Japan Discovery & Hokkaido Circle

  • days: 26
  • from $12,995

Flights Included

Types of travel:

Countries Visited:

  • Japan
  • Princess Cruise

Description

Take a scenic cruise around the diverse islands of fascinating Japan, visiting cities in Hokkaido and easternmost Russia. Then explore the metropolis of Tokyo, see iconic Mt Fuji, soak up the peace and tranquility of historic Takayama and admire the culture of Kyoto.

SCENIC CRUISING

Relax on board an 8-night Princess Cruise of Northern Japan, circling the island of Hokkaido. Enjoy the beautiful forest scenery from the comfort of the ship or take one of the many shore excursions available to really admire the cities, culture and wildlife. 

METROPOLIS TO MOUNTAINS

Immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. We’ll learn the age-old culinary art of making sushi, visit the famous Tsukiji Fish Market and Sumo Museum, Asakusa Kannon Temple and the shopping districts of Ginza, Shinjuku and Akihabara. Leave the city behind and travel to Hakone and Mt Fuji to experience a more traditional side of Japanese life. Here we stay in old-style ryokan accommodation, have a chance to enjoy a hot springs bath and sample a delicious Japanese dinner. We’ll tour iconic Mt Fuji and ride a sky gondola for breathtaking vistas over the volcanic Hakone Mountains.

THE HISTORY AND HEART OF JAPAN

Travel to historic Takayama and wander through heritage-listed Shirawakago. We’ll learn the traditional art of Japanese rice paper making and explore a local market. Catch the famous bullet train to moving Hiroshima. We discover Miyajima Island, the Itsukushima Torii Gate and visit the Peace Memorial and Atomic Bomb Dome. Board the bullet train to Kyoto, Japan’s cultural heart. We see the stunning Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion and the heritage-listed Kiyomizudera. We’ll get hands-on and enjoy sake tasting and fan making, and have the chance to wear a traditional Kimono! Kyoto is also the perfect base from which to venture to Nara and Mt Hiei, where we visit a traditional Buddhist sanctuary and enjoy a traditional Buddhist lunch.

URBAN OSAKA

Our adventure ends in bustling Osaka, Japan’s capital of commerce. We tour the city, visiting the Dotonbori District and the floating garden at Umeda Sky Building as well as majestic Himeji Castle, and bid farewell to Japan with a traditional-style group dinner.

Itinerary

Day 1. Depart Australia

Day 2. Arrive in Tokyo

Welcome to Tokyo, Japan’s dazzling capital city. The remainder of the day is at leisure to relax or begin exploring. Tonight we'll enjoy a group welcome drink and Japanese-style dinner. [D]

Days 3 - 11. Cruising with Princess Cruises

Today we visit the Meiji Jingu Shrine and the iconic Tokyo Tower before we transfer to the port of Yokohama to board the Diamond Princess for an 8-night cruise circling the top of Hokkaido. [B,D]  

Day 3. Embark Cruise: Yokohama. [B,D]
Day 4. Cruising at sea 
Day 5. Kushiro, Japan
Day 6. Cruising at sea
Day 7. Korsakov (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk), Russia
Day 8. Otaru, Japan
Day 9. Hakodate, Japan
Day 10. Cruising at sea
Day 11. Disembark Cruise: After breakfast, we disembark and return to Tokyo. [B]

Except for embarkation/disembarkation days, Breakfast, lunch & dinner are included daily while cruising. The cruise itinerary may change due to local conditions subject to the cruise line’s discretion.

Special Experience: After disembarking this morning we visit Tokyo's famous Tsukiji Fish Market, one of the world's largest wholesale markets for fish, fruit and vegetables. We learn the age-old culinary art of making sushi (which we'll get to enjoy once we've finished).

