Satsuma Iōjima


This volcanic island is 5.5 km long by 4.0 km wide, elevation is 704 mtrs (2309 ft). The crater is about 400 mtrs across.
The volcano discharges about 1300 tons a day of sulphur dioxide, and over a year it is  474,500 tons, and global warming is supposed to be our fault.

From Hong Kong to Osaka we passed close to this island, which is about 50 km from the mainland of Japan – Kagoshima Province.
The island has a ferry service from the mainland, which runs twice a week and takes about three hours. The island doesn’t have an airport.
Population in 2006 was 121, I couldn’t find any updates – but allowing for inflation, when everything doubles in ten years, I’d say the population today is around 250.

DSC00953rczAs you see it was a beautiful day.

DSC00957rczThe small white boat can be seen on the full picture – had to shrink so as to post.


We passed the island and fortunately it didn’t erupt. The volcano is considered to be ‘restless’, which was noticed by satellites in 2013, when white plumes rose from the crater to about 400 mtrs above the island.

DSC00959rA farewell picture – it was lunchtime.

This island is named Satsuma Iwo Jima, and is part of the Satsunan Shotō group of islands.

These islands don’t have anything to do with the Iwo Jima island of WW2 fame, which is 1000 km directly south of Tokyo, and is part of the Ogasawara Islands Group.

There is another Iōjima, which is near Nagasaki.

The above blog is due to friends in the UK who commented that I’d missed off passing the volcanic island, when I blogged of the Diamond Princess’ passage from Hong Kong to Osaka – they were also on the Diamond Princess at the time – I can’t get away with anything  :- o)

All in the planning


Celebrity Silhouette

Celebrity Silhouette

Our winter has just started – everyone tells me it will end on the 1st September, but I still believe it is the 21st Sept (Equinox), but regardless it is still cold at the moment.
During the last couple of months my thoughts have been considering how best to avoid at least a month of winter.
Obviously, where ever we go must be in the northern hemisphere, preferably for the month of June & July, but as two months will be too expensive it must be one or the other. At least August is shaking off winter so one starts to look forward to the warmer weather.

september-equinox-factsAutumn Equinox northern Hemisphere

080706 wattle 02Spring equinox in Sydney – same date 21st September.

We know when spring has arrived in Sydney because of the abundance of flowering wattle. The 1st September is National Wattle Day, to celebrate the national flower of Australia, perhaps this is why Australia considers the 1st September to be Spring.

There are other things to consider when booking a holiday – the monsoon seasons in Asia. The southwest monsoon is July through to September, so India is not a consideration.
Having experienced the heat of the Persian Gulf during my time when I was at sea, a visit to Dubai or Abu Dhabi in June, July or August is also out. An outside temperature of 44 c (111 f) does not make for a pleasant stroll outside, even if the bus stops are air conditioned, as they are in Dubai.

High humidity and heavy evening rain in certain Asian countries caused me to turn to Europe, and perhaps the UK.
Getting to Europe requires further consideration, because if we use a Middle Eastern airline, will they still serve wine during Ramadan, so when is / was Ramadan?
This year it was from the 15th May to the 14th June so if we travel in July, Ramadan will not be a consideration.
A couple of years ago we did travel during Ramadan, with a Middle Eastern airline, and Ramadan was during our homeward leg. During the outward journey the cabin crew would walk up and down the aisle with a bottle of red wine in one hand and a bottle of white in the other and top up passenger’s wine glasses.
On the homeward trip, which was during Ramadan, your empty glass was removed and refilled in the galley. A slightly odd compromise I thought, considering that the faithful don’t drink alcohol.
I mention religion, because I have been caught out a few times, and not just with Ramadan, but also holy days, when all bars are closed and the serving of alcohol even in top hotels is forbidden. This has happened also on Buddhist holy days, and the phases of the moon in one country that forbids alcohol one day a month, due to the full moon.


