Summary : Experience a combination of modern and traditional, of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and national parks, of spirit and human worlds as you partake in a journey of sandy beaches and fishing villages, Spanish churches and limestone houses. Contemplate the great floating Torii gate, immerse yourself in fascinating history, wonderful wildlife and stunning seasonal beauty, as two cultures collide in perfect geographical fusion.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Embark the Silver Discoverer, and attend a safety briefing before leaving Kobe. Later on, important members of the crew will be introduced, as well as your Expedition Team.
Familiarize yourself with your new home away from home, meet some of your fellow travelers and in the evening enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.
At dinnertime Silver Discoverer will head for the Harima-nada Sea.
A day of diverse cultural experiences awaits, as you head for one of Japan’s most significant gardens. Although the “Korakuen” Garden was severely damaged in WWII, the descriptions and paintings from the Edo period permitted an exact reconstruction. Designed in the “Kaiyu” style it is one of the “Three Gardens of Japan” and has been designated a “Special Scenic Location.” Stroll through the garden and taste Japanese Green Tea, a specialty of the area.
Lunch will be served at a local restaurant before you continue to Kurashiki, a town known as the center of rice-distribution in the Okayama area. Many old warehouses next to the preserved canal have been converted into museums, boutiques and cafes.
The Ohara Museum, which you are going to see during the afternoon, was the first Japanese Museum to permanently exhibit Western Art. See an eclectic mix of paintings and objects by El Greco, Renoir, Gauguin, Pisarro, Degas, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, Rodin, and Picasso, as well as pieces from Jackson Pollock, de Chirico and Jasper Johns.
Takamatsu is located on Shikoku, the smallest of the four main Japanese Islands.
Your day will start with the visit to Ritsurin Garden. The 75-hectare park features six ponds, thirteen hills, a waterfall, plum, cherry, and pine trees, a bamboo forest, a tea house, and more. The garden is recognized one of the most beautiful strolling gardens in Japan and was awarded three stars in the Michelin Green Guide Japan.
The Japanese cuisine is famous for its sushi and noodles and today you can try an Udon making experience. Not only will you learn how to prepare them, but you will also have a chance to taste the Udon noodles you just made!
During the morning visit the small island of Miyajima (“The Shrine Island”) and get to see one of “The Three Most Beautiful Views” of Japan: the Floating Torii Gate. Built in the water, the Torii Gate leads to the Itsukushima Shrine and at high tide it seems to float. The Torii Gate is one of the most photographed sites in all of Japan. There are many more shrines and path on Miyajima that invite to be walked. Mount Misen has cable car leading partly up to the top with nice views and wild monkeys and deer roaming the trails.
The name Hiroshima is linked to the dropping of the Atomic Bomb and the end of World War II. We will drive to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in central Hiroshima. The area where the park lies was Ground Zero for the Atomic Bomb on August 6, 1945. The park is dedicated to those who lost their lives in the attack. The park has many memorials and monuments, and you can stroll through it before visiting the Peace Memorial Museum. The museum surveys the history of Hiroshima and the advent of the nuclear bomb, focusing on the events of August 6.
From Moji drive to Kokura, the financial and business capital of this area. Kokura’s landmark is its castle, which has been beautifully restored. In addition to visiting Kokura Castle, stroll the remarkable garden located next to the main castle.
After lunch see the Hiraodai Limestone Plateau, Japan’s most representative karst plateau. Approaching the area one could mistake the pure white limestone scattered throughout the landscape for sheep grazing in the grass. Truly a natural treasure, the plateau also contains underground caves. Explore Hiraodai Senbutsu Cave accompanied by local guides. To get deep into the cave you will have to walk in the stream running through the cave.
Built in the early 17th century, the Kumamoto Castle is one of the three most famous castles of Japan. The castle has a number of interesting features, such as a stone wall and the beautiful black and white castle tower. However, it is the 800 cherry trees that add unrivaled elegance to the castle. The main varieties are Yoshino cherry as well as mountain cherry trees and Higo-zakura which make the square in front of the castle tower and the front of the long wall a wonderful spot for cherry blossom viewing, which are hoped to still be seen in mid-April. This vast castle area is also a cultural place, and houses the Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art, the Kumamoto City Museum, and the Botanical Garden.
Yakushima, Japan’s first UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993, is famous in botanical circles for its great many garden plants, including dwarf plants which have evolved to grow smaller than their mainland cousins.
Spend time on nature walks including Yakusugi Land, a nature park populated by a number of the island’s ancient cedar trees, including the Buddhasugi (a 2500-year-old cedar), Futagosugi and Sennensugi. There are different trails for different levels of activity and while walking, see the very clear stream running through the forest and the unique plant life on the island. There will also be a chance to see Yaku Monkey and Yaku Deer.
After your walk in the forest visit the Yakusugi Museum, which tells about the vegetation of Yakusugi, as well as the history of Yakushima.
Amami Oshima is an unspoilt natural paradise situated in the Amami islands and surrounded by transparent waters with brightly colored coral reefs and tropical fish. Your day will start with a visit to Oshimatsumugi Kimono village where you can watch the process of making tsumugi and kasuri silk-cotton fabrics. This is a craft complex in a beautiful hillside setting among flowers and many of the plants used in the process of dyeing.
