APT - Japanese Spring Blossoms, Gardens and Culture Cruise

Tokyo to Kyoto

In the first flourish of spring, enjoy bursts of colour from magnificent tree peonies, Japanese azaleas and peach blossoms. Enjoy an 11 night small ship cruise exploring ancient castles, peaceful Japanese gardens and opulent temples.



  •  Learn about the history of Japan during onboard lectures
  •  Tour the Imperial Palace Gardens and Meiji Shrine in Tokyo
  •  Travel by bullet train from central Tokyo to Kanazawa
  •  Explore Kenroku-en Garden, ranked among the country’s top gardens
  •  Visit a Samurai’s home and pearl farm
  •  See Yuushien Garden, famous for growing ginseng and peonies
  •  Discover Kyongju, a World Heritage-listed site in South Korea
  •  Visit Ritsurin Park, a 350-year-old garden famous for its spring colours
  •  Travel to Yakushima, Japan’s first UNESCO World Heritage-listed site
  •  Visit the stunning city of Takamatsu
  •     See Koraku-en Garden, the famous landscape garden of Okayama
  •     Explore Ginkakuji in Kyoto and The Philosopher’s Walk
  •     Learn about Japanese plants and gardens from your Botanical Guide




Day 1. Arrive Tokyo

Depart Tokyo Narita International Airport at 10am or the Imperial Hotel 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, Imperial Hotel
  • Daily Meals Included: Lunch

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 lacquerware, collectable 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.
Stay: 11 Nights, MS Caledonian Sky
  • Daily Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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 and local handicrafts. Afterwards visit one of Japan’s premier highlights and 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 there are still remains of the traditional form of the town which traces back to the Samurai Era. You will also view handcrafted items famous in Kanazawa such as the kimono and gold-leaf.
  • Daily Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4. Yuushien Garden & Matsue

This morning visit Matsue, known as the ‘Town of Water’, which nestles by 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, full of colour and blossom, famous for growing ginseng and peonies.
  • Daily Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5. Hagi

This morning 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 a Daisho temple, located on Mount Mison on the island of Itsukushima, and the resting place of many members of the Mori daimyo, who were powerful and territorial pre-modern Japanese lords. Inside, you will find a flame that is said to have been burning for 1,200 years.
  • Daily Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6. Ulsan, 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. Enjoy a stroll through some of the numerous excavated monuments, temples, tombs and pagodas, and 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.
  • Daily Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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.
  • Daily Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8. Yakushima Island

Today 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.
  • Daily Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9. Uwajima, Freedom of Choice

Arrive in Uwajima, situated deep inside the saw-toothed coast of Uwajima Bay. Today you have two choices. 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 Uwajima Castle and Tensha-en Garden.
  • Daily Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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 to see one of Japan’s scenic wonders, 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 sixth century.
  • Daily Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11. Okayama Koraku-en Garden & Kurashiki

This morning visit Koraku-en Garden, one of Japan’s most significant gardens - the name meaning ‘garden of pleasure after’. Visit a classic Japanese teahouse with views over the garden. After a local lunch, continue to Kurashiki, where we explore the old merchant quarter and 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.
  • Daily Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12. Takamatsu & Ritsurin Park

Today tour the stunning 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-year-old garden, famous for its spring colours and Chrysanthemum Moon pavilion. This evening enjoy a Farewell Dinner on board the ship.
  • Daily Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13. Kobe to Kyoto

Arrive this morning into Kobe where you will be transferred from the ship to Kyoto. Kyoto was the former Imperial capital of Japan and is now ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities. Soak up the tranquil natural beauty of this peaceful place. Visit one of Kyoto’s famous temples Ginkakuji and see the spring colours from the Philosopher’s Walk in Kyoto.
  • Daily Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14. Depart Kyoto

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport by shuttle bus for your flight home. Alternatively, choose to stay on in Kyoto with Botanica’s 3 Day Kyoto Extension.
  • Daily Meals Included: Breakfast

Travel Dates:

6 Apr 2020

*per person share twin

14 days from




  • All sightseeing as mentioned
  • Services of a Cruise Director and Botanical Guide
  • Airport transfers on first and last day, tipping and port taxes
  • 38 Meals - 13 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches and 12 Dinners
  • Wine, beer and soft drinks included with lunch and dinner on board the ship
  • 11 nights on the Small Ship, the MS Caledonian Sky, which holds a maximum of 100 guests
  • 1 night each in Tokyo and Kyoto in 4-5 star hotels
  • Enjoy coastal views from your suite
  • Onboard lectures by the Expedition Team and Botanical Guide


Book the 14 Day Japanese Spring Blossoms Cruise (BTJP14) and receive $2,000 air credit per couple. Offer available until 31 July 2019.

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