Coastal Japan: Imperial Dynasties & Modern Culture

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16 Days
Availability : August-September 2023/24
Tour Details
Coastal Japan: Imperial Dynasties & Modern Culture

Step back in time on a voyage into Japan’s riveting history, from the historic castle towns of the Edo period to the elegant shrines and merchant districts of the Meiji era to the poignant sites of World War II. Venture into the homes of samurai and feudal lords, and discover exquisite centuries-old gardens and temples. Take a detour to South Korea to discover the ancient city of Gyeongju, and explore Japanese artistic traditions of the past and present.

Northbound Route Kobe to Niigata

Southbound Route Niigata to Kobe

16 Days with prices from $24,650 CAD per person

Departure Location


End Location


Price Includes

  • Excursions, hotels, and airport transfers, as indicated in itinerary
  • Kayaks, Zodiac cruises, stand-up paddleboards, full complement of snorkeling gear, glass-bottom boat rides, where relevant
  • Guidance and expertise of expedition staff
  • All meals as indicated in itinerary
  • Beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, hors d’oeuvres, and snacks
  • Cocktails and spirits on select ships
  • Park and site entrance fees, special access permits, and port taxes
  • 24-hour access to shared spaces, such as the lounges and fitness centers

Price Excludes

  • Travel insurance
  • Any private expenses
  • Optional excursions
  • Visa's & vaccinations, if required
  • International flights
  • Gratuities

Tour Specialist

  • Lesli Heron
The Ship
Natural Geographic Resolution

The sister ship to National Geographic Endurance, she explores polar & temperate regions

One of two new ships expressly built for polar waters, National Geographic Resolution is named to honor the second voyage of the legendary Captain James Cook.  A fully-stabilized vessel with ice class PC5, Category A, she will enable adventurous guests to go where few have or can. National Geographic Resolution’s most striking exterior feature is her distinctive profile, the patented X-Bow®, a game-changing design that guarantees the smoothest, most comfortable ride in all kinds of conditions—and, since it eliminates bow impact, a quieter ride as well. 



  • Delve into the history of the samurai and their feudal lords while visiting castles and samurai districts in Kanazawa, Matsue, and Uwajima
  • Explore the cultural legacy of Korea’s Silla Dynasty among the ancient ruins of Gyeongju, a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Get inspired on the art-filled island of Naoshima, and visit museums and studios dedicated to artists and traditional handicrafts in Matsue and Takamatsu
  • Meander through Kenroku-en, Koraku-en, and Sengan-en, three gardens that are considered some of the most beautiful in Japan
  • Take top photos with the help of a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Certified Photo Instructor
For more information on this tour, or help with booking, please contact your favourite Lloyds Travel Agent!

Day 1Osaka, Japan / Kobe / Embark Ship

Arrive in Osaka, transfer to Kobe, and embark National Geographic Resolution.

Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2Okayama / Kurashiki

Dock in Okayama and head for one of Japan’s “three best landscape gardens”: Koraku-en. Wander paths that wind along forest streams and past traditional teahouses tucked amid maple and cherry trees. See the black-walled Okayama Castle, before continuing to the former shipping center of Kurashiki, where centuries-old rice granaries line a lovely canal. Browse local handicrafts, and visit the renowned Ohara Museum of Art and the 18th-century Ohashi House.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3Naoshima / Takamatsu

The small island of Naoshima was transformed from a dwindling community to a vibrant art center by Benesse Holdings, which began inviting artists and architects to create a hub for the arts in the early 1990s. Discover the island’s cutting-edge creations, from an underground museum designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando to the famous polka-dotted pumpkins of Yayoi Kusama. After lunch, cross to Takamatsu on Shikoku Island. Explore Shikoku Mur, an open-air museum that showcases traditional building styles. End the day at the Noguchi Garden Museum, which features the sculptures and workshop of Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4Miyajima / Hiroshima

Start the day on the island of Miyajima, home of Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its red torii gate that seems to float atop the water at high tide. In Hiroshima, visit the Peace Memorial Park. See the Atomic Bomb Dome, one of only a few buildings left standing after the attack, and learn about the city’s dedication to peace following World War II.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5Uwajima / Uchiko

