Akita

 

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.
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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.
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DSC01734rOne handed

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 . . .

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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.

 

 

 

 

Tsuruga

 

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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manga

 

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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.

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ThreeChildren’s comics ?

 

 

 

Busan and all that . . .

This was the second part of our ‘back to back’ cruising from Sydney in Diamond Princess.

We spent a day in Yokohama before sailing to cruise the Japanese coast and a single foreign port in South Korea, Busan, which is across from Japan via the southern part of the Sea of Japan. We would stay there for a day, before sailing back to the western coast of Japan, and then to return to Yokohama where we would leave the ship and fly home.

DSC01439rEntering Busan port. Busan used to be called Pusan, but was renamed in 2000. We sailed passed miles of container storage areas, cranes and wharfs, confirming that Busan is Korea’s busiest port, and the ninth busiest in the world. We then sailed under the  Gwangandaegyo or Diamond Bridge, before going alongside.

DSC01454r.jpgMaureen and I had booked the 100 steps climb to a temple – not being a keen viewers of temples the tour included a visit to a famous fish market, which for us was the main reason for taking the tour.

The one thing that has stuck in my mind of our visit to Busan was the very large number of apartments – block after block, it reminded me of a Lego city that my grandchildren build. I suppose with a population of about 3.6 million and the usable land being hemmed in by two rivers and a range of mountains the only place left was to build upwards.

DSC01492rAll the city photographs were taken from our coach, some might appear slightly blurred.

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DSC01495rNote that this is block number 108 so they have 107 others just like it, but how many more are in this area?

DSC01498rAs we crossed the Diamond Bridge the shoreline had larger and more expensive looking apartments. A nice coincidence that the Diamond Princess sailed under the Diamond Bridge.

DSC01456rAfter over an hours dive we left the bus and started the climb, not the hundred steps, just a inclining path, which got steeper. The above is a picture of Monuments to family members of the past.

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The start of the Beomeosa Temple, which is 1300 years old.
The lanterns are lit at night and I should imagine would add to the overall ambiance of the climb.

As you see we are now at the beginning of the temple area – still haven’t reached the hundred steps.

The Gate of the Four Heavenly Kings is guarded by theses statues – they guard the entrance to heaven. They look like the do, because they wish to subdue any unruly spirits to their will.

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DSC01467rThe final few steps of the one hundred to the top.

DSC01468rInside the temple grounds.

DSC01476rIt was a lot easier going down, but one had to be careful as the height of the steps varied, and in places there weren’t any side rails to hold. A sign of age when you look for rails at the side. . .

DSC01483rAt least going down, once one had passed from the hundred step area, the sound of the small river was pleasant.

DSC01485rOnce we were all down, it was back on the bus for the trip to the fish market, just under an hours dive – the traffic was a little lighter.

DSC01502rNot sure if they were a type of octopus or ????

DSC01507rVarious crustaceans, which I don’t like.

DSC01510rAll In know is that the pale worm things were not sausages.

Overall I was disappointed in the fish market – not a bit like I imagined.

DSC01503rIt was not at all like other fish markets that we’ve seen – plastic containers holding packed fish, (still alive) and filled with continuous running water from hoses. Nothing on display, I suppose it is all about what one is used to seeing.

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If you can’t afford a place within the market, use the pavement outside.

From the fish market we moved across a main road to the market. Very few items for sale that were not food. The market entrance is under the pink hoops.

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DSC01519rWe were only allowed a very short time in both the fish market and this market because we were running late due to traffic jams.

DSC01520rStrawberries on a stick – you bought the whole stick, which was dripping in some kind of syrup.  I wasn’t sure what they were until I got a very close look.

The road we crossed to get to this market looked interesting with int’l shops and local shops all mixed, but we didn’t have the time to explore.

 

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It was getting dark so it was back to the ship, which wasn’t all that far from the two markets, and shortly after we sailed for Japan.

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 Gwangandaegyo or Diamond Bridge -the same bridge as in the first picture.

 

 

Tokyo – part two

 

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Not far from the restaurant is the long alleyway of Nakamasi, that leads to Sensoji Temple.
The alleyway is host to stall after stall, selling everything from snacks, toys, handbags and souvenirs, a shopper’s delight.
The stall holders first obtained permission to sell their wares in the early 18th century.

Note the ladies in kimonos.

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Not all of the kimono clad ladies were Japanese – the kimonos could be hired for the day or a few hours, while shopping.

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We entered the temple through Kaminarimon, which mean Thunder Gate (below the hanging lanterns in the centre).

