Wonders of Japan Cruise: Cherry Blossom Season (2023)

​Experience fascinating Japan during springtime with a chance to witness the country’s iconic cherry blossoms alongside a professional photographer.

Journey Overview

Experience fascinating Japan during springtime with a chance to witness the country’s iconic cherry blossoms alongside a professional photographer. Spanning across five islands, this all-encompassing cruise explores Japan’s culturally rich coastline with a pre-cruise stay in Osaka and included shore excursions throughout, including a visit to Hiroshima’s Peace Park, the Adachi Museum of Art and its gardens, and Kanazawa’s historic district.

Journey Highlights

  • Witness private performances by the world-renowned Kodo taiko drummers, Kabuki warriors and geishas
  • Immerse yourself in mesmerizing Japanese gardens, perhaps visiting the Adachi Museum of Art gardens
  • Visit Gyeongju, South Korea, ancient dynastic capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Reflect on Japan’s turbulent history and witness its miraculous resurgence in Hiroshima
  • Enjoy fascinating onboard lectures and presentations led by our enrichment specialists on photography, Japanese history, culture and gardens

Featured Experts


Simon Rickard, Japanese Gardens Lecturer
Former head gardener at Australia’s iconic Heronswood and the Garden of St Erth, Simon runs his own gardening design consultancy. He has led many expeditions to Japan and is excited to return during cherry blossom season.

Mark Harris, Photo Enrichment Coach
With award-winning photography in publications that include LIFE, Mark is also the author of The Way of the Japanese Bath, North Korea and most recently The People of the Forest, which focuses on orangutans.

Take 10 with an A&K Expert to Hear More About This Journey


Journey Itinerary

Mar 29: Arrive Osaka, Japan

Meet your A&K representative and transfer to your ideally located hotel. Spend the remainder of the day at leisure.

The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka

Mar 30: Osaka | Cultural Wonders

Begin your adventure with a full-day excursion to Kyoto, where you visit the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji Temple), attend a talk about Zen Buddhism at Tenryuji Temple, and explore Nijo Castle. Alternatively, you can enjoy a historic journey to Nara, the first Japanese capital, and a visit to Horyu-ji, the country’s oldest temple. For an incredible overview, take a scenic drive to Uji, possibly enjoying the sight of cherry trees blossoming along Uji River. Gather with fellow guests this evening for a welcome reception and dinner, complete with a Kabuki performance.

The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka | Meals: BLD

Mar 31: Osaka | The Adventure Begins

After breakfast at your hotel, enjoy the morning at leisure or join a panoramic tour of Osaka that includes a visit to the Dotonbori district and the imposing Osaka Castle. Enjoy lunch followed by a stroll through the wandering paths of Taiko-en Garden, admiring its ponds and stone bridges. This afternoon, transfer to Kobe, where you board your luxurious expedition cruiser and home for the next 11 nights.

‘Le Soleal’ | Meals: BLD

Apr 1: Takamatsu | Explore Your Way

Wake up in charming Takamatsu, the gateway to Shikoku Island. Opt for a boat ride to Shodoshima, the heart of Japan’s olive-growing industry, for a full-day tour. You may otherwise remain on Shikoku Island. Here, your day starts with a visit to picture-perfect Ritsurin Park, one of Japan’s finest gardens. Next, explore the Kinashi area of Takamatsu, among the country’s main bonsai production centres, where you learn about traditional methods of growing and caring for these meticulously cultivated little trees. A few others may travel to Naoshima Island by ferry for a full-day excursion, celebrating its architecture and art museums. Visit the hillside Chichu Art Museum and stop at Benesse House, a complex featuring unique work by both Japanese and international artists.

‘Le Soleal’ | Meals: BLD

Apr 2: Hiroshima & Miyajima | Memorials & Shrines

Vibrant and full of historical significance, Hiroshima is home to magnificent memorials and shrines. Start the day with a visit to the beautiful Peace Park and Museum, with its sombre cenotaph containing names of atomic bomb victims. Then, take a speedboat ride to Miyajima Island, site of the iconic Torii Gate and the Daisho-in Buddhist temple. Or enjoy a full-day excursion through Hiroshima, visiting the Hiroshima Castle and namesake Peace Park and Museum, where you attend a private talk with an atomic bomb survivor. If you prefer a day in nature, head out to the tranquil island of Miyajima. Ascend Mount Misen by cable car for a hike, admiring the Shinto shrine and Torii Gate from above.

