A Travellerspoint blog

Cruise - Part 1

4th Nov 2019

This morning we had a late checkout and headed to the cruise terminal.

large_P1110113.JPG

We were boarding at the brand-new cruise ship terminal at Shinko Pier.
Our ship is the Diamond Princess.

large_P1110138.JPG

We had priority boarding so at 10am we were checked in and ready to board at 11am. It was quite strange. We went through the x-ray machines but there was no immigration. We had a wander around the ship to get familiarised.
The view of Yokohama from the deck.

large_P1110143.JPG

Yokohama Bridge where we sail under when we depart.

large_P1110145.JPG

The atrium.

large_P1110146.JPG

The indoor pool.

large_P1110139.JPG

The outdoor pool.

large_P1110144.JPG

This ice-cream shop where you get free ice-cream.

large_P1110141.JPG

At 3.30pm they had a sake barrel breaking ceremony to wish us good luck on our voyage.

large_IMG_8069.JPG
large_IMG_8071.JPG
large_P1110151.JPG
large_IMG_8072.JPG

Then at 5pm we sailed away for our next adventure. It was already dark. There were lots of people on the pier and balconies to farewell us. They had light sticks that they were waving at us.

large_P1110155.JPG
large_IMG_8077.JPG

There was also a school band playing.

large_IMG_8078.JPG

The views of Yokohama as we sailed away.

large_IMG_8079.JPG
large_IMG_8086.JPG

5th and 6th Nov 2019

We had 2 days at sea heading south to visit some remoter parts of Japan. The first morning they had a fruit and vegetable carving demonstration. We love watching this as they are so clever.

large_P1110163.JPG
large_P1110180.JPG
large_86ea08e0-ff97-11e9-adbe-eb337deadaec.JPG
large_P1110184.JPG
large_P1110185.JPG
large_P1110182.JPG
large_P1110177.JPG
large_P1110178.JPG
large_P1110174.JPG
large_P1110173.JPG
large_P1110170.JPG
large_P1110172.JPG
large_P1110171.JPG

We had a lovely 2 days at sea with calm seas. So, we really relaxed and did lots of reading. We also got several laps around the ship in each day to compensate for some of the meals we had eaten.

7th Nov 2019

After the 2 days at sea we arrived at our first destination of Okinawa. The largest island in the Ryukyu Archipelago, Okinawa has been a centre of trade and a source for conflict through its history. Okinawa was the scene of bitter fighting in 1945 during the closing days of World War II. Over 100,000 civilians perished, and the island was left in ruins. A US military possession, Okinawa returned to Japanese rule in 1972. Naha is the island's largest city and the capital of Okinawa Prefecture. Did you know that Okinawa is the birthplace of karate?
There was a variety of activities to do here but we really wanted to see some of the historic sights commemorating the Battle of Okinawa. Here are some figures for you. Total deaths were 200, 656 people. American – 12,520, Japanese – 188,136. In 90 days, the Americans used 2,716,691 shells. Out of this figure 1,178,869 unexploded shells were disposed of and they are still finding them today.
Our first stop was the former Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters. There was a small museum at the entrance.
A map of the tunnels we visited.

large_P1110234.JPG

We then descended the 105 steps down through the 450-metre complex that was dug by hand and served as the Japanese Navy's headquarters during the war.

large_IMG_8122.JPG
large_P1110215.JPG

The commanding officer, Rear Admiral Ota, and many of his men fought and died here. The underground complex includes:
The Commanding Officer's room

large_IMG_8147.JPG

Petty Officer’s room

large_IMG_8145.JPG

Generator room

large_IMG_8141.JPG

Signal room

large_IMG_8149.JPG

Code room

large_IMG_8133.JPG

Medical room

large_P1110228.JPG

Staff rooms

large_IMG_8125.JPG
large_IMG_8128.JPG

There are still rooms where the walls are riddled with remnants of hand grenades going off where the Japanese soldiers committed suicide in the tunnels. There were 2.400 bodies located in the tunnels after the Japanese surrendered.

large_P1110221.JPG

More of the tunnel corridors

large_IMG_8124.JPG
large_IMG_8126.JPG
large_IMG_8143.JPG
large_IMG_8150.JPG
large_P1110219.JPG
large_P1110222.JPG
large_P1110227.JPG
large_P1110233.JPG

