Ancient Traditions of the Inland Sea of Japan

Experience the timeless splendor of Japan and South Korea on land and by sea from May 22 - June 1, 2019 on this special 9-night itinerary. 


Experience the timeless splendor of Japan and South Korea on land and by sea from May 22 - June 1, 2019, on this special nine-night itinerary. Featuring enthralling ports steeped in the traditions of ancient Buddhist shoguns and Samurai warriors, landscapes dotted with Shinto shrines, imperial castles, and meticulous Japanese gardens, discover the historical and cultural richness of this beautiful region.

Begin your adventure with a two-night stay in the enchanting city of Kyoto. The imperial capital of Japan from A.D. 794 until the mid-19th century, it has been the cultural capital of this island nation for more than 1,000 years. See the historic monuments of ancient Kyoto, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the opulent temples of Ry ¯oan‑ji, Kinkaku‑ji and Kiyomizu and Nij ¯o Castle, an imperial gem. Stroll through the iconic, red-orange torii gates and temple grounds of the Fushimi Inari Shrine, dedicated to the deity of sake and rice, and walk through the Gion Dsitrict, the most famous geisha district in Japan.

Cruise aboard the five-star small ship Le Soleal, from Himeji, Japan, and along the coast of the tranquil Inland Sea and South Korea, with port calls featuring five UNESCO World Heritage sites. See the impressive 14th-century Himeji Castle, the oldest surviving feudal structure of medieval Japan; walk through the poignant Peace Memorial Park and museum in Hiroshima; and tour picturesque Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima with its awe-inspiring Great Torii Gate. Admire the extraordinary collection at the Adachi Museum of Art near Matsue, whose gardens are considered “living Japanese paintings.” In Gyeongju, South Korea, see the Buddhist Bulguksa Temple, which symbolizes the material expression of Buddhist utopia on Earth, and the ancient Silla Kingdom Royal Burial Mounds. Visit the Mekari Shrine, a legendary Shinto shrine juxtaposed with Moji’s contemporary architecture, and just outside the city, walk through the 12th-century Akama Shrine, dedicated to the child emperor Antoku. Nearby, observe the excitement of a Japanese fish market, known for its locally caught fugu (pufferfish), a delicacy of Japanese cuisine.

Featuring five-star accommodations and at least one excursion each day in some of the most beautiful and culturally fascinating ports along the Inland Sea of Japan, this program is sure to fill quickly. Share the experience with alumni, friends, and participants from cosponsoring associations.  You are encouraged to reserve early while choice accommodations and early booking savings are available. 

Dates and Prices:

Trip Dates: May 22 - June 1, 2019

Prices: from $5,995 --- $15,995 per person based upon double occupancy.

Program Itinerary:

U.S. - Thursday, May 22, 2019
Depart the U.S. and cross the International Date Line.

Osaka, Japan/Kyoto - Friday, May 23
Arrive in Osaka, then transfer to beautiful Kyoto, the impeccably preserved former imperial capital of Japan. Check into the ideally located deluxe KYOTO HOTEL OKURA. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Kyoto - Saturday, May 24
In timeless Kyoto, discover an ethereal setting of grand imperial castles, tranquil Zen gardens and graceful Shinto shrines that manifest Japanese culture in its purest form. Many of Kyoto’s ancient buildings and gardens are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites, including grandiose Nijo Castle, built by the shogun of the powerful Tokugawa dynasty (1603 to 1867); iconic Kinkaku-ji Temple, the fame 14th-century Temple of the Golden Pavilion, whose top two fl oors are adorned completely with gold leaf; and the Ryoan-ji Temple, originally an aristocrat’s villa during the Heian Period (794 to 1185), featuring a famous contemplative rock garden. Drawing inspiration from the Zen gardens of Kyoto, Apple™ co-founder Steve Jobs used Ryo¯an-ji Temple as a place of meditation and its minimalistic simplicity as the guiding aesthetic principle of the company’s products. Join your traveling companions for a Welcome Reception this evening.

