On board MS BREMEN from Shanghai to Otaru

Expedition unknown Japan: discover the land of smiles

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This brand-new BREMEN route provides you with new ways to discover the mysteries of Japan. Your cruise along the seldom-visited west coast will open up an extraordinary world alive with fascinating sights: grand Shinto shrines and small samurai towns, lush gardens and outstanding national parks. An insider’s view of Japan – full of rare insights.

from Shanghai to Otaru

Cruise dates:from 09.05.2017 to 23.05.2017 (14 days)
Your ship: MS BREMEN
Cruise number: BRE1707

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This cruise is operated in German. For individual programmes kindly ask our travel concierge.


Tue, 09.05.2017

Scheduled flight from Germany to Shanghai

Wed, 10.05.2017

Shanghai/China, departure 18.00 hrs (subject to tides)

Thu, 11.05.2017

Relaxation at sea

Fri, 12.05.2017

Pusan/Republic of Korea

Where the old and the new exist in harmony
You will gain your first impressions of Asia in the Land of Morning Calm, at the south-eastern tip of the Korean Peninsula, during a city tour of Pusan – with a special stop for tea. You will see how traditional ceremonies and historic temples still have their place alongside more modern aspects. Gyeongju – a UNESCO World Heritage Site* – still harbours remnants of the old Silla Kingdom, while the colourfully embellished Bulguksa Temple make it one of country’s most impressive sacred spots. The BREMEN will then set off along the Korea Strait. Further exciting experiences of the Far East await you in Japanese territorial waters.

Sat, 13.05.2017


Your gateway to discovering new sides to the country is the port of Moji on the island of Kyushu, the first of many new destinations on this cruise. Here you can witness the fascinating contrasts of Japan, both past and present – whether on a visit to the picturesque Kokura Castle*, in Shimonoseki* with its impressive Kanmon Bridge or on individual explorations.

Sun, 14.05.2017

Hiroshima, from 9.00 to 20.00 hrs

Hiroshima symbolises a very eventful period in modern history that took place around 70 years ago. But your exploration of the area will not be limited to memorials – you will also experience the beauty of nature here. An excursion to Hiroshima and the holy island of Miyajima* will highlight the contrasts between the Peace Memorial Park, designed partly by star architect Kenzo Tange, and the Itsukushima shrine. At high tide, the famous red gate is reflected in the water, symbolising the ancient veneration of nature characteristic of Shintoism. The architecture in this area also encompasses the Edo period, with the Kintai Bridge and Iwakuni Castle*, once the home to samurai. These warriors often asked for support from the deities while bathing in hot water. To this day, traces of that culture can still be seen in rituals of social interaction.

Mon, 15.05.2017

Beppu, from 9.00 to 14.00 hrs

When you ease yourself into the hot thermal waters during your visit to an onsen* at the spa resort of Beppu, you will also be able to partake in this relaxing tradition.

Tue, 16.05.2017

Sakaiminato, from 11.30 to 19.00 hrs

The inner life of Japan on the west coast
The BREMEN will leave the inland sea, passing through the Kanmon Strait between the main islands of Kyushu and Honshu, and back into the Sea of Japan. The hilly landscape glides by slowly, and far below you the tunnels for the Shinkansen trains cross the strait. As you arrive at Sakaiminato – a premiere destination – you will be greeted by a host of mythical creatures cast in bronze, created by the manga artist Mizuki Shigeru, who hails from here. Daisen-Oki National Park looks like something from a Japanese ink painting. You will discover its beauty during an excursion to the Shimane Peninsula and Mihonoseki* – one of the most idyllic coastal towns – or while enjoying downhill biking at Mount Daisen*, the “twin” of Mount Fuji. Alternatively, immerse yourself in tradition at Matsue and its famous castle* – one of Japan’s twelve remaining wooden castles. The Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine*, by contrast, has been restored and rebuilt. It is one of the most important Shinto shrines: this is where newly-weds pray for a happy marriage and single people wish for a partner.

Wed, 17.05.2017

Maizuru, from 7.00 to 19.00 hrs

Just like a “crane spreading its wings” – for that is what the name of this harbour town means – your understanding of belief systems of the Far East will unfold at the premier destination of Maizuru. From here, you will travel to the spiritual centre of the country: Kyoto – the old imperial city*. It is one of the highlights of the cruise thanks to its myriad temples and extravagantly decorated shrines. After your visit to the Golden Pavilion, you will admire Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy nature in all its glory when you visit the five Mikata lakes in Wakasa Wan Quasi-National Park and the Myotsuji Temple*, which dates back to the 13th century.

Thu, 18.05.2017

Kanazawa, from 9.30 to 20.00 hrs

In Kanazawa, the “gold-leaf capital”, the old geisha and samurai houses and the famous Kenrokuen Gardens* have remained untouched by the ravages of time. They manage to perfectly combine vastness and seclusion, craftsmanship and tradition, remoteness and harmony. By contrast, the Jigokudani Monkey Park in the Japanese Alps*, home to many macaques, will delight you with its wild beauty. The Eihei-ji Temple* comprises 60 different buildings. It is among the most important sites of Zen Buddhism, which is said to reveal the true nature of people and show things as they really are. 

Fri, 19.05.2017

Sado Island

Religious beliefs also characterised the classic Noh theatre. Many Noh stages can be found on Sado Island. Just as exotic are the wooden “washbasin boats” traditionally used by the fisherwomen of Sado*. Try them for yourself during a tour of the port.

Sat, 20.05.2017

Oga Peninsula

Back on the BREMEN, the next leg of your travels will be much more comfortable as you head for one of the most beautiful sections of Japan’s coast, the Oga Peninsula. Various tours will offer you plenty of opportunities to discover it. Its dramatic landscape is a stark contrast to the tranquillity of the island of Hokkaido, to the north.

Sun, 21.05.2017

Hakodate, from 7.00 to 13.00 hrs

From the small town of Hakodate, you will visit the Onuma Quasi-National Park and brewery*. As well as being inspired by Mother Nature, complete with volcanoes, birds and luxurious vegetation, you will learn how the country’s most popular drink is made.

Mon, 22.05.2017

Otaru (Sapporo)/Japan, arrival 8.00 hrs
Journey to Sapporo
Overnight stay with breakfast (mid-range hotel)

When your cruise has drawn to a close at Otaru, you will return home with a profound understanding of what you have seen, in keeping with the Japanese maxim: “Seeing once with your own eyes is worth more than hearing a hundred reports.”

Tue, 23.05.2017

Scheduled flight from Sapporo to Frankfurt

* The shore activities are not included in the cruise price and are in the planning stage. Subject to change.

Please note that our pre- and post-cruise programmes are conducted in German.
For individual programmes kindly consult your travel agent.

Following programmes we offer in German:




An art historian in the team of experts

Sinologist Wilfried König will help you gain deep insights into Asian art. He studied classic and modern sinology plus East Asian art history at the University of Heidelberg. Since 1990, he has worked as a tour guide for study cruises, where he puts his expertise to good use, complemented by knowledge gained from regular trips to Japan.

An art historian in the team of experts