Day 11. Tuesday Sept. 23/15.  Yokohama and Tokyo. Start of an interesting day. We see freighters after container ships upon entering the harbour of Yokohama, the port city for Tokyo. Our ship travels under the Yokohama bridge clearing it by 2 meters. Phew!!! Then into the dock…a bridge like those from plane into airport terminal. We go through the immigration process very quickly even though there was a delay because of a computer malfunction….believe it! It really was fairly slick even though we all were fingerprinted….without ink. When the guy was taking mine it took 3 times for it to be taken.Yokohama is the 2nd largest city. Oh oh…. They drive on left side of street. It is “Silver week”for Japanese…a holiday so be prepared for lots of tourists….Japanese tourists. We will be back at 2 because we are 1 hour late in leaving. Hoyasake is the name of our tour guide. Ohio….meaning good morning, arigator..thank you, domo….sorry. Bowing is Japanese culture. Fifty percent bend to 30 % depending…30 for good morning. Japan is smaller than California and has half the population of US crammed into it. It is especially crammed because 67% of the area is mountainous. Lots of reclaimed land. Ginkgo trees….leaves turn yellow in fall…like golden carpet. Emperor just a figurehead. Samurai society started 750 years ago…peaceful society…. Edo period. I believe our guide said that they were so far behind the rest of the world when an American warship came to the country that they felt then they had to catch up……fast. The shoguns had to retire..it was 1851. (They caught up in a bug hurry).  Chinese and Japanese characters are both the same so they can communicate although verbally, they cannot. They are pictograms! There are 5000 parks in Tokyo….lots of green space. Have to spend 3 hours travelling to work.. One job is pushing people. It pays 1000 yen/ hour. If you don’t have a certified parking space you cannot purchase a vehicle. In Japan 1 in 2 people have car but in Tokyo 1 in 4 families has a car. There are only 1.3 children per family. Population is declining.  29 and 28 average age for marriage. Everything is very spotless…no garbage anywhere.  Went in tunnel under Tokyo Bay. 1000 earthquakes per year.Yokohama Bay bridge built 1982 joins Yokohama and Tokyo (former name Edo).  Bullet train is so punctual so only 30 sec is average delay. Bicycles are for rent on the street but are free on Sunday. 300 variety of cherry trees. Kyushu to Hokkaido. Bloom from south to north at the same rate as someone walking from south to north so must have trees to bloom constantly.Imperial palace Versailles-looking building for visiting dignitaries.Baseball, soccer and tennis are favourite sport pastimes. We went to the Tokyo Tower. It looks much like the Eiffel Tower. It’s quite a spectacular view. It is absolutely amazing.  Although the number of people that are waiting to get in and up but the wait time is surprisingly fast. And…. They let passengers off on a different floor….sure saves a lot of hassle.  19% are Shinto and 80 are Buddhist. Every Christmas all Japanese become Christians. Shintoism was first religion but the Japanese cross between the two. Shinto believes in harmony in everything. Buddhism teaches them how to live.No garage receptacles on the street since 9/11. Generally people take their own garbage home. The students have to clean the washrooms before leaving for the day. Each student also has to learn to serve 35 students lunch. They all have to learn responsibility and cooperation. They are all so polite and gracious.  Impressive!  There are over 700 universities. National medical insurance for all those if you don’t have company to pay…….students are covered. In Tokyo fine 2000 yen if caught smoking. In Yokohama if someone says they don’t like you to smoke, you cannot.This may be a holiday but there are not hoards of people……lots but not hoards and only at the tower…not on the street.No crime…young kids(7ish) can walk to school alone or to park to play. More people on street translates to safer environment.We returned to the ship an hour and half late but we still had time to walk over to the shops in the former shipping building stores for Japanese tea. The number of people anywhere today had not bothered me but when we walked in there…..well oh my! Made me want to get the hell out. Everyone was ever so polite but just way too many people. Example that our guide had said that she had waited in line for 5 hours to get some special pancakes before…not necessarily there……just explaining lots of people.As we were to leave port there was a band with flag twirlers that played on and on till we set sail so to speak…..all the time saying see you again. What a send off! We should be doing something like this at our docks. It felt like they appreciated us being here.   