Culture and History aboard the Caledonian Sky


This unique voyage reveals the cultural highlights, natural attractions, and dramatic coastlines of Japan while sailing the Inland Sea and beyond. Discover Japan’s rich historic legacy as you explore fabled shrines and temples, magnificent castles and fortresses, superb parks and formal gardens, and elegant pagodas. Visit the ultimately moving Peace Memorial Park in the heart of Hiroshima and photograph the iconic red torii gate at Miyajima—entrance to a 6th-century Shinto shrine. Among the many highlights is a full day excursion to Gyeongju, South Korea, a World Heritage Site, the ancient capital of the Shilla Dynasty, encompassing hundreds of excavated monuments, temples, tombs, and pagodas.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.


Day 1, Apr 12, 2019
Depart USA

Depart on your independent flight to Osaka, Japan.

Day 2, Apr 13, 2019
Osaka, Japan / Kyoto

Arrive in Osaka and transfer to Kyoto, Japan’s lovely cultural capital. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Okura.

Day 3, Apr 14, 2019

After breakfast, visit Nijo Castle, one of the best surviving examples of palace architecture from Japan’s feudal era. Then visit the stunning Golden Pavilion, a picturesque temple overlooking a serene pond. In the afternoon, tour the exquisite Kiyomizu-dera Temple with its sacred waterfall, and the Heian-jingu Shrine and its gardens, built in 1895 to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.

Day 4, Apr 15, 2019
Kyoto / Kobe / Embark Caledonian Sky

Today, visit the 12th-century Sanjusangen-do Temple, housing the Thousand-Armed Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, before lunch at a local restaurant. Then take one of Japan’s famed bullet trains for the port city of Kobe. Board the Caledonian Sky this afternoon.

Days 5-6, Apr 16-17, 2019
Uno-Ko / Naoshima

Naoshima is known for its many contemporary art museums. Visit the Benesse House Museum, with interesting displays that combine art and nature through the collaborative efforts of many world-renowned artists and architects. The Chichu Art Museum, literally, “in the earth,” houses a number of site-specific installations by James Turrell and Walter De Maria, and paintings by Claude Monet. The next day, take a relaxing walk through one of Japan’s most beautiful gardens, Koraku-en, a 17th-century formal garden encompassing 28 acres of walking trails, ponds, plum and cherry trees, and a classic teahouse. In the afternoon, tour the old merchant quarter of Kurashiki, where many fine examples of 17th-century warehouses, mills, and shops can be found.

Day 7, Apr 18, 2019
Miyajima / Hiroshima

This morning, visit one of Japan’s scenic wonders, Miyajima, or “shrine island.” Photograph the iconic scarlet torii, a giant camphor-wood gate at the entrance to the Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage Site and a sacred site of pilgrimage. At high tide it appears to float in the surrounding waters. Enjoy lunch in Hiroshima, then visit the compelling Peace Memorial Park located in the heart of the city. A World Heritage Site, the park and its monuments are dedicated to the hope for world peace; an arch-shaped cenotaph includes the names of all the known victims of the atomic bomb.

Day 8, Apr 19, 2019

Beppu is one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts, thanks to the geothermal activity of the lush Tsurumi Volcanoes that rise behind the town. Join a tour of the town that includes a series of hot springs with distinctive features. Or, take a walk through the Tadewara Wetlands to observe unique flora and search for resident birds and wildlife.

Day 9, Apr 20, 2019
Akiyoshi-do / Karato

After breakfast set out for Akiyoshi-do, a huge limestone cavern, filled with a fantastic variety of rock formations and other unique geological features. After lunch on board, take a stroll through the lively Karato Fish Market. After this, enjoy some free time to browse the shops or take a walk along the lovely seaside promenade.

Day 10, Apr 21, 2019
Shimonoseki / Hagi

Disembark in Shimonoseki this morning and depart overland for Hagi, an exquisite medieval samurai town that served as the capital of the local daimyo, feudal lords, between 1603 and 1868. Stroll through the serene Tokoji Temple and burial site of the daimyo, which is surrounded by thousands of stone lanterns. Hagi is also world-renowned for its pastel-glazed pottery and you will have the opportunity to watch a master-potter at work.