Kyoto/Himeji - Sunday, May 25
This morning, visit the captivating Fushimi Inari Shrine, one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan—the earliest structures were constructed in A.D. 71—and dedicated to the deity of sake and rice. Its thousands of carefully aligned iconic red-orange torii gates lead to the magnifi cent Inari Mountain. Enjoy lunch and a scenic transfer to see the extraordinary Himeji Castle complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site regarded as the oldest and grandest surviving feudal castle in the world, dating from 15th- to 17th-century Japan. Admire this elegant structure, which was crafted entirely out of wood and comprises 83 buildings. Later this afternoon, embark the Five-Star Le Soleal.

Hiroshima/Miyajima - Monday, May 26
Visit Hiroshima's compelling Peace Memorial Park, a tranquil, urban green space where the remains of the Genbaku Dome, which survived the forces of the atomic bomb, are a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and stand as a universal symbol of peace. Visit the Peace Memorial Museum, which chronicles the history of Hiroshima. Continue to Miyajima, or "Shrine Island." Tour the impressive sixth-century Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and see its stunning vermilion Great Torii Gate, both of which appear to float on water during high tide.

Hagi - Tuesday, May 27
Originally a small fishing port, the cultural town of Hagi was fortified by Mori Terumoto in 1604. Enjoy a walking tour of the old samurai quarter, where many former samurai dwellings still stand and the roads are lined with original 19th-century earthen walls. Visit the early 17th-century Kikuya House, the former residence of a merchant wealthy enough to live among the samurai and one of the best-preserved examples of merchant-style architecture from the Edo Period. Tour the 17th-century Toko-ji Temple, from the Obaku School of Japanese Zen Buddhism, and see its 500 moss-covered stone lanterns honoring the Mori clan lords. Visit a Hagi-yaki pottery kiln, where highly prized tea wares are produced using centuries-old skills and craft techniques, and the Hagi Uragami Museum, which displays over 5000 traditional woodblock prints and porcelain pieces.

Matsue - Wednesday, May 28
Enjoy a scenic drive through Matsue to tour the acclaimed Adachi Museum of Art. This stunning combination of j apanese art and garden design features a collection of 20th-century paintings and modern art, while the perfectly landscaped gardens, featuring a hare-sansui (dry landscape) garden, are widely considered to be the best in the country. Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon of cruising with lectures by our onboard study leaders.

Ulsan, South Korea, for Gyeongju - Thursday, May 29
Travel across the magnificent landscape from Ulsan, South Korea, to the cradle of the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C. to A.D. 935) in the historic city of Gyeongju. Visit the glorious Bulguksa Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site and part of a religious architectural complex that represents a material expression of Buddhist utopia on Earth. The complex is divided into three areas-the Vairocana Buddha Hall, the Hall of Great Enlightenment and the Hall of Supreme Bliss-and comprises a series of wooden buildings on raised stone terraces, featuring multiple bridges and two pagodas.

Moji, Japan - Friday, May 30
Enjoy a tour of Moji. Visit the beautiful Mekari Shrine, built by Empress j ingu, wife of the 14th Emperor of Japan, to give thanks to the gods. See Mimosusogawa Park and its monuments honoring the Genpei War, (1180 to 1185), and visit the Akama Shrine, dedicated to the child Emperor Antoku. Then, experience the lively excitement of the Karato Fish Market, a wholesale market where professional chefs come to purchase the freshest seafood to prepare time-honored recipes and sushi in their restaurants. Enjoy the Captain's Farewell Reception on board this evening.

Uno - Saturday, May 31
From the port of Uno, participate in one of two included excursions. Enjoy a scenic drive to the lovely town of Kurashiki, which translates to "storehouse village," one of the best-preserved mercantile towns in Japan; its distinctive black and white latticed buildings remain from the 17th-century Edo period. Visit the old merchant quarter and walk among the traditional kara (granary) buildings beside small, tranquil canals framed by weeping willows. Or, choose to visit the famous Koraku-en Gardens, situated on the outskirts of Okayama. Commissioned by Lord Ikedo in 1700, it is a classic strolling garden divided into three sections featuring bamboo, pine, plum and cherry trees and tea bushes.