Day 12. September 23/15We a beautiful day soaking up the rays, going in the pool several times, walking the deck circuit and reading our books until sailing into Kobe around 4 pm. In someways it could remind one of Honolulu or Vancouver the way the mountains surround the city. Quite lovely although it appears as if there is smog. Maybe it is humidity? Again we were greeted by a band. Wow! Can you believe it? I wonder if that will be the case in China. It was a real slow process bringing this relatively large ship into the dock…..an awkward pier. They had to use a tug to push the back end towards the dock. It will be interesting getting out of here tomorrow afternoon. It was a breeze getting off this ship though as we had the copy of our passports and the documentation on the back that the immigration people had put there yesterday…..all the paperwork had been done. Once inside the building everyone was head down on their devises trying to catch up with family and friends. (I tried but not sure how successful I was). Anyway it is free….no password needed and quite fast. Another wow for Japan. We left the port building and took the free shuttle into a shopping area in search for Kobe steak amongst other shopping . This shopping street kind of reminds us of Freemont Street in Vegas with it overhead domed covering.  The price for the steak was a whole lot cheaper than if we had purchased that excursion with Celebrity but still quite expensive…. $48-140 depending on the location on the cow, not like $350US fir excursion price.  It looked too fatty for Carol and Max so we headed back to the ship in time for last call at the dining room. You cannot believe the cleanliness of the streets, the politeness, the unruffle-ability (I’ll bet there is no such thing as road rage here…hard to believe but…). Another thing that is so noticeable is the industrialization of this country. We need to be doing more manufacturing and doing less selling of raw materials. Tomorrow is an early start. 7:15 in the lounge. We have an 8.5 hour tour that includes going to Kyoto on the bullet train so night-night.Michiko is our tour guide for Kobe and Kyoto. It is raining today. They did say there was a 100% chance of rain.  Going to bullet train (Shinkansen) first. Each stop is only 2 minutes then the doors close.1995 big earthquake here in Kobe..now it is totally recovered. It is the country’s 6th largest city.The Shinkansen we catch, we are in car #14 in seats 16 a,b&c. It is 16 cars long and carries 1500 passengers. The time to Kyoto is 30 minute…..a distance of 73 km. We are travelling at 200+  km/hour….I think she said.Some executives go to work in Tokyo from Kobe. The company they are working for have to pay the fare. It is $150 U.S. one way from Kobe to Tokyo. If you come here for an extended stay she suggests that for $240 U.S. You get a one week rail pass. Lots of leg room in it unlike airplanes. Our guide said that no one should sleep…..must keep focused. This is a non-smoking car but obviously there are some cars that allow it cuz we immediately upon entering, get a whiff of smoke. It wasn’t obvious that we were travelling at a high speed other than occasionally a light would flick past. For most of the first leg, we were travelling in tunnels.Next we are going to the Golden Pavilion…a Buddhist temple. Rebuilt in ’55 after a monk set fire to it. There are1600 temples in Kyoto. Kyoto was not one of the areas bombed during the 2nd World War so they are all still in existence. In 1868 a new govt. was formed moving the capital from Kyoto to Tokyo. They got rid of the shoguns….(it was a feudalist society). We touched on that previously. No buildings can be higher than 56 meters in Kyoto so they are no higher than Buddhist temple. Parking $150-200 per month here ….one third of Tokyo price. Homes are average 150 sq. meters (1400+/- sq. ft.) 60% own. 35-40 million yen or $400,000. There are 8,000,000 gods in Shintoism. In 1397 the Golden Temple (covered in gold leaf) was built as a villa for a Shogun, who was Shinto originally but became Buddhist. After his death it was converted to a Buddhism Pavilion. In 1994 it was registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site.  Next after a very nice lunch at the Kyoto Toyku Hotel we were taken to the Kiyomizu Temple which means clean water temple. Built in 778 AD. It is a World Heritage site for UNESCO. It is unbelievably beautiful. Had a real “Wow” factor! Sorry but I can’t post  pictures until I am home and have decent wifi. While there, a young man carrying a baby slipped and fell on the wet sloping deck. A little while later a lady that looked like she had chemo treatments, slipped when going up but fell back down several steps.Japan is only 370 square km.  Kyoto is surrounded by mountains except on south.Farmers are only less than 2% of the population. They have to have part-time jobs in order to survive. Rice farmers have to be subsidized. It is cheaper to buy imported fruits and vegetables here than to buy local. Sound familiar?  