Day 12. Tokyo

Enjoy the morning at leisure before we visit the Akihabara 'Electric Town' and take a stroll through the shopping district of Ginza, home to iconic fashion houses and luxury shops. This evening share a Japanese-style group dinner. [B,L,D]

Day 13. Tokyo

An exciting day exploring one of the world’s largest and most cosmopolitan cities. Our sightseeing includes the Edo Museum and the Asakusa Kannon Temple, where the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy is enshrined. We continue to Nakamise, and the famous Sumo Museum, dedicated to Japan’s national sport. 

Special Experience: Enjoy a sumo wrestling demonstration by retired athletes over a traditional Chanko-Nabe (hot pot) lunch. 

This evening we’ll experience the neon lights and hustle and bustle of the Shinjuku District. [B,L]

Day 14. Tokyo - Hakone

We begin our morning with a stroll through the beautiful Hamarikyu Garden. This landscaped garden is surrounded by a seawater moat and has been remodelled based on the 17th century villa of the Shogun Tokugawa family. In the early afternoon we travel to Hakone. [B,D]

Special Experience: For the next two nights, we stay in an authentic ryokan guesthouse. We’ll have the chance to bathe in natural onsen (hot springs) and enjoy a traditional Japanese dinner. 

Day 15. Mt Fuji

A highlight of any trip to Japan is a visit to majestic and iconic Mt Fuji! At approximately 3,776 metres it is Japan’s highest mountain. Now a dormant volcano, Mt Fuji, or Fujiyama as it is known locally, can be seen on a clear day from Tokyo. We stop at the fifth station (weather permitting) to take in the stunning views of the surrounding area. We'll then ride a gondola and enjoy magnificent vistas of the volcanic Hakone Mountains and Mt Fuji, as well as the Sagami Bay. [B,D]

Day 16. Hakone - Takayama

We travel by rail to the historic town of Takayama and explore the narrow, traditional streets on foot. We visit the Takayama Jinya, a former government outpost established to bring the Hida Province under the direct control of the Shogunate. [B]

Day 17. Takayama

We wander through the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawago with its famous gasshō-zukuri (‘like hands in prayer’) thatched roofs, designed to withstand the massive snowfalls of winter. This afternoon we discover the traditional art of Japanese rice paper-making in Gokayama. Rice paper, or Washi, is commonly used in the traditional paper-folding art of Origami, practiced in Japan since the early 1600s. [B]

Day 18. Takayama - Hiroshima

Early this morning we’ll visit a local market before continuing our rail journey to Hiroshima, via Nagoya. Hiroshima is a city with great historical significance, forever remembered as the site of impact from the world’s first atomic-bomb, where so much devastation occurred. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure in this naturally beautiful city. [B]

Day 19. Hiroshima

This morning we cruise out to tranquil Miyajima Island and see the giant Itsukushima Torii Gate which seems to float on top of the water at high tide. Renowned for being a World Cultural Heritage site today, Miyajima is an island where it is believed that people and gods dwell together. Since ancient times, the island itself has been worshipped as a god and this belief has been passed down from generation to generation. We return to Hiroshima for lunch. This afternoon we’ll visit the Peace Memorial Park, the Atomic Bomb Dome and the very moving Peace Memorial Museum, commemorating the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. [B,L]

Day 20. Hiroshima - Kyoto

Travelling by bullet train, we make our way to historic Kyoto, Japan’s cultural capital. Here we visit the stunning Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion). The temple’s top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf and the pavilion is set amongst beautiful gardens. [B]

Day 21. Nara

We travel to Nara and visit the beautiful Tōdaiji (Great Eastern) Temple. We’ll then stop at the famous Deer Park, where more than 1,000 deer roam free. This afternoon we’ll see one of Japan’s most celebrated temples, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kiyomizu-dera. Founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto, it derives its name from the fall's pure waters. [B]

Day 22. Kyoto

Today we discover the art behind Japan’s unique crafts and culinary delights! [B]

Special Experience: Enjoy a variety of local activities including sake brewing & tasting, and a chance to dress in a kimono. Then witness a traditional dance performance by Maiko (Geiko^ apprentices).
^Geiko is the term for Geisha in Kyoto