From there, we visited the Himeyuri Peace Museum and the adjacent Himeyuri Monument, which commemorates the lives of 240 female high school students who worked as nurse assistants in army field hospitals during the Battle of Okinawa under difficult and ultimately tragic conditions. They had several responsibilities, but it included disposing of amputated limbs. On the night of June 18, 1945, as soon as the deactivation order had been issued, students were thrown out of the caves into the war front surrounded by the approaching US military. More than 100 students were killed within a few days of the order.

large_P1110212.JPG

The Peace Museum displays photos and personal effects of these girls, members of the Himeyuri Student Corps. Testimonies from the surviving members of the group serve as a moving memorial and reminder of the miseries of war, the importance of peace, and the preciousness of life. Outside the museum were lots of colourful paper cranes that are all linked together as a sign of peace.

large_IMG_8117.JPG
large_IMG_8120.JPG

This is one of the stone cave entrances that served as a hospital.

large_P1110214.JPG

Our third stop was the lovely, nearby Peace Park and Okinawa Peace Memorial Museum, the main memorial to the Battle of Okinawa. We perused the halls of this memorial museum.

large_P1110209.JPG

In the museum there was an observation tower. This is a view of the park.

large_P1110197.JPG

We then wandered the grounds and there was a lot to see.
The "Cornerstone of Peace" opened in 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the battle and the end of the war. Its purpose is to commemorate those who were lost, including the more than 100,000 civilians who lost their lives, and to serve as a place to meditate and pray for peace. The 117 monument walls are shaped liked folding screens. 69 walls have five folds and 48 walls have three folds, for a total of 1,212 faces with space for 250,000 names. They are separated into US soldiers, Japanese soldiers and Japanese civilians.

large_IMG_8090.JPG
large_IMG_8091.JPG
large_IMG_8095.JPG
large_IMG_8096.JPG
large_IMG_8097.JPG
large_P1110191.JPG

The Flame of Peace burns in the monument's centre. This flame is composed of flames from three other places: one flame was taken from AkajimaIsland in Zamami Village, the first landing place of US forces in Okinawa, and two other flames were taken from the cities where nuclear bombs were dropped; from the "Flame of Peace" in Hiroshima, and from the "Flame of Peace" in Nagasaki. The flame that had been burning since 1991was transferred to the Cornerstone of Peace monument on July 23rd1995 (Okinawa Memorial Day).

large_IMG_8092.JPG

The museum from the flame.

large_IMG_8093.JPG

Some other memorials around the park.

large_IMG_8089.JPG
large_IMG_8104.JPG

A view of the cliffs. They were called the suicide cliffs as many Japanese jumped to their death. The Japanese soldiers had brain washed the civilians to commit suicide instead of being captured.

large_P1110192.JPG

The Okinawa Peace Hall was opened on Oct. 1, 1978. The Hall stands on the Hill of Mabuni where history bears testimony to the futility of war and the value of peace. The Hall has a regular polygonal roof which expresses seven seas and the shape of hands joined in prayers.

large_IMG_8101.JPG
large_P1110201.JPG
large_P1110203.JPG
large_IMG_8107.JPG

Near the Peace Hall was a bronze statue of a boy. Many promising boy students were killed in the Battle of Okinawa. On the tenth anniversary of Okinawa's reversion to Japan, a bronze statue 'Boy' was erected, to remember the boys and girls who died in the Battle and to send a peace message to the world. Schoolchildren of all parts of Japan cooperated in raising funds for the erection of the statue.

large_IMG_8108.JPG

There is a Bell of Peace. The Bell is rung on the memorial occasions of praying for world peace. There is an inscription which says “Calm the souls of the war dead. Swear the permanent peace of the world. From the Hill of Mabuni in all directions, sounds everlastingly the Bell of Peace, in solemn prayers of all people.”

large_IMG_8106.JPG
large_P1110205.JPG

A memorial at the side of the hall.

large_P1110206.JPG

A view of the park from the Peace Hall.

large_IMG_8109.JPG

When we got back to the ship, we then took a walk to the Naminoue Shrine. On the way there were these big statues.

large_IMG_8167.JPG
large_IMG_8153.JPG
large_IMG_8168.JPG

There was a beach nearby, you can sunbathe but not swim.

