Superior Stateroom Deck 3
20% Ponant Bonus
In alliance with Smithsonian Journeys.
This cruise is part of a collection of PONANT voyages that are specially-tailored for English-speaking travelers who want to engage with the world. In addition to the usual elements of the PONANT experience, the listed price for these voyages includes transfers to and from the ship, talks and discussions aboard ship by world class experts, and a shore excursion or activity in each port of call that encourages guests to embrace the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of the local environment and culture.
This 8-day voyage along Japan's northern coast from Maizuru offers a superb introduction to its traditions and customs through a wide variety of carefully curated shore excursions in each port of call—an opportunity for you to sample widely among feudal castles, Buddhist temples, modern art, tea ceremonies, artisanal crafts, landscape gardens, and the wonders of nature.
The richness from which to choose is immediately apparent in your first port of call, Sakaiminato, where options include Matsue Castle, built entirely of pine in 1611; the Adachi Museum of Art, displaying the great masters of modern Japanese painting and sculpture; a demonstration of the ancient craft of making paper (washi) from tree bark; and Yushien Garden, a landscape garden in traditional style, famous for its peonies.
The South Korean port of Busan offers a similar range of experiences: Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, built in 1376 overlooking the sea; the Busan Museum of Art, featuring an outdoor sculpture garden as well as exhibits of contemporary Korean artists; Gyeongju Historic Areas, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site representing the flowering of Silla culture between the 7th and 10th centuries; and a Korean Tea Ceremony at the Hongbeopsa Temple, famous for having the largest Buddha statue in Asia.
A day at sea brings you to Kanazawa and a chance to explore world famous Kenroku-en Garden, recognized as one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan because it possesses 'the six qualities of a perfect garden'. Kanazawa is also known for its impeccably-preserved samurai and geisha districts, and for its handicrafts, especially its lacquer, pottery, gold, and silk—all of which you will be invited to experience and enjoy.
The final two ports of call — Ogi, on Sado Island, and the small town of Sakata — are where Japan's natural beauty takes center stage. An excursion to Senkaku-wan Bay Ageshima Yuen Park on Sado Island is a landscape photographer's dream, as are Mt. Haguro, part of the trinity of sacred mountains known as the Dewa Sanzan, and Mt. Chokai and Tamasudare Falls outside of Sakata. But as always on this cruise, alternatives abound, this time in the form of a Folk Museum and Sake Brewery in Ogi and a photography museum and aquarium featuring jellyfish in Sakata.
As a special treat, you are invited to attend an exclusive presentation of taiko drumming by the world-famous drumming group, Kodo, while on Sado Island.
Your cruise ends in Hakodate on the island of Hokkaido.
A voyage specially-tailored for English-speaking travelers including discussions with experts, transfers before and after your cruise, and an included excursion in each port of call. Engaging discussions...
Choose your stateroom
Complete your trip
Included in your cruise
For more peace of mind, PONANT organizes your trip before or after the cruise. This package is included in the price of your cruise.
You may also like...
*Price is per person, based on double occupancy, based on availability, and subject to change at any time. The category of stateroom to which this price applies may no longer be available.
Select your stateroom category
Dr. John Freedman is an independent scholar and passionate world traveler who has explored over 160 countries on seven continents. He has been a featured lecturer and designated Asian Studies Expert on over 100 land, sea, and river trips for Smithsonian Journeys and other prestigious educational travel programs. John is an ardent Japanophile with a wealth of knowledge that stems from endless study and innumerable trips to the Land of the Rising Sun. John’s presentations combine serious scholarship with an engaging presentation style and rich photojournalistic content gleaned from his own extensive photographic archives. A graduate of Brown University and Yale Medical School, John practiced medicine in California for 34 years before retiring from his clinical practice in 2014 to pursue his passion for travel and teaching full-time. When not exploring faraway lands, John resides in the Sonoma wine country of northern California with his wife, Tina, a wine educator. John looks forward to deepening your understanding and enjoyment of fascinating Japan – a uniquely intriguing land historically and culturally, and one of the world’s most emotionally involving destinations.