DSC01312rAs we walked through the gate on either side hung giant ‘slippers’ made of rice straw. The first pair were produced in 1941 as a thank you gift. There is a long tradition of offering sandals as a thank you gift to temples. The original pair were destroyed during the bombing in WW2.
The sandals are called waraji, being made of traditional rice straw, but with an ‘o’ in front it becomes ‘owaraji’ which means big.
Each sandal is 4.5 meters in length, 1.5 meters wide, and it weighs 500 kilos.
The re-establishing of giving the sandals to the Sensoji Temple began in 1964, and they are replaced about every ten years.
To produce a pair takes about 18 months, and the labour of about 800 people, including the people who plant the straw, and those who cook for the people actually making the sandals.

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Once through the gate on the left we saw a five storied pagoda – access to it is very limited. Buddha’s ashes, officially inherited from the Isurumuniya temple in Sri Lanka, is stored on the top floor.

night

At night it is illuminated.
Above picture from Japan Travel site.

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We entered the steps area of the temple and looked back – the smoke that can been is ‘cleansing’ smoke. The faithful rub it over their hands and any area that is giving them trouble. They believe that the smoke will help them get better, or cure aches and pains.

Next door to the Buddhist temple is a Shinto Temple.
Both beliefs live in peace with each other.

DSC01320rShinto temple

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Note the barrier in the middle of the gate – only God can walk through the centre, because he is pure and unblemished, all others have to walk on the side, because they are unclean.
It took us an hour and a half and three trains (two changes) to get back to the ship – we were not delayed, it was just the distance.

DSC01323rAs we prepared to sail the band played on, and the crowds gathered.

DSC01334rAs we pulled away from the wharf everyone ashore started to wave yellow pieces of cloth.

DSC01336r.jpgThe end of the wharf – still waving.

DSC01342rThe beginning of a new voyage – next port is Busan in South Korea.

On the other side of the wharf where Diamond Princess was berthed . . . . .

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For those who can remember when ships were ships, and not blocks of flats, the above is Hikawa Maru, launched in 1929, and built in Yokohama, and is now moored in Yamashita Park, Yokohama, and is a museum. She is currently owned by the NYK line.

School children are encouraged to visit so as to recognise and celebrate Japan’s maritime history.

A much better fate than the beach at Alang, in Gujarat, India. The  graveyard of many a fine vessel.

 

 

Tokyo

 

DSC01255rThe symbol of Japan, the rising sun, as we enter Tokyo Bay, on the final day of our voyage from Sydney. Our ship was too large to berth in Tokyo so we had to dock in Yokohama. The two cities have expanded so much that they have become one huge metropolis.

Many of the Sydney originating passenger were leaving the ship and either extending their holiday with land based tours or flying home. Many of us were staying on board for the first Japanese coastal cruise – called back to back. As such, I thought that Princess Cruises would have offered day tours of Tokyo, but they didn’t, just two tours aimed at those passengers who wished to fly out later on the day of arrival.

The tours offered by Princess would take about five or six hours to show the main sites of Tokyo before ending at one of the airports. The cruise company didn’t offer any tours for the couple of hundred passengers doing a back to back.

The two main airport for Tokyo are Narita, opened in 1978, and Haneda Airport, which used to be the main airport and on the opening of Narita became a domestic airport until 2010. The opening of the new terminal allowed Haneda to revert to being an international airport as well as domestic – it is also called the ‘downtown airport’ as it is close to Tokyo city.

The lack of ship’s tours for those staying on caused me to research tours for Maureen and I. This was when I found out about hiring personal guides, so we hired Masaharu to show us Tokyo.

With hindsight I think we should have still hired Masaharu, but to show us Yokohama and the surrounding area, because we didn’t realise how far away we were berthed from Tokyo city.

DSC01258rThe train tickets were cheap enough, but the actual train ride was 45 minutes before we changed to another service within Tokyo city. I’d seen Tokyo some year earlier, but Maureen hadn’t, so one couldn’t come to Japan and not see Tokyo, even if it meant a long train ride.

DSC01260rOnce again the trains were spotless and the stations very clean – the above is our origin station in Yokohama.

DSC01289rStations and trains within Tokyo were as clean as those in Osaka. The use of escalators was limited and most people used the stairs. The stations did have lifts etc for those not as nimble, but when on the stairs or the escalators in Osaka we stood on the left, but in Tokyo we stood on the right.
The yellow line that can be seen is for sight impaired people so as to find their way around. The yellow line is made up of rubber ‘bubbles’ so that they can feel the bubble through their shoe or when using a cane. In the concourse areas the yellow lines followed the main direction so as to take a person to the correct platform. They had yellow ‘junctions’ to help guide people.

The Japanese drive on the same side of the road as the UK & Australia so crossing roads was not a problem for us.

DSC01265rAfter about an hour and a half of travel we eventually popped out of the metro near the Imperial Palace. The picture above is the outer moat.

DSC01268rIt was quite a walk from the moat through the royal park to the inner moat. The bridge across the moat is the one used by international dignitaries when visiting the Emperor on State visits. Like Buckingham Palace in London, we were restricted as to how close we could get to the palace.

