20191111 – Cruise Japan


Monday

Osaka
Lazy start to the day as we don’t dock until 11:00. Mind you still up at the crack of sparrows in time for breakfast at 07:00. Still sleeping fitfully due to the jet lag.

First of many castles.

Sumptuous breakfast, with fruit – yes me eating healthy stuff – and Becher Museli.

Then it’s coffee on our balcony and blog time. My data SIM seems to work pretty well as we follow the coastline I have pretty good speed even on board at sea. Mind you as we approach Kobe and I could do with it, we loose connection.

Stairs inside were steep and high, don’t know how the little Japs managed them.

I think Apple must have declared bankruptcy as much to my excitement there’s even a small Apple store on board, mind you they’re never open, but at least I can peer in like a child outside a candy store.

Today we’re sampling the highlights of Osaka. First of many castles and shrines. I’m sure by the end of this trip we’ll be shrined out.

And now a shrine.

Castle is ok. More impressive from the outside than inside. At least the climb up 8 flights of stairs gets us some exercise.

Manage time for a rushed coffee and sandwich for Wendy, then it’s back on the coach off to a shrine.

These kids seemed to be Christened or whatever passes for it in Shinto.

The shrine is much more pleasant. Looks like there is a family christening with kids dressed to the nines in beautiful kimonos and costume. Volunteer to take family group photo for proud parents and doting grand parents. Never ceases to amaze what weird things people believe in but if it gives them solace what the hell, at least the Shinto religion don’t want to kill me, stone me to death or conquer the world. For me I’ll stick with a devotion to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

And some boys also.

It seems that not all toilets in Japan are high tech bottom scrubbers, there are some holes in the ground – obviously installed by the French.

To finish a busy day it’s afternoon tea in the lounge, entertained by a mini chamber orchestra. For me it’s a dirty chai, all convered by the drinks package.

Table for 6 tonight with two other geriatric couples. Wine flows and after dinner I try one of the Bourbons, not bad.

Talk about boring and confusing dinner guests. Couple A are talking about their trip to yet another castle whilst couple B were talking about there trip up a mountain. Nothing wrong with that other than each thought they were talking about the same thing. Confusing, but hilarious, after about 5 minutes they finally realise they’re both talking about different things. Get me out of here, beam me up, I’m too young, mind off a 16 year old it’s just that my bodies decomposing.

Japanese bridge with style.

Then we’re off to the evening show, yes even me, in fact I’m quite keen. it’s a performance by the World famous Kobe Taiko Drummers – see video. We’re sat on a front balcony row. 9 people in all but can you believe it that 5 of them are asleep, even through all that drumming. For once I manage to stay awake.
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More things to like in Japan:

All our tour guides (female) like to sing to us, it must be the karaoke in them. Whilst their voices are not necessarily going to win them a place on X Factor, you have to respect them for trying to entertain us.

I just love the way they hand anything over to you Double Handed. It just oozes respect and seems filled with a happy politeness.

Even though they have awesome dexterity with chop sticks, able to pick up a single grain of rice, they’re also capable of using knife and fork simultaneously.

Again so clean, orderly and civilised nobody would even dream of jaywalking. Apart that is from a half-witted American couple who nearly get themselves impaled on a shiny Toyota symbol in a place where the sun doesn’t shine.

You don’t see any blobby Japanese, must be all that raw fish. The only blobbies are foreigners.


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Is this the idea of a pillow in Japan, slightly more comfortable than a brick.


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Another day another castle.

Remember the piggy bank? For most children in Western cultures, the piggy bank is their first savings plan. Scratch that for the children of England, thanks to Salim Mulla, secretary of the Lancashire Council of Mosques. “Muslims do not eat pork, as Islamic culture deems the pig to be an impure animal.” 20 In an effort not to offend Muslims the Bank of Halifax and NatWest were the first to ban piggy banks from their premises. Mulla went on to say, “This is a sensitive issue and I think the banks are simply being courteous to their customers.”


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And there’s more.

UNI professors have been told to avoid saying “as you know” in lectures over fears “snowflake” students could feel inadequate, it was revealed today.

