Ancient Traditions of Japan’s Inland Sea

Program Overview

Experience the timeless splendor of Japan and South Korea on this unique 12-day itinerary, featuring 3 nights at a luxury hotel in Kyoto and a 7-night, 5-star cruise across the full length of the historic Inland Sea of Japan. Enjoy port calls at captivating points of interest, including 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. From enchanting Kyoto to storied Hiroshima and on to Miyajima and the Buddhist wonders of Gyeongju, South Korea, relish in the awe-inspiring beauty of these historic ports of Japan and South Korea. Enhance your voyage with the Iconic Tokyo Pre-Program and/or Osaka/Nara Post-Program Options.

Program Details

April 16 to 27, 2024 (Le Soléal)
From approximately $7,195 plus air View Terms & Conditions
  • Visit to Kyoto’s renowned temples of Ryoan-ji, Kinkaku-ji, and Kiyomizu-dera.
  • Tour of the impressive Nijo Castle, built by a powerful shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty.
  • Guided visit of the stunning grounds of Himeji Castle, the world’s finest surviving example of 17th-century Japanese castle architecture.
  • Visit to Hiroshima’s compelling Genbaku Dome Peace Memorial, with a tour of the Peace Memorial Museum.
  • Excursion on Miyajima (“Shrine Island”) to tour the site of sixth-century Itsukushima Shrine and see the iconic Great Torii Gate.
  • Walking tour of Hagi’s old samurai quarter featuring visits to the early 17th-century Kikuya House and Toko-ji Temple.
  • Visit to the Adachi Museum of Art featuring Japanese modern art and perfectly landscaped gardens known as "living Japanese paintings."
  • Excursion from Ulsan, South Korea, to historic Gyeongju, the cradle of the Silla Kingdom, with visits to Bulguksa Temple, the Gyeongju National Museum, and the Royal Burial Mounds at Tumuli Park.
  • Tour of Moji, with visits to the Akama Shrine and the Karato Ichiba Fish Market, which specializes in fugu.
  • Visit to the gorgeous and serene Japanese strolling garden, Koraku-en.

Day 1 - Depart Home City / Cross the International Date Line

Day 2 - Osaka, Japan / Kyoto

Day 3 - Kyoto

Day 4 - Kyoto

Day 5 - Kyoto / Himeji / Embark Le Soléal

Day 6 - Hiroshima / Miyajima

Day 7 - Hagi

Day 8 - Sakaiminato for Matsue

Day 9 - Ulsan, South Korea, for Gyeongju

Day 10 - Moji, Japan

Day 11 - Uno for Kurashiki / Okayama (Koraku-en Garden)

Day 12 - Osaka / Disembark ship / Depart for the U.S. or Canada

View detailed program itinerary >

Le Soléal

Five-Star, Small Ship

Join us aboard the exclusively chartered, 5-star Le Soléal, where distinctive French sophistication meets innovative nautical design. The ship’s efficient electrical propulsion system and custom stabilizers provide an exceptionally smooth, quiet, and comfortable voyage. Each of the 110 ocean-view staterooms and suites range from 200 to 484 square feet, and most have a private balcony.

View Le Soléal Deckplan >

Learn more about The PONANT Fleet >

Iconic Tokyo Pre-Program Option

Explore Tokyo on a comprehensive 3-night itinerary that includes a full-day excursion to Hakone, home to majestic Mount Fuji, to experience an open-air museum and beautiful gondola ride. Enjoy a dinner cruise on the Sumida River and a visit to the Tokyo National Museum. Wrap up your Tokyo itinerary with a journey aboard the high-speed Shinkansen, or bullet train, to Kyoto. Enjoy deluxe hotel accommodations in the heart of the city.

Osaka and Nara Post-Program Option

Extend your time in Osaka on a 2-night itinerary that includes an excursion to the tranquil city of Nara, Japan’s oldest capital, and a visit to the iconic Horyu-ji Temple, where a seventh-century, five-story pagoda stands as a testament to Japan’s history. Accommodations are in an ideally located, deluxe hotel.

The Pre-Program and Post-Program Options are available at an additional cost. Details will be provided with your reservation confirmation.

