BOTANICA ASIA CRUISE: Japanese & South Korean Spring Gardens and Culture Cruise
14 Days including an 11 night exclusive small ship cruise with a Botanical Guide.


Venture along the historic shores of Japan and South Korea, exploring ancient castles, peaceful Japanese gardens and opulent temples. In the first flourish of spring, you will enjoy bursts of colour from magnificent tree peonies, Japanese azaleas and peach blossoms.

Day 1. Arrive Tokyo.
Depart Tokyo Narita International Airport at 10.00am or the New Otani Hotel Tokyo at 11.30am to explore Tokyo. Visit the Imperial Palace East Gardens, and the Meiji Shrine and grounds. This evening, settle in to your accommodation in Tokyo.
Stay: Tokyo, New Otani Hotel or similar

Day 2. Tokyo to Kanazawa.
Today you will take a bullet train from Tokyo to Kanazawa. Kanazawa is a thriving centre of the arts, known for its lacquer ware, collectible pottery of the Kutani style, gold-leaf workmanship and delicate hand-painting of silk for kimonos and Noh theatre dramas. Board your ship and enjoy a Welcome Dinner this evening.
Eleven Nights: MS Caledonian Sky (BLD)

Day 3. Kanazawa & Kenroku-en Garden.
This morning depart from the port and visit Omicho Market that sells and displays everything from flowers to fish to local handicrafts. Afterwards visit one of Japan’s premier highlights the famed Kenroku-en Garden, ranked among the country’s top gardens. This afternoon immerse yourself in Kanazawa culture with a visit to Higashi Chaya Gai Geisha District, where you can see the remains of the traditional form of the town which traces back to Samurai era. You will also view other handcrafted items famous in Kanazawa such as the Kimono and Golden Leaf. (BLD)

Day 4. Yuushien Garden & Matsue.
This morning visit Matsue, known as the ‘Town of Water’, which nestles a scenic lake and lagoon. Visit a number of cultural attractions including Matsue Castle. Known as the ‘Black Castle’, it is one of only a few wooden Medieval castles remaining in Japan today. Admire the graceful exterior of the complex structure, then take the opportunity to explore the interior, and its magnificent views of Lake Shinji. This afternoon visit the stunning Yuushien Garden, a real flower garden full of colour and blossom, famous for growing ginseng and peonies. (BLD)

Day 5. Hagi.
This morning we visit Hagi, one of Japan’s most beautiful castle towns, where you can explore the old streets, the Hagi Castle ruins, Shizuki Park, and Tokoji Temple. Japan’s revolution began here in Jokamachi’s old Samurai residential quarter, where we will tour a Samurai’s home. We will also visit the historic Daisho Temple, the resting place of the two first Mori daimyo, a family of powerful and territorial pre-modern Japanese lords and all of the even-numbered daimyo. Thistraditional temple is located on Mount Mison, considered a holy mountain, on the island of Itsukushima. Inside, you will find a flame that is said to have been burning for some 1,200 years. (BLD)

Day 6. Pusan, South Korea.
Embark on a full-day excursion to Kyongju, a World Heritage-listed site often described as the world’s finest open-air museum. As the ancient capital of the Shilla Dynasty, Kyongju’s heritage dates back to the first millennium. As we stroll through some of the numerous excavated monuments, temples, tombs and pagodas, there will be time to explore the National Museum, with its exceptional collection of finely worked gold jewellery, metal weapons and pottery. At lunch, sample Korean delicacies followed by a special cultural performance of traditional dance. (BLD)

Day 7. Dejima Island & Nagasaki.
This morning explore Nagasaki, the second city destroyed by an A-bomb in World War II. Tour the Peace Memorial Park, Atomic Bomb Museum and Glover Garden. This afternoon visit Dejima Island, built during the Edo period to house Portuguese Christian missionaries and prevent the propagation of their religion. It was also the residential quarters of the Dutch, the only foreigners allowed to trade in Japan during the Sakoku isolation period for 200 years, until Japan reopened to the world. (BLD)

Day 8. Yakushima Island.
Today we arrive on the island of Yakushima, which became Japan’s first World Heritage-listed site in 1993. Yakushima is famous in botanical circles for many great garden plants, including dwarf plants that have evolved to grow smaller than their mainland cousins. We will spend time here on nature walks, including Yakusugi Land, a nature park populated by a number of the island’s ancient cedar trees, such as the Buddhasugi, Futagosugi and Sennensugi. (BLD)

Day 9. Uwajima, Freedom of Choice.
Arrive in Uwajima, deep inside the saw-toothed coast of Uwajima Bay. Today you have two choices. Uwajima is the nation’s largest pearl cultivation centre, learn the process of cultivating and sorting pearls on a visit to a pearl farm before continuing on to Tensha-en Garden which is a typical example of a Japanese garden built during the Samurai era. Alternatively, explore the historic Uwajima Castle as well as a visit to Tensha-en Garden. (BLD)

Day 10. Miyajima & Hiroshima.
Arrive in Hiroshima to visit the compelling Peace Memorial Park. The park is dotted with memorials, including the cenotaph that contains the names of all the known victims of the A-bomb. Return to the ship for lunch, then continue on to Miyajima. Considered one of Japan’s top scenic wonders, Miyajima provides a picture-postcard vista of the scarlet Torii Gate, the giant camphor wood gates at the entrance to the Shinto Shrine. We will go ashore to explore the World Heritage-listed Itsukushima Jinja Shrine, founded in the 6th century and dedicated to three sea goddesses. (BLD)

Day 11. Takamatsu & Ritsurin Park.
Today tour the city of Takamatsu on Shikoku, the smallest of the four main Japanese Islands. We will journey over the Seto-Ohashi Bridge and visit Kinashi Bonsai Town. Next visit Ritsurin Park, a 350-yearold garden, famous for its magnificent spring colours and Chrysanthemum-Moon Pavilion. (BLD)

Day 12. Okayama Koraku-en Garden & Kurashiki.
This morning, we will visit Koraku-en Garden, one of Japan’s most significant gardens – the name meaning ‘garden of pleasure after’. Visit a classic Japanese teahouse with garden views. After lunch, continue to Kurashiki, to see its fine 17th century wooden warehouses. The beautiful houses are painted white with traditional black tiles, and are situated along a canal framed with weeping willows. This evening enjoy a Farewell Dinner on board the ship. (BLD)

Day 13. Kobe to Kyoto.
This morning, arrive into Kobe and be transferred from the ship to Kyoto. Enjoy a sightseeing tour including Ryoanji and Kinkakuji gardens and a visit to the Gion District – where the world-famous Geisha reside.
Stay: Kyoto, Granvia Hotel or similar (BLD)

Day 14. Depart Kyoto.
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport by shuttle bus for your flight home. (B)




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