Professor of the History of Art at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London, Timon Screech has devoted his career to the study of Japanese art and culture and to the interplay between art and the broader social landscape. Educated at Oxford and Harvard, Tim is the author of some dozen books on the visual culture of the Edo period. Perhaps his best-known work is Sex and the Floating World: Erotic Images in Japan, 1700-1820. More recently, he has introduced and edited the writings of two 18th-century travellers, as, Japan Extolled and Decried: Carl Peter Thunberg and the Shogun’s Realm, 1775-1796 and Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns: Isaac Titsingh and Japan, 1779-1822.
His field-defining general study, Obtaining Images: Art, Production and Display in Edo Japan was published in 2012 and issued in paperback in 2017. Tim has just completed two new books, one on the early history of the East India Company and its role in cultural exchange, and also the Oxford History of Japanese Art.
Tim’s upcoming books include The Shogun's Silver Telescope: God, Art and Money in the English Quest for Japan, 1600-1625 (Oxford University Press), and Tokyo before Tokyo: Power and Magic in the Shogun's City of Edo (UK: Reaktion Books; US: Chicago University Press).
Language spoken: English
Reison Kuroda is a master of the shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese bamboo flute. He is a rare talent working on expanding the possibilities of shakuhachi through a wide variety of music genres, from classics to modern, jazz, and improvisation. Reison has recorded many pieces, performed on TV and radio programs, and has received many songs from composers.
Reison studied under Reibo Aoki – a shakuhachi player designated a Living National Treasure of Japan – and Shoji Aoki. He graduated with a master’s degree from the Department of Japanese Traditional Music at the Tokyo University of the Arts in 2013.
In 2011, Reison created the Hougaku Quartet and began his career through commissioned work, the revival of modern Japanese music from the 1970s and 1980s, and classics from the Edo period. The quartet has performed in many exhibition concerts and in eight independent recitals. The quartet has also appeared on the NHK FM radio program Hougaku no Hitotoki, where Reison has also performed as a soloist, and was featured on the cover of the magazine Hougaku Journal in 2015.
In 2014, Reison performed Park Bum-Hoon’s shakuhachi concerto Ryu at the Korea Kudara Festival and again in Gongju. He gave the first public performance of Kazutomo Yamamoto's shakuhachi concerto Roaming Liquid for Shakuhachi and Orchestra and presented it again in Japan in 2015.
As a member of Ensemble Muromachi, Reison won the Prize Keizo Saji in 2013. As part of an ensemble with Hiroyasu Nakajima, Reison won the highest award at the Hidenori Tone Traditional Japanese Instruments contest in 2016 and was featured on the NHK Educational TV program Nippon No Geinoh.
Reison participated in the Ars Musica modern music festival in Belgium in 2016 where he performed Toru Takemitsu’s November Steps, Claude Ledoux’s latest shakuhachi concerto, and the premier performance of Denis Levaillant’s piece for shakuhachi and chamber orchestra.
In 2018, Reison won the highest award for his craft at the World Shakuhachi Competition in London, and in 2019, he was appointed as a Japan Cultural Envoy for the Government of Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, performing in sixteen cities in six countries around the world.
Languages spoken: English, Japanese
Photo credit: Ayane Shindo.
Subject to withdrawal in case of force majeure
Important trip details
Boarding conditions and passenger travel abilities
We invite you to read our boarding conditions and passenger travel abilities by clicking here.
Any new reservation implies the acceptance of these conditions.
To guarantee your entry into one or several countries, you must ensure that you comply with the formalities and health requirements specific to each destination. In just a few clicks on our online search engine, find all the formalities you must complete prior to your departure (visas, entry authorisations for each country, vaccinations, etc.).
