Sunday, December 27, 2009

Japan Again 6


Our claim to fame here is that we are the first foreign yacht to visit, according to Coastguard, who once they got over their surprise at our appearance in their office, were extremely helpful. They gave us maps marking shopping areas, KFC etc. Tourist Information were also surprised to see us. They gave us great information all in English. We wandered through the Street Of White Walls and an open house. The English speaking guide gave us a very informative tour. Yanai is a clean and friendly city. We had a steady stream of curious visitors who have enjoyed our conducted tour of Charioteer. We had a very enjoyable evening with our new friends, dining from Bento boxes, talking and laughing.


Another wonderful place. Officials are extremely helpful as is the local ferry owner. Being tied to a commercial wharf means we have had very few visitors and this has enabled us to catch up on housework. Everyone we do meet is warning us to expect snow...and YES we have awoken to find snow on Charioteers deck.
Iwakuni has the most amazing bridge, opriginally built centuries ago. After a typhoon semi destroyed it, it was rebuilt in 1953, to original plans. There is also a Castle and an Art museum.Our bycycles have been in daily use which ios just as well as we are eating heavy winter food. Our diesel heater is a godsend.


Here we spent Christmas. Our present to us was ....a marina stay, a new outdoor table, two deck chairs and about 20 second hands books,
Here we were to meet our fishermen friends from Ya Shima. When we were collected in a chaffuer driven Lexus we began to think there was more to these fisherman than we had realised. We were driven on a tour of Hiroshima city and one of the places we visited was our hosts business which has 75 employees........we had a lovely afternoon tea at his house that had the most incredible views over Hiroshima. That evening we had a delighful meal complete with Christmas cake at a beautiful restaurant.
By now we were sure that Kozi and Tochi were not your average fisherman. Kozi invited us to join them at the Rotary Christmas party the following evening. Once again we were collected in the Lexus and upon arrival meet the President of the oldest Rotary Club in Hiroshima....guess what it was Kozi !!!!!!!!
To return their hospitality we invited them to Charioteer in the afternoon of the 25th December for Christmas pudding, cake, pavalova . We had also meet a lovely American who we had invited to join us for Christmas Day.
And so a day that can often be sad when one is away from home became a joyous occasion. Plus we had the added bonus of actually being able to talk to our family.

Hiroshima is one of the Japanese citys that had an atomic bomb dropped on it during World War Two. We visited the Peace Park and viewed the sad remains of buildings that had survived and are now preserved, the museum thats hold the memories of survivors. We thought we may have felt guilty....we certainly felt sad...but not guilty. We will only feel guilty if we do not help the world to stay safe from this type of weapon.
The people we met were once again friendly and giving...Charioteer is over flowing with oranges...I maybe able to start up a roadside stall!!!!!!!!!
Today we leave Hiroshima and continue our crusing. To any yachties planning a trip here the Kanon Marina is clean and friendly. The management were happy to negoiate a good price and the showers were fabulous.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Japan Again 5


Here is where the Human Suicide Torpedo was built during the war and there is one on display just near where we are tied up.
Our first stop here was the Transport Bureau and once again we found people eager to help. Leaving everything in there hands we explored Tokuyama and found, to our delight, all the shops located by the railway station and a supermarket close to the rail line. The streets were lined with trees wearing autumn foliage giving us technicolour pleasure. Charioteer was side tied to awharf and for company we had two big tugs and ten coastal freighters that were all tied stern to. We felt rather insignificant amongst them all. Our permit arrive, and were finally free to start cruising.


A huge sports complex with a pontoon was our destination. Upon arrival we were inundated with visitors, mainly sailing school students. Once things had quietened down we went for a walk and discovered a huge hardware/homeware store. We spent an hour in their drooling and decided to return to Charioteer, make a list, and return the next morning with our wallet.
But oh no horror..the Sports Complex had a rule...No over night now it was too late in the day so we were given permission to stay for two nights. Next day we spent time in hardware heaven.


At anchor in the beautiful bay, sun sparkling in the calm water, fishing boats dotted around, peace, birds song and ....oh no here come Customs. They had no paper work at all with them and after 'discussions' they drove us back to Hikari to the sub office and once again we put the same info down on the same form. They then drove us back to Charioteer. It gave them something to do and wasted several hours for us.
This place has many shrines and temples and we would of loved to be able to have found someone who could of explained the history of the place. But other than people praying and giving money there were no monks around. The peace and serenity of this bay is wonderful...a little bit of heaven.


Wind speed for 12 hours average of 20 knots, high of 39......the barometer plummeted and this was the weather we got. We were tied to a small wharf and every now and then the waves threw saltwater over the seawall and onto us. Weather aside we have had a lovely time here. Dark at night, torches flashing we found ourselves invited to a local house for drinks and karaoke. The owner lives in Hiroshima and had come over to the island with some friends on a fishing trip. The next day wev were fed a Japanese breakfast and then driven over to the other side of the island to view a 150 year old shrine. Upon the return of the fisherman we were given two fish for our evening meal, but taken to the house for lunch. The 120 year old house has been modernised inside with the upstairs being a private art gallery. This island was once home to 3000 people, but now there are only 30 locals. The empty houses are derilict, but this island is not dying without a fight. There are flowers growing everywhere, even old boat hulls have flowers planted in them. There is an incinerator for rubbish and vegetable gardens are well tended. Every house has a wheelbarrow, cars are almost non existent. Our kindly host has invited us to a Christmas party on December 23rd in Hiroshima.


Japanese oranges everywhere, there are just like mandarins. While we were out walking we met the local post woman who took us to a house where we were give a box of oranges. Then later she delivered another box to us. Everywhere we went we were given oranges. We met several older people who had visited New Zealand and it was a pity that we did not have enough of a common language in which to share experiences.

Japan Again 4

Finally we approached the huge bridge on the Kanmon, a passage between Kyushu and Honshu. We had been told and read about the ferious tidal currents (7 to 8 knots)., the huge ships and and we were both rather nervous. But we were able to wait until the current was slack and beginning to turn in our direction and we motored through in the company of many ships, which was not a problem and we reached the wide open spaces of the Seto Nakai unscathed and relaxed.


We knew nothing about this city other than it was here that we would apply for our cruising permit. Coastguard were extremely helpful, translating into Japanese all our proposed anchorages and we left them with their assurances that they would be able to organise our permit. Next stop was Customs and the many forms to be filled in, then we were free to explore.
The City hall was our first stop and here we found the very helpful International Section, staffed by friendly English speaking Japanese and lots of information in English.
Ube is a city of Sculptures, they are to be found everywhere. Tokiwas Park has a vast area dedicated to works by International artists and was worth the effort to cycle there. There is also a beautiful lake complete with ducks, swans and pelicans.

The next day we decide to devote to retail therapy or in our case window shopping.
We were meandering along when we were accosted by a voluble women who insisted we join her for coffee. This led to us having eight people on board for a look see and coffee. They reciprocated by collecting us in the afternoon and taking us to view a private European style garden and then to a feast....marinated beef, homegrown salad, rice, shrimp rolls (Vietnamese style, chicken on dumpling wrapper, fruit cake, fruit salad, lemon tea made with freshly picked herbs from the garden followed by coffee. Our hosts inundated us with grapefruit, huge huge radish, mandarins, exotic jelly type of sweet and two amazing pot plants.
By now Coast guard had let us know that we had to proceed to Tokuyama to finalise our permit. So once again we waved farewell to friendly people, untied from the pontoon and set off towards an area that had not been on our schedule and so was going to be an unexpected treat.