Thursday, 31 March 2016


Situated on the southern coast of Honshu, the largest of Japan’s four main islands, most of Osaka was destroyed by American bombing during World War 2 and so very little of it’s canals and wooden buildings remain. Instead, Osaka is now a modern city looking to the future. As with Nagasaki (and probably every square inch of Japan in general) Osaka is spotlessly clean with not a thing out of place.


Right next to our berth was the gigantic Ferris wheel which, at night, provided the most amazing light show.


Dwelling on Japanese ‘house keeping’ perfectionism – the trees are pruned and shaped to within an inch of their lives!


Modern though most of the city is there are some very sweet little bar/cafes to enjoy – which we do! Amid much bowing and general politeness we refreshed ourselves in this one before moving on in our quest to discover more of the city.


The bright and efficient metro system took us quickly to the area of Osaka called Tenoji where there promised to be a little more happening than in Tempozan where the cruise terminal is situated and which is predominately financial and industrial.


Plush velvet seating and floors so clean you could eat off them! the inside of the metro carriages is perfection yet again!


Tenoji was a very busy area but carefully placed pedestrian bridges and walkways kept a lot of the human traffic away from the vehicles.


Many of the buildings are works of art in themselves and below this example are the intricate criss-cross of pedestrian walks and bridges.


It seemed about 30% of cars are these strange ‘boxes’ with castors on each corner! Some are electric while others have, what can only be the smallest and quietest engines possible. The only way to tell the difference is by the extremely small exhaust pipe! They’re obviously very capable load and people carriers but Doug can’t quite get his head around why anyone would want to be seen dead in one! The driver of this little “roller skate” was very happy to have his photo taken though!


This is not an amusement venue at the seaside but the thriving heart of Tenoji’s bar, club and restaurant area. After spending some time mooching around and discovering various things of interest, chatting to a very Japanese looking person who couldn’t  speak a word of Japanese and so couldn’t help us with the written word (!) and then a Japanese person from Australia who could help us, we found a nice ‘locals’ restaurant to eat in.


Included on the restaurant’s menu were such things as pig’s belly and other such wonders from the inside of animals, but we settled for some egg and seaweed soup …….


…… which, like a lot of the English translation on the menu, had a comical side to it! ………


…… and Cheese chijimi which was rather like a cheese topping on a savoury version of Turkish Delight. Each table had a cooker in the centre where you could cook the variety of animal bits and pieces if you so wished.


However, both the dishes were very tasty. Notice the (beef stomach) on the top of the photo!


Another session of bowing and lots of “thank-you”s in Japanese and English later and we were on our way back to “Arcadia” to spend the rest of the evening in our cabin nursing our aching feet and enjoying some wine with cheese and biscuits.


Well, that’s our Japanese ports of call finished as we now head into the vastness of the Pacific Ocean with “Arcadia” having already clocked over 26,000 miles of her world cruise. We’re making very good speed on calm waters (in fact, we haven’t seen a real wave since we boarded!) The volcanic islands of Iwajima (above) off our port side are the last sight of land for quite a while. Next stop is Hawaii which is some eights days travelling away. Our travels so far have seen us in Hong Kong, China, Korea and Japan and it’s hard to think that only a very short while ago we were enjoying the delights of Newcastle and the Lake District!  Rather amusingly, James has been stared at quite a lot in the last week. Being almost 2 metres high with ‘snow’ on the top he sort of stands out just a bit compared to the diminutive stature of a lot of people in this part of the world!

Monday, 28 March 2016

Japan - Nagasaki

After the overnight cruise from Busan in Korea on Friday evening we docked in the port of Nagasaki, Japan. The city is famous for being the second city (after Hiroshima) to be destroyed by an atomic bomb on August 9th 1945.


Today Nagasaki is a modern thriving city but the legacy of the devastation from the bomb is clearly not forgotten. The city is also important as, during the period of Japan’s national isolation, it was the only port remaining open to the outside world.


The plan for our day in Nagasaki was to explore the areas now dedicated to the memories of that day in August 1945 when almost 150,000 people were killed or seriously injured. We were accompanied by two of our table guests, Brian and Carol, for the visit to the memorials -the steps leading up to the Peace Park are immaculately planted with pansies.


The Fountain of Peace represents the offering of water in memory of the thousands of people who suffered terrible burns and died begging for water after the bomb exploded.


The fountain is shaped to represent the wings of the dove of peace.


Further on from the Fountain of Peace we entered the Peace Park.


The Peace Park is constructed on the site of Nagasaki Prison which was completely destroyed - the foundations of which have been partly preserved.


Part of the prison’s surrounding wall also survived.


At the far end of the Peace Park is the 30 ft high Peace Statue. The man’s upstretched arm points to the threat of nuclear weapons and his outstretched arm symbolises peace.


The statue is set in a “lake” of mirrored water held in polished black marble.


From the Peace Park we could see the Urakami Cathedral, built in 1955, it replaces the one destroyed by the bomb in 1945.


After the Peace Park we took a walk ‘off the beaten tourist track’ and found a very quaint little bar for tea and coffee. It was a work of art by the café owner who ground coffee beans, warmed tea cups, set two Monkey nuts each in little dishes for the coffee drinkers and then got his wife to serve us with much bowing taking place from all of us. A great moment as we sat on our little chairs ……..