At a meeting of Bath University’s equality and diversity network, members were warned it might cause some students to feel dimmer than others if they did not realise what was being referred to.


Tuesday

Kobe

Family portrait. Note my smile.


Another Wallace Arnold tour. What the he’ll are we doing on this Wallace Arnold tour for geriatrics, treated like a simpering simpleton; I’m too young; I can’t cope; let me out.

This time we set off for a ride on a funicular up to the observatory overlooking Kobe. Well they keep calling it an observatory but it’s more like an observation platform. Great views over Kobe and the sea though.

Overlooking the sea.

Then we’re off down to a Sake museum. Interesting video on Sake making on days gone by. My was it labour intensive. Enough to put you off drinking for life. Lots of interesting exhibits and of course a shop at the end of it all. Although to be fair to them you could escape without being forced through the shop. Wendy couldn’t resist buying the plum Liquid sugar.

The first process in Sake making is to polish the rice. Now I know the Japanese are small but where the hell do they get people small enough to polish rice?

Then it’s back to the ship for Wendy’s lunch.

Just resting a the observatory.

Thankfully a restful afternoon sat on balcony doing my blog, minding my own business and Wendy’s doing some knitting. Along sails a boat full of Japanese tourist’s, all gawking in at our floating gin palace. The Victor Meldrew in me is not amused and refuses to wave back or smile for all the clicking Nikons.

In the evening we meet up with our new found American friends, the only Republican’s in LA, well I assume they’re of that inclination from our conversations.

Sake museum. Of course Wendy had to buy some Plum Sake.

We have dinner at the Le Petit Chef an animation themed restaurant where you see the cartoon chef make your meal on the plate – see video, it’s easier than trying to explain it. It’s really awesome. What a creative idea, the kids would really love it. Amazing wealth creating idea.

At last I find a bottle of Carmenera, pretty good it is too and they keep it flowing.

Then it’s to the Yes / No game, where Kim chances her luck. Finally down to the theatre for an illusionists show, which in time honoured fashion I nod off through.

A great evening with our new found friends Phil and Kim.

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Is this what your kids do with you?


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Waving us goodbye.

Islam is a revolutionary faith that comes to destroy any government made by man. Islam doesn’t look for a nation to be in a better condition than another nation. Islam doesn’t care about the land or who owns the land. The goal of Islam is to rule the entire world and submit all of mankind to the faith of Islam. Any nation or power that gets in the way of that goal, Islam will fight and destroy. In order to fulfill that goal, Islam can use every power available every way it can be used to bring worldwide revolution. This is jihad.”


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The problem with socialism is that you always run out of other people’s money.


Wednesday

Kochi

Our first and I’m sure not our last Budhist temple.

First tour today is to a Buddhist temple. All very interesting, even have Shinto shrines in the ground. Two for the price off one. Steps are steep and rocky. I’m sure the hospital and ambulance must pay them to keep them that way, helps drum up trade.

Wendy starts taking her shoes off to go into one of the inner sanctums, within a second, and out of nowhere, a women descends on her shouting ticket, ticket. That’s what happens when your signs are only in Japanese.

A lantern. There are millions of them.

Shinto believes every thing has a spirit in it, including rocks, trees and any thing. The bigger the object the bigger the spirit. I’ll stick with the Flying Spaghetti Monster, seems equally implausible, but at least there’s a beer volcano and a stripper factory in FSM heaven.

Oh just up Wendy’s street we go to an indoor market for a browse around and a lunch opportunity. Wendy tries the save option when it comes to food, pork noodles but then again was it pork, after all there was a picture of a cat on the front!

Wendy trying to get in the Temple. They’re having none of it.

Then it’s off to get another castle. More steps than jihadis in Syria and some of those steps are so tall. No idea how those little Japanese ever managed them.

Toilets are a major trek away, hidden down the bottom of a hill. At least they don’t call them conveniences. I bet the gift shop more easy to get to.

Wendy tries chop sticks. Not very successful, she’ll probably starve over the last two weeks.

Final destination is some beach to see a statue of a prominent war lord geezer. Beach is oh so grey but has the advantage of yet another small shrine – joy.

