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14-Day Japan Explorer

 
 
14-Day Japan Explorer
Starting from $2,375*

Yokohama, Japan to Yokohama, Japan


Ship: ms Westerdam


Departure Date :

Mar 28 2020

Optional tours are available from most ports for an additional charge.

 

Itinerary

 
Day Yokohama, Japan
Departs 06:00 PM
"Until the mid-19th century, Japan lived in isolation, closed off from the rest of the world, and Yokohama was a mere fishing village. But in 1853, American naval officer Matthew Perry demanded the country open to foreign trade, and Yokohama was changed forever. The city quickly emerged as an international trading center, and while today it is often overshadowed by nearby Tokyo, it continues to be one of Japan’s liveliest, and most international, destinations. With its microbreweries and international restaurants, Yokohama has a decidedly different feel from many other Japanese cities.

From Yokohama, it’s a quick trip to peaceful Kamakura, home to Daibutsu, Japan’s second-largest bronze Buddha, and to the important Shinto shrine Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. Head to Hakone National Park on a clear day and you’ll be rewarded with picture-postcard views of majestic Mt. Fuji. "
Yokohama, Japan
 
 
Day At Sea

 
 
Day Kobe, Japan
Arrives 08:00 AM
"One of the greatest things about Japan is its attention to detail. Nothing is too small for consideration. Nailheads on temple walkways are hidden by inlaid metal covers. If the train schedule says the train arrives at 11:05, it will not be there at 11:04; and if it’s more than 10 minutes late, you can get the rail line to give you an excuse form to present back at the office, explaining your tardiness. Shops sell combs and hairpins made with the same patterns and in the same way as 500 years ago.

So maybe this attention to detail explains what happened in 20th-century Kobe. Some farmer was looking at his cow, thinking, “What possibilities of perfection am I missing?” Cows were still a new thing; they were banned as food almost until WWII, so cow rules were in flux when this farmer began massaging his herd with sake. The cows got pleasantly drunk on local beer and listened to classical music—and in return for the pampering, they produced, and continue to produce, heavily marbled, melt-in-the-mouth cuts of meat that can easily sell for a hundred bucks a dish. Like everything else in town, Kobe beef is all in the details.

Among the Japanese, Kobe is considered exotic: “If you can’t go to Paris, go to Kobe.” And it does make a nice break from Osaka’s relentless pace. Order a steak, find a window booth and watch the details. "
Kobe, Japan
 
 
Day Kobe, Japan
Departs 05:00 PM
"One of the greatest things about Japan is its attention to detail. Nothing is too small for consideration. Nailheads on temple walkways are hidden by inlaid metal covers. If the train schedule says the train arrives at 11:05, it will not be there at 11:04; and if it’s more than 10 minutes late, you can get the rail line to give you an excuse form to present back at the office, explaining your tardiness. Shops sell combs and hairpins made with the same patterns and in the same way as 500 years ago.

So maybe this attention to detail explains what happened in 20th-century Kobe. Some farmer was looking at his cow, thinking, “What possibilities of perfection am I missing?” Cows were still a new thing; they were banned as food almost until WWII, so cow rules were in flux when this farmer began massaging his herd with sake. The cows got pleasantly drunk on local beer and listened to classical music—and in return for the pampering, they produced, and continue to produce, heavily marbled, melt-in-the-mouth cuts of meat that can easily sell for a hundred bucks a dish. Like everything else in town, Kobe beef is all in the details.

Among the Japanese, Kobe is considered exotic: “If you can’t go to Paris, go to Kobe.” And it does make a nice break from Osaka’s relentless pace. Order a steak, find a window booth and watch the details. "
Kobe, Japan
 
 
Day At Sea

 
 
Day Naha, Japan
Arrives 08:00 AM Departs 05:00 PM
"Naha, the capital of Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture and its biggest city, also serves as the region’s key political, economic and transportation hub. With a fascinating past as the capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom and a working port that dates back to the 15th century, this city of 300,000 residents manages to be both a compelling city and a laid-back one.

Because it was largely destroyed during World War II, there aren’t many old buildings here; however, a few restored remains from the Ryukyu Kingdom era provide historic interest, including Shuri Castle, the royal residence, and its extraordinary gardens—both of which are included in a local group designated together as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other legendary sites include the Royal Mausoleum (burial tombs set inside caves) and the Shurei Gate, so magnificent that its image appears on the 2,000-yen note. "
Naha, Japan
 
 
Day Ishigaki Island, Japan
Arrives 08:00 AM Departs 05:00 PM
"Talk with the Japanese a while about the Japanese and you’re going to hear the word shimagunikonjo. The breakdown is simple: shima—island; guni—nation; konjo—consciousness. In one word, it's the firm belief that people who live on islands are different from people who live on continents, and anyone who’s done both is likely to agree. American culture may be the strongest influence in Japan now, but the Japanese will understand the motivations of the Brits a whole lot better. Islands require a different mind-set than continents. Islands require manners.

But what if your island was never meant to be part of another bunch of islands? That’s what’s happened with today’s Okinawa Prefecture. The people who’ve always been there are Okinawan, one of the healthiest, longest-living people on earth. But now they’re part of Japan and seriously outnumbered by the Japanese. (And they’re not at all happy that the Japanese interlopers gave so much of their land over to U.S. military bases.) "
Ishigaki Island, Japan
 
 
Day Hualien, Taiwan
Arrives 08:00 AM Departs 05:00 PM
"Hualien is the main city on the East Coast of Taiwan. Most people who only have a day or two to visit this part of the island usually spend a night here to arrange a day-trip to nearby Taroko Gorge, then head straight back to Taipei City.