large_IMG_8154.JPG

You can see the shrine on the top of the cliff.

large_IMG_8156.JPG

This is the entrance.

large_P1110242.JPG

The steps up to the shrine.

large_IMG_8166.JPG

Shane preparing for his visit to the shrine.

large_IMG_8164.JPG

The shrine.

large_P1110237.JPG
large_IMG_8160.JPG
large_IMG_8161.JPG
large_IMG_8162.JPG
large_IMG_8158.JPG
large_IMG_8159.JPG
large_P1110235.JPG

Returning to the ship.

large_IMG_8152.JPG

We went out on deck for the sail away. Here is Okinawa from the ship.

large_IMG_8172.JPG
large_IMG_8176.JPG

We also liked the sign for this hotel. They have a lot of hotels in Japan where you can pop in for a quickie.

large_IMG_8173.JPG
large_IMG_8174.JPG

8th Nov 2019

Our next stop was Ishigaki. The balmy, subtropical climate draws countless visitors to its sandy shores. It is the cultural, political and economic centre of the Yaeyama Islands, originally founded in 1908 as Yaeyama Village and becoming Ishigaki Town in 1926. Ishigaki was elevated to city status on July 10, 1947.
We decided to visit Taketomi Island so once ashore we made our way to the ferry terminal where we took a high-speed ferry to Taketomi. It only took 15 minutes.

large_P1110246.JPG
large_P1110247.JPG

It was a short walk to the village.

large_IMG_8182.JPG

We came across a cemetery along the way.

large_IMG_8183.JPG
large_IMG_8184.JPG

It is the site of a beautifully preserved, traditional Ryukyu village. The Ryukyu kingdom was an independent kingdom that ruled most of the islands around here from the 15th to 19th century. Thanks to preservation efforts, the small village consists almost entirely of the traditional style, one storied houses, which are surrounded by stone walls and covered with red tiled roofs. A lot of the roads are made of white sand.

large_IMG_8185.JPG
large_IMG_8187.JPG
large_IMG_8188.JPG
large_IMG_8201.JPG
large_P1110251.JPG

There are ample lion-like shisa statues to ward off evil spirits.

large_IMG_8189.JPG
large_IMG_8190.JPG
large_IMG_8192.JPG
large_IMG_8195.JPG
large_IMG_8196.JPG
large_IMG_8202.JPG
large_IMG_8203.JPG
large_IMG_8213.JPG
large_IMG_8215.JPG
large_P1110271.JPG

We could either walk around or take a water buffalo cart ride. We chose to do the 6km walk around the island, but others chose the buffalo carts.

large_IMG_8191.JPG
large_P1110253.JPG

In the middle of town is the Nagominoto Tower. It is a 4.5-metre-tall tower which sits on a small hill. As it is old you can no longer climb it.

large_P1110257.JPG

A smart local has created their own look out for a small fee, so we were happy to pay to get a bird’s eye view.

large_IMG_8197.JPG
large_IMG_8200.JPG
large_P1110259.JPG
large_P1110260.JPG

The first part of our hike came out at the Western Pier.

large_IMG_8204.JPG
large_IMG_8206.JPG
large_P1110266.JPG
large_P1110267.JPG
large_P1110268.JPG

We then walked along the coastline to Kondoi Beach.

large_IMG_8207.JPG

We continued on to Kaiji Shore where there is star shaped sand. The sands of this beach are very special. In fact, only two places on Earth are known to produce the tiny star-shaped grains of sand that make up Hoshizuna no Hama (Star Sand Beach). These unique grains are actually the pointy husks of millions of tiny protists known as Foraminifera.

large_IMG_8208.JPG
37670a60-01f0-11ea-89bf-4b150c7e413b.jpg

We headed back to the village. There were lots of butterflies.

large_IMG_8211.JPG

After having a good look around, we caught the ferry back to Ishigaki.

