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Wonders of Japan

Accompany us on this semi-circumnavigation of Japan and visit some of the most outstanding natural and man-made sites this strange and wonderful country has to offer: National Parks, not one, not two but three of Japan’s highest-ranked gardens and traditional buildings. Imbibe in the solemn spirituality of the many shrines, temples and memorials. Our final destination Shanghai presents better than anywhere the juxtaposition of Asia’s past and present.

Wonders of Japan itinerary:

show reverse itinerary
Day 1 - Kobe Japan
Located on the calm waters of the Inland Sea, Kobe has served as an important port town for hundreds of years. It was one of the first harbours to accept foreign traders in 1868 when Japan was just emerging from its centuries of isolation. What followed was a surge of Western trade and exports. Today, Kobe is quite multicultural, with expatriates from 98 different nations in residence, providing a cultural diversity most easily visible in restaurants serving every kind of cuisine, including the now world famous Kobe beef. The Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995 set back Kobe’s development, but not for long.
Day 2 - Okayama Japan
Okayama is an important transportation hub and one of the largest cities of the Chugoku Region. It is famous because it has one of Japan’s most significant gardens. Although the “Korakuen” Garden was severely damaged by bombs in WWII, the descriptions and paintings from the Edo period permitted an exact reconstruction. It is one of the “Three Gardens of Japan” and has been designated a “Special Scenic Location”. Known formerly as the centre of rice-distribution in the Okayama area, many old warehouses next to the preserved canal have been converted into museums, boutiques and cafes. Another attraction is the Ohara Museum, which was the first Japanese Museum to permanently exhibit Western Art.
Day 3 - Takamatsu Japan
Takamatsu city is the capital of Kagawa prefecture which is Japan’s smallest prefecture. This city is a vibrant blend of natural beauty and cosmopolitan functionality with a population of 420,000 people. The port of Takamatsu used to be the main gateway to Shikoku Island until the opening of the 37km long Seto Ohashi Bridge in 1988. Takamatsu city has flourished along with the Seto Inland Sea since 17th century when Matsudaira family, the relatives of the Tokugawa Shogun, ruled this area. Matsudaira family has completed the famous Japanese “Ritsurin Garden”.
Day 4 - Miyajima & Hiroshima Japan
The small island of Miyajima (“The Shrine Island”) is known for the Floating Torii Gate, which is one of “The Three Most Beautiful Views” of Japan. Built in the water, the Torii Gate leads to the Itsukushima Shrine and at high tide it seems to float. The Torii Gate is one of the most photographed sites in all of Japan. There are many more shrines and paths on Miyajima that are inviting to walk. Mount Misen has a cable car leading partly up to the top with nice views and wild monkeys and deer roaming the trails. . On August 6, 1945, at 8:15 am, a massive chunk of metal known as Little Boy fell from an American plane, and the sky ignited and glowed for an instant. In that brief moment, however, it became as hot as the surface of the sun in Hiroshima, until then a rather ordinary workaday city in wartime Japan. Half the city was leveled by the resulting blast, and the rest was set ablaze. Rain impregnated with radioactive fallout then fell, killing many that the fire and 1,000-mph shock wave had not. By the end of this mind-boggling disaster, more than 140,000 people died.
Day 5 - Hagi Japan
Hagi is a former castle town located in the middle of Yamaguchi prefecture along the coast of the Sea of Japan. It is surrounded by the ocean, mountain and Abugawa River. Early in the 17th century, Terumoto Mori built Hagi Castle at the foot of Mt. Shizuki-yama, and the area served as the seat of the Yamaguchi prefecture government until the middle of 19th century. Around then, Hagi produced many capable men who played a leading role in the construction of modern day Japan, including Hirobumi Ito who became the first prime minister in Japan. You will still see a castle town itself which was built 400 years ago and you can get the feel of how it was like during the Samurai period.
Day 6 - Sakaiminato Japan
Sakaiminato is a small city almost totally surrounded by water: the Sea of Japan to the east, the Sakai Channel to the north and Lake Nakaumi to the west. Across the lake the towns of Matsue and Yasugi offer interesting experiences. Matsue is known as the “Town of Water” next to scenic Lake Shinji and Lake Nakaumi. It has one of the very few wooden castles that still remain in Japan. Touring the castle and boat rides on the Horikawa River and the castle’s moat are popular. Yasugi has the Adachi Museum of Art, a private museum that houses one of the finest collections of contemporary Japanese paintings, but also has a 165,000 square metres garden –with plants and rocks collected by the museum’s founder.
Day 7 - Kanazawa Japan
The capital of the Ishikawa Prefecture, Kanazawa once rivalled Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo) as a town rich in cultural achievements. Kanazawa escaped destruction during World War II and accordingly has been able to preserve many of the old districts in good shape. The city is famous because of Kenrokuen. Located next to Kanazawa Castle, Kenrokuen is classified as “One of the Three Gardens of Japan”. The garden has an artificial pond, and hills and houses are dotted within the 11.4 hectares. It has Japan’s oldest fountain using natural water pressure and a tea-house dating back to 1774.
Day 8 - Day at sea
Day 9 - Sokcho Republic of Korea
Vibrant urban activity is juxtaposed with dramatic mountain ridges and beautiful beaches in Sokcho, South Korea. Many tourists come to this city of approximately 90,000 residents to visit Seoraksan National Park, home of the highest mountain in Gangwon-doProvince and the third highest mountain in South Korea. The city and mountain range attracts national and internationally visitors year-round, but particularly in autumn, when the foliage is at its height (and considered the most beautiful in Korea). Visitors to Sokcho can also visit hot springs, beaches, or view one of the several well-preserved Buddha statues located in temples throughout the city.
Day 10 - Busan Republic of Korea
White-sand city beaches and hot-spring resorts may not be everyone's first image of Korea, but these are what Koreans flock to Busan for all year. And there are plenty of opportunities for rest, relaxation, retail therapy, and even a touch of glamour every October with the Busan International Film Festival. Busan's beaches are the big summertime draw but there is plenty to be seen year round. Quintessential experiences include taking some rest and relaxation at a local spa and exploring the Beomeosa temple complex.
Please Note:
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather, wildlife activity and ice conditions. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.

