Embark on a Japanese adventure on the impressive Diamond Princess cruise ship. From Tokyo to Tsuruga Bay and Sakata to Sakaiminato, this cruise of Japan really embraces the historic and cultural jewels of the country, by sea. From peaceful shrines to impressive palaces, soak up the Japanese way of life through the likes of temple tours, bustling markets, samurai residences and sake tasting. In between these unforgettable tours, you can lounge in luxury on the Diamond Princess, home to amazing dining experiences, a Japanese spa and incredible evening entertainment.
A mix of traditional heritage and up-to-the-minute technology, Japan is a truly captivating country. A spiritual place, we will have the opportunity to take in its fascinating history through tours of the Meiji Shrine, Hamarikyu gardens and Sensō-ji Temple; and that’s just Tokyo. Whilst at sea, you could indulge yourself in a Japanese “onsen” bathing experience, live music or Kai Sushi on ship before stopping by neighbouring Busan. After taking in the beautiful scenery of South Korea, its onwards across the Sea of Japan to the charming fishing port of Sakaiminato and the beautiful Lake Shinji.
Lovers of art and culture will be thrilled to experience the Honma and Adachi Museums of Art, sporting fans will enjoy the samurai residence of Kanazawa, whilst foodies will fall in love with the national drink of sake, on the Sakata guided tour. There really is something for everyone and though-provoking moments around every corner. Along the way, you won’t be able to miss the stunning scenery and scatterings of natural beauty, as your ship approaches a new destination the horizon.
Arrive at the airport for your overnight flight to Tokyo.
On arrival in Tokyo we transfer to the four-star New Otani Garden Tower, where our two-night stay includes breakfast. Centrally located close to the Japanese parliament, the nearest metro stop is a few minutes’ walk away (all station names are in English). The hotel has a wide variety of dining options and a traditional garden.
The rest of the day is free for you to relax after your flight. Should you wish to begin exploring Tokyo and its gastronomic choices, your tour manager is always on hand with recommendations.
After breakfast we’re introduced to the best of Tokyo’s many highlights. Our first stop is the famous Meiji Shrine, dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife. Set across 170 acres of leafy parkland, this is a working religious site where you might be lucky enough to see a Japanese marriage underway.
Then there’s the magnificent Imperial Palace, which occupies the site of the first Tokugawa shogun’s castle – the world’s largest during the Edo period. Today, the Japanese emperor and his family live in the palace.
We also visit the traditional Hamarikyu gardens, a stark contrast to the adjacent Shiodome skyscrapers. Here, visitors can soak up the tranquil scenery in a charming teahouse serving matcha green tea and Japanese sweets on an island overlooking a pond.
Another gem is the Edo-Tokyo Museum, whose interactive exhibits vividly illustrate the city’s history, cultural heritage and Edo-period architecture.
Finally there’s Sensō-ji Temple, also known as Asakusa Kannon, Tokyo’s most sacred and spectacular temple. Although the main hall with its gold-plated shrine and colourful paintings is very impressive, it’s the locals carrying out their daily rituals here that make the temple so special.
When it comes to dinner you really are spoilt for choice, as Tokyo is one of the world’s most exciting dining destinations and features a huge variety of local cuisine and international fare. If you’re new to Japanese food, this is the perfect opportunity to try Tokyo specialities, such as nigiri sushi where thin slices of raw fish are paired with small balls of rice; tempura or seafood and vegetables that have been lightly battered and deep-fried; and soba or buckwheat noodles eaten with a delicate dipping sauce.
We depart Tokyo for Yokohama, which has blossomed from a tiny fishing village in the 19th century into Japan’s second-largest city. Here we board the exceptional Diamond Princess, voted ‘Best International Ship in Japan’ by readers of Cruise Magazine. From the moment you step on board, you’ll feel right at home. Settle in and familiarise yourself with the ship before your first of many superb dinners on board. All dishes are made with the finest ingredients and the menus reflect the tantalising flavours of Japan.
It’s our first of two days at sea and there’s a treasure trove waiting to be enjoyed during your time aboard the Diamond Princess. Watch street performers in the dazzling Atrium, relax in the Izumi Japanese Bath or take in a lavish production at the ship’s state-of-the-art theatre. As always, your tour manager is with you to assist with any queries and share information about your upcoming adventures ashore.
This afternoon we arrive in Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city and a microcosm of this dynamic country. Rugged mountains cut through the dazzling urban landscape, where bustling high-rise towers eclipse serene Buddhist temples. With sandy beaches, hot springs and quirky neighbourhoods, there’s something to suit all tastes.
