Blogs from Japan, Asia


Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto May 30th 2023

Today I went to the International Manga Museum, something I was looking forward to. The museum didn’t open until 11 am, so I decided to spend an hour or so at the Imperial Palace gardens. These grounds had been the home of the Emperor, noblemen, and various other hangers-on, starting in 1331, and ending in 1868 when the capital and Imperial Palace moved to Tokyo. The palace grounds are beautiful and well maintained. The only building that can be visited is Kaninnomiya Mansion, a former residence of court nobles, where a history of the palace and its grounds has been set up. I could have happily spent all day wandering around, but manga called. The Manga Museum was only a subway stop away. The museum was founded as a joint project of the city of Kyoto ... read more
manga museum 3
manga museum 7
manga museum 6

Asia » Japan » Aomori April 28th 2023

2023_Blog 32_Japan April 21 Port of Call: Aomori, Japan – Weather: Sunny - 55°F/13°C – winds steady at 40 mph. (Force 10) Heavy winds throughout the night created a steady wave action that rocked us to sleep as we sailed in the northern strait connecting the Sea of Japan with the Pacific Ocean. Our stop today was in Aomori where we visited the Seiryu-ji Temple with the Showa Daibutsu (Showa Great Buddha), the Sannai Maruyama Site and the ASPAM – the Aomori Shopping & Product Mansion. While it was quite windy all day it was pleasantly sunny and dry, a rare occurrence on this trip. The Seiryu-ji Temple site was developed by the Shingon sect of Buddhism in 1982 and took over five years to complete. The outstanding features of the site are the Five-Storied Pagoda, ... read more
A wandering pilgrim.
Bouki-tei meditative garden.

Asia » Japan » Hokkaido » Hakodate April 28th 2023

2023_Blog 33_Japan April 22 Port of Call: Hakodate, Japan – Weather: 50°F/10°C – Scattered clouds – Winds: 50+ mph. Overnight we had expected the heavy winds to continue but thankfully they didn’t materialize. However today they found us and churned up whitecaps in the harbor. At one point the captain expressed some concern about how the wind could possibly impede our departure. As Hakodate is situated in the northern region of Japan spring has just started and the cherry blossoms were at their glory. Luck was with us as today was the second day of viewing the blossoms at their fullest. Most of Hakodate population seemed to be out enjoying the spectacle as well. Our excursion today took us to the Kanazawa Castle Park & Kenrokuen Garden. The first castle was built on this site in ... read more
Hakodate Harbor - art at pier.
Goryokaku Tower - snaking line.
Goryokaku Tower over looking blossoms.

Asia » Japan April 28th 2023

2023_Blog 34_Japan April 23 Port of Call: At Sea – Weather: 50°F/10°C – scattered clouds – wind: 21 mph. Last day of this cruise heading for our final stop and disembarkation in Yokohama tomorrow. Time to pack, get documentation in order and say goodbye to our faithful stewards and fellow guests. Tomorrow will be a hectic day. During the Captain’s noon address from the bridge, he informed those guest that were continuing with the next cruise that due to a massive storm front heading north, which is the same direction that the Westerdam will be travelling, the next port of call has been cancelled. As a result of that change in plans the ship will stay in Yokohama overnight tomorrow. Today was one of frustration once again for all guests as the internet was spotty all ... read more
A little wave action
Last walk on deck
Storage bench on deck

Asia » Japan April 27th 2023

2023_Blog 30_Japan April 19 Port of Call: At Sea – Weather: 54°F/12°C – Foggy – Wind: 5.7 mph. Today we are crossing Sea of Japan from Busan, South Korea to Otaru, Japan on Japan’s northern island, a distance of 1,014 nautical miles. Once again, we awoke to the sound of the foghorn as the ship navigated its way through a thick fog bank. Lectures on Japanese Culture & Etiquette, bingo, towel folding demonstrations, port talks on Otaru, Aomori & Hakodate are just some of the activities provided the guests for this day at sea. Of course you could go for a walk on the Promenade, or sit down on a deck lounge and read; if you can find enough deck blankets to bundle up under – it’s just a bit cool for enjoyable reading outside.... read more
Foggy morning - sun trying to break through.
Your daily walk - it's all measured out!.
Promenade - under the lifeboats.