‘Le Soleal’ | Meals: BLD

Apr 3: Uwajima | Seaside Splendour

Spend the day in Uwajima, situated on the west coast of Shikoku and home to Japan’s main producers of pearls, for a glimpse of small-town living. While there, learn the process of cultivating and sorting pearls during a visit to a pearl farm. Continue to the samurai-era gardens of Tensha-en, with their spectacular mountain backdrop. Alternatively, explore Nanraku-en Garden, the largest on Shikoku, and enjoy a scenic hike in picturesque Yakushidani Canyon. Another option is a historic stroll to Yoshida along a cherry tree-lined lane, followed by an old town visit that includes a historic Kabuki theatre. Return to the ship for a relaxing evening on board.

‘Le Soleal’ | Meals: BLD

Apr 4: Karatsu | Ancient Trading Post

This afternoon, your luxury expedition vessel arrives at the port of Karatsu. Once an early trading post between Japan and mainland Asia, Karatsu still maintains its medieval heritage. Visit Karatsu Castle, known as the “flying crane castle.” Tour the Hikiyama Exhibition Hall, which houses the floats and artifacts used in the annual Karatsu Kunchi autumn festival. Alternatively, head to the city of Imari to visit its celebrated porcelain pottery kilns and the Mifuneyama Rakuen garden.

‘Le Soleal’ | Meals: BLD

Apr 5: Gyeongju, South Korea | Korean Capital

Disembark in Ulsan and spend a full day exploring Gyeongju, South Korea, the ancient UNESCO-designated capital of the Silla Dynasty. Gyeongju’s cultural heritage dates back to the first millennium. Witness its excavated temples, tombs and pagodas; view the exceptional collection of jewellery, weapons and pottery at the National Museum; and sit down to a lunch of Korean delicacies and witness a traditional dance performance. Alternatively, pay a shorter visit to Gyeongju as well as a visit to the Hyundai factory.

‘Le Soleal’ | Meals: BLD

Apr 6: Matsue, Japan | Verdant Gardens

Return to Japan and disembark at Sakaiminato to visit Matsue, the “town of water.” Explore the countryside, pausing to wander through the picturesque Yuushien Garden. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before visiting historic Matsue Castle, one of Japan’s few remaining medieval castles, built in original wooden form. Art lovers can visit the Adachi Museum of Art, which melds the founders’ passions for art and garden design. After a traditional lunch at a ryokan (inn), visit Yakumo-mura village to learn about the art of Japanese paper making.

‘Le Soleal’ | Meals: BLD

Apr 7: Kanazawa | Immersion into the Arts

Spend the day in the thriving art centre of Kanazawa, known for its Kutani-style pottery and gold-leaf workmanship, followed by a visit to Edo-period Kenrokuen Garden, considered among the best in Japan. Wander Omicho Market, which features everything from fresh flowers to fish, and then stroll in the Higashi Chaya-gai geisha district, with its well-preserved historic geisha houses. Other options include a hike in Kakusenkei Gorge followed by a soothing onsen (hot spring) experience, a visit to Kanazawa’s Oumi market with a cooking demonstration, or a visit to the countryside to the Shogawa River valley. This evening, enjoy an exclusive geisha performance.

‘Le Soleal’ | Meals: BLD

Apr 8: Sado-ga-shima | Kodo Taiko Drummers

Arrive at pastoral Sado Island, with its rice paddies, bamboo groves and surf-pounded seacoasts. Political exiles and deposed emperors were once “banished” to live on this beautiful isle. Enjoy an exclusive, private performance by the Kodo taiko drummers, and then visit the Hakusanmaru Exhibition Hall and Ogi Folk Museum, followed by a farmer’s talk at the rice paddies.

‘Le Soleal’ | Meals: BLD

Apr 9: At Sea | Hokkaido Island Cruising

Enjoy a relaxing day on board while cruising toward Hokkaido. Share stories and photographs with newfound friends and take advantage of the ship facilities, including relaxing lounges, the panoramic fitness room and sauna.

‘Le Soleal’ | Meals: BLD

Apr 10: Otaru | Historic Canals

Arrive in Otaru, your gateway to Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. Visit the city known for its canals, sake distilleries, architecture and views of Mount Tengu. Opt for a historical and cultural tour of the city, once a prosperous fishing village; visit a sake distillery, where you may sample the rice wine; and learn about Japanese whiskey during a tasting and tour at Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery. Alternatively, choose to spend the day in Sapporo, discovering its parks and landmarks, and visiting its colourful market and Hokkaido museum.