Lose yourself in the winding lanes of colourful Gamcheon Cultural Village, encounter weird and wonderful creatures from the deep at Jagalchi Fish Market, and ascend the 393-foot-tall Busan Tower for incredible views of the city and harbour area. For insights into the city’s past, a visit to the Busan Museum is a must.
Or head to Haeundae Beach at the edge of the city to relax on one of South Korea’s most beautiful beaches. Nearby is Haedong Yonggung, a stunning Buddhist temple that overlooks the sea. Then cool off with a bowl of bingsu or shaved ice dessert at a stylish beachside café.
Back on board the ship, we depart tonight for our crossing of the Sea of Japan, which is known in South Korea as the East Sea.
After breakfast we cruise into Sakaiminato, a small fishing port and the gateway to the ancient region of Honshu. It’s perhaps best-known for its crab and hon-maguro or bluefin tuna, highly prized by gourmets for its taste and texture, but there’s more to discover. The entire area is dotted with burial mounds from Japan’s Bronze Age. Snow-capped Mount Daisen, widely considered to be one of Japan’s most photogenic mountains, rises majestically to the east.
This afternoon we drive to the nearby town of Matsue for a guided tour of a former samurai residence. We then drive by scenic Lake Shinji, famous throughout Japan for its spectacular scenery, on our way to visit one of the oldest and holiest Shinto shrines. The 8th-century Izumo-taisha is dedicated to the deity Okuninushi no Okami, the creator of Japan according to myth. It’s believed that every year, eight million Shinto deities descend upon this very shrine to deliberate over mankind’s fortunes for the coming year. Later we visit the Adachi Museum of Art, which features a collection of modern Japanese paintings and one of the finest gardens in the country.
Tonight we continue cruising eastwards to our next exciting destination.
Early this morning we cruise into Tsuruga Bay, whose beauty inspired artists and poets. Picturesque pine forests fringe the white-sand beaches of Kehi-no-Matsubara, while Mikata-goko is famous for its five lakes that sparkle in an array of shades from turquoise to jade.
Spend the day soaking up the stunning scenery or visit one of the area’s many brightly painted shrines, notably the Kehi Jingu whose 36-foot vermillion gate is one of Japan’s most important torii – a traditional Japanese gate commonly found at the entrance of a Shinto shrine. You may wish to immerse yourself in the plethora of artisan crafts that still thrive today, such as lacquerware to washi or Japanese paper.
Why not take in a museum or two? Visit the Port of Humanity Museum to discover the humanitarian work of Chiune Sugihara, who is credited with helping some 6,000 Jews escape from Europe during the Second World War.
This evening we depart scenic Tsuruga for another highlight of our cruise.
Awake this morning as we cruise into the port of Kanazawa, which rivals Kyoto as the cultural jewel of mainland Japan. After breakfast, a local guide joins us on an exciting tour of its must-see sights.
First, we visit the 17th-century Kenroku-en garden, considered one of Japan’s ‘three most beautiful landscape gardens’. This Edo-period haven takes its name from a renowned Song dynasty garden in China that defines six attributes for the perfect garden: seclusion, spaciousness, antiquity, artificiality, expansive views and abundant water. As we stroll through Kenroku-en, we find relaxing water features, charming bridges, traditional teahouses and serene nooks. This beautiful space used to comprise the outer garden of Kanazawa Castle, which we visit next. The seat of the powerful Maeda clan from 1583 to the end of the Edo period, the elegant black-and-white castle we see today is a meticulous reconstruction as it was destroyed by fire several times over the centuries.
Kanazawa once boasted a labyrinthine samurai village and geisha houses – many of these buildings have been painstakingly preserved. A walk along the narrow lanes of this atmospheric district takes us to Nomura-ke, a samurai residence with a beautiful garden, tea house and museum that offers insights into the Japan of centuries past, when samurai prospered during the feudal Edo period.
Then we’re off to Omicho market to delve into its colourful warren of covered streets, lined by several hundred shops and stalls selling everything from fresh local seafood to flowers and clothing.
We bid farewell to historic Kanazawa this evening.
After breakfast you have the day to enjoy the city of Niigata, renowned for its exceptional rice and sake, stunning coastal and mountain scenery, and hot spring baths. Bisected by the River Shinano, Japan’s longest and widest river, Niigata is a superb place for a wander.