Asia » Japan » Hokkaido » Otaru April 27th 2023

2023_Blog 31_Japan April 20 Port of Call: Otaru, Japan – Weather: Overcast with a chance of rain. - 54°F/12°C - Wind: 1.9 mph. After our one-day visit to Busan, South Korea, we are back in Japan and have to have a face-to-face inspection once again by the Japanese Immigration Officers. Early, 6:00 am, yesterday morning we lined up to draw numbered tickets which corresponded to the time slots allocated for the inspection. I have to give high marks to the crew for their organizational skills in channeling 1,900 guest and crew through the process in just over 5 hours. Now if they could only direct that level of efficiency to their shore excursions. Crew safety exercises have been conducted throughout the cruise and today was no exception. Junior officers had to launch one of the rescue ... read more
Otaru - smart advertising.
Otaru - steam powered clock.
Otaru - cherry tree in front of carillon.

Asia » Japan » Tokyo April 25th 2023

Wednesday 19th & Thursday 20thApril 2023 OTARU 10.00am – 5.00pm After another sea day, we arrived at Otaru about 9.00am. We had to go through the rigmarole of re-entry to Japan, with fingerprints and photo taken so we weren’t off the ship until about 10.45am (and that was early because we had ‘booked’ a trip with Al & Cruise Critics so we were ‘Priority’!!) Unfortunately we were unable to meet up with Al because we were herded through Immigration and onto a bus that took us to Mt Tengu for 480JPY. Got off the bus on the 5th stop, along with other passengers that hadn’t made it to Cruise Critics Tour and went up 271m past the snow line, in a cable car. Admired the view (it was quite murky!!) rubbed a goblins nose (It will ... read more
View from Mt Tengu showing Westerdam
Hirosake Castle
The family at lunchtime

Asia » Japan » Tokyo April 23rd 2023

A Note on Photographs From this blog onwards, I will publish the bulk of my photos on Find Penguins instead of on this blog. Don't be alarmed; I'm not breaking up with Travelblog just yet. I continue to enjoy Travelblog because of the community we have built, and it is easy to tell a coherent story on this platform. However, it can be challenging to relate photos and videos to timelines and locations; when reading your blogs, I constantly have to think about how various photos relate to when and where it happened during your travels. Find Penguins does a superb job of reducing this guesswork, but its Twitter-like format doesn't facilitate telling a contiguous story. The main purpose for my trip to Singapore was to help my parents settle in with their new live-in caregiver. ... read more
Tokyo Pride
Tokyo Pride
Tokyo Pride

Asia » Japan » Ishikawa » Kanazawa April 22nd 2023

2023_Blog 27_Japan April 16 Port of Call: Kanazawa, Japan - 55°F/13°C – Light rain in morning, sunny in afternoon – Wind: 25 mph Overnight we sailed up the western coast of Japan and into Kanazawa harbour this morning under a rainbow. What a pleasant sight but it does beg the question: Are we actually going to luck out and not get soaked again? Our excursion destinations today were to the Kenrokuen Gardens and Omicho Market. The gardens are reported to be one of the top three in Japan and are a masterfully designed landscape. There are many winding paths, ponds, streams, towering pines and flowering bushes. After a leisurely wonder through the grounds, we crossed over the highway to the nearby Kanazawa Castle Park. The castle suffered the fate of so many of its kind and ... read more
Kenrokuen Gardens - carp looking for handouts.
Kenrokuen Gardens - a splash of color.
Kenrokuen Gardens - capturing blossoms.

Asia » Japan » Kochi » Kochi April 21st 2023

2023_Blog 24_Japan April 13 Port of Call: Kochi, Japan – Weather: Partly cloudy - 65°F/18°C – Wind: 7 mph. Today we had a return visit to this city and once again all the shore excursions were sold out and there were no cancellations, so we opted to do some exploring on our own. Unlike our previous visit today was sunny, pleasantly warm, and most importantly DRY, no rain. The shore excursion team arranged for round trip shuttle busses, at $25 each, to take us on a half-hour ride to the local bus depot in the center of town where we could explore as we wished. Our map reading skills were put to the test and after walking from the bus depot nothing matched up to either the paper map we were carrying or Google Maps. Fortunately ... read more
Kochi - Bride's kimono_2.
Kochi - gentle blossoms.
Kochi - Harimayabashi bridge.

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