If you are passing through, or just overnighting, various restrictions can be inconvenient for those of us who like a glass of wine with our meals. If a religious period carries on over several days then these restrictions might compromise or even spoil your holiday. So being aware of holy days / holy weekends etc when booking your holidays is a ‘must’.

Taking all in to account it was decided that we will cruise from Southampton to the Baltic in Celebrity Silhouette. Maureen hasn’t been to this part of the world and it will be over fifty years since I sailed in the Baltic during my time as a British India Steam Navigation Company cadet in Dunera, when she was a school ship.

Dunera03Dunera’ school ship in the mid 1960’s.

As a school ship she carried hundreds of school children to various ports around Europe. The children had daily lessons about the port / country that they would visit, and afterwards they had to write essays about their experience.
The school ship concept was started by BISNC in the 1930’s, and reinitiated in the early 1960’s using converted troop ships, after the British government started flying troops to British possessions rather than sending the troops by sea. The project was a huge success with school children, and young adults when the ship was charted by organisations in various other countries. I can remember one cruise when some of the ‘school children’ where older than me. It was a Swiss charter for seventeen to twenty-year-old students.

The cruise in the Celebrity Silhouette will be a ‘I remember when for me’ and hopefully enjoyable for Maureen.


Nynashamn is about 45 minutes drive outside Stockholm, and the last time I was in the Baltic, St Petersburg was called Leningrad, and Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev was First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, and later became General Secretary.

Now that we have decided to take the trip, which airline should we use?
Qantas, the Australian airline, is too expensive, and when returning they have night flights which we hate.

Up until recently Qantas’ partner on the Kangaroo route to the UK was Emirates,

emirates-airline-united-arab-emirateswhich would require a transit stop in Dubai. We flew with Emirates last year and it worked out well, but this year the ticket cost is much more expensive, plus the night flight syndrome.
I did see a special offer of flying with Finnair, who don’t currently fly in to Australia.

FinnaitThe last time we flew with Finnair was out of Bangkok to Venice via Helsinki. The flight and cabin service were very good, so if the price was right we wouldn’t have any complaints.
Finnair flies out of Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok. Getting to any of the transit stops using Finnair’s relationship with either Qantas (via Bangkok), Cathay Pacific (via Hong Kong), or Qantas (via Singapore) can involve a night flight on the way / from London.
I did find a cheaper rate via Cathay Pacific over Hong Kong, but the return flight from Hong Kong to Sydney was a night flight.
After a considerable amount of research to find the best combination of daylight flights, seating, price, acceptable airline, and arriving a few days before the cruise, which I like to do just in case the airline mishandles our bags, I ended up choosing Garuda.

Logo Garuda Indonesia

The last time I flew with Garuda was in the 1980’s so using them today would be new experience.

A few years ago, I would never have considered this airline because ten years ago they were banned from flying in European air space. Since 2007 their reputation has slowly recovered, and now they are one of only ten airlines in the world classed as a five-star airline – the list (in alphabetical order) are

All Nippon Airlines (aka ANA) – Japanese


Asiana Airlines – S. Korea


Cathay Pacific Airlines – Hong Kong


Etihad Airlines – Abu Dhabi


EVA Air – Taiwan
Garuda Airlines – Indonesia

Logo Garuda Indonesia

Hainan Airlines – China

Lufthansa – Germany

Qatar Airlines – Qatar


Singapore Airlines – Singapore

You’ll notice that the African, American, South American, Australian, and New Zealand airlines are missing off the five-star list, and only one European airline has been included. The star rating is voted by passengers.