9th Nov 2019
Today we docked at the port of Keelung which is the gateway to Taiwan. The oldest Chinese reference to Taiwan dates back to the Han Dynasty in the 3rd century B.C. However, it wasn't until the 17th century A.D. that Chinese Hakka traders first settled on the island. These bold merchants were soon followed by European and Asian adventurers seeking to control and colonize the strategic island. The most famous migration of all occurred in 1948, when the government of the Republic of China fled the mainland. Taipei is Taiwan's capital city and one of the world's most important commercial centres. Despite its turbulent history, Taiwan today boasts an economy that is the envy of the world. Modern Taiwan is a world leader in the production of bicycles, computer chips, plastics, chemicals and computer notebooks.
We have already visited Taiwan some years ago so had visited a lot of the tourist sites including a quick drive through Keelung. At that time, we could see ships in amongst the buildings we thought they looked like they were on land. Views from the ship.

large_IMG_8219.JPG
large_IMG_8221.JPG
large_IMG_8222.JPG
large_IMG_8223.JPG
large_IMG_8224.JPG

This morning we visited Yeliu Geo Park, which is famous for its spectacular rock formations. We walked along its lunar-like landscape that abuts a pounding sea. Being a weekend there were thousands of people there.

large_IMG_8226.JPG
large_IMG_8244.JPG
large_IMG_8250.JPG
large_IMG_8251.JPG
large_IMG_8253.JPG
large_P1110286.JPG
large_P1110303.JPG

We encountered a bizarre array of rock formations, including:
Mushroom rock formations – there are about 180 rocks shaped like mushrooms.

large_IMG_8228.JPG
large_IMG_8239.JPG
large_P1110276.JPG
large_P1110297.JPG

Yehliu's most iconic landmark; the Queen's Head Rock.

large_IMG_8232.JPG

Ginger rocks

large_IMG_8241.JPG

Marine Bird rock (but I think it looks more like a rabbit)

large_P1110283.JPG

Ice-cream rock

large_IMG_8238.JPG

Fairy Slipper rock

large_IMG_8233.JPG

Right by the fairy slipper is earth rock

large_P1110281.JPG

Elephant rock

large_IMG_8235.JPG

Candle rocks

large_IMG_8225.JPG
large_IMG_8237.JPG
large_P1110291.JPG

Honeycomb rocks

large_IMG_8240.JPG
large_IMG_8242.JPG
large_P1110287.JPG

There were lots of fossils in the sandstone.

large_IMG_8227.JPG
large_IMG_8236.JPG
large_P1110296.JPG

We then drove to Bisha Fish Market where there are dozens of stores selling fresh seafood, supplying all kinds of deep-sea, inshore, coastal and cultured seafood.

large_P1110309.JPG

Visitors can ask the restaurants in the food court to cook the seafood that they have bought from the market. This stall had all live tanks.

large_IMG_8254.JPG

There was certainly a variety of fish.

large_P1110304.JPG
large_P1110305.JPG
large_c8798f00-0353-11ea-8b71-db55d329fe9a.JPG

This stall sold dried fish.

large_IMG_8257.JPG
large_P1110307.JPG

Look at these baby squids

large_IMG_8258.JPG

They tie up the live crabs so they can’t bite.

large_IMG_8259.JPG

We then went to Heping Island Park where we walked along the scenic track. There were unique rocks shaped by the sea erosion and you could even see the Keelung Islet from far.

large_IMG_8261.JPG
large_IMG_8262.JPG
large_IMG_8264.JPG
large_IMG_8265.JPG
large_IMG_8266.JPG
large_IMG_8267.JPG
large_IMG_8275.JPG
large_P1110317.JPG

In the afternoon we headed into Keelung and walked around the Maritime Plaza.

large_IMG_8278.JPG

We set sail at 5pm, it was just getting dark, so the lights had come on for the Keelung signs.

large_P1110331.JPG
large_P1110334.JPG

You can see how close to the town we were; we had been docked on the right -hand side.

large_P1110338.JPG

In Australia it has become popular to paint water and wheat silos. Here in Taiwan they are doing the same.

large_P1110337.JPG

As we sailed away from Taiwan there were lights everywhere. We then clicked that these were all squid boats. They have bright lights on that attract the squid.

large_P1110341.JPG
large_P1110342.JPG

10th and 11th November

We had 2 more days at sea for our return journey to Yokohama. This will then complete the first of three parts to our cruise.
On the 11th it was Remembrance Day. They had a service on the ship which we attended.

large_IMG_8279.JPG

Posted by shaneandnicola 04:13 Archived in Japan

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.

Login