Memoirs of a Geisha. It is filled with shops, restaurants and ochaya (teahouses), where geisha and maiko (geisha apprentices) entertain. This evening we will enjoy an included dinner to celebrate the end of the tour.
Day 19 Wednesday 1 May, 2019 Departure
The morning will be free for last minute sightseeing and shopping before we are transferred to the airport for our flights back to Australia.
Day 20 Thursday 2 May, 2019 Australia
Tour members arrive back in Australia. The tour concludes.