Cruise Report # Nine – Day 14 – Tuesday, October 5, 2007

At sea – Western Pacific off the east coast of Japan

Uniform of the day: Tropical – shorts, t-shirts and sandals

From the Navigator

Today we will sale on a southwesterly course with an average speed of 14 knots. The total distance to Kobe is 345.5 nautical miles. The weather forecast predicts an outside temperature of 75 degrees and a moderate breeze blowing from the north with a force of 4. I guess we left port on time last evening; I was so tired I missed our departure from Yokohama. JWC

This morning I am writing this report from the Lido dining room on deck eight. I think I picked a bad place to write as I find the passing sea and coastline of Honshu (the largest of the Islands) too interesting to concentrate. I see the small fishing boats are out early, as usual. The blue skies are peppered with small fluffy clouds, and it looks like we might have another great day. The sea is smooth, with just a gentle chop.


What can I say? We experienced another grand experience in one of the busiest cities in Japan. Sixty years ago the cities of Yokohama and Tokyo, as well as many other large population centers lay in ruins. The result of massive bombing raids by our B-29 bombers (the political correct term today seems to be “by allied forces”). It is so strange to be in a country that our forces helped destroy – and then helped rebuild. We only had to get the industrious Japanese started and reconstruction took off at lightening speed. Those that witnessed the devastation then would hardly recognize these cities now. I wonder if our brother Junior remembers what Yokohama looked like when he sailed from there for home, late in the 40’s.

On our way to the EDO-Tokyo museum our Japanese guide answered a question that had been in the back of my mind since our arrival in Aomori; the younger generation mainly those in the teens and twenties seem to be much taller than their parents and grandparents. She confirmed this by stating that this was true as earlier generations were shorter due to nutrition. Last night as we were walking back to the ship, we paused by “Jack Café” and I noticed a young couple eating their dinner using a fork and spoon, not chop sticks. Western ways are in evidence everywhere. The traditional woman’s kimono, which requires layers of underclothing, is now only common for bridal wear, and special occasions. Our guide explained that it is just too much trouble and to constricting to bother with. It is also extremely expensive, costing several thousand dollars.

All of the population in the service industry, from food service workers to the police, is all dressed smartly and there is no doubt as to their profession. As in our country, everyone seems to have a cell phone and a camera, with the younger generations sporting cell phone/camera combos, of very good quality. This country is obsessed with worker and public safety. All buildings either under construction or being remodeled must be required to be surrounded with aluminum scaffolding, and that scaffolding is completely covered with a material to shield the public from falling material. This must add a tremendous cost to their construction projects.

The Osanbashi Cruise Ship Terminal, where we docked, is a masterpiece of artistic design and function. It is hard to believe the amount of teak wood that is used on the flooring, interior and exterior walls and roof. Every piece of wood (approximately 1 ½ X 4 inches by 8 feet long) is fastened in place by stainless steel screws. I did not measure the distance between the supports, but it was close to 24 inches on center. As you stepped between the supports you felt a gentle give to the boards. I am sure this must be a design similar to that used in the residences of the Shoguns, as all the floors surrounding the private rooms of the Shoguns were purposely installed to squeak when walked upon, these are referred to as “nightingale floors”. This prohibited ninja assassins from creeping up on the residents in the dead of night. This terminal is longer and wider by half again as a football field. The top deck is accessible by the public and is used as a public park that overlooks the waterfront, city skyline and any cruise ship that is docked at the time. We saw many young couples enjoying the cool evening air, and the privacy of unlit benches.

During our approach to the terminal and docking, we were treated to a performance by a team of Japanese drummers, which usually consists of one large drum and several smaller ones. Later in the day there were various traditional performances in the lobby of the terminal building. One performance we attended was a traditional “Lion Dance” the origin of which dated back several hundred years. Japanese city governments know the value of cruise ship visits, and obviously have policies in place to encourage their return.

Today is a restful day at sea, as tomorrow we will be up and out early for our 10 hour shore excursion to Kyoto. Our port lecturer, Frank Buckingham, pumped us up for that this morning with his informative and colorful lecture.

Till them,

Jack and Barbara

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