Something that I have not mentioned before…..in the taxis, each seat and headrest is covered with lace coverings. The highways have corrugated walls along side in an attempt to keep pollution and noise levels from the homes and people. I asked if it really is affective? “Well something is better than nothing” says our guide. June/July is the rainy season when rice is planted. It is ready in about 3 months. There is less and less consumption of rice…the Japanese are becoming more interested in different ethnic foods. Same as for dress. The ladies and girls only wear kimonos for special occasions. The Japanese prefer western attire.Highways and trains travel in tunnels under the mountains. Not surprisingly when you consider the country is predominantly mountainous. Now I have seen some really primitive bathroom facilities in different parts of the world but today in the hotel, I experienced for the first time in my life a heated toilet seat. The toilets include bidet style flush as well as regular and small flush. Top of the line. Another WOW! And absolutely spotless. Because the Americans brought flour to the Japanese after WW2, it is called “American powder”.Children go to school on their own…..again we hear this. School starts in April not September like us. There is a lot of pride in this country…I believe because of Shintoism.  Cars have to go through testing station every 2 years.Exiting from this pier was a bit of a struggle. Big tugs had to pull and push. Basically it pushed sideways from the pier using the bow thrusters and then totally pivoted.My legs are just aching even if we were on the high speed train and buses.. We did a lot of climbing and descending stairs especially at the Kiyomizu Temple. Day 14 Friday September 25/15Oh my did we ever have rough seas last night. It really was a little freaky. And did it pour down. It looks like a way nicer day today….still rocking but sunny skies.Yesterday, as we were leaving Kobe/Osaka Bay, our ship suddenly swerved to avoid connecting with a freighter coming almost straight at us from the starboard side. I cannot remember who has the right of way at sea. Maybe someone can tell us. I experienced the swerve from our cabin at the rear of the ship ( a water bottle went flying off its place on a dressing table) but the other gals saw the other ship coming right at them from the starboard side Rendezvous Lounge.  

Max is convinced that we only missed by inches.Coming into Miyazaki…wow is it ever looking beautiful…..rocky out-cropings, mountains down to the sea, tropical looking and it it is hot, hot, hot! 81F. today with high humidity……sort of steaming. This is the first ever time that Celebrity has ever been to this port.We are beginning

to feel panicky because the cruise is soon over. Fumiko is our guide today. Aboratsu and Miyazaki are on Kyushu island, the southern most major island in the archipelago of Japan. There are active volcanos that erupted several years ago. There are 25 mountain peaks…some big, some small. It is a breathtakingly beautiful island……peaks and rocks that come down to the waters edge….waves pounding and splashing the edge.The average annual temperature is 17C…….so pretty warm, sub-tropical actually with lots of rain. 2-3 times more than NY (her quote). 100 inches or 2500 mm/ year rain. They grow lots of rice in what little areas that are flat. They also grow mangos. Mangos very expensive..some are 5000 yen each or $50 for large ones. Skip jack tuna and bonita and now lobster (’tis the season) are caught in the surrounding waters. There are lots of Obi cedars…like cyprus trees…but look like redwoods (are very straight). And are water proof, etc.. We go first to Obi Castle. It was destroyed by 3 major earthquake in the 17th century…..in the1680’s. It originally dates back to the Edo period.We visit the chief samurai house from that period…..the only one that was not destroyed (and then restored or rebuilt). The area close to the castle was/is surrounded by homes belonging to the “upper crust” of society at the time. From there we travel to Aoshima Island and beach where there is a shrine in the middle of the jungle……really thick jungle. The island looks like “Gilligan’s Island” (much like Devil’s Island for those of you that were on the Amazon cruise)……lush! It is just so beautiful here. And the beach is covered with broken shells as opposed to sand….like Shell Beach on St. Bart’s. Along the way we see the “Ogre’s Washboard”, a phenomenon caused by the ocean pounding on 2 different types of rock…..sand rock and mud rock. Unfortunately the tide was in so couldn’t walk on it.From there we are taken to the Udo-Jingu  Shrine. The path to get to this shrine used to be 800+ uneven sandstone steps up and down. Now only it is only 300+ uneven steps…each way. Oh my God…..the heat (81F), plus the humidity and all those stairs. Well the sweat was pouring off my nose and into my eyes, stinging them. Other people, their shirts were totally soaked. It is not for the physically challenged but I made it…….slower than some cuz, well, if you know me, my knees suck!59,000 people in Japan are over 100 years old. 80 for men & 86 for women is the average expectancy.Miyazaki means Miya means shrine and Zaki means by the seashore. There are lots of shrines all along the shore. 20,000 died in Japan when the earthquake of 2011 but most actually died as a result from the tsunami.. At that time all nuclear plants were closed but just recently a plant in Kyushu reopened. The govt has been encouraging the development of solar power.Walked 10+km today. Please pardon my writing grammar etc. I really can do better but this is not ideal writing conditions. Next day #14 Saturday Sept. 26/15. We are at sea…..another time change last night before arriving sometime after midnight tonight, in Shanghai.

