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5 of the best cruises to Japan

Cruise Advice

Quite apart from the vibrant cities, the spectacular scenery and the contrasting islands, visitors to Japan return talking of something else altogether: the calm, the strangeness, the moments of zen beauty, the bowing, so respectful and contained; in short, the graciousness of an ancient heritage. Here are 5 of the best cruises to Japan.

Japan boasts a multifaceted culture, steeped in the most ancient traditions overlaid by extraordinary fashions and technological developments.

Every region is different, with amazing contrasts: the soaring mountains of the Japan Alps, the volcanic landscapes of Kyushu island, the temples and shrines of Kyoto, and the northern island of Hokkaido. To experience these contrasts, a cruise is an excellent option, carrying you effortlessly from region to region.

Himeji castle, Japan

Along the way you will learn so much about the people and their religion and conventions, the Geisha and the Samurai, theatre, manga and anime, and above all, the extraordinary obsession with hanami - cherry blossom viewing - in the spring. If you are wondering why there are so many April and May departures, cherry blossom is the answer!

If Japan is on your list, we recommend you don't delay! Here are our top five Japan cruise options for 2024 and 2025...

5 of the best cruises to Japan


Two captivating 15 and 17-night itineraries on board the lovely Silver Muse on 5 April 2025 and the new Silver Nova on 7 April each sail round-trip from Tokyo and visit all of Japan's most famous destinations, as well as a fascinating overnight in Kanazawa, which rivals Kyoto for historical significance with its 17th-century Kenroku-en garden, exceptionally well-preserved samurai and geisha districts.

These are a great choice for a busy schedule of exploration to give you an excellent overview of the country, all from the outstanding comfort of Silversea's intimate and luxurious ships.

Geishas outside Senso-ji temple, Tokyo

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Cherry blossom season may get the headlines, but Japan in autumn is just as spectacular as beautiful fall foliage envelops the country's myriad of outdoor spaces, from national parks to exquisite gardens.

Regent's magnificent 746-guest Seven Seas Explorer offers two lovely Tokyo-round trip October 2025 sailings on 6 October and 28 October, on which highlights include stops at the laidback city of Kochi and its elegant 17th century hilltop castle; hot-spring town Beppu, close to the largest active volcano in Japan; historic Nagasaki and Hiroshima; and an overnight in Kobe, gateway to the famous Kyoto and its geishas, traditional wooden houses, temples, gardens, imperial palaces and Shinto shrines.

Kochi castle, Japan


Seabourn's 458-guest Seabourn Quest is a lovely base for this 28-day cruise that sails round-trip from Tokyo on 30 March 2025. Highlights include an overnight among the sobering history of Hiroshima, Hakodate's snow monkeys and the beautiful beaches of the southern islands, as well as calls in to South Korea's Busan and Taiwan's Taipei, home to attractive temples and a burgeoning street food scene.

There's also an unusual call in at Kushiro, gateway to the protected marshlands of Japan's lesser-visited Kushiro Mitsugen National Park where you can still find the endangered Japanese crane, a graceful bird with a distinctive red crown.

Snow monkeys in an onsen in Hakodate, Japan


Ponant's 260-guest Le Soléal offers a fantastic Treasures of Japan departure on 12 April 2025, perfect for cherry blossom season, with lots of fascinating inclusions and enhancements thanks to their partnership with Smithsonian Journeys such as engaging onboard discussions by Asian studies experts and traditional bamboo flute and taiko drumming performances.

Ponant also offer very unusual cruises to Japan's subtropical archipelago. More reminiscent of the Maldives than Japan, this area offers fantastic coral reefs, beautiful beaches and rugged jungle interior, returning after days exploring to Ponant's signature French flair, departing on 10 October 2024 and 26 April 2025.

Amami Oshima island, Japan


Cunard's Queen Elizabeth gives you so many options to choose from in spring 2025. Combine a southern and northern Japan cruise for an in-depth 19-night voyage on 29 March, 7 April or 5 May, or pick a fascinating 9-night itinerary that includes a call to the rarely visited southern islands on 29 March or 26 April, and you will return home stimulated by your comprehensive exploration of this extraordinary land.

Floating shrine in Miyajima, Japan
Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising. Most recently she's cruised on Windstar and has also sailed with Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, SeaDream, Ponant, AmaWaterways and Aqua Expeditions. Her favourite destination is the Galapagos however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Mediterranean, Danube, Middle East, East Africa & Indian Ocean, Brahmaputra, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Mekong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Caribbean and the Arctic. When she’s not travelling she loves reading, food and wine.

More about Edwina

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