Set sail on a remarkable adventure into the majestic Ogasawara Islands in Japan during a unique 10-day Expedition Cruise.

Beginning your journey in Osaka, Japan’s second city, discover the vibrant, advanced and futuristic metropolis that is fused with the rich history of its past. Explore the momentous Osaka Castle that has stood since the 16th century and visit the popular Dotomburi district.

Continuing our journey, we will set sail towards the island of Hachijō-Jima, which lies off the coast of Tokyo and is composed of two magnificent volcanos. We will then reach the Ogasawara Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site made up of over 30 subtropical islands situated in an extraordinarily wild setting, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Discover volcanic landscapes of outstanding beauty with white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, coral formations, lush tropical forest and a host of magnificent species. This archipelago is nicknamed the “Galapagos of the East” thanks to the many endemic plant and wildlife species.

We will then sail by Iwo Jima Island, the location of the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. The island became globally recognised when photographer Joe Rosenthal captured the Raising the Flag on Mount Suribachi.

Our journey will end in the idyllic island of Guam, Micronesia where white-sand beaches and spectacular wildlife awaits.

This Expedition Cruise is onboard Ponant’s Le Soléal ship, part of the Sisterships fleet. View full details including deck plans and features onboard here.

Trip highlights

Discover the incredibly well-preserved Ogasawara Archipelago, made up of 30 islands and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to a diverse array of fauna and flora, including many endemic species.

Explore the magnificent and majestic Hachijo-Fuji mountain on the island of Hachijo-Jima.

The opportunity to possibly encounter endemic and endangered species alongside a team of specialised experts and naturalists.

Explore the warm, crystal-clear waters where marine mammals thrive during snorkelling excursions.

Itinerary - 9 Days

1 Osaka, Japan

Japan’s second city, Osaka is the product of ancestral traditions and amazing technological innovations, making it an incredibly intriguing city to explore. Parallel to this, there is a rich history to Osaka that dates back as far as the 5th century and is best demonstrated by visiting the 16th-century Osaka Castle, which stands proudly amid majestic skyscrapers.
Visit the lively district of Dotomburi, that runs along the Dōtonbori canal from Dōtonboribashi Bridge to Nipponbashi Bridge and head towards the bizarre Shinsekai district that attracts thousands of locals and visitors alike who are here to explore the food markets and Tsutenkaku Tower, the nostalgia-evoking symbol of Shinsekai.

2 At sea

During your day at sea, make the most of your time onboard Le Soleal. Catch up with our onboard National Geographic Expert and photographer as they give greater insight into the destination via lectures and workshops or visit the photo gallery area where you can take a look at some of the professional photos that have been taken during your trip so far. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or head to the observation lounge to enjoy some reading whilst taking in your surroundings, where you may be lucky enough to spot some wildlife in the waters below.

3 Hachijō-Jima

The volcanic island of Hachijō-Jima is a lush, green subtropical paradise in the Philippine Sea formed by two adjacent volcanos.
Famed for its jungle-like greenery, extraordinary birdlife, and distinctive cultural heritage, especially its sericulture and kihachijo silk-weaving which has played an integral part in the local community. The island's two main mountains are the volcanos Mt. Mihara in the south-east and Mt. Nishi in the north-west with both offering spectacular hiking opportunities where incomparable landscapes await.
As the island is volcanic, there are several natural thermal springs as well as a host of plants such as Phoenix roebelenii palms and aloe vera.

4 At sea

During your day at sea, make the most of your time onboard Le Soleal. Catch up with our onboard National Geographic Expert and photographer as they give greater insight into the destination via lectures and workshops or visit the photo gallery area where you can take a look at some of the professional photos that have been taken during your trip so far. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or head to the observation lounge to enjoy some reading whilst taking in your surroundings, where you may be lucky enough to spot some wildlife in the waters below.

5 Ogasawara

The Ogasawara Archipelago, also known as the Bonin Islands, are a chain of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean. Designated as World Heritage Site, the Ogasawara islands offer a subtropical climate with a wealth of fauna and flora including more than 440 species of native vascular plants with exceptionally concentrated rates of endemism as high as 70% in woody plants. The islands are home to more than 100 recorded native land snail species as well as the critically endangered Bonin flying fox

Discovered in 1593 by Ogasawara Sadayori, a large majority of the islands remain uninhabited aside from Chichijima and Hahajima. The islands are an incredible example of ongoing evolutionary processes in oceanic island ecosystems and are often the focus of various research projects.

6 Sailing by Iwo Jima Island, Ogasawara

Iwo Jima Island, also known as Iwo To, is a volcanic island that sits south of the Bonin Islands and together with the other islands makes up the Ogasawara Archipelago.

Iwo Jima Island was invaded in 1945 by America in World War II. At the second raising of a flag on the peak, Joe Rosenthal photographed six Marines raising the United States flag on the fourth day of the battle. This image became iconic and was regarded as one of the most significant and recognisable images of the war. That same year, the photograph won the Pulitzer Prize for Photography.

7-8 At Sea

During your day at sea, make the most of your time onboard Le Soleal. Catch up with our onboard National Geographic Expert and photographer as they give greater insight into the destination via lectures and workshops or visit the photo gallery area where you can take a look at some of the professional photos that have been taken during your trip so far. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or head to the observation lounge to enjoy some reading whilst taking in your surroundings, where you may be lucky enough to spot some wildlife in the waters below.

9 Guam

As we reach the end of our Expedition Cruise, our final stop will be the volcanic island of Guam, the largest island of Micronesia and the Mariana Islands. With crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches, Guam is the perfect destination to relax and end your 10-day exploration. This little-known island, which sits under the administration of the United States, also offers plenty of opportunities to explore should your schedule allow it. Numerous historical sites, vestiges of Spanish colonisation, and opportunities to experience the culture of the Chamorros, the first inhabitants of the islands, talented craftspeople who have preserved their traditions.

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