Wonders of Japan reverse itinerary:

show main itinerary
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather, wildlife activity and ice conditions. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
White-sand city beaches and hot-spring resorts may not be everyone's first image of Korea, but these are what Koreans flock to Busan for all year. And there are plenty of opportunities for rest, relaxation, retail therapy, and even a touch of glamour every October with the Busan International Film Festival. Busan's beaches are the big summertime draw but there is plenty to be seen year round. Quintessential experiences include taking some rest and relaxation at a local spa and exploring the Beomeosa temple complex.
Vibrant urban activity is juxtaposed with dramatic mountain ridges and beautiful beaches in Sokcho, South Korea. Many tourists come to this city of approximately 90,000 residents to visit Seoraksan National Park, home of the highest mountain in Gangwon-doProvince and the third highest mountain in South Korea. The city and mountain range attracts national and internationally visitors year-round, but particularly in autumn, when the foliage is at its height (and considered the most beautiful in Korea). Visitors to Sokcho can also visit hot springs, beaches, or view one of the several well-preserved Buddha statues located in temples throughout the city.
The capital of the Ishikawa Prefecture, Kanazawa once rivalled Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo) as a town rich in cultural achievements. Kanazawa escaped destruction during World War II and accordingly has been able to preserve many of the old districts in good shape. The city is famous because of Kenrokuen. Located next to Kanazawa Castle, Kenrokuen is classified as “One of the Three Gardens of Japan”. The garden has an artificial pond, and hills and houses are dotted within the 11.4 hectares. It has Japan’s oldest fountain using natural water pressure and a tea-house dating back to 1774.
Sakaiminato is a small city almost totally surrounded by water: the Sea of Japan to the east, the Sakai Channel to the north and Lake Nakaumi to the west. Across the lake the towns of Matsue and Yasugi offer interesting experiences. Matsue is known as the “Town of Water” next to scenic Lake Shinji and Lake Nakaumi. It has one of the very few wooden castles that still remain in Japan. Touring the castle and boat rides on the Horikawa River and the castle’s moat are popular. Yasugi has the Adachi Museum of Art, a private museum that houses one of the finest collections of contemporary Japanese paintings, but also has a 165,000 square metres garden –with plants and rocks collected by the museum’s founder.
Hagi is a former castle town located in the middle of Yamaguchi prefecture along the coast of the Sea of Japan. It is surrounded by the ocean, mountain and Abugawa River. Early in the 17th century, Terumoto Mori built Hagi Castle at the foot of Mt. Shizuki-yama, and the area served as the seat of the Yamaguchi prefecture government until the middle of 19th century. Around then, Hagi produced many capable men who played a leading role in the construction of modern day Japan, including Hirobumi Ito who became the first prime minister in Japan. You will still see a castle town itself which was built 400 years ago and you can get the feel of how it was like during the Samurai period.