Day 11, Apr 22, 2019
Tsushima Island

The island of Tsushima, renowned for its rugged beauty, was blasted apart in 1896 by the Japanese navy to create a ship canal. Today, an 80-meter arched bridge connects the two island segments. Step ashore on the northern island of Kami to visit Watazumi Jiniya, a shrine dedicated to the god of the sea, built in 895 AD. Then enjoy spectacular views of the coast and Aso-wan Bay from the Mt. Eboshidake Observatory.

Day 12, Apr 23, 2019
Busan, South Korea / Gyeongju

This morning disembark in the bustling port of Busan and depart overland for magnificent Gyeongju. Considered by UNESCO as one of the world’s ten most historically significant sites, it is often described as a “museum without walls.” As the ancient capital of the Silla Dynasty, Gyeongju’s cultural heritage dates back to the first millennium when the dynasty began its rule of Korea after conquering and uniting divergent monarchies. The cultural flowering of Gyeongju reached its artistic pinnacle in the 8th century as craftsmen created masterpieces in wood, metal, stone, and pottery.

Day 13, Apr 24, 2019
Matsue / Matsue Castle

The coastline along the north shore of Honshu offers splendid views of craggy rock faces and rugged shores sculpted by waves. Matsue, the “town of water,” is nestled between a scenic lake and a large lagoon. Visit the cultural attractions of the town, which include the Matsue Castle and a 250-year-old Samurai house complete with tatami rooms. Continue to nearby Yasugi for a tour of the Adachi Museum of Arts, which displays famous Japanese paintings and ceramics.

Day 14, Apr 25, 2019
Kenroku-en Garden, Kanazawa

Kanazawa is a thriving center of the arts, long renowned for its lacquerware and superb collectible Kutani-style pottery. Kanazawa is also home to one of Japan’s premier botanical highlights—the famed Kenroku-en Garden. Sophisticated, centuries-old designs create an artful aura of seclusion and contemplation. A serene teahouse perches on a small peninsula in the middle of a pond, while carved stone lanterns line the footpaths. In the afternoon, visit Higashi Chaya Machi District where you will find a number of well-preserved, traditional teahouses. Browse the shops for local handicrafts, including high quality ceramics, lacquerware, and gold leaf products.

Day 15, Apr 26, 2019
Sado Island

Well off the beaten path of most travelers, Sado Island possesses both the pastoral charm of verdant rice paddies and bamboo groves, and the dramatic beauty of surf-pounded seacoasts. Learn how to make soba noodles by hand, then explore the Sado Kinzan Gold Mine in Aikawa, which operated for over 300 years. In Toki Forest Park, view the endangered Japanese crested ibis and learn about conservation efforts.

Day 16, Apr 27, 2019
Niigata / Disembark / Tokyo

Disembark in Niigata this morning and board the bullet train for Tokyo. Check in to the Hotel New Otani with the rest of the day at leisure.

Day 17, Apr 28, 2019
Tokyo / USA

After breakfast transfer to the Tokyo airport for your independent flight, arriving in the USA the same day.



Visit sacred Shinto shrines and ancient Buddhist temples
Stroll through the moving Peace Memorial Park at Hiroshima
Spend a full day in Gyeongju, South Korea, with a visit to Bulguksa Temple, a World Heritage Site
View Matsue’s architectural treasures, including a perfectly preserved medieval castle and a 250-year-old samurai house
Watch a master potter create distinctive pastel-glazed ceramics in Hagi
Photograph two of Japan’s most celebrated traditional gardens—Koraku-en and Kenroku-en—as well as Miyajima’s iconic red torii


Length: 17 days
Cost From: $15,980  
Arrive: Osaka, Japan
Depart: Tokyo, Japan
Lodging: 12 nights aboard 100-passenger expedition vessel, 3 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included aboard ship and with the group ashore, including house wine, beer or soft drinks with lunch and dinner onboard (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Small Ship Cruising, Cultural Adventures, Walking
Trip Level:

13-day cruise, cultural exploration, and walking tours
Cruise collection 2019 brochure

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