Our plan was to fly Sydney to Jakarta – daylight of course, sleep overnight near Jakarta airport and fly daylight to London or Amsterdam. The best flight as far as I could see was the London bound flight even though it was more expensive than flying in to Amsterdam. Flying from Amsterdam to London would increase the overall cost above flying direct in to London.
Just before I was about to buy the tickets I read that the authorities had arrested twenty-five baggage handlers at Jakarta airport for theft of the contents of passenger’s bags at the airport. As our bags would be staying overnight at the airport this was a concern.
Later I logged on to Trip Advisor and used the forum area to find out about attractions in and around Jakarta if we were to stay for three days during our return journey.
The one thing that stood out on the forum was that Jakarta seemed to be grid-locked with traffic, plus we should be aware of possible bombings.

Unfortunately, five-star Garuda lost my interest, through no fault of the airline. I decided to find an alternative airline.

A few days later I came across a special offer with Singapore Airlines – a little more expensive than Garuda, but daylight flights all the way to / from London.
Daylight Sydney to Singapore – overnight at a local hotel – daylight to London. For the return journey 9.35 am departing London for maximum daylight time to Singapore, fly all day (13.25 hours) and put our clocks forward seven hours to arrive Singapore at 5.30 am local time. We would have a ninety minute transit and depart Singapore for Sydney at 07.10 am. Another daylight flight, which is just what we wanted.

I booked Singapore Airlines.  sq

In five days time, on Thursday, it will be the northern summer solstice, which means it is our winter solstice and on Friday the sun starts its journey back to where it belongs, shining over Australia.



Homeward bound


DSC01846rThe last night of the cruise – don’t know how many balloons they go through in a year, because there is a big ‘bash’ at the end of every cruise.

We’d left Akita and headed north east through the night and the following day, which was a sea day.
During the night of the sea day, which was the last night of the cruise, we entered the straits of Tsugaru Kaiko, around 1.30 am, not being a night owl z z z z z I just believed what I was told.
The Tsugaru Kaiko Straits divide the rest of Japan from Hokkaido Island, and around 3.15 am we cleared the straits, entered the Pacific Ocean, and headed for Yokohama.

DSC01849rMorning arrival in Yokohama – later we would cross the bridge shown in the picture.

In the evening of the last night we were asked to leave our heavy luggage outside our cabins. This luggage was removed during the night and the next time I saw it was in the passenger terminal. The whole operation was extremely efficient, we picked out our luggage, after which we were shown were to go for the coach to the airport. We just followed a guide and boarded the bus as our luggage was stowed underneath.

Princess Cruises offered a shuttle service (for a fee) to both airports, Narita and Haneda, but we picked Narita, because our flight would be leaving from Narita the following morning.
On researching the best way to get home I realised that we would not be able to make any morning flights from Narita on the morning that we left the ship, and that we would have to stay at an airport hotel overnight.

DSC01855rWe crossed the bridge after which we encountered traffic.


Most of the way we were in a convoy of slow traffic and it took us two hours or more to get to Narita, which is about 100 km or 60 miles. At least it confirmed that staying over night for the following day’s flight was the correct decision.

We stayed at the Narita Airport Rest House, which was only a few minutes from the airport and the price was ‘right’ at AUD $110. The room was a good size, and it was clean, as was the bathroom, and you could see the planes but not hear them, perfect for a quick overnight.
We booked a couple of seats on the 6.30 am shuttle (five minute ride) to the airport. On arriving in the foyer at 6.00 am we were just two of quite a few. We were early, because I had a feeling that the bus might well be full at 6.30 am. The driver waved to us and we all climbed aboard and we left at 6.10 am – initiative and efficiency, because the driver would be back in time to make the first run of the day at 6.30am.

On entering Narita Airport we were surprised at how quiet it was, so we found our check-in area and realised that the airport didn’t open until 7.30 am!
I’d never experienced an airport operating on office hours. Last year we checked in at 4.00 am for a 6.00 am flight out of Sydney, and we consider Sydney to be a ‘terminus’, with a curfew, but Tokyo’s Narita would be a 24 hour airport, or so we thought.

DSC01859rcThere were plenty of very quiet planes.