DSC01277r Beyond the bridge used by dignitaries, is another, but there is little chance of getting any closer.

DSC01287rI photographed the fence because it reminded me of Scottish thistle. Our guide did tell me what they represented, I think it was a pine cone. The park that we walked through had many pine trees.

Another train trip to an area in which we planned to eat, Asakusa, plus it was an area to see and perhaps shop for souvenirs.

DSC01291rAs we came out of the train station it was the old meeting the new.

asakusa-rickshaw

The above picture is from the Japan Travel site.

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Lunch was at a famous restaurant Sushizanmai in Asakusa, and the owner, shown in the picture, owns quite a number, (about 30 I think) and in 2013 he paid about AUD $1.9 million at auction for a bluefin tuna, (222 kilos) the first of the season.

In Australia, at auction, people buy the first tray of cherries or the first mangos and the money goes to charity. Buying the tuna for such a high price is similar, and of course he was on national TV and radio, so the price was cheap considering the publicity for his chain of restaurants. I’ve been told that the owner of the Sushizanmai chain, Kiyoshi kimura, is one of the riches men in Japan.

Masaharu (our guide) went in to the restaurant and listed us down for a table, because the restaurant is open 24 hours a day and people are queueing outside all the time, particularly after twelve o’clock for lunch. We arrived about a 11.45 am and didn’t have to wait long before we were shown in to the restaurant.
Our table was being cleared of dirty dishes and the previous  diner was still putting on his jacket – time was money.

DSC01299crWe could have sat at the counter and watched the staff making the sushi, the process never stops, all day every day. The menu was all in Japanese (of course), but with pictures and having Masaharu with us, we were able to ask questions.

Once decided the service was very polite and friendly, and fast.

DSC01301rMasaharu and I had small battered items (not sure what was in them, but they were tasty) . The jug was full of Sake and small cups for our use. Masahaeu poured mine and I poured his, and Maureen’s. Sake is a rice wine with an alcoholic percentage of about 15%. It had been years since my last drink of Sake.

DSC01303rWe ordered a mix of sushi with various different centers and pickles, (the white item on the left). All eaten with chop sticks of course (hashi in Japanese).

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The suchi was followed by seaweed soup, I quite liked it . It didn’t taste of the sea, but it was different. Wild seaweed can be used, but the seaweed is mostly cultivated for quality and regular supply.

The meal for three of us, including the Sake and two beers (Masaharu & myself), came to about $54, cheaper than I expected.

 

 

 

 

Shimizu & Mt Fuji

 

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The photo was taken from our balcony as we approached Shimizu in Japan, we were very fortunate that it was a clear day. We decided not to do any excursions, because we only wanted to see Mt Fuji and from reading Trip Advisor and Cruise Critic web sites, I knew that if we couldn’t see it from the town, then there was little chance of seeing it even if we were half way up the mountain

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Of course, as we moved alongside I knew that we had a shopping centre quite close . . .

DSC01214rLike many of our fellow passengers we wondered over to the shopping area and the Ferris wheel. It was obvious that Shimizu was a popular place for private boats.

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DSC01233rThey do say that size doesn’t matter, but this one looked a fine vessel, not sure if it offered trips round the bay, or if it was a private yacht.

DSC01228rOf course talking of size – you can see the Diamond Princess alongside.

The  above three pictures were taken as Maureen and I took in the views from the top of the Ferris wheel – not expensive for a single rotation, but when we were at the top the wind strengthen and caused the whole structure to shudder & sway some what . . . ..

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Taken as our seats on the Ferris wheel reached the top.

DSC01221rAnother shot of the ship as we started our descent.

DSC01235rTaken from the ground level.

DSC01217rThe shopping centre, which was not all that large, also catered for the children.

DSC01201rEveryone seemed to be clicking cameras and they all pointed at Mt Fuji – we just couldn’t help taking more and more photographs. It seemed to hold a fascination for everyone.
DSC01252rAs we sailed from Shimizu I remembered an old Japanese sage saying, during my time at sea when on the Japanese coast. If you see Mt Fuji as you leave you will return to Japan – each time we sailed from Japan I managed to see Mt Fuji, except the last time when we sailed at night, so I was unable to see the mountain – this would have been in the late 1960’s.

I didn’t return to Japan until the late 1980’s, (by air) when working for another company, and didn’t see Mt Fuji during that trip – in future I think I’ll stick to a simpler use for old sage, and mix it with onion for stuffing a Christmas turkey.

MGI forgot to mention that our guide in Osaka, Toichi, took out his felt tip pen and created the above in Japanese script.

The top one is ‘Geoff’ and the bottom is ‘Maureen’. When we arrived home I showed the piece of paper to my grandson, who is studying Japanese at school (he’s thirteen).

He looked at it and shook his head and told me that he could only recognise the bottom three syllables on the left. He said they represent the sound of ‘more’, so I said how about Mau as in Maureen?