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Ponant invites you on a timeless journey around the fascinating and surprising Empire of the Rising Sun, where unbridled modernism and ancestral traditions form a delightful blend, where the history of the samurai rubs shoulders with the delicateness of the geisha, and where the aromas of the tea plantations intermingle with the fragrances of cherry blossom. From bustling Osaka, set sail aboard Le Soléal for 9 days to explore the heart of this country with a thousand traditions.
Following the currents, clinging to the shores of the Seto Inland Sea, Le Soléal will sail west. At the foot of a tropical forest burgeoning with life, Tamano stands proudly in the middle of this enchanting environment. A significant commercial centre during the Edo era, it still bears the traces of traditional Japanese life in the 18th century, as the particular architecture of the town demonstrates.
Hiroshima does not seek to elicit strong emotions. Opposite the Inland Sea, only the Hiroshima Peace Memorial bears witness to past events in the city known as a "City of Peace". It is resolutely future looking and you will be able to appreciate its modern and cosmopolitan atmosphere, the hustle and bustle of its lively streets and the tranquillity of its natural settings, such as the splendid Shukkei-en, the city's historic gardens.
The jagged coastlines of the captivating Miyajima Island, also known as Itsukushima, come into view, and the vermillion Torii of the emblematic Shinto Shrine of Itsukushima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, unfolds before you in a lush forest setting. Time here seems stuck in the feudal era: the frenetic energy and modernity of the large Japanese metropolises make way for striking serenity and tranquillity, and hundreds of deer wander between its spiritual and architectural treasures.
Following a port of call filled with history on the island of Uwajima, Le Soléal will set sail for one of Japan's most singular places, Kagoshima. Facing the captivating Mount Sakurajima, one of the most active volcanoes in Asia, and bordered by the majestic Kinko Bay, where the rays of sun bathe the surface of the ocean in colour, the former feudal city shelters the remains of this opulent era, as evidenced by the ruins of the castle of the Shimazu clan and its samurai.
Further north, Nagasaki remains in the world's imagination as the symbol of nuclear horror. Fortunately, in the same way as Hiroshima, the city has become one the archipelago's most peaceful towns as well as one of its most attractive. The warm and cosmopolitan city unveils its many riches throughout its narrow streets: the Oura Catholic Church and its gardens, the Suwa Shrine, the sumptuous Buddhist temples...
Then you will sail to South Korea, a small peninsula that juts out into the Sea of Japan, and discover Busan, South Korea's second city. A place of great contrasts, Busan offers a spectacular view over its port, as well as over the ancient district of Chalgachi.
At the whim of the trade winds in the Sea of Japan, Le Soléal will sail eastbound for the charming feudal city of Sakaiminato. Here you will get a real glimpse into medieval Japan and allow yourself to fall under the spell of the samurai residences edging the picturesque little streets of the old city.
For the last stage of this enchanted Japanese interlude, you will disembark in Maizuru, a captivating city nestled deep in a sound scattered with wild and lush islets.