After checking in, because we were business class, we were given an invitation to the lounge. We were given a map along with our invitation – it took us a good twenty minutes to get anywhere near the lounge, and we still had to ask in the end. The airport is huge!

DSC01867rWe were at gate 93, and passed four lounges (for the same airline – JAL) before getting anywhere near Gate 93 and the lounge allocated for this area. The exercise was good for both of us . . .

DSC01862rBecause of our early start we hadn’t had breakfast, so the spread was very welcoming. The blackboard is advertising some sort of food along with Mount Fuji, but self serve was better.

DSC01864rThe lounge was very nice and quiet and had good internet reception.


It was 5.00 pm somewhere in the world, even if it was only 8.30 am in Tokyo, so I had to try Japanese bubbly.

DSC01878rFollow the leader for take-off to Kuala Lumpur, we were flying with Malaysian Airlines.



One  last shot of Mt Fuji as we left Japan behind.


Lunchtime – my starter, smoked fish, thought I’d do the right thing because I wanted the meat dish for the main course.

DSC01891rVery apologetic cabin member (can’t say stewardess anymore), said that they had run out of the meat, but I could have the poached haddock.

At home I have fish once a week normally, so now I have two weeks free . . . . .

Because we don’t like night flying we decided to stay over night at the Kuala Lumpur airport hotel, the Sama Sama, which is a lovely hotel, having stayed there a few times.


Hotel Lobby

Premier_Room_KingTypical Premier Room, which gives you access to the Executive Lounge.

DSC01899rThe advantage is that it includes food and drinks from 6 to 8 pm. By the time you’ve picked through the offering you don’t need an evening meal.

DSC01901rOver eating might be a problem

The following morning we check-out of the hotel and checked in for the flight to Sydney – daylight flight 9.00 am to 7.00 pm. Our ticket entitled us to visit the Golden Lounge, which is the name of Malaysian Airline’s lounge in KL.

DSC01904rIt has all been refurbished

DSC01908rHot food to order –  just ask for the type of omelette you want and the chef makes it . .

DSC01909rVarious types of food for breakfast from western to Asian; hot or cold.

DSC01919rBrunch on the plane.

I was waiting to be told that my main course was not available  . .

DSC01920rI should have had more faith – Nasi Lemak, one of my favourite Malay dishes.
Spiced just right for me – I like spice.

DSC01922rGetting close to home – the wide open spaces of Australia.

DSC01927rStrapped in the seat for landing and held the camera onehanded across Maureen – must do better next time – give the camera to Maureen, I can be an idiot when I try.

Just for my Sydney readers – from walking off the plane, through immigration, collected bags, through quarantine and outside waiting for our lift home – 20 minutes!!

About 7.00 pm on a Sunday night – never had such a fast arrival.







DSC01712rI asked this lady’s permission to take her photograph. It was during a ‘formal’ evening on the Diamond Princess when a number of Japanese ladies dressed in the national dress of Japan.

Our next port of call was Akita, which would be the last for Maureen & I, because we would leave the ship in Yokohama.

DSC01714r Wind farms as we entered Akita harbour area, I suppose to supply the dock area with power.

DSC01719rThe local people seemed pleased to see us – I was quite surprised as we normally see more people farewelling than greeting us.

DSC01725rThe inevitable manga showed up. He gets around.

I had arranged for a walker guide in Akita, and he was waiting for us in the terminal. His name is Toru, and as soon as he met us we were ushered quickly to the bus, which would take us to the local railway station. He told us that the city had placed a special train at Diamond Princess’ disposal and the first one hundred passengers would travel free. That word ‘free’ always gets my attention!

DSC01755rWhile we waited on the train we were entertained by a display of Japanese kanto lantern skills. Akita is well known for its rice, from which they make award winning Sake, and over the years this has grown in to a celebration of rice.