‘Le Soleal’ | Meals: BLD

Apr 11: Depart Sapporo

Disembark luxury ‘Le Soleal’ in Otaru. Transfer to the airport in Sapporo and board your homebound flight or continue on the Tokyo post-tour extension.

Meals: B

Journey Details:

This journey contains some active elements, including walks over uneven terrain and optional, challenging hikes.

Note: Itinerary is for guidance purposes only and may be adjusted due to unforeseen circumstances including weather, medical emergencies and other conditions beyond A&K’s control at the sole discretion of the Captain.

While the itinerary is scheduled over estimated cherry blossom dates, this natural phenomenon is subject to climate and weather, and cannot be guaranteed. Excursions may be altered to offer optimum opportunities to view the cherry blossoms if available.

Minimum age is 7 years.

Categories 5–8 include room upgrade at the hotel and butler service aboard the ship.

First group event: excursion on Mar 30.

Last group event: disembarkation by 9:00 a.m. on Apr 11.

Note: Proof of full vaccination for COVID-19 is required for this journey, including a booster shot if vaccination was received more than four months prior to departure (two months for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine).

Included with this Luxury Expedition Cruise

  • An Exclusively Chartered, All-Inclusive Voyage Led by A&K’s Expedition Team and Local Guides
  • Pre- and/or Post-Cruise Stays at Stylish, Ideally Located Hotels and A&K-Led Excursions
  • Airport Meet and Greet and Transfers
  • Private Balcony with Every Onboard Accommodation and Butler Service with Every Suite
  • Maximum Personnel-to-Guest Ratio of 1 to 1.3 and ship occupancy limited to 80 percent
  • Culinary Program Featuring French-Inspired Cuisine, Including House Drinks, Afternoon Tea and Pastries
  • 24-Hour Room Service and Breakfast in Bed on board
  • Choice of Curated, All-Inclusive Shore Excursions
  • Enrichment program, lectures and presentations
  • Traveller’s Valet Laundry Service on board
  • All Gratuities, Port Charges and Taxes
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on Board and in Hotels
  • Onboard Service from an English-Speaking Staff, Including an Accredited Physician
  • 24/7 A&K On-Call Support
Show Full Itinerary
Preferred Accommodation

Preferred Accommodation

This journey features the following Preferred Accommodations:

Le Soleal

Wonders of Japan Cruise: Cherry Blossom Season (2023)

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Dates & Prices

Journey Dates & Prices

Prices are per person, based on double occupancy

Mar 29, 2023 - Apr 11, 2023 Special Special Special Special Special Special Special Special
Cabin Class Le Soleal: Category 1 - Classic Balcony Stateroom Price AU$29,570pp was AU$32,385 Single Supplement AU$24,290 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Call for Availability Enquire
Cabin Class Le Soleal: Category 2 - Deluxe Balcony Stateroom Price AU$33,095pp was AU$35,910 Single Supplement AU$26,935 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Call for Availability Enquire
Cabin Class Le Soleal: Category 3 - Premier Balcony Stateroom Price AU$34,500pp was AU$37,315 Single Supplement AU$27,995 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Call for Availability Enquire
Cabin Class Le Soleal: Category 4 - Superior Balcony Stateroom Price AU$42,955pp was AU$45,770 Single Supplement AU$34,330 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Call for Availability Enquire
Cabin Class Le Soleal: Category 5 - Prestige Balcony Suite Price AU$50,700pp was AU$53,515 Single Supplement AU$48,160 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Call for Availability Enquire
Cabin Class Le Soleal: Category 6 - Premier Two-Room Balcony Suite Price AU$64,080pp was AU$66,895 Single Supplement AU$60,880 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Call for Availability Enquire
Cabin Class Le Soleal: Category 7 - Prestige Two-Room Balcony Suite Price AU$67,600pp was AU$70,415 Single Supplement AU$64,220 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Call for Availability Enquire
Cabin Class Le Soleal: Category 8 - Owners Suite Price AU$77,460pp was AU$80,275 Single Supplement AU$73,585 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Call for Availability Enquire
Related Extensions

Related Extensions

4 days, from AU$6,470pp
Kyoto Pre -Tour Extension (2023)

4 days, from AU$6,470pp
4 days, from AU$9,005pp
Tokyo Post-Tour Extension (2023)

4 days, from AU$9,005pp

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