The international situation can change rapidly, so be sure to check this information regularly prior to your departure. However, please note that we always recommend our guests contact the relevant national immigration and customs and border control authorities directly to find out what rules apply to their specific situation. PONANT is not responsible for any decisions made by guests based on the information provided by the online search engine.
The information below is current but subject to change at any time without advance notice from government authorities. Please consult your respective government agencies for visa and health information.
Passport valid for at least six (6) months beyond the completion of your trip. Passport must contain at least two completely clear, blank, unused visa pages for each visa required, not including any amendment pages. Visa pages with stains or ink from other pages in the passport are not usable. Guests who deviate from the scheduled embarkation or disembarkation port should research the foreign entry requirements for the port country. Due to government regulations, regrettably, Ponant will have to deny boarding to any guest who fails to obtain the appropriate travel documentation for this trip.
List of items prohibited on board
To guarantee the safety and well-being of our guests, certain items are strictly prohibited on board. Should you have one of these products or objects in your possession, they will be confiscated immediately and will not be transported on the ship. When an item transported aboard is considered illegal, the relevant authorities will be notified systematically.
Click here for the full list of items prohibited on board.
Warning about the use of drones: the use of drones aboard PONANT ships, whether they are sailing at sea, at a port of call or anchored, is strictly forbidden. The use of drones on land in the Arctic and Antarctic regions is also strictly forbidden by international polar regulations. In other regions, it may be possible to use drones on land if permission has been obtained from the relevant authorities of each country and each region travelled through, as well as a pilot’s licence that should be obtained from your home country. Passengers are responsible for obtaining these permits; they should be able to present them at all times. Passengers who do not obtain these authorisations expose themselves to the risk of legal proceedings.
Ideal clothes for life on board:
During the days spent on board, you are advised to wear comfortable clothes or casual outfits. The entire ship is air-conditioned, so a light sweater, a light jacket or a shawl may be necessary. When moving about in the public areas of the ship and the decks, light but comfortable shoes are recommended.
In the evening, you are advised to wear smart-casual attire, especially when dining in our restaurants where wearing shorts and tee-shirts is not allowed.
For all cruises longer than 8 nights, an Officer’s Evening with a white dress code may be organized. Therefore, we encourage you to bring a stylish white outfit for the occasion (otherwise black and white).
During the cruise, two gala evenings will be organised on board. Thus, we recommend that you bring one or two formal outfits.
A small shop is available on board offering a wide range of outfits, jewellery, leather goods and many accessories.
A laundry service (washing/ironing) is available on board, but unfortunately there are no dry cleaning services. For safety reasons, your cabin is not equipped with an iron.
OUTFITS ON BOARD:
In your hand luggage, remember to bring any medicines that you need, and possibly a small spare bag of toiletries (in case of delay in the delivery of your baggage by the airline). Remember to always have your travel documents with you in case you need them: hotel vouchers, cruise vouchers, return flight tickets... Never leave them in your hold luggage.
All our cabins have a safe. We recommend not to go ashore with valuable jewellery.
Smithsonian Journeys is the travel program of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, consisting of 21 museums, the National Zoological Park, education centers, research facilities, cultural centers, and libraries. Drawing on Smithsonian's resources dating back 175 years, these sailings will feature notable experts and experiences that embrace local cultures and dive deeper into a destination’s history, cuisine, language, environment, and wildlife. For more than 50 years, Smithsonian Journeys has been rooted in and focused on cultural immersion and discovery – with a goal of inspiring guests to become global citizens through travel.
Subject to withdrawal in case of force majeure
Embarkation 21/5/2024 from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Departure 21/5/2024 at 6:00 pm
Located on the western coast of Honshu island, in the province of Kyoto, the charming town of Maizuru boasts one of Japan’s most exquisite closed bays. A climb to the observatory allows to appreciate the splendour of this inlet scattered with tiny wild islands. Visitors can also admire the treasures of traditional architecture by visiting the temple of Enryu-ji or the Tanabe-jo castle. The town also bears traces of a rich military past, which you can see in the old arsenals of the navy, red brick buildings that today house a museum.
