FOLLOW THE VOYAGE:
Through The Heart Of Japan
Tokyo to Fukuoka | 23 September 2023 to 7 October 2023
Master: Mark Neill, Expedition Leader: Dawn Singleton, Guest Lecturers: Mike Sugden, Reed Knappe
Day 1: Tokyo, 23 September 2023
Our journey commenced in Tokyo, where we embarked upon the Coral Adventurer and acquainted ourselves with fellow travelers.
The crew orchestrated an engaging welcome presentation, and as the night unfolded, a Japanese marching band graced us with their performance as we set sail.
Amidst a chorus of applause, we bid farewell to the city lights of Japan, eagerly anticipating the adventures that lay ahead.
Day 2: Shimizu, 24 September 2023
We arrived at the port of Shimizu, where we got a clear view of Mt. Fuji and learned that this iconic mountain is sometimes referred to as the “shy mountain” due to its tendency to hide behind a veil of clouds.
Upon entering the port, we delved into Japanese history and Pat taught us the art of crafting paper cranes. In a collective effort, we folded 50 cranes to join the 1000 already fashioned by Pat.
Our first stop was the coastal pine forest, where we enjoyed a stroll among the towering pines, pausing at the beach to once again catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji.
Next we visited a green tea plantation, we explored a viewpoint overlooking Mt. Fuji and a small tea shop that offered a brief tasting session and an opportunity to purchase their delightful tea leaves.
On our return journey by bus, we sighted local townships, arriving back at the port, and an impressive display of high-energy dancing by a vibrant troupe dressed in colorful attire, capping off a memorable day.
Day 3: Shingu, 25 September 2023
As the ship entered Shingu port, we learned about the geology of Japan and enjoyed brunch.
We went for a hike through the misty high pine mountains of Daimonzaka and explored a small village as we passed by traditional Japanese style houses.
Than we hiked our way up to an old temple that was nested high atop steep hills with sweeping views over the valley and the falls in the distance.
At the falls we witnessed sweeping views of the 133m drop where we sighted some gorgeous wild deer.
Day 4: Osaka & Kyoto, 26 September 2023
Upon our early arrival at Kobe port, we divided into groups and embarked on morning bus tours to explore the cities of Osaka and Kyoto.
Our Osaka exploration began with a visit to the grand castle, where we delved into its rich history and stumbled upon local food stalls as we made our exit.
Next, we made our way to the Dotombori stop, providing us with the choice to either wander through the lively Kuromon market or relish some leisurely free time.
After lunch, we proceeded to the Umeda Sky Building, where we enjoyed the clear view of the cityscape from the top.
Meanwhile, our other group embarked on a journey through Kyoto, where they discovered the Golden Pavilion and a serene Buddhist temple.
Returning to the ship, we had the pleasure of partaking in an evening wine tasting event hosted by Sara.
As the evening approached, we enjoyed some free time off the ship exploring Japan’s culture and landscape.
Day 5: Tokushima, 27 September 2023
This morning, we received a warm welcome from friendly locals and traditional drummers at Tokushima dock.
Afterward, we boarded the buses and enjoyed a picturesque transit through the city to the Naruto Whirlpools viewpoint, an amazing phenomenon where tidal whirlpools form when the Pacific Ocean connects to the Inland Sea.
We also decided to try some local cuisine as we strolled through the shops, savoring local sweets and indulging in sweet potato ice cream.
Next, we explored the Otsuka Museum of Art, filled with over a thousand full-size ceramic reproductions of major works of art, including the Sistine Chapel, the Scrovegni Chapel, the triclinium of the Villa of the Mysteries, and Guernica.
Following a satisfying lunch, we set off once more, this time to visit the sake brewery, where we purchased many bottles of sake and delved into the intricate process of sake-making.
Later, we ventured to Ryozenji Temple and explored the local streets before returning to the ship for dinner and a captivating show by the Awa dancers on the dock.
Day 6: Shodoshima, 28 September 2023
Today, we arrived at Shodoshima, where we were ready for a day of exploration.
First, we split into groups: one group would hike to the summit of Kankakei Gorge, while the others would enjoy a relaxing ropeway ride to the summit.
The sunny day made the sweeping view from the summit down to the town crystal-clear, enabling us to see Coral Adventurer clearly in the distance.
After our morning adventure, we visited the Yamaroku Soy Sauce Distillery and walked through part of the Hishio no Sato (Soy Sauce District), with its tiny walkways passing cedar-built, charred-black, Japanese homes, burnt to protect the wood from decay.
Finally, we went to the Somen Noodle School where we all had a shot at making noodles, which made for a tasty and educational lesson.
We ended our day back on this ship, where Reed gave a lecture on “Nature and Society in Japan.”
Day 7: Miyajima Island & Hiroshima, 29 September 2023
This morning, we embarked on the Xplorers for a journey to Miyajima Island, where we explored the Itsukushima Shrine.
Some of us relished the leisurely pace, strolling around the shrine with our maps, while others opted to continue with the guided tour.
Along our walk, we encountered friendly wild deer, allowing us to capture some memorable photographs.
Following this, we ascended to Daisho-in Temple and enjoyed the panoramic view of the island.
After a satisfying lunch, we boarded our buses, eager to delve into Hiroshima’s rich history.
Our first stop was the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, where we participated in a guided tour of the Peace Memorial Park and the iconic A-Bomb Dome.
Additionally, we had crafted paper crane wreaths onboard, which we presented as a gesture of peace and solidarity for the Hiroshima tragedy.
We then had the opportunity to explore the surrounding area, adjacent districts, and local shops during our free time.
All in all, we unanimously agreed that this experience was truly eye-opening and profoundly educational.