Osaka/U.S. - Sunday, June 1
Disembark in Osaka and continue on the Kanazawa Post-Program Option, or transfer to the airport for your return flight to the U.S.


  • Two nights in the Five-Star KYOTO HOTEL OKURA with gull American buffet breakfast each morning.
  • Welcome Reception.
  • Tour impressive Nijo Castle, built by a powerful shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Visit the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage-designated temples of Ryoan -ji, Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizu.
  • See the beautiful vermilion gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine leading up to Inari Mountain.
  • Traditional Japanese tea ceremony experience.
  • Seven-night cruise from Himeji, Japan, with port calls at Ulsan for Gyeongju, South Korea; and Hiroshima, Miyajima, Hagi, Sakaiminato for Marsue, Moji, Uno for Kurashiki and Osaka, Japan.
  • Spacious, Five-Star, ocean-view Suite and Stateroom accommodations, each with a private bathroom.
  • All meals aboard ship - continental breakfast, buffet breakfast, buffet lunch, afternoon tea and dinner-throughout the cruise, featuring fine international and regional cuisine, served at single, unassigned seatings.
  • Complimentary alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages are served throughout the cruise.
  • Captain's Welcome and Farewell Receptions.
  • Guided visit to stunning Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the finest surviving example of 17th-century Japanese castle architecture.
  • Visit to Hiroshima's compelling Peace Memorial Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with a visit to the Peace Memorial Museum.
  • Visit to Miyajima ("Shrine Island") to tour the UNESCO World Heritage site of sixth -century Itsukushima Shrine and see its stunning Great Torii Gate.
  • Walking tour of Hagi's old samurai quarter featuring visits to the early 17'h-cenlllty Kikuya House and the 17th-century Toko-ji Temple .
  • Visit to a Hagi-yaki pottery kiln and the Hagi Uragami Museum to see the famous craftsmanship of traditional clay and woodblock arts.
  • Excursion to the acclaimed Adachi Museum of Art featuring a collection of Japanese modern art and perfectly landscaped kare-sansui (dry landscape) gardens.
  • Excursion from Ulsan, South Korea, to historic Gyeongju, the cradle of the Silla Kingdom and a UNESCO World Heritage site, with visits to Bulguksa Temple, the Gyeongju National Museum and the Royal Burial Mounds at Tumuli Park, including a typical Korean barbecue lunch.
  • Panoramic tour of Moji, featuring the Mekari Shrine, built by 14th-centuty Empress Jingu; Akama Shrine, dedicated to 12th-century Emperor Antoku; and a visit to the lively Karato Fish Market.
  • Tour of Kurashiki known for its willow-lined canals and distinctive 17'h-centuty merchant buildings, OR an excursion to famous Koraku-cn Gardens, a classic Japanese strolling garden completed in 1700.
  • Transfers and luggage handling abroad for participants whose arrival(s)/departure(s) coincide with the scheduled group transfer(s ).
  • All excursions and visits, as outlined above, with experienced local guides.
  • Gratuities to local guides and drivers on included excursions and transfers.
  • Hospitality desk in the hotel and aboard ship.
  • The services of experienced Travel Directors throughout the program.
  • Travel document wallet, name badge and pre -departure information.
  • Complimentary use of a state-of-the-art audio headset for each participant during guided excursions.

Not included:
Airfare; Taxes; passport fees; visas and fees for obtaining visas; personal expenses such as laundry and telephone calls; accident/sickness, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance; gratuities to ship and hotel personnel; optional sightseeing excursions; excess baggage charges on aircraft; local departure air taxes; airfare and associated local taxes*, airport facility taxes and federal inspection fees not listed int he "included features" section of the program brochure; transfers and baggage handling to/from airport/hotel on day(s) of arrival and/or departure if you are arriving earlier or later and/or departing earlier or later that scheduled group transfer(s); meals and and alcoholic beverages not listed in the "Included Features" section of the program brochure; and all other services not specifically mentioned in the "Included Features" section of the program brochure.

Please call us toll-free at (866) 325-8664 or email us at for more details.