DSC01733rThe kanto (or pole lantern) comes in different sizes with the largest measuring 12 meters, and weighing 50 kilograms (about 100 lbs) and carrying as many as 46 paper lanterns, which are lit by real candles at night. To the sound of drums & flutes onlookers chant “dokkoisho, dokkoisho”, (a loose translation is ‘heavy ho, heave ho’), when each kanto is hoisted up by a single performer who balances the kanto on end using various techniques. The performers change every few minutes and gradually add extensions to the pole until the kanto is at its maximum height.
The above shows lanterns, which represents the rice grains on a stalk of the main plant. The individual holding the pole shows his skill and ability to control the kanto from balancing it in his hand to placing the end of the pole on his chin and letting go of the pole. As he balanced the pole we were surrounded by drum beats.

DSC01734rOne handed


DSC01746rcWhen the wind blows  . . . but he managed to save it.

DSC01738rcIf he’d been a ‘chinless wonder’, (a British thing), he couldn’t have managed this feat.
In August Akita has a lantern festival and teams compete, and in the evening march through the town.

lgPicture of the night scene taken from the internet.

DSC01726rAs we stepped on to the train we were greeted by Geishas – the more experienced Geisha is called geiko and the student or apprentice is called maiko – for those who are wondering, sex doesn’t come in to being a real geisha. They are entertainers, and the geisha is often skilled in classical music, dance, conversation etc and the word Geisha in English means ‘performing artist’.

In the old days the geiko was called okiya by the maiko, which means that the geiko would supply the food and clothes for the maiko, so once the maiko became a geisha she would repay her okiya for her training, clothes & food etc. I don’t think this ‘bonded’ system works today. Perhaps I’ll ask questions at the end . . . .

DSC01745rMaureen and the welcome party, they joined us on the train to the city centre.


DSC01748rAs the train pulled out of the station we were farewelled by a group of well dressed males. Not sure if they were from the town council, rail company or port authority.

DSC01757rOn arrival in the main city station we were greeted by a couple of longhaired old friends on the platform.


As well as inside the main building.

Akita-InuAkita inu (Akita dog),

The Japanese Akita inu used to be a hunting dog to find and fight bears, deer etc. The dogs came from the northern part of Japan and the surrounding areas of Akita, hence its name.

Hachikō was the most famous of these dogs, and he lived from 1923 to 1935.

In 1924, Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the Tokyo Imperial University, took Hachikō as a pet and brought him to live in Shibuya, Tokyo. Ueno would commute daily to work, and Hachikō would leave the house to greet him at the end of each day at the nearby Shibuya Station. The pair continued the daily routine until May 21, 1925, when Ueno did not return. The professor had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, while he was giving a lecture, and died without ever returning to the train station in which Hachikō waited.
Each day, for the next nine years, nine months and fifteen days, Hachikō awaited Ueno’s return, appearing precisely when the train was due at the station.
During his lifetime, the dog was held up in Japanese culture as an example of loyalty and fidelity. (The above information is thanks to Wikipedia).

DSC01766rSo of course you can buy a stuffed Akita dog at the railway station . . .

DSC01768rOnce again, every where was spotless and graffiti free. I took the above from the escalator as we went down to street level.

DSC01769rToru, our guide, steered us towards an area similar to a public square, where we saw smaller kanto close up.

DSC01770rMaureen was given the smallest one that we could find, and it was still heavier than it looked, and awkward to handle. Unfortunately I don’t have a copy of the photograph of Maureen balancing the kanto on her chin.

DSC01775rWe walked up the hill to the old ‘castle’s’ front gate. We saw inside the castle guard house, and the surrounding area. Main gate shown below.


DSC01786rWe walked up further from the gate to the Kubata Castle at the top.

Toru wanted to show us the views of the town, from the highest point, which was very good, even though is was a little overcast. On leaving the castle area we came across . . .


something different, red torii gates leading to Hachiman Shinto Shrine, Akita.