……. in this very lovely little café. Carol isn’t very tall and she only just made it through the door – James wasn’t quite on his knees though!


Our next stop was the Atomic Bomb Museum.


The museum held much to provoke your thoughts and feelings. This clock was found in the ruins of a house 800 metres from the blast hypocenter. It’s hands stopped at 11:02 – the moment of the explosion.


Twisted metal girders from one of the bridges over the river.


This reconstruction of the entrance to the Urakami Cathedral uses the remains of the arch and the blackened statues which stood each side of the doorway. The cathedral stood 500 metres from the blast hypocenter and all but this entrance arch was completed destroyed.


The museum houses a life size replica of “Fat Man” – the nickname given to the (plutonium) atomic bomb dropped by the US Air force B29 bomber “Bockscar” which killed or injured over half Nagasaki’s population of 240,000 people.


Just a short walk from the Atomic Bomb Museum is the site of the blast Hypocenter.  Very peaceful now, with the cherry blossom just beginning to show, this place was at the centre of the bomb blast equivalent to 21 kilotons of TNT.


At the hypocenter itself, where the bomb exploded 500 meters above, is a polished black marble obelisk and a casket containing the names of all bomb victims.


Just to say we were there.


After our very emotional and thought provoking tour of Nagasaki’s memories of that fateful day in 1945 we said goodbye to Brian and Carol so we could all ‘do’ our own thing for the rest of the day. Thanks to you both for a great few hours together. We decided to take a trip up the Nagasaki Ropeway.


The five minute cable car ride takes you over the tops of houses and forest areas to the top of Mount Inasa.


From the top of the mountain you can see Nagasaki in all it’s modern glory nestling in the Urakami River valley. This photo is taken nearly 500 meters high which is the same height that the bomb exploded above the city in the centre of this view. You can see the Peace Park (tree lined) at the centre of the photo with the bomb museum (red building) to the right.


Nagasaki is situated on Japan’s third largest island of Kyushu and from the top of Mt Inasa the sea was visible on both sides.


The Uramaki River widens out as it enters Nagasaki Bay. “Arcadia” is berthed just to the right of centre.


Panorama view of Nagasaki.


“Arcadia” - a close up of our “home” for the next six weeks …………….


……….. and a view looking west from Mt Inasa showing the wonderful archipelago making up this far south end of Japan.

Nagasaki was an awesome experience for us and something we’d not really ever thought we’d see. It’s a memory that will last forever and our first taste of Japan is one of cleanliness and perfection wherever you look. The people are so friendly and respectful and we haven’t yet seen a dirty car! 

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Korea – Jeju Island and Busan.

The social whirl on board ship goes on apace …….


……. a nice couple we’ve spent some quality time with during the early part of this cruise and who, (maybe not so amazingly) in this small world, live in the next village along the coast from us. Allan (with his back to us!) and Kim (in the black and white shawl). Between Kim and Doug is Jonty Hearndon, famous for “Antiques Roadshow” and “Cash in the Attic”. He’s given us some great talks on antique valuables and ‘behind the scenes’ of the TV shows.


Our first Korean port was Jeju Island situated south west of the mainland. The Far East communities wouldn’t be the same without their markets and Jeju City was no exception.


As usual, we veered off the main tourist trail and took a walk out of Jeju City. A beautiful little gem we came across was Jeonnongro (Cherry Blossom Street) – another couple of days and it would be spectacular.


Catching a local bus we took the 90 minute journey to the east of the island to Wooribong to see the Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise) Peak, an extinct volcano which erupted from the sea 5000 years ago.  


There wasn’t time for the two and a half hour hike to the top and back so …..


………. we opted for some lunch in a traditional restaurant. Our digestion wasn’t aided particularly by sitting cross-legged on the floor but it was an experience not to be missed!


The bus ride back to Jeju City was fast and furious but the surroundings were very pleasant with lovely pelmets and soft furnishings!


………. “who is the fairest of them all?”


Getting off the bus, we made our way back to the ship AND, there was another market we could walk through on the way!


It’s really quite an eye opener but once you’ve seen one fish market you’ve seen them all - as they say!


Leaving Jeju in the evening we had the traditional sail away party on “Arcadia’s” rear deck. Chilly it was but the very good Entertainment Team we have on board on this cruise gave us a great party.

After a quick overnight trip from Jeju Island we docked in the port of Busan. Korea’s second largest city with population of 3.5 million it’s situated in Gyeongsangnam-do Province (only just saying, as some of these names are stupendous if unpronounceable!)


Although passengers could go about their normal business of getting off the ship after it docked there was one of the regular safety practices going on at the same time. By the look of the inflated safety raft dangling from it’s crane as we got off in the morning the crew take things very seriously!


Busan is a heavily industrialised port at the mouth of the Nakdong River and is home to part of Korea’s huge ship building industry. The city has it’s shops (and “famous fish markets – you can have too much of a good thing!) but it’s quite a sight …….


…… to see, everywhere you look, bits of ships being craned about and put together.


The area is a forest of giant cranes all in the business of making ships.


And, talking of ships, we got back to our ship at the end of a pleasant, if not particularly exhilarating day in Busan. (James is itching to get some paint put on that anchor housing!)