5 thoughts on “Day 11. Tuesday Sept. 23/15.  Yokohama and Tokyo. Start of an interesting day. We see freighters after container ships upon entering the harbour of Yokohama, the port city for Tokyo. Our ship travels under the Yokohama bridge clearing it by 2 meters. Phew!!! Then into the dock…a bridge like those from plane into airport terminal. We go through the immigration process very quickly even though there was a delay because of a computer malfunction….believe it! It really was fairly slick even though we all were fingerprinted….without ink. When the guy was taking mine it took 3 times for it to be taken.Yokohama is the 2nd largest city. Oh oh…. They drive on left side of street. It is “Silver week”for Japanese…a holiday so be prepared for lots of tourists….Japanese tourists. We will be back at 2 because we are 1 hour late in leaving. Hoyasake is the name of our tour guide. Ohio….meaning good morning, arigator..thank you, domo….sorry. Bowing is Japanese culture. Fifty percent bend to 30 % depending…30 for good morning. Japan is smaller than California and has half the population of US crammed into it. It is especially crammed because 67% of the area is mountainous. Lots of reclaimed land. Ginkgo trees….leaves turn yellow in fall…like golden carpet. Emperor just a figurehead. Samurai society started 750 years ago…peaceful society…. Edo period. I believe our guide said that they were so far behind the rest of the world when an American warship came to the country that they felt then they had to catch up……fast. The shoguns had to retire..it was 1851. (They caught up in a bug hurry).  Chinese and Japanese characters are both the same so they can communicate although verbally, they cannot. They are pictograms! There are 5000 parks in Tokyo….lots of green space. Have to spend 3 hours travelling to work.. One job is pushing people. It pays 1000 yen/ hour. If you don’t have a certified parking space you cannot purchase a vehicle. In Japan 1 in 2 people have car but in Tokyo 1 in 4 families has a car. There are only 1.3 children per family. Population is declining.  29 and 28 average age for marriage. Everything is very spotless…no garbage anywhere.  Went in tunnel under Tokyo Bay. 1000 earthquakes per year.Yokohama Bay bridge built 1982 joins Yokohama and Tokyo (former name Edo).  Bullet train is so punctual so only 30 sec is average delay. Bicycles are for rent on the street but are free on Sunday. 300 variety of cherry trees. Kyushu to Hokkaido. Bloom from south to north at the same rate as someone walking from south to north so must have trees to bloom constantly.Imperial palace Versailles-looking building for visiting dignitaries.Baseball, soccer and tennis are favourite sport pastimes. We went to the Tokyo Tower. It looks much like the Eiffel Tower. It’s quite a spectacular view. It is absolutely amazing.  Although the number of people that are waiting to get in and up but the wait time is surprisingly fast. And…. They let passengers off on a different floor….sure saves a lot of hassle.  19% are Shinto and 80 are Buddhist. Every Christmas all Japanese become Christians. Shintoism was first religion but the Japanese cross between the two. Shinto believes in harmony in everything. Buddhism teaches them how to live.No garage receptacles on the street since 9/11. Generally people take their own garbage home. The students have to clean the washrooms before leaving for the day. Each student also has to learn to serve 35 students lunch. They all have to learn responsibility and cooperation. They are all so polite and gracious.  Impressive!  There are over 700 universities. National medical insurance for all those if you don’t have company to pay…….students are covered. In Tokyo fine 2000 yen if caught smoking. In Yokohama if someone says they don’t like you to smoke, you cannot.This may be a holiday but there are not hoards of people……lots but not hoards and only at the tower…not on the street.No crime…young kids(7ish) can walk to school alone or to park to play. More people on street translates to safer environment.We returned to the ship an hour and half late but we still had time to walk over to the shops in the former shipping building stores for Japanese tea. The number of people anywhere today had not bothered me but when we walked in there…..well oh my! Made me want to get the hell out. Everyone was ever so polite but just way too many people. Example that our guide had said that she had waited in line for 5 hours to get some special pancakes before…not necessarily there……just explaining lots of people.As we were to leave port there was a band with flag twirlers that played on and on till we set sail so to speak…..all the time saying see you again. What a send off! We should be doing something like this at our docks. It felt like they appreciated us being here.   