The day was drawing to a close and we had to cut short our visit to the castle hill and make our way to the meeting place for the coach to take us back to the ship. The train was only one way. As we got closer to the meeting place it started to rain and quite a few other passengers had the same idea and the queue was quite long.

When the bus arrived I didn’t think that we would all get on, but once all the normal seats were filled the driver dropped down aisle seats. I’m glad we didn’t have an accident because I don’t have any idea how we would have all escaped.

DSC01790rI was on one of the centre aisle seats, and the head in front (black hair) is Toru our guide. At least the centre passengers were first off when we reached the ship.







DSC01619rA quiet town with a very unusual historical link.

We took a ship’s cruise, because I was unable to find a ‘walker’ guide.

DSC01625rAnother temple – Kehi Jingu Shrine, or as the locals call it “Kei-san,” I took the above photo, but as usual you couldn’t get a clear shot for the tourists :- o)

kehijingu_mainThis shot is from the Tsuruga Tourists Association site.
It is said to have been built in 702 AD. The 11-meter-tall torii gate is known as one of Japan’s three greatest wooden torii gates.

DSC01626rAs we crossed the bridge to enter we came across a bride & groom.

DSC01627rcCouldn’t get a clear shot of her because the lady in blue kept getting in the way, perhaps she was the bride’s mother making sure all was well with the dress. She did look lovely, and everyone wanted a photograph of her.

DSC01636rPart of the temple.

DSC01637rThe prayer board was not far away.

DSC01638rIt appears that as well as selling prayer boards and good luck charms, she also fixed radios & told jokes, because her customer was laughing his head off.

DSC01640rOnce again after the faithful had purchased a fortune slip, and it wasn’t what they wanted,  they would tie the slip to the line and walked away, leaving their bad luck behind.

DSC01641rThese ladies seemed to be working for the temple on a tea stall, and they were quite happy to have their photograph taken with Maureen & I. Perhaps they were the Japanese version of Mother’s Union.


Maureen & I escaped because we wanted to see how the locals lived and we had visited quite a number of temples over the years. The above shows the local high street, which had Saturday stalls on the pavement – they were just setting up for the day.

DSC01647rThese ladies were trying to encourage us to visit their tea shop – if we’d have had more time perhaps we would have sampled their tea, but our time was limited, because we didn’t want to miss the coach.

DSC01650rPort of Humanity Tsuruga Museum

This is a museum – one that I’d never heard of, but a must for any visitor to Tsuruga.
We were not allowed to take photographs inside, so I have used the internet for those who are interested.

p_e-1-1-2sChiune Sugihara was a most unusual diplomat.

He was born on January 1, 1900 in Yaotsu-cho, Kamo-gun, Gifu Prefecture. His father wanted his high-achieving son to become a doctor, but the young Chiune desired a field in which he could use foreign languages, and at the age of eighteen, entered Waseda University’s Faculty of Education, Department of English Literature. He later passed the stringent exams for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His choosing to learn the Russian language, as recommended by an examiner during an interview, would determine his destiny.

Humanity Museum – 763 Polish orphans rescued between 1920 and 1922.

On September 1, 1939, the German forces invaded Poland and two weeks later on the 17th, Soviet forces stormed in from the east. Poland was divided and occupied according to the secret clause in the Nonaggression Pact concluded by Germany and the Soviet Union.
The Polish Jews were stranded without means to obtain approval to flee the country.  Their only escape route was Japan via Siberia.
They escaped to Lithuania but, Russian troops invaded Lithuania, and stopped the refugees from leaving.
They were now facing deportation to Siberia, so they contacted the Japanese Consul, Chiune Sugihara, to obtain a Transit Visa. The Consul contacted Tokyo for permission to issue so many transit visas – he was denied permission.
Sugihara, in an act of defiance, ignored the orders, and commenced granting visas.