Kyoto Hotel Okura

Spend 3 nights in Kyoto at the Kyoto Hotel Okura. Centrally located, this hotel has a beautiful lobby and reception area incorporating classic Japanese art and wooden walling, with architectural influences from Frank Lloyd Wright. Rooms are spacious and luxurious, most with expansive views of Kyoto.

Jim Laurie

Jim Laurie

Jim Laurie is a distinguished international broadcaster, writer, and media consultant who has witnessed many defining moments in Asia’s history for over 50 years. He began covering Indochina for NBC News in 1972 and became the only American network correspondent to witness the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese in 1975. Laurie's memoir of his early days in Vietnam and Cambodia, The Last Helicopter: Two Lives in Indochina was published in April 2020. He is the recipient of a Peabody Award, two Emmy Awards, and an Amnesty International Award and has also co-produced, written, and directed several television documentaries.

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Program Itinerary

Days 1 and 2 Depart Home City / Osaka, Japan / Kyoto

Arrive in Osaka, then transfer to impeccably preserved Kyoto. Check into the Kyoto Hotel Okura and enjoy an evening at leisure.

Days 3 and 4 Kyoto

Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kinkaku-ji Temple, the vaunted “Golden Pavilion.” Continue on to Ryoan-ji Temple, constructed as an aristocrat’s villa during the Heian Period (794 to 1185). Enjoy the afternoon at leisure and a Welcome Reception this evening.

Visit the UNESCO World Heritage-designated monument of Kiyomizu-dera (“Pure Water Temple”), where the main hall and veranda were built without a single nail. Experience the serenity of the temple’s monumental hondo (main hall) and visit Otowa Falls, where a sip of the “pure water” is reputed to bestow health, success or beauty. This afternoon, learn more about shogun history at the UNESCO-designated Nijo Castle, built for shogun Tokugawa Leyasu.

Day 5 Kyoto / Himeji

Visit the Japanese Sake Museum, to learn how this signature fermented rice beverage is made and indulge in a tasting. Enjoy a guided visit of the grounds surrounding UNESCO World Heritage-designated Himeji Castle, Japan’s most stunning and best-preserved feudal fortress. Later, embark the Le Soléal.

Day 6 Hiroshima / Miyajima

Drive to the solemn Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in central Hiroshima—which marks the spot where on August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb used in war left only structural remnants of Hiroshima’s Genbaku Dome. Speak with the family member of a Hiroshima survivor, and visit the Peace Memorial Museum. Call at the island of Miyajima (“Shrine Island”) to tour the sixth-century Itsukushima Shrine. The shrine’s impressive Great Torii Gate—one of the largest in Japan—appears to float on water during high tide. Attend a Captain’s Welcome Reception on board the ship.

Day 7 Hagi

Tour Hagi’s 17th-century Toko-ji Temple, on Kikuyake and walk past dwellings that once housed samurai in the city’s old castle town. Visit the Kikuyake House—one of the best-preserved examples of merchant-style architecture from the Edo period (1603 to 1868)—and explore the Hagi Uragami Museum.

Day 8 Sakaiminato for Matsue

Tour the Adachi Museum of Art, where 20th-century and modern Japanese art coalesce with 6 perfectly landscaped gardens as “living paintings," and see 17th-century Matsue Castle. Enjoy onboard lectures this afternoon while cruising the Sea of Japan.  

Day 9 Ulsan, South Korea, for Gyeongju

Travel from Ulsan in rural South Korea to the cradle of the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C. to A.D. 935) in historical Gyeongju. Visit the stunning eighth-century Bulguksa Temple and learn about Silla history in the Gyeongju National Museum, which houses more than 30,000 artifacts, before touring the Royal Burial Mounds at Tumuli Park.

Day 10 Moji, Japan

Visit the striking 12th-century Akama Shrine, dedicated to the child emperor Antoku. Enjoy a Captain’s Farewell Reception on board the ship this evening.

Day 11 Uno for Kurashiki / Okayama (Koraku-en Garden)

Walk through the beautiful Koraku-en in Okayama. This strolling garden is unique for its large, open grassy areas and distinctive wooden Ryuten, a pavilion with a stream running through it.

Day 12 Osaka / Disembark ship / Depart for home city

After breakfast, disembark the ship to continue on the Osaka Post-Program Option or transfer to the airport for your return flight home.