Arrival 22/5/2024 early morning
Departure 22/5/2024 midday
Located on the south-west coast of Honshu Island, the busy fishing port of Sakaiminato celebrates the comic writer and artist Shigeru Mizuki, who was born here. As well as a museum a dedicated tourist route leads through streets and squares that feature 134 bronze statues representing his beloved characters. This isn't the only thing Sakaiminato has to offer; try some local seafood specialities and enjoy the stunning views of Mt Daisen and the Yumigahama peninsula.
Arrival 23/5/2024 early morning
Departure 23/5/2024 late afternoon
With around four million inhabitants, Busan is the second largest metropolis on South Korea, after Seoul. This dynamic harbour city, located in the south-east, surrounded by the warm waters of the Sea of Japan, benefits from a mild, pleasant climate. You’ll find delightful simply to stroll around the lively streets and explore the city’s outstanding cultural heritage of art galleries, museums, and Buddhist sites, such as the Haedong Yonggungsa temple, which elegantly sits on the waterfront. Rich too in magnificent beaches and superlative natural landscapes, Busan’s peaceful atmosphere will win you over, as will its inhabitants, whom you’ll have the pleasure of meeting.
During your journey at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness centre. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This journey without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, depending on the activities offered, or to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.
Arrival 25/5/2024 early morning
Departure 25/5/2024 early evening
Located on the island of Honshu and bathed by the waters of the Sea of Japan, Kanazawa is a port marked by history. Under the predominance of the Maeda clan in the Meiji era, the city came under multiple political and cultural influences that shaped its landscape. Throughout the town, you'll discover many signs of its rich past: Kanazawa Castle, Kenroku-en, one of the most beautiful and famous gardens in Japan, and the old geisha district, Higashi-Chayagai. Õmicho Ichiba market in the town centre is well worth a visit, particularly for freshly cooked seafood.
Arrival 26/5/2024 early morning
Departure 26/5/2024 early evening
The small town of Ogi on Sado Island's South coast is best-known for its taraibune, small round boats that were originally used for harvesting seaweed and shells. You can take a trip in one at Ogi Port and nearby nearby Yajima and Kyojima. Shukunegi village, about four kilometres from Ogi, is a fascinating place to visit some of the houses in the former shipbuilding centre were built with wood salvaged from boats. Other points of interest include Sado History Museum and the old gold mines; and every year the island hosts Earth Celebration, a music festival.
Arrival 27/5/2024 early morning
Departure 27/5/2024 early afternoon
Nestling on the shores of the Sea of Japan, in the Tôhoku region in the north of the island of Honshu, Sakata will enchant you with its folkloric atmosphere and its authentic and traditional architecture. This emblematic city has retained the scents, flavours and certain traditions of the time of Kitamae, a shipping route along which Japanese merchants travelled in the 18th century, extending from Otaru to Osaka. The succession of Sankyo warehouses where rice was once stored stand as a testament to that time and are now the symbols of a strong industrial heritage.
Arrival 28/5/2024 early morning
Disembarkation 28/5/2024 at 8:00 am
Located opposite the straits of Tsugaru, for a long time Hakodate was the only entry point to the island of Hokkaido, in the north of Japanese archipelago. Because of its age-old trading activity with other countries, the town has an unusual architectural landscape, combining traditional Japanese buildings with more Western constructions. You can take a pleasant stroll along the bayﾠ to check out the many boutiques and restaurants, while taking a foodie break to eat a bowl of ramen noodles. ﾠMt Hakodate towers above the town; hike or take the cable car to the summit for fantastic views.
PONANT has organized the following included program for you, which starts the day of embarkation.
Aboard your ship, an English-speaking lecturer will enlighten you about the culture and history of your destination to deepen your knowledge of the origins of local traditions, the history of emblematic sites, and stories involving famous personalities and those of major historical significance. During on-board lectures or on your shore visits, this expert will be there to share their precious knowledge with you throughout your PONANT cruise.