Day 8: Matsuyama, 30 September 2023
This morning, we embarked on an adventure to Matsuyama Castle, where we enjoyed the panoramic vistas from the castle’s summit.
The castle itself was the most impressive and authentic example of traditional Japanese architecture still standing.
At the castle’s pinnacle, we encountered a display of ancient Samurai armor and the swords once wielded in battle.
Our descent was equally enjoyable, thanks to the efficient and delightful ropeway and chairlift.
Following this, we were presented with two options: exploring Ishiteji Temple or indulging in a traditional onsen experience—a soothing and relaxing hot spring bath.
Later that evening, we delighted in Mike’s cultural event, which included a sampling of both hot and cold Japanese sake, along with a whiskey tasting.
Day 9: Karatsu, 1 October 2023
In the morning, we were treated to a lecture by Reed on ‘Post War Japan: Japan’s Rebirth from 1945 to the Present.’
After brunch, we boarded buses to explore the sights of Karatsu.
Our first stop was the Hikiyama Exhibition Hall, where we had the privilege of up-close encounters with 14 impressive floats used in the annual Karatsu Kunchi Festival, celebrated from November 2nd to 4th.
These floats hold the prestigious UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage designation.
Next on our itinerary was Karatsu Castle, which provided vistas of the city.
We discovered that this fortress was constructed in 1608, utilizing disassembled parts from Nagoya Castle.
A peaceful rest awaited us at the Kagamiyama Observation Deck, where we witnessed an expansive view of the cityscape, with the Coral Adventurer in the distance.
Our return to the ship was marked by a delightful surprise—a group of locals adorned in traditional costumes performing for us with traditional instruments as we bid Karatsu farewell.
Day 10: Tsushima , 2 October 2023
After docking at Tsushima, we set off on buses to visit the town and prepared for a hike.
We split into three groups: the first group explored Mt. Shimizu on a long hike.
We ascended the steep steps leading to the ruins of the Banshoin temple and quickly made it to the summit, which offered amazing 360-degree views of the island and the steep hills covered in fir trees.
We enjoyed our descent as it wound down through a dense copse of cedar and oak trees.
The second group explored Ichino Maru on a moderate hike.
They ascended to the first viewpoint, which also provided a great view over the valley and the township below.
The town and shrine at the base were a perfect example of rural Japan, with small shops, quiet winding roads, and few locals strolling around.
The last group explored the town of Tsushima and visited the Banshoin temple and museum.
The size and architecture of the museum were incredible, with a modern structure of stone, concrete, and wood housing interesting artifacts excavated from the area dating back to the 14th century.
After a day of exploration, we boarded the ship, ready for our journey onwards to South Korea, and enjoyed a lecture from Reed about ‘Japan and the West, From Isolation to Globalization’.
Day 11: Jeju Island , 3 October 2023
Today, we arrived in South Korea, specifically Jeju Island, where we were greeted by cool weather before embarking on our adventure to Seongeup Folk Village.
There, we spent some time exploring the traditional village and experiencing local life.
We then made our way to Seongsan Ilchubong Sunrise Peak, where we enjoyed a 360-degree view of the island.
Afterward, we went on a leisurely hike along the coastline before indulging in some Korean BBQ at a local restaurant.
Our next stop was Manjanggul Cave, where we explored the longest lava cave in Asia.
Day 12: Sasebo , 4 October 2023
This morning, we docked at Sasebo, and our day began with a short lecture from Reed on ‘The History Of Porcelain’, where we learned that the town of Arita has been responsible for being Japan’s most prestigious exporter of porcelain since the 17th century.
First, we visited the Arita Ceramic Museum, where we learned about the history and importance of the art form of porcelain making in the region.
We also had the chance to take a leisurely stroll through the traditionally styled town of Arita, where we visited local pottery stores, Tozan Shrine, and saw the townscape, also known for the Tombei Walls made from porcelain materials.
We also enjoyed some free time shopping at the Sankacho shopping street, the biggest shopping street in Sasebo city, and hiked to the Kujukushima viewpoint for panoramic views of nearby islands.
Day 13: Aokata (Goto Islands), 5 October 2023
Today, our island adventure began as we arrived at Aokata, eager to explore the Goto Islands, named for their cluster of five islands.
Aokata itself exemplified the remote nature of these islands, situated a two-hour ferry ride away from the main township of Nagasaki.
We marveled at the fishing villages nestled against the rugged cliffs, where the sea had sculpted the rocks into sharp, weathered formations.
These islands, often referred to as the “typhoon islands,” truly lived up to their name.
As we ascended to the summit of Yagatame Park, we were met with gusts so strong that our hats nearly flew off.
Our journey continued with a scenic drive to Kashiragahama Church, where we discovered that it was built by the locals and learned more about their daily lives.
Afterward, we explored the Yagatame Salt Workshop, enjoying an informative tour and indulging in a delightful treat – salt-infused ice cream, a sweet surprise to savor.
After enjoying some free time exploring the island and the local shops, we returned to the ship and witnessed a traditional Japanese drum performance.
Day 14: Fukue (Goto Islands), 6 October 2023
Our final voyage day took us to Fukue Island, the southernmost of the Goto Islands, known for its churches and Catholic communities.
We explored Mount Onidake, a well-maintained volcanic cone, and saw locals flying samurai kites.
Some visited Dozaki Church. Later, we all gathered at Abunze Coast Observation Deck to view a unique lava flow.
At noon, we returned to the ship for lunch before leaving for Fukuoka.
The afternoon was filled with events: a presentation on future voyages, a cooking demonstration, and the Coral Lecturer Quiz.
The day ended with Captain’s Farewell Drinks & Canapes, a photo slideshow, and a final dinner, reflecting on our two-week journey through Japan.