Rise early for a morning hike to Uwajima Castle, one of just 12 original Edo-period castles that remain intact. Continue to Uchiko, once a center of wax production. Take a walk in the town’s well-preserved Yokaichi district, where beautifully crafted wooden merchant homes recall the prosperity of the Meiji period.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6Yakushima Island

The diverse ecology of Yakushima Island, including a subtropical coast and temperate rainforest in the interior, has earned this island World Heritage status. On a hike, discover the island’s ancient Yakusugi cedar trees, many of which date back more than a thousand years. Our ship turns north toward the island of Kyushu this evening.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7Kagoshima

At the southern end of Kyushu, the city of Kagoshima sits just across the bay from the active volcano Sakurajima. Take a walk in Sengan-en Garden, designed by the city’s ruling Shimadzu clan in 1658 to incorporate the bay and its simmering volcano. After lunch, travel along the Satsuma Peninsula to the village of Chiran, where the samurai designed gardens inspired by their travels.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8Nagasaki

Long before World War II, Nagasaki was a cosmopolitan trading center, drawing merchants from Europe and China to its picturesque harbor as early as the 1500s. Visit Oura Cathedral, the oldest Christian church in Japan, and venture into Sofukuji, a 400-year-old Ming-style Zen Buddhist temple. Visit Nagasaki Peace Park, where a poignant exhibition illustrates the aftermath of the atomic bomb attack on the city, and see the somber monument erected at ground zero. This afternoon, we chart our course for the Korean Peninsula.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9Ulsan, South Korea / Gyeongju

Dock in Ulsan, and travel to Gyeongju, the ancient capital of the Silla kingdom and the crown jewel of Korea’s cultural heritage. Packed with the ruins of temples, pagodas, and palaces dating back more than a thousand years, the historic areas of the city have been collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit Bulguksa Temple, a masterpiece of Silla architecture originally built in A.D. 528. At the Gyeongju National Museum, examine jewelry, weapons, and other Silla artifacts. See Cheomseongdae, a seventh-century observatory, and wander among towering royal burial mounds.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10Hagi

In the castle town of Hagi, known for its fine ceramic arts, tour the historic district, once home to wealthy merchants and samurai. Stroll past serene rows of stone lanterns at the town’s two Zen Buddhist temples, where the feudal lords of the powerful Mori clan were laid to rest.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11Matsue

Follow up the coast to Matsue, situated between a lake, a lagoon, and the sea. Tour the 17th-century Matsue Castle built as a defensive fortress and discover its clever design elements intended to foil the enemy. Continue to the Adachi Museum of Art, which blends an impressive collection of 20th-century Japanese art with a gem-like traditional garden.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12Kanazawa

Step into Old Japan in Kanazawa, once a powerful city ruled by the Maeda clan. Stroll past the lovely wooden homes of the samurai in the Nagamachi district, where the streets are intentionally narrow and winding to confuse enemies. Then explore the geisha and teahouse district of Higashi Chaya Machi. Next, wander the pathways of Kenroku-en, one of Japan’s designated “three best landscape gardens,” established in 1676 by the Maeda family and developed over 150 years.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13 - 14Niigata / Disembark Ship / Tokyo

Disembark National Geographic Resolution and zip south on Japan’s famous bullet train to Tokyo. Transfer to our hotel, located steps from the lively Ginza district. Get to know this vibrant city, the capital of Japan since the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Visit Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji, who brought an end to Japan’s long feudal period. Visit the Edo-Tokyo Museum, then meander through the historic Asakusa neighborhood around Tokyo’s oldest temple, Senso-ji.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15Tokyo

Transfer to the airport for flights home.

Meals Included: Breakfast


Why Book With Us?

  • Worry free planning
  • Exceptional knowledge
  • Family owned & operated
  • Superior value

Have a Question?

Don’t hesitate to give us a call. Our team of experts are happy to assist you in creating your next dream vacation.