Japan and Philippines
11.04.2016 - 18.04.2016
RTW day # 130 In route to Wellington, New Zealand. Due to heavy seas around Hobart, Tasmania, the captain changed the route to go from Sydney straight to N.Z. We will be at sea for 4 days for the crossing. We had a large turnover of folks (and crew) in Sydney. The newbies that we have dinner with all want to know about our 4 1/2 month journey. Everything still going great but miss you guys and Skylar.
Now to Japan....
April 11, 2016 Hiroshima, Japan
Roger and I had separate tours. I took a ferry to the Island of Miyajima. This is the location of the Itsukushima Shrine that projects into the Seto Island Sea. The Shrine is protected by the large red Torii Gate rising out of the ocean. The current version of the gate was built in 1875 after the original one was destroyed.
I was there at low tide but at high tide the shrine looks like it is floating on water. The shrine was established in 593 and is a UNESCO site. There is a belief that if you have an un-pure spirit, lightning will strike you if you enter the shrine gate. There are sticks with white rags to cleanse your spirit before entering. People also tie wishes to the rails in the shrine.
There are 100’s of free roaming deer on the island which are very friendly and hungry. They like to steal paper maps and tickets to eat and any food you might have. There were a lot of small shops and eateries there. The favorite treats were maple leaf shaped sponge cake cookies with a variety of fillings and shops selling BBQ, grilled, or steamed oysters. I had the cookies but not the oysters.
Roger’s tour was Highlights of Hiroshima. Hiroshima has declared itself a city of peace dedicated to a nuclear weapons-free world. Following the bomb attack, only a few concrete buildings remained standing. One of these has been named the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Next, a visit to the Atomic Bomb Dome which is located near the epicenter of the blast and declared a UNESCO site in 1996. The mound contains the ashes of tens of thousands of victims burned too badly to be identified.
The site also has a Children’s Peace Monument. This is dedicated to the thousands of children killed and to Sadako Sasaki who was 2 years old when the blast occurred. 10 years later, she contacted leukemia. During her 8 month hospital stay, she folded paper cranes in hope of a cure. Another monument is the Flame of Peace. This site is visited daily by monks offering prayers and burning incense.
Finally a visit to the beautiful and serene Shukkei-en Gardens. The garden was started in 1620 and the name means “shrink-scenery garden” which expresses the idea of collecting and miniaturizing many scenic views. The garden was destroyed by the bomb blast and re-opened to the public in 1951. This is a favorite location for newlyweds to be photographed.
April 12, 2016 Kyoto, Japan (Kobe)
We did a tour of Nara and Osaka. After a 2 hour drive, we reached Nara, the oldest capital of Japan (710-784) and has 8 UNESCO sites. Founded in 752, the Todaiji Temple is known for its 49 foot tall Daibutsu Buddha statue. The 8th century cast bronze statue is housed in an all-wood building.
The temple is surrounded by 1300 acres of woodlands and is home to 1000’s of free roaming deer. The deer are considered messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion. We then had a Bento Box and beer lunch at a local restaurant. Yummy!!
Following lunch we drove back to the Osaka Castle. Built on a plot of land 1 mile square, the compound contains 13 structures. The central castle building is 5 stories on the outside and 8 stories on the inside. The massive stone foundation, wing-tip roofs with gilded decorations and museum are the main points of interest. The museum is on the 3rd & 4th floors and the top observation floor has a panorama view of the compound.
After arriving back at the ship just in time for sailing, some passengers were talking about the great Kobe beef meals they had onshore. DARN!!! We forgot about the Kobe beef.
April 14, 2016 Naha (Okinawa), Japan
I did a tour to the Traditional Arts and Crafts Center to participate in a class to learn the art of Ryukyu Bingata. This is a multicolored dyeing process used for silks and fibers. Since the 15th century, Bingata-dyed fabrics have been produced in the Ryukyu Islands for formal wear by women of the Royal House or select religious leaders. My project is a small tote bag with a hibiscus. The bag has a protective layer of rice paste to keep the dye from going outside the lines. When I get home, this needs to be washed off to complete the project.
Outside the Craft center, there was a giant Tug-of-War Rope displayed. The teacher said it was actually used but the sign was in Japanese to describe the process.
After some free time for retail therapy, we continued to the Shurijo Castle. This complex of buildings served as the administrative center and residence of the Ryukyu kings for several centuries until Okinawa became a Japan state. Wars and fires destroyed the castle many times over the centuries, the last one being the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. The current buildings were reconstructed in 1992. In July 2000, President Clinton attended a G8 summit at this location.
Roger’s tour was the Battle of Okinawa. The first stop was the Former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters tunnel complex. This is located where Rear Admiral Ota and his men desperately fought to the end on June 13, 1945. The tunnels, which were constructed using hoes and picks, still exist in their original condition. There is a walk down 101 steps to the tunnels
Next is the Himeyuri Monument dedicated to more than 200 female students and their teachers who died as volunteer nurses in the battle.
Finally, a drive thru the hills of Mabuni to reach the Okinawa Peace Memorial. The names of nearly 200,000 lives-lost are inscribed on stone plaques.
April 17, 2016 Manila, Philippines
Roger did a tour of the island of Corregidor. The island is strategically located at the entrance of Manila Bay. Corregidor eventually fell to the Japanese after General MacArthur left to command troops in Australia. True to his promise, “I shall return”, he recaptured the island in March 1945. The island is covered with gun batteries and battle scarred buildings. After lunch was a visit to the Malinta Tunnel. The tunnel provided a bomb proof shelter for munitions, supplies and a 1000 bed hospital.
I took the shuttle bus to a very nice Mall for shopping. They had some strange vendors at the food court.
April 18, 2016 Boracay Island, Philippines
We both took a tour to the local beach. One of the nicest ones I have seen. We had a secure section of the beach with lovely white sand and soft waves for 4 hours. Lunch was included but not drinks. The drive to the beach was in a 6 person open van but the other crazy drivers were hanging off motor bike taxis.
The next entry will be for Malaysia and Indonesia