The refugees who obtained the visas were then at the mercy of extreme hardship. While traveling to Vladivostok on the Siberian Railway, Russian Secret Police boarded the train and confiscated the refugees’ jewelry and watches. Many youths were arrested without reason and led away to forced labour in Siberia. By the time they reached Vladivostok and the ship to Japan, most of them had lost almost all of their money and valuables. From Vladivostok they took ship to Tsuruga.

The Jewish Escape Route lasted until 22nd June 1941 when Germany attacked Russia and the Siberian railways was closed to the refugees.

Hundreds escaped thanks to Chiune Sugihara.
From Tsuruga the refugees would make their way to Kobe, and then to China, Australia, US, Canada & S. America.
Read the links for more detail.

Across the road from the museum we were shown a diorama of Tsuruga – every boy’s Christmas wish.


DSC01660rThe trains never stopped, the lights dimmed to simulate night and the ships came alongside, with their navigation lights lit. The ships also sailed during ‘daylight’.

DSC01664rNote the ship at sea near what looks like a lighter coloured part of the sea – this is a viewing hole. From where I took the picture one could crawl underneath the ‘town’ and pop up to take photos of the town from the sea. The images on the top right hand side are, I think, reflections of a photograph of railway workers that was behind me when I took the picture. I didn’t know of this until I arrived home and transferred the images from the camera to the computer.

DSC01665rEven the buses and the general traffic moved around and stopped at lights.

All the men from our coach were clicking like mad and admiring the whole project, but our wives went to the souvenir shop after a couple of minutes looking at the display. Obviously the politically correct unisex concept was not in anyone’s mind, so please don’t report us to the PC police.

For some reason were taken to a ‘forest’ of pine trees . . . I’ve no idea why,

DSC01671rat the same time we were shown a beach –

DSC01668rNothing like an Aussie beach as the sand was very gritty.

DSC01670rcAs you can see it was not beach weather, even for an optimist like me in my shorts . . . the top for the day was 15 c (59F), not sitting out weather.

DSC01685rOf course we had to go round another market – not too bad, because they had plenty of samples, mainly fish and various seaweed etc.

DSC01687rThis stall holder was shaving seaweed in to very thin strip from a large piece of seaweed. It was interesting to watch his skill at getting slices that you could nearly see through.

DSC01691rThey had various restaurants & cafes. Some of the tour group had lunch others just made do with the samples.

DSC01684rI didn’t receive any free samples of crab at $81.50 for one crab . . .

DSC01693rVarious types of fish mixed with herbs and  . . . can’t remember, but it smelt ok.

DSC01695rThe smaller towns do make an effort to turn out for a ‘sail away’ & wave goodbye,

DSC01696rand the band with the Manga figures as well.

The one thing that sticks in my mind is that everywhere in Tsuruga was clean – we didn’t see any litter or graffiti. Tsuruga’s zebra crossings were different – once you had permission to cross, birds tweeted as you walked and stopped as soon as the light changed.










DSC01609rShigeru Mizuki is a Japanese Manga author who was born in 1922 and lived in Sakaminato.

Shigeru-Mizuki-Artist-Mizuki-ProductionsShigeru Mizuki

When he was a child he was a prodigy and during his time in primary school his skill with a pencil was so good that one of his teachers arranged an exhibition of his work.

When he left school he worked for a newspaper as an artist.

In 1942 he was drafted in to the army and was sent to New Britain, which is an island off Papua New Guinea.

Father & sonFather and son in 1942

Shigeru Mizuki was wounded and lost his left arm. As the last man standing in his unit he was ordered to die, which he considered a ridiculous order.
While in hospital the local tribes people befriended him and offered him a home and citizenship via marriage. He considered the idea, but didn’t take up the offer and returned to Japan.
He had various jobs after the war but kept up his drawings and stories. He worked as a kamishibai artist, which is a street artist and entertainer.

IMG_70871The artist creates his own pictures and tells the story around the pictures – he changes the pictures as the story progresses. The above is NOT Shigeru Mizuki
In 1957 he released his debut work Rokettoman.