By the time we get back to the ship we’ve done 5 miles and over my magic 640 calorie limit – so that’s enough for a whole bottle of red wine tonight.

Yet another bridge.

Well I always thought the Japanese were experts at copying other countries products, but it seems when it comes to handrails they just couldn’t crack that idea. Certainly the castle and the Buddhist temple could do with some handrails to assist the less sure footed escapee’s from the Wallace Arnold bus tours.

Amazing isn’t it, I buy a 30 day unlimited data SIM for japan and it even works out at sea as we’re relatively close to the shoreline. My Photo Library gets corrupted so I have to rebuild it from iCloud. 10 gigabytes later and it’s rebuilt, sadly without the album structure, but worse still I’ve now been throttled back on speed to a blistering dial up modem speed of 256K.

So it’s a series of emails to Sakura pointing out that their web site says “No limitation whatsoever”.

Oh it’s probably because the telecom company have detected runaway usage. Normal service should be resumed Saturday. Needless to say they haven’t heard the last of this. Every dog has his day when it comes to review time.

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Politically incorrect 1970s TV series such as Love Thy Neighbour and Till Death Us Do Part have been left off the new BBC-ITV rival to Netflix because they are deemed unsuitable for modern audiences.


Thursday

Hiroshima

The famous gate shrouded in plastic and scaffolding.

Start our Wallace Arnold Geriatric Experience with a bus and then ferry ride to Miyajima. This tour has to be one of the most expensive and at 7 hours I wonder whether we’ll have the endurance to last that long, but it was the only one that did the Atomic Bomb Dome and Miyajima. A certain Anna had told us that we absolutely shouldn’t miss Miyajima so here we are. She’d better be right.

Shrine.

Well it’s yet another shrine (a UNESCO World Heritage site) with the Torii Gates appearing to float in the sea. One of the most iconic pictures of Japan. Just our luck the gateway is covered in scaffolding and plastic as it’s being repainted. The rest of the place is interesting though but sadly we’re frog marched through so don’t have time to linger and enjoy it. A great pity. But at least Anna was right.

Then it’s back to ferry and bus to head to the restaurant for a Western (sadly) lunch in a 5 star hotel. Ideally we wouldn’t want to eat on one of these meals for the masses, but again it was this the only way to do these places.

Meal was very good and not too big.

Bridge to shrine.

After lunch we set off for the Atomic Bomb Dome, followed by the Peace Memorial Park and the Museum. Our guide speaks excellent English, we can even understand him and gives us very informative and relevant commentary on all the places. Quite a sad place really. Then we go to the museum. It’s an awful place. Packed like sardines, carried along at a snail pace, through the rug rat infested narrow corridors of exhibits. Just so glad to get out. A real shame as there was some interesting exhibits and we could have leisurely lingered longer had it been less crowded.

Guardian of the shrine.

Back to the boat / ship, never know what to call it, for a quick turnaround and down to dinner. Risk what we now call the geriatrics from hell table one more time. At least one American couple are vibrant and interesting, unlike the other mind numbingly boring American couple who can’t even be bothered to wait for everyone to be seated before ordering.

Try the show. It’s a Motown singer so Wendy should enjoy it. I put myself to sleep to avoid the agony. Even Wendy gives up after 10 minutes and wants to go to bed rather than listen to this.

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“We are all born ignorant, but one must
work hard to remain stupid”  Ben Franklin


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Pagoda.

Tax office send me an email telling me my estimated income tax has changed. This is just yet another insult to common sense.

Firstly have to log in and can I find this revised estimate.

They send a confirmation code to my phone see below:

60886
Your Government Gateway access code is 999545. Your code expires in 15 minutes.

I wonder how many people use 60886. What is the point of it, just begs for confusion.

Wendy rings the bell.

Never mind I’ll check what my tax code is now. Seems fairly fundamental. Can I find my current tax code anywhere.

Finally find the estimate summary. My tax codes not changed so my payment won’t change. And to top it all there’s no estimate anyway. Beggars believe.

If I thought there was anyone with a skerrick of common sense I’d complain.

Hiroshima.


Hiroshima.


Hiroshima


Shadow of a women burnt into stone by the blast.