Day 12. September 23/15We a beautiful day soaking up the rays, going in the pool several times, walking the deck circuit and reading our books until sailing into Kobe around 4 pm. In someways it could remind one of Honolulu or Vancouver the way the mountains surround the city. Quite lovely although it appears as if there is smog. Maybe it is humidity? Again we were greeted by a band. Wow! Can you believe it? I wonder if that will be the case in China. It was a real slow process bringing this relatively large ship into the dock…..an awkward pier. They had to use a tug to push the back end towards the dock. It will be interesting getting out of here tomorrow afternoon. It was a breeze getting off this ship though as we had the copy of our passports and the documentation on the back that the immigration people had put there yesterday…..all the paperwork had been done. Once inside the building everyone was head down on their devises trying to catch up with family and friends. (I tried but not sure how successful I was). Anyway it is free….no password needed and quite fast. Another wow for Japan. We left the port building and took the free shuttle into a shopping area in search for Kobe steak amongst other shopping . This shopping street kind of reminds us of Freemont Street in Vegas with it overhead domed covering.  The price for the steak was a whole lot cheaper than if we had purchased that excursion with Celebrity but still quite expensive…. $48-140 depending on the location on the cow, not like $350US fir excursion price.  It looked too fatty for Carol and Max so we headed back to the ship in time for last call at the dining room. You cannot believe the cleanliness of the streets, the politeness, the unruffle-ability (I’ll bet there is no such thing as road rage here…hard to believe but…). Another thing that is so noticeable is the industrialization of this country. We need to be doing more manufacturing and doing less selling of raw materials. Tomorrow is an early start. 7:15 in the lounge. We have an 8.5 hour tour that includes going to Kyoto on the bullet train so night-night.Michiko is our tour guide for Kobe and Kyoto. It is raining today. They did say there was a 100% chance of rain.  Going to bullet train (Shinkansen) first. Each stop is only 2 minutes then the doors close.1995 big earthquake here in Kobe..now it is totally recovered. It is the country’s 6th largest city.The Shinkansen we catch, we are in car #14 in seats 16 a,b&c. It is 16 cars long and carries 1500 passengers. The time to Kyoto is 30 minute…..a distance of 73 km. We are travelling at 200+  km/hour….I think she said.Some executives go to work in Tokyo from Kobe. The company they are working for have to pay the fare. It is $150 U.S. one way from Kobe to Tokyo. If you come here for an extended stay she suggests that for $240 U.S. You get a one week rail pass. Lots of leg room in it unlike airplanes. Our guide said that no one should sleep…..must keep focused. This is a non-smoking car but obviously there are some cars that allow it cuz we immediately upon entering, get a whiff of smoke. It wasn’t obvious that we were travelling at a high speed other than occasionally a light would flick past. For most of the first leg, we were travelling in tunnels.Next we are going to the Golden Pavilion…a Buddhist temple. Rebuilt in ’55 after a monk set fire to it. There are1600 temples in Kyoto. Kyoto was not one of the areas bombed during the 2nd World War so they are all still in existence. In 1868 a new govt. was formed moving the capital from Kyoto to Tokyo. They got rid of the shoguns….(it was a feudalist society). We touched on that previously. No buildings can be higher than 56 meters in Kyoto so they are no higher than Buddhist temple. Parking $150-200 per month here ….one third of Tokyo price. Homes are average 150 sq. meters (1400+/- sq. ft.) 60% own. 35-40 million yen or $400,000. There are 8,000,000 gods in Shintoism. In 1397 the Golden Temple (covered in gold leaf) was built as a villa for a Shogun, who was Shinto originally but became Buddhist. After his death it was converted to a Buddhism Pavilion. In 1994 it was registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site.  