Day 23. Kyoto - Mt Hiei - Osaka

We experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony before visiting the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Buddhist sanctuary of Enryaku-ji Temple. Located on the sacred mountain of Mt Hiei, it offers beautiful views over Kansai. Here we’ll enjoy a traditional Buddhist lunch. This afternoon we make our way to Osaka, stopping at the Umeda Sky Building (Floating Garden) for scenic views over the central city.  [B,L]

Day 24. Osaka

We travel by bullet train to visit Himeji Castle. Japan’s largest and most-visited castle, it is regarded as the finest surviving example of Japanese castle architecture. We’ll then venture into Osaka’s Dōtonbori District in the early evening to take in its famous lights and thriving food scene. Tonight we’ll enjoy a Japanese-style group farewell dinner. [B,D]

Day 25. Depart Osaka

Today we begin our journey home. [B]

Day 26. Arrive in Australia

Inclusions

Travel

  • Return economy class flights from Australia to Japan. Taxes included
  • 5 bullet train journeys within Japan
  • 8-night Princess Cruise - Hokkaido Circle
  • Airport transfers on the first and last day of tour (if using group tour flights)
  • All touring in air-conditioned vehicles
  • Port Taxes of $140pp (subject to change)

Accommodation & Meals

  • 8-night Princess Cruise
  • 12 nights in good quality hotels (3 - 4 star)
  • 2 nights in a traditional Ryokan guesthouse including a typical Japanese onsen (hot springs) bath followed by a Japanese dinner party while dressed in traditional yukatas
  • 23 breakfasts, 11 lunches and 12 dinners, including group welcome and farewell dinners

Tour Guide 

  • English-speaking locally based national guide throughout (excluding cruise)

Sightseeing

Circle the northernmost island of Japan and witness unspoiled wilderness on an amazing Princess Cruise

  • Spend 8 nights on the Diamond Princess including the ports of Kushiro, Korsakov - a former Russian military post and penal colony, Otaru and Hakodate.

Enjoy 4 nights in Tokyo with ample time to explore one of the world's liveliest cities

  • Early morning tour of Tsukiji Fish Market and sushi making experience including lunch.
  • Visit Akihabara electric town and stroll through Ginza District.
  • City tour of Tokyo including Edo Museum, Asakusa Kannon Temple, Nakamise shopping arcade, Sumo Museum.
  • Witness a sumo demonstration and enjoy a typical sumo meal. 
  • Witness Shinjuku by night on a walking tour.
  • Stroll through Hamarikyu Garden, a typical feudal lord garden from the Edo Period and one of the best spots in Tokyo from which to view Hanami.

Experience a serene natural environment

  • Visit Mt Fuji's fifth station (weather permitting) to take in the magnificent views of the surrounding area.
  • Enjoy a gondola ride with its amazing 360 degree view of the volcanic Hakone Mountains.
  • Visit Miyajima Island, located 30 minutes from Hiroshima and classified as a sacred island, to see the Itsukushima Shinto Shrine which stands in the ocean during high tide.
  • Travel to Nara's famous Deer Park, where more than 1,000 deer roam free.

Appreciate Japan's ancient traditions in Takayama and its modern history in Hiroshima

  • Stay 2 nights in a traditional Ryokan and relax while bathing in the natural hot springs.
  • Take in the sights of old historic Takayama on foot including the Takayama Jinya, a beautiful traditional Japanese building and visit the morning markets.
  • Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawago, famous for its old gassho-zukuri thatched roof farmhouses. Gassho-zukuri means "constructed like hands in prayer" as the farmhouses' steep thatched roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks in prayer.
  • Tour the Peace Park, built to commemorate the dropping of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima.
  • Visit the Atomic Bomb Dome, the city’s only remaining bomb-damaged building, and the very moving Peace Memorial Museum (by audio tour).