Taste some of the world’s finest sake at the Imayo Tsukasa brewery, where English guided tours are held on weekdays followed by a tasting of its excellent sakes. For more of Niigata’s excellent rice products, watch the artisans of Senbei Okoku at work as they deftly shape up to 3,000 rice crackers a day – then try your hand at making some yourself. You could visit the ancient Hakusan Shrine, the city’s main temple which draws people from all over the city praying for their family’s well-being, success in business and the passing of school exams.
Or escape from the bustle of the city at the Old Saito Residence, a traditional abode set in a leafy Japanese garden. For stunning views of Niigata and the surrounding countryside, head up to the 20th-floor observation deck of the Media Ship building. On a clear day you can see as far as Sado, a lush island just off the coast of Niigata and the place of exile for several historical Japanese figures, including 13th-century ruler Emperor Juntoku and the Buddhist monk Nichiren.
Later, we return to the ship to relax before our early-evening departure.
Today we discover Sakata, a wealthy port town during the Edo period. The Honma merchant family, who accrued an immense fortune that made them wealthier than some of Japan’s feudal lords, created a fine collection of lavish buildings.
With a local guide we discover Sakata’s history and the fascinating story of the town’s most important merchants. Sakata is surrounded by the fertile Shonai Plain that produces high-quality rice, which became the town’s most valuable commodity. We tour the 19th-century Sankyo Warehouses where rice was stored before being sent to the market. There is also a rice museum that illustrates past production processes, as well as the culture and history of the area.
We then visit the Honma Museum of Art to see its interesting artefacts, including an impressive collection of dolls. The museum sits adjacent to a majestic Edo-period villa overlooking a Japanese garden, once the holiday home for the head of the Honma family. Of course, we also visit one of Sakata’s leading sake breweries to taste its premium-grade sakes.
We depart Sakata in the late afternoon and begin our return voyage to Yokohama.
It’s your second and final full day at sea, so what is it to be? There’s always something happening on board the Diamond Princess, from cooking demonstrations to dance classes, quizzes and a range of enrichment programmes featuring expert speakers who offer insights into the places we visit. Why not indulge in a soothing massage at the spa or enjoy a pampering treatment at the salon? When the sun sets, relax with your newfound friends in the lounge or perhaps catch a blockbuster film by the pool under the stars.
After a final breakfast on board the Diamond Princess, we disembark in Yokohama and transfer to the airport for our flight home.
The price of this holiday is per person based on two people sharing a cabin and includes:
The price excludes additional shore excursions and optional but recommended gratuities of USD13.50 per day.
Voted best international cruise ship in Japan by Cruise Magazine readers, Diamond Princess® boasts a wealth of fabulous leisure and entertainment opportunities to enjoy during your cruise. Complimentary 24-hour room service to your stateroom is included for all passengers and included dining options range from relaxed and informal to fine dining.
Indulge your appetite whenever you wish; the on-board chefs are busy throughout the day and night creating great-tasting fare from scratch. Princess® offers extensive included dining options throughout the ship with a wide range of culinary delights to suit any palate, with endless buffet choice to gourmet dishes. If you wish to try one of the speciality restaurants, perhaps book into Kai Sushi to savour top-quality sushi and sashimi.
You can even experience a traditional Japanese bath or “onsen” on board, Izumi features indoor and outdoor Japanese bathing experiences, including steam rooms, saunas, and hot tubs with spectacular ocean views. The largest of its kind at sea, it offers a chance to experience a popular Japanese pastime as you cruise.
Lotus Spa® offers a variety of relaxing treatments, from aroma stone therapy massages to detoxifying ocean wraps, while the salon provides hairstyling, manicures and pedicure. The fitness centre offers classes and personal training as well as state-of-the-art equipment for personal workouts.
On the top deck, the Conservatory is an enclosed climate-controlled recreation area with hot tubs, a refreshing freshwater pool, bar and space to unwind.
Diamond Princess® boasts a wide-ranging selection of entertainment options including live bands, classical musicians and original music and stage productions. The vast array of activities available on board also includes an art gallery and on-board casinos.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Arrival airport||First hotel location||Transfer time||Final ship location||Departure airport||Transfer time|
|Tokyo - Haneda Airport||Tokyo||20 mins||Yokohama||Tokyo - Haneda Airport||25 mins|
UK nationals do not require a visa to travel to Japan and South Korea, but other passport holders should contact with the relevant embassy, however, please ensure that your British passport is valid for at least six months after the intended return date.
Whilst care has been taken to ensure that the information provided relating to visa requirements is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in requirements after this time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information. therefore, whilst we strive to provide the most up-to-date information, we strongly suggest that you re-confirm requirements with the relevant embassy prior to travel.