Japan is a country pulled in two radically different directions, deeply honoring its past while rushing headlong into the future. Hyper-modernity exists side by side with the quiet serenity of ancient shrines and gardens. Nowhere is this contrast more apparent than in the experience provided by this 5-day program in Tokyo and Kyoto, as you move between the steel and glass of modern skyscrapers and the wood and bamboo structure of Zen temples. From the gleaming storefronts of Tokyo's Ginza district to the serene gardens of Kyoto, you will have the opportunity to see how Japan has managed to blend tradition and modernity.
Day 1 - Tokyo
Arrive at Tokyo International Airport, where you will be met and transferred to the Hotel New Otani in the center of the city, your home for the next two nights. A local representative will be present at a hospitality desk in the afternoon to welcome you and answer any questions you may have. Relax and enjoy the many amenities of this stunning complex before joining your fellow travelers for a welcome cocktail reception this evening. Dinner is independent.
Day 2 - Tokyo
After breakfast at the hotel, join a full day excursion that samples some of best that Tokyo has to offer. Explore the Tokyo National Museum, one of the largest art museums in the world, with a rich and extensive collection of Asian art and cultural artefacts. Lunch at a local restaurant is followed by a visit to Sensoji Temple, first built in 645 to house a tiny statue of the goddess of mercy, where the temple precincts bustle with people praying, shopping and sightseeing. Stroll the Asakusa and Nakamise shopping arcade, one of the oldest shopping districts in Tokyo. Later in the afternoon, visit the Meiji Jingu Shrine, which is dedicated to the great-grandparents of the present emperor and whose vast grounds of more than 100,000 trees serves as both a sacred Shinto space and as an oasis of tranquility within the fast-paced city. Dinner is independent.
Day 3 - Tokyo | Kyoto
Breakfast at the hotel is followed by a morning excursion to Tokyo's Ginza district. Named for the silver mint located here in the 17th and 18th centuries, Ginza is now the city's largest upmarket shopping district. After a short guided walking tour of the area's landmarks, explore the myriad department stores, boutiques, and art galleries, and enjoy an independent lunch in one of Ginza's many restaurants. Leaving Ginza, transfer to the train station to catch the bullet train to Kyoto, where you check in to the Kyoto Brighton Hotel for two nights. Independent dinner.
Day 4 - Kyoto
Explore Kyoto on a full day tour, starting with a visit to the Kinkakuji Temple complex to see the Golden Pavilion, so named because of the gold leaf covering its two upper stories. Built by shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu as a villa, it was converted to a Zen temple following his death in 1408. Also visit the nearby Ryoanji Temple, home to Japan’s most famous rock garden. Following lunch at a local restaurant, travel to the Arashiyama district on the western edge of Kyoto, once popular with nobles who enjoyed its natural setting. Walk through the famous bamboo groves and visit Tenryuji Temple, built in the 13th century and one of Kyoto’s greatest Zen temples. The balance of the day is at leisure to explore Kyoto on your own. Dinner is independent.
Day 5 - Kyoto | Maizuru | Embark
Travel this morning to Nijo Castle, built in 1603 as the?Kyoto?residence of?Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the?Edo Period?(1603-1867). After exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site, visit a traditional?machiya?residence and participate in a tea ceremony, learning the history of this iconic Japanese custom and experiencing the spirit of Japanese hospitality. Following lunch at a local restaurant, relax during the two hour drive to Maizuru to embark Le Soléal.
Your program includes:
Your program does not include:
Hotel contact information:
Hotel New Otani Tokyo
4-1 Kioi-cho, Chiyoda-ku,
Phone: + 81-3-3265-1111
Kyoto Brighton Hotel
602-8071 Nakadachiuri, Shinmachi-dori,
Kamigyo-ku (Imperial Palace West)
Total : €2,050