A city of more than 1,000 Buddhist temples, Kyoto 

  • Tour the temples of Kyoto, Japan’s former capital and very much the cultural heart of the country. Our tour includes the Heian Shrine, the Kinkaku-ji Zen Temple (Golden Pavilion) and the Kiyomizu-dera Temple (Pure Water Temple).
  • Enjoy a traditional Tea Ceremony en route to Mt Hiei.
  • Learn more on traditional Japan as we actively participate in Sake brewing & tasting and watch a Maiko Dance performance. 
  • Visit the Buddhist sanctuary at Mt Hiei, founded in 788 AD, and one of Japan’s most important cultural, religious and artistic centres. Enjoy a tea ceremony.

Explore Osaka's castles and modern architecture 

  • Visit Himeji Castle, regarded as one of the finest examples of prototypical Japanese castle architecture. 
  • Explore the Dōtonbori district.
  • Enjoy magnificent views over central Osaka from the Umeda Sky Building (Floating Garden) for scenic view of central Osaka.

Please Note: On the cruise breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served in the main dining room. Princess Cruise Line does have specialty restaurants that can be enjoyed for a small surcharge. Meals are included when in port, but only available on the ship. If you decide to take a day tour or leave the ship you will need to purchase your own lunch/dinner.

Please Note: On the cruise, there is no sightseeing included as part of your Bunnik Tour. Should you like to book sightseeing (shore excursions) from the ship, this will need to be either pre-booked via the Princess Cruise Line website or on board.

Dates & Prices

Dates & Prices

Starts Ends Save Total Cost* Status Book
03/09/17 28/09/17   $12,995 Fully Booked  
29/09/17 24/10/17   $12,995 Fully Booked  
Valid From: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Launceston & Perth
Other departure cities:
Tips: Tipping is not expected, however this is at your discretion. On board the cruise there is a tipping surcharge to pay of approximately $14pp US per day
Taxes: Total cost includes - air taxes of $210pp and port taxes of $140pp
Single supplement: From $4,050 (subject to cabin type)
  • Upgrade from an Oceanview Stateroom to a Balcony Stateroom from only $500pp (subject to availability)
  • Day/Date Variations: Due to airline flight schedules day of arrival and day of departure may vary depending on your city of departure
  • Taxes & Fuel Costs: Total cost includes air taxes. Taxes and fuel surcharges change regularly so above levies shown as a guide only
  • T&C: All prices shown are per person based on twin share and include airfares, all taxes and tips. Prices and itineraries correct at current time but are subject to change. Please call for more details. View our full terms & conditions here.

Accommodation

Accommodation

Shinagawa Prince Hotel, Tokyo

The Shinagawa Prince Hotel is located at the southern gateway to the Tokyo metropolis with breathtaking views of the city and Tokyo Bay. Besides its convenient location, this impressive multi-functional hotel complex offers a wide array of dining and entertainment options. The hotel is home to a 10 screen multiplex theatre, a cabaret, bowling centre, indoor swimming pool, indoor tennis courts, indoor golf centre, and a great selection of restaurants!

Facilities: air-conditioning; free wifi; fridge; safe deposit box; indoor swimming pool

Yumoto Onsen Tenseien, Hakone

Located in the heart of Hakone, this traditional ryokan property is just steps from Tamadare Falls and Gyokuren Shrine. The Shogenji Temple and Key Hiraga Museum are also nearby. Relax and enjoy the property's natural onsen (hot spring) and spa facilities.

Facilities: air conditioning; free wifi; fridge; safe deposit box

Associa Takayama Resort, Takayama

This charming spa resort property boasts 2 in-house restaurants, a full-service spa, outdoor tennis courts, a sauna and massage/treatment rooms. Rooms are comfortable with all the modern amenities and baths for a deep soak if you're so inclined.

