Vacation Update #6

This update starts with the ships departure from Kobe, Japan heading for Tokyo and the Tokyo shore excursion. Due to the size of this, the trip to Hakodate and the shore excursion there will be done as a separate attachment.

Between 350 and 400 people stayed on the ship for the Kobe to Vancouver cruise. The other 800 or so changed with a full load of 1200 passengers heading to Vancouver. One of the biggest problems in one of these changeovers is luggage.

Here is an example of what it looks like on all the passenger decks later in the day.

Once all was well the ship sailed at approximately 5:30P.M. for Tokyo. This was a sea crossing and was the roughest to that time. May be roughest so far but I will think about that before committing to it. Here are some pictures.

Looking towards the bow or front of the ship.

Looking of the port (left) side at the stern or rear.

Looking of the starboard (right) side at the bow.

Looking off the port side midships.

After a day of this the ship arrived early the next morning at the passenger ship terminal in Tokyo harbor (not Yokohama as originally expected). This cut several hours off of the shore excursions. I know there were some of those Japanese drummers, playing the big drums on the pier as we docked but I was not able to get a picture of them. Most of the pictures around the harbor area were taken after my return from the shore excursion so I will place them there.

There shore excursion was called the Best of Tokyo. The trip started with a visit to the Imperial Palace. Here is the trip to the palace and a few pictures of as much as can be seen of the Palace.

Most workers start at 9:30 in Tokyo so as we were on our way to the palace we saw all these people going from a subway station to a nearby office building.

This building is just a few blocks from the Palace and was General Douglas Macarthur’s headquarters during the 6 years he was in Japan after WWII ended in the Pacific. It is the head office of a large Japanese insurance company now.

The Palace is off to the right in this image. The emperor and his wife still live there. The Palace is only open once a year on New Years Day. 

This is the most famous part of the Palace. It is called the Nijubashi Bridge. It is the main ceremonial entrance. It is not normally used. 

It was Golden Week in Japan. This is a collection of national holidays that most people cannot remember why it exists. This explains all the buses. There were many school children there as well.

The tours next stop was the Asakusa Shopping district. Apparently this was a notorious entertainment district many years ago.  Now there is the well known Senso-ji or Kannon Buddhist temple here now. On the way here the bus passed through the well known electronics shopping section of Tokyo, the name of which I cannot remember. Here are a couple of pictures from the bus window as we passed through it.

We then arrived at the Asakusa shopping area and spent over an hour there. Here are some pictures of it.

The temple.

The alter in the temple.

A view from the temple steps. The smoke from the large incense pot in the centre would give you luck if you sort of immersed yourself in it, so it was said.

The shopping portion.

More shopping.

All this means something important but I do not know what.

From where the ship was docked, Tokyo does not have a particularly impressive skyline (as you will see later). The one thing that many people recognize is the Tokyo Tower. Who knows how many times the Japanese movie monster Godzilla knocked it over in all those Godzilla movies? Here are a couple of daytime pictures of it with some nighttime ones to come a bit later.

Here it is from the main street in front of the Imperial Palace

Here it is from the bus window on the way to lunch. It has observation decks midway up and near the top. This was as close as we got to it.

The next stop was way out in the west side of Tokyo. This is the modern area where all the impressive (depending on your point of view) skyscrapers are.  The restaurant we had lunch in was at the top of a 52 story office building owned by a big Japanese insurance company. I believe the area of the city it is in is called Shinjuku. The restaurant was called Seryna. The food was thinly sliced beef that you dipped and cooked in a gas fired boiling pot of water that was sitting in the middle of each table. As lunch progressed many things such as vegetables of unknown types, tofu and other things were added and this pot and it eventually became something like a stew. It got less interesting to me as it progressed. The ice cream for desert was good. Here are some pictures of the view from the restaurant and some of the buildings in that area.

Have you ever wondered how they clean the glass on one of these glass roofed atriums? Have a close look. There is a man standing on it with a squeegee just to the left and below the centre of the picture.

This was the view from the restaurant. I am not sure which way it is looking. It likely is northwest.

This one may be more west than the one above.

The building the restaurant was in is on the left. The one in the middle is the Tokyo City Hall. It is connected to their equivalent of a city council chamber by the walkway you can see. The chamber is to the left behind the building I was in. The building on the right is the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

The final stop on the bus tour was the Ginza shopping area. It is big busy and relative uninteresting to a nonshopper like me. Here are a couple of pictures.

It would be much like downtown Toronto if there were a few less Japanese. Mind you the stores are ritizier. Maybe 5th avenue in New York would be a better comparison.

The downtown Tokyo Apple computer store.

After an hour here the tour returned to the ship. It took a number of pictures of the area around there. Here are some of them.

Just to prove the ship was actually in Tokyo!

The passenger terminal as we came back from the tour.

The Rainbow Bridge they call it. It goes from Tokyo city on the right to the area in the picture below right.

The older (although it may not look it) part of Tokyo. It is mostly land reclaimed from Tokyo Bay.

Further to the right of the picture above right. The large white tower is a garbage incinerator smoke stack. 

This area is all land reclaimed from the bay. It was built about 10 years ago as a model city.

I seem to have a thing about nighttime pictures this trip. Here are a bunch taken before and as the ship sailed from Tokyo at approximately 8:00 P.M. Friday, April 23rd, 2008.

The passenger terminal lit up at night.

Same as one above except at night.

The Rainbow Bridge and part of the ship.

The reclaimed land area.

There was this Ferris wheel all lit up. It kept changing.

Here is one of it variations. It had many.

We were serenaded by another brass band as we departed.

A more complete view of the passenger terminal.

The terminal as we sail away

Tokyo as we sailed away.

Tokyo tower at night.

The tower with other buildings.

As we sailed under the Rainbow Bridge.

Our last view of Tokyo’s centre.

This concludes Tokyo. Due to the size of this I will do Hokodate as a separate attachment.

Back soon!!!