RocketmanHe published other works which always focused on peace, and the characters that he created only came out during peace time.

manga - planche -2.jpgHe also produced a Manga biography of Adolf Hitler. I don’t think the Nazi party would have been pleased.

Shigeru Mizuki died in a Tokyo hospital in 2015 from heart failure.
His boyhood town Sakaminato, honoured him by naming a street after the characters that he created. Along the street are one hundred small statues of his super natural characters on both sides of the street.

During our tour of Sakaminato we were shown a train that carried some of his characters. Also see the first two pictures of this blog.

DSC01610ralso buildings surrounding the train station had characters.

DSC01608rcWhen our guide spoke of the characters I had the feeling that she considered them to be real – she was so passionate about them and the stories in which they took part. We were regaled with some of the stories and the background of the characters.
Only being aware of manga cartoon characters, but I haven’t ‘read’ any of the books or even opened one,  and based on various comments from other passengers I doubt that any one else had read or seen the characters of manga.

DSC01613rcEven the street lighting in a small park that we passed had a ‘manga’ eyes.

DSC01615rcThe side of a toilet block was pressed in to service.

oneJust some of the characters along the ‘memorial’ street, but I don’t know their names.


ThreeChildren’s comics ?






DSC01525rArriving at Sakaiminato on the west coast of Japan.

DSC01528rWe arrived at 7.30 am, after an over night cruise from Busan in S. Korea
Maureen and I had booked a ship’s tour that included a walk around a garden. We didn’t have any idea what type of garden.
But first we were taken by coach to a sweet making factory (lollies in Oz, candy in the US), where we could watch the making and packing of the products as well as sampling various items in the factory shop.

DSC01537r Should we buy these as presents or . . .
DSC01539ror should we buy these ???  living in Australia all edible items have to be declared to quarantine, even those which have been manufactured.

DSC01540ror how about these ??


The sales staff could speak some English, but the best part was that we could try any or all of the products before buying.


The items in the above picture were quite pleasant, like a cross between a cake and a biscuit, with a different type of filling for each. Obviously the brown ones were chocolate, and I think the green one was either seaweed or green tea.

DSC01545rCan’t remember what this stall was pushing but it tasted quite pleasant. All the packaging was ‘just so’ nothing out of place.


From memory the green stuff on sticks was either green tea jelly or seaweed jelly, wasn’t unpleasant, but due to our quarantine and the problem of crushing the present in transit we declined to buy, but only taste.
In the end we did buy a small package as a taster for some friends and hoped that we could get it back ‘crushed free’.

DSC01554rcOur next stop was to be the gardens, but on the way we had to pass Oni (鬼) are a kind of yōkai, which is a supernatural ogre, or a Scandinavian type troll, but Oni is a part of Japanese folklore.

DSC01599rShortly after passing the Troll we arrived at the garden.
The garden was designed in conjunction with a Dutch designer.

DSC01559rThe spring flowers were magnificent, and I couldn’t stop clicking.



DSC01569rThe walk way to the Domed hot house.

DSC01571rThe whole garden reminded me of the waterside garden in Singapore.

DSC01573rIt was very pleasantly warm in the orchid house. Maureen wrapped in flowers.

DSC01575rEverywhere we looked there was colour.

DSC01577rEven a small waterfall.

DSC01581eTold you I couldn’t stop clicking.

DSC01588rMaureen stayed in the hot house and I took a stroll around the outside garden. I took the above picture because it reminded me of a certain part of Birkenhead Park, (which was the first municipal park in the world), on Merseyside, UK.

DSC01590rThe cherry tree was free of crowds.


The influence of the Dutch was everywhere, even down to a windmill :-o)

DSC01595rFloating gardens containing young plants – the train was available for carrying people around the gardens, which also contained a large herb garden, and a flower clock.

DSC01596rThe hands of the clock are garden pitch forks – red & blue.





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