Next after a very nice lunch at the Kyoto Toyku Hotel we were taken to the Kiyomizu Temple which means clean water temple. Built in 778 AD. It is a World Heritage site for UNESCO. It is unbelievably beautiful. Had a real “Wow” factor! Sorry but I can’t post  pictures until I am home and have decent wifi. While there, a young man carrying a baby slipped and fell on the wet sloping deck. A little while later a lady that looked like she had chemo treatments, slipped when going up but fell back down several steps.Japan is only 370 square km.  Kyoto is surrounded by mountains except on south.Farmers are only less than 2% of the population. They have to have part-time jobs in order to survive. Rice farmers have to be subsidized. It is cheaper to buy imported fruits and vegetables here than to buy local. Sound familiar?  Something that I have not mentioned before…..in the taxis, each seat and headrest is covered with lace coverings. The highways have corrugated walls along side in an attempt to keep pollution and noise levels from the homes and people. I asked if it really is affective? “Well something is better than nothing” says our guide. June/July is the rainy season when rice is planted. It is ready in about 3 months. There is less and less consumption of rice…the Japanese are becoming more interested in different ethnic foods. Same as for dress. The ladies and girls only wear kimonos for special occasions. The Japanese prefer western attire.Highways and trains travel in tunnels under the mountains. Not surprisingly when you consider the country is predominantly mountainous. Now I have seen some really primitive bathroom facilities in different parts of the world but today in the hotel, I experienced for the first time in my life a heated toilet seat. The toilets include bidet style flush as well as regular and small flush. Top of the line. Another WOW! And absolutely spotless. Because the Americans brought flour to the Japanese after WW2, it is called “American powder”.Children go to school on their own…..again we hear this. School starts in April not September like us. There is a lot of pride in this country…I believe because of Shintoism.  Cars have to go through testing station every 2 years.Exiting from this pier was a bit of a struggle. Big tugs had to pull and push. Basically it pushed sideways from the pier using the bow thrusters and then totally pivoted.My legs are just aching even if we were on the high speed train and buses.. We did a lot of climbing and descending stairs especially at the Kiyomizu Temple. Day 14 Friday September 25/15Oh my did we ever have rough seas last night. It really was a little freaky. And did it pour down. It looks like a way nicer day today….still rocking but sunny skies.Yesterday, as we were leaving Kobe/Osaka Bay, our ship suddenly swerved to avoid connecting with a freighter coming almost straight at us from the starboard side. I cannot remember who has the right of way at sea. Maybe someone can tell us. I experienced the swerve from our cabin at the rear of the ship ( a water bottle went flying off its place on a dressing table) but the other gals saw the other ship coming right at them from the starboard side Rendezvous Lounge.  

  1. Heather

    Awesome details, Gail!! I learned a lot. If this is all from memory, and not notes, I am jealous!! Nah…kidding. You *must* have taken notes. You are older than me, so your memory can’t be THAT much better. Dying to see your pics when you get home. And yes, Jim turned the hot water off. lol I emailed that a few times, but it kept giving me the stock reply that you were away. We leave Oct.2nd, so will connect with you when we get back. Hugs.

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    Reply
    1. gailgrant49 Post author

      I take lots of notes and some stuff is from memory……sorry that it is written in note form a lot of the time but heh I not really trying out to be a writer.
      Let me know when you get back.
      Today we went to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Tomorrow we go to the Great Wall and then home the next day. I am anxious…I’ll explain later.
      Gail

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