In Bashayama Village have lunch including Keihan, one of the best specialties in Amami, Keihan consists of chicken, egg and other various ingredients placed on rice and covered in chicken broth. During lunch you will also have a chance to see local people playing the Shamisen.
After lunch, relax at the beautiful beach or stroll through Kenmunmura village with its traditional houses.
If you prefer a visit with a little more activity, then choose the canoeing tour in Amami Oshima’s Mangrove Park. Amami Oshima holds Japan’s second-largest mangrove primeval forest inhabited by the Amami Rabbit, a national protected species. You will be canoeing for approximately an hour among the mangroves.
Okinawa is a typical Japanese subtropical region with a warm climate where cherry blossoms bloom in late January, and the swimming season lasts from April to October. There are more than sixty islands between the main island of Okinawa in the North and Yonaguni Island at the south-western end.
Departing from the pier and traveling towards the southeast corner of Okinawa, the first stop will be at the former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters. One can walk down the 101 steps into the narrow tunnels to get a unique insight into the conditions and experiences of the soldiers and officers inside the headquarters.
Then visit Shuri Castle, the administrative center and residence of the Ryukyu royal family for over 400 years. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the castle rests on a hill providing outstanding views of Naha and the sea. Surrounded by tall curved walls, the bright red castle is a mixture of Japanese and Chinese architectural styles. You will see the lavishly decorated Main Hall and the ornate Shurei Gate. Known as the Gate of Courtesy, it typifies Okinawan architecture and serves as a symbol of modern day Okinawa.
The final stop will be Shikina-en Garden, constructed in the end of the 18th century; it features beautiful, relatively simple, wooden palace buildings with Okinawan-style, red tile roofs and a spacious Japanese-style landscape garden. A section of the old stone pavement that ran from the Shuri Palace to Shikina-en still exists. While the garden is designed in a style seen elsewhere in Japan, the architecture and flora of Shikina-en are uniquely Okinawan. Although the original garden was destroyed during World War II, it has been beautifully restored.
While Silver Discoverer sails south, your lecturers will recap the Japanese experiences and will prepare you for the interesting ports to be visited in the Philippines.
The Executive Chef, and team, would like to demonstrate how to prepare some of the culinary specialties they have chosen for your dining experiences and you might want to try cooking your own fish or meat at the Hot Rocks dining experience out on deck this evening.
During the morning Silver Discoverer will continue to sail south across the Philippine Sea.
Have a leisurely breakfast, join a seminar or workshop, and get ready for your first stop in the Philippines’ northernmost province. Arriving in the late morning, clear into the Philippines, and then we'll want to make the most of your visit to Batan Island.
Upon arrival there will be a cultural presentation with traditional songs and dances. See traditional houses and hear about their importance. In addition, be ready to reach lookout points and at the Basco Lighthouse enjoy a food demonstration and tasting. Further stops and photo opportunities will be at Chawa, the Valugan Boulder Bay and Rakuh A Payaman (known locally as Marlboro Country for the communal pasture). Another cooking demo and tasting of local delicacies, specifically the various ways to prepare sweet potatoes, will take place before you return to the pier and Silver Discoverer.
Land in Salomague, on Luzon’s northwestern shore, and be welcomed by a local band before heading south to Vigan and its historical district. See the Bantay Church and bell tower that is one of Ilocos’ oldest structures dating back to 1590. A Filipino style “fiesta” lunch will be had in a beautiful garden known as the Hidden Garden. There will also be a demonstration of how to prepare Pinakbet, which is a popular northern dish of mixed vegetables steamed in fish or shrimp sauce. Following these activities, visit a pottery factory specializing in jars and ride in horse-drawn carriages to the Syquia Mansion, a museum dedicated to the Philippines’ sixth President. A walk through the Vigan Heritage Village with its mestizo district of old colonial, Spanish-style houses and tasting of local delicacies will end the excursion before you head back to the Silver Discoverer after a full day ashore.
At the aptly named Hundred Islands National Park, disembark by Zodiac and transfer to local boats to do some island hopping, as well as swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing. The local outrigger boats will pass and stop at several of the descriptively named islands, including Marcos, Cathedral, Quezon, Bat, Cuenco, Children’s, Mayor’s and Governor’s Islands. Watch for dolphins, dugong and sea turtles that have been recorded in this national park and marine reserve.
Another option for you is to visit the Coral Garden on the other side of Quezon (one of only three developed islands in the area) for some snorkeling.
In the afternoon, Silver Discoverer will continue south along the coast of Luzon and while aboard, be sure to attend the Videographer’s presentation of your voyage documentary.
Following breakfast, disembark Silver Discoverer.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Suite accommodations; onboard meals and entertainment; butler service; gratuities aboard ship (except spa); complimentary beverages aboard ship (including select wines, champagnes, spirits, soda, water and coffee); 1 hour of internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Explorer and View Suites; unlimited internet access for passengers booked in Vista, Veranda, and Medallion Suites. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; optional shore excursions; government fees and taxes; passport and visa expenses; some champagne, premium wine and spirit selections, caviar, cigarettes and cigars; laundry or valet services; items of a personal nature such as boutique purchases, medical care, and spa services; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Ray Stranagan (deer, crab), © Ralph Lee Hopkins (turtle)