Facilities: air conditioning; free wifi; fridge; in room safe

Sheraton, Hiroshima

The Sheraton Hiroshima is conveniently located in the city next to JR Hiroshima Station with direct access to the bullet train and bus terminals. The property features two restaurants, a bar/lounge and a health club with spa, indoor poool and steam room.

Facilities: air-conditioning; free wifi; fridge/minibar; safe deposit box; indoor swimming pool; tea & coffee making facilities

Kyoto Century Hotel, Kyoto

Located in the heart of Kyoto's Shimogyo district, the Kyoto Century Hotel exudes a sophisticated charm. The property's common areas and rooms are elegantly fitted out and offer all the modern amenities. The hotel boast 4 restaurants and a bar/lounge, as well as a dry cleaning service.

Facilities: air conditioning; free wifi; fridge

Sheraton Miyako Hotel Osaka

Located on the Uemachi Plateau, the hotel is directly connected with Kansai International Airport by airport limousine Bus.  Boasting 4 restaurants, bar and café, amenities include: Health Club, Internet Communications Lounge, Concierge, Drugstore, Beauty Salon, Florist, Dress Salon, Photo Studio, Barber, Hair Salon, Japanese Pub and boutique stores.  All rooms include: Refrigerator, electric hot water kettle, tea set, mini bar, hair dryer, a/c and free WiFi.

Accommodation listed is subject to change and the list should be used as a guide only. Every effort is made to avoid changes however if a change becomes necessary then accommodation of a similar standard will be used.

Weather

Weather

Tokyo

Most popular times to travel to Japan are spring (March - May) and autumn (September - November). The months of March and April are particularly pleasant as these are the cherry blossom months.

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Kyoto

Kyoto is located in the central part of the island of Honshu and enjoys a humid sub-tropical climate that features two major seasons a hot summer and a cold winter. Kyoto’s summer is May-September and has an average of 28.

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Currency

Currency

Japan, Yen

The official currency in Japan is the Japanese Yen (JPY; symbol ¥)

  • 1 Japanese Yen = 100 sen
  • Notes are in denominations of ¥10,000, 5000, 2000 and 1000
  • Coins are in denominations of ¥500, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1

Levels of Fitness

Levels of Fitness

Levels-of-Fitness-sml

To get the most from your Bunnik tour you will need a good level of fitness and mobility and an open mind. Many of the best sights can only be accessed on foot. You should be able to walk at least 3.5km or for 2-3 hours with no walking aids on uneven ground, climb several flights of stairs and be prepared to board small boats.

You should also be able to carry your own bags - porterage is not included in our tipping costs and extra services may not always be available.

Passengers who are 70 and over will be required to obtain a doctor’s clearance before travelling. 

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Special Experiences!

  • Visit the famous Tsukiji Fish Market, one of the world's largest wholesale markets for fish, fruit and vegetables. We learn the age-old culinary art of making sushi (which we'll get to enjoy once we've finished).
  • Enjoy a sumo wrestling demonstration by retired athletes over a traditional Chanko-Nabe (hot pot) lunch.
  • Stay in an authentic ryokan guesthouse. We'll have the chance to bathe in natural onsen (hot springs) and enjoy a traditional Japanese dinner.
  • Enjoy a variety of local activities including sake brewing & tasting, and a chance to dress in a kimono. Then witness a traditional dance performance by Maiko (Geiko apprentices).

Trip Info

Group Size

Max: 20

Transportation

Coach, plane, train, Cruise ship

Tips

Tipping is not expected, however this is at your discretion. On board the cruise there is a tipping surcharge to pay of approximately $14pp US per day

Tour Highlights

• 8-night cruise circling the island of Hokkaido • Learn about the national sport at the Sumo Museum • Explore buzzing Shinjuku • Stop at Mt Fuji’s 5th station (weather permitting) to take in the spectacular views • Explore World Heritage-listed Shirakawago, a gassho farm housing community • Visit the Hiroshima Peace Park and memorial • Tour the majestic temples of Kyoto, Japan’s cultural heart

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