We are now aboard the Celebrity Millennium! After two weeks of constant activity its great to have the odd sea day and just 'chill'.
Our first port of call was Shimizu and our shore excursion took in the remains of Sumpu Castle which burned to the ground in the 17th Century, and the attached Momiyiyama Garden, magnificent despite the heavy rain that plagued us most of the day.
We also walked through a pine grove to a black sand beach to view the wonderful Mt Fuji. This is how it is supposed to look:
Just an aside to this: in Hawaii back in 2007 we took an excursion to the island of Kauai, just to see the magnificent Waimea Canyon. I'd seen it back in the 80s and couldn't wait to see it again; Jim had never seen it. We arrived at the Canyon to find it completely shrouded in cloud. The risks one takes when travelling...
Our next port of call was the city of Kobe where we visited the Sawanotsuru Sake museum which provides information and a vast collection of sake-making equipment from the early days of production of the famous Japanese rice wine. Fascinating. And we got to sample it as well!
Tools for Saki making
Vats for storage
Ships for transporting the Sake
Vessels for drinking sake
Tools, barrels and other equipment
We took a funicular up to Mount Rokko which overlooks the city and experienced one of our best panoramic views ever. The next day we chose to go ashore on the ship's shuttle bus and wander about the city. The Motomachi arcade comprises several blocks of shops and after walking for kilometres we found our way to Chinatown and sat down to a traditional Chinese lunch. Penny even had her photo taken with one of her childhood heroes - Astroboy!
Our Nagasaki excursion was a very full day! We started at the Peace Memorial Park and the hypocentre of the bomb that landed on 9 August 1945 and destroyed the city. There, various countries have provided a memorial as a token of peace, and the Australian memorial is one of the newest. We spent an hour or so wandering through the Atomic Bomb Museum which, as you can imagine, is very moving.
This statue at the Peace Memorial Park: his right hand is pointing up towards the bomb and his left arm is pointing towards peace.
Memorial presented by the Australian Indigenous community earlier this year
United States of America memorial
New Zealand memorial
Building remains at the Atomic Bomb Museum
Replica of the bomb, also known as 'Fat Boy'
One of many display cases at the museum
Dejima was a town built in the early 17th Century on a peninsula in Nagasaki to control all trade between Japan and Europe. Portuguese living in Nagasaki at the time were moved to the town and although later destroyed, the village has been rebuilt as a living museum. We also saw the oldest Christian church in Japan, the Oura Catholic Church, on our way to the Glover Garden and mansion.
Thomas Blake Glover, a Scot, came to Nagasaki in 1859 at the age of 21. He was responsible for much of Japan's progress through his shipping, coal mining and tea trading activities, and is a revered pioneer. His former home is a museum and is surrounded by lovely gardens.
Model village of Dejima
One of many museum rooms
Dejima Village replica museum
The oldest Christian church in Japan
Inside Glover mansion
Boats used in the yearly festival at Dejima
We are now on our second sea day and enjoying some time out to relax, write blogs, play scrabble and listen to some of the wonderful speakers on board. Today's first presentation was on Fire and Ice (volcanoes, glaciers, etc.) with the second on tomorrow's port, Shanghai - its history and modern attractions.
Its a bit rough out there, but cosy inside with plenty to do, and lots of coffee to drink!