You’ll love this port! It has an energy that’s hard to find elsewhere in the city. Just walk around the docks and observe the harbor life unfold quietly between the colorful boats, fishing nets and the sound of the ocean. Fishermen from distant lands will give you curious looks while Taiwanese folks will invite you to join them for a beetle nut and a smoke."
Hualien, Taiwan
 
 
Day Keelung (Taipei), Taiwan
Arrives 08:00 AM Departs 06:00 PM
Keelung is the second largest port in Taiwan, and a booming trade industry has turned it into a very prosperous city and international seaport. However, the main reason for calling here is to travel inland to visit the contemporary metropolis of Taipei. Not long ago, the scenic valley of the Tanshui River was home to rice and vegetable farmers, but today it is the site of Taiwan's bustling center of culture, commerce and government.
Keelung (Taipei), Taiwan
 
 
Day At Sea

 
 
Day Kagoshima, Japan
Arrives 08:00 AM Departs 05:00 PM
"Situated at the southern tip of Japan, Kagoshima is the capital of the prefecture of the same name and famous for its dramatic views of Sakurajima, an active volcano that smolders across the bay. One of the most popular activities is taking a ferry to Sakurajima and hiking on the 100-year-old lava flow that is now a grassy peninsula. Kagoshima, however, offers much more than the volcano’s almost overwhelming beauty. The food scene provides opportunities to experience the area’s rich culinary culture and features dishes using locally caught fish and regional specialties, like satsuma a’ge (deep-fried fish cake) and shōchū, a traditional beverage made at more than 100 distilleries in Kagoshima alone.

Although the city was officially founded in 1889, it has an even longer history that is reflected in the 17th-century gardens of Sengan-en. More recent events are covered at a museum dedicated to the kamikaze pilots who flew out of Kagoshima. Other popular attractions include the City Aquarium, the Museum of the Meiji Restoration with its exhibits exploring local history and the City Museum of Art with its collection that covers both local contemporary and older art. With so much to do, visitors may want to consider the Cute transit card. Available at tourist information offices, one-day Cute cards cover city buses, trams and Sakurajima ferries and also provide discounted admission to several attractions. "
Kagoshima, Japan
 
 
Day Hososhima (Miyazaki), Japan
Arrives 08:00 AM Departs 05:00 PM
Endowed with tranquil resorts, enticing beaches and one of Japan’s warmest climates, Miyazaki Prefecture, on the south side of the island of Kyushu, plays its nature card with an open hand. The cruise port, Hososhima, is an older quarter of Hyuga, a city surrounded by beautiful beaches and parks. Surfers flock to its rugged coast, as do gawkers who prefer cliff-top views of the jagged edges of Hyuga Cape. The prefecture’s most intact historic area is Mimitsu, a preservation district south of Hyuga that evokes 19th-century Japan with its prevalence of traditional buildings and cobblestoned streets. Japanese mythology plays out throughout the region at places like Omi Shrine, dedicated to the Japanese sun goddess, and Miyazaki Shrine, set on what was believed to be the birthplace of Japan’s mythical first emperor, Jimmu. Miyazaki was a small provincial town until 1883, during the Meiji period, when it was chosen as the capital of the prefecture. Today, the city is a place of gardens and shrines and Japanese legends. Miyazaki also makes headlines for its world-famous Miyazaki beef, served at some of the city’s finer dining locales. The main artery, Tachibana-doji, is busy with boutiques, restaurants, cafés and a shopping arcade. The region’s history is on display at several museums and at the colorful festivals that take place at the shrines and other sites throughout the year.
Hososhima (Miyazaki), Japan
 
 
Day At Sea

 
 
Day Shimizu, Japan
Arrives 08:00 AM Departs 05:00 PM
Shimizu’s rich cultural heritage is rooted in the surrounding Shizuoka area’s history as the home of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Edo shogunate, following his retirement from government. A collection of historic buildings in the vicinity, such as Kunozan Toshogu Shrine (designated a National Treasure by the Japanese government), Sumpu Castle Park, and Shizuoka Sengen Shrine, depict a fascinating portrait of the life and accomplishments of this major historical figure. The Shizuoka area’s ancient culture is available not only for observation but for hands-on experience as well. At Sumpu Takumi-shuku, visitors can try their hand at making traditional Suruga handicrafts characteristic of the Shizuoka region, such as bamboo works, dyes, and lacquerware.
Shimizu, Japan
 
 
Day Yokohama, Japan
Arrives 07:00 AM
"Until the mid-19th century, Japan lived in isolation, closed off from the rest of the world, and Yokohama was a mere fishing village. But in 1853, American naval officer Matthew Perry demanded the country open to foreign trade, and Yokohama was changed forever. The city quickly emerged as an international trading center, and while today it is often overshadowed by nearby Tokyo, it continues to be one of Japan’s liveliest, and most international, destinations. With its microbreweries and international restaurants, Yokohama has a decidedly different feel from many other Japanese cities.

From Yokohama, it’s a quick trip to peaceful Kamakura, home to Daibutsu, Japan’s second-largest bronze Buddha, and to the important Shinto shrine Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. Head to Hakone National Park on a clear day and you’ll be rewarded with picture-postcard views of majestic Mt. Fuji. "
Yokohama, Japan