The small island of Miyajima (“The Shrine Island”) is known for the Floating Torii Gate, which is one of “The Three Most Beautiful Views” of Japan. Built in the water, the Torii Gate leads to the Itsukushima Shrine and at high tide it seems to float. The Torii Gate is one of the most photographed sites in all of Japan. There are many more shrines and paths on Miyajima that are inviting to walk. Mount Misen has a cable car leading partly up to the top with nice views and wild monkeys and deer roaming the trails. . On August 6, 1945, at 8:15 am, a massive chunk of metal known as Little Boy fell from an American plane, and the sky ignited and glowed for an instant. In that brief moment, however, it became as hot as the surface of the sun in Hiroshima, until then a rather ordinary workaday city in wartime Japan. Half the city was leveled by the resulting blast, and the rest was set ablaze. Rain impregnated with radioactive fallout then fell, killing many that the fire and 1,000-mph shock wave had not. By the end of this mind-boggling disaster, more than 140,000 people died.
Takamatsu city is the capital of Kagawa prefecture which is Japan’s smallest prefecture. This city is a vibrant blend of natural beauty and cosmopolitan functionality with a population of 420,000 people. The port of Takamatsu used to be the main gateway to Shikoku Island until the opening of the 37km long Seto Ohashi Bridge in 1988. Takamatsu city has flourished along with the Seto Inland Sea since 17th century when Matsudaira family, the relatives of the Tokugawa Shogun, ruled this area. Matsudaira family has completed the famous Japanese “Ritsurin Garden”.
Okayama is an important transportation hub and one of the largest cities of the Chugoku Region. It is famous because it has one of Japan’s most significant gardens. Although the “Korakuen” Garden was severely damaged by bombs in WWII, the descriptions and paintings from the Edo period permitted an exact reconstruction. It is one of the “Three Gardens of Japan” and has been designated a “Special Scenic Location”. Known formerly as the centre of rice-distribution in the Okayama area, many old warehouses next to the preserved canal have been converted into museums, boutiques and cafes. Another attraction is the Ohara Museum, which was the first Japanese Museum to permanently exhibit Western Art.
Located on the calm waters of the Inland Sea, Kobe has served as an important port town for hundreds of years. It was one of the first harbours to accept foreign traders in 1868 when Japan was just emerging from its centuries of isolation. What followed was a surge of Western trade and exports. Today, Kobe is quite multicultural, with expatriates from 98 different nations in residence, providing a cultural diversity most easily visible in restaurants serving every kind of cuisine, including the now world famous Kobe beef. The Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995 set back Kobe’s development, but not for long.
* = Indicative
Map for Wonders of Japan
Silver Explorer, the ship servicing Wonders of Japan

Silver Explorer

Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition

Length: 108 metres

Passenger Capacity: 132

Built / refurbished: 1989 / 2008

The purpose-built Silver Explorer expedition ship (formerly the Prince Albert II) has been designed specifically for navigating waters in some of the world’s most remote destinations, including both of earth’s polar regions. A strengthened hull with a Lloyd’s Register ice-class notation (1A) for passenger vessels enables Silver Explorer to safely push through ice floes with ease.

A fleet of Zodiac boats allows guests to visit even the most off-the-beaten path locations and an expert Expedition Team provides insight and understanding to each unforgettable Silver Explorer cruise adventure.

Cabin layout for Silver Explorer
• Visit infamous Hiroshima

• See Korakuen and Kenrokuen Gardens - two of the “Three Gardens of Japan”

• See the Floating Torii Gate, which is one of “The Three Most Beautiful Views” of Japan
Enquire now about Wonders of Japan

Travel on the Silver Explorer

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