Kim Selinske is a sophomore at CSU majoring in History with minors in Political Science and English. She will be spending Spring 2014 on a ship sailing to vibrant destinations such as Japan, China, Burma, India, South Africa, Morocco, and England. Keep an eye out to see where she is headed next! Her blog can originally be found at http://seafaringstudent.tumblr.com/.
[Originally posted February 4, 2014]
Hello, yes, I survived Japan, the first extended international port! There is so much to tell, that I’ve decided it’s probably easier to split into a few different posts. I will just give you the basic rundown of what I did each day and I can get more into it in other posts. We spent a total of 6 days in Japan from January 29- February 3rd and they were some of the most phenomenal days of my life.
Days 1 & 2: Yokohama
The ship docked at 8am and we pulled in to the port to a traditional Japanese drum performance. My friends and I wandered downtown Yokohama for an hour or two until lunchtime, when I had to leave for a field program. The Hakone & Yokohama Overnight was a phenomenal experience. We say the big sites in downtown Yokohama and then drove into the mountains to Hakone and stayed in a ryokan. We explored Hakone’s tourist sites before heading back to the ship.
The second evening I met up with my roommate and some other SAS kids who were not traveling with the ship as it moved from Yokohama to Kobe and took the train into Tokyo station to meet up two of our friends. We ended up at this sketchy Japanese hotel, but we got inside and it was actually quite nice and run by a cute little Japanese couple.
Day 3: Tokyo
Our friends met a German guy the night before who was in Tokyo for work and he offered to tour the city with us. He didn’t speak Japanese very well, but it was nice having someone with us who knew how to work the metro system well and knew some of the better areas of the city. We ate a traditional Japanese breakfast at Denny’s and then we saw the Otaku street, one of the biggest department stores in Tokyo, the Edo-Tokyo museum, the Pokemon Center, and Tokyo Tower. That night my roommate and I hopped on a night bus and rode that down to Kobe.
Day 4: Kobe
I got in to Kobe around 7:30 in the morning and we got back to the ship right as it pulled in at Kobe. We showered and unpacked before wandering around the city. I explored the shopping district (which is huge) and saw a huge Shinto shrine, before we took a hike up to Nunobiki Falls in northern Kobe. That hike may or may not have involved getting lost and making friends with a Japanese man who led the way out of the trail. I slept that night on the ship because I had a field program the next day.
Day 5: Hiroshima
The field program I was on took us to the bullet train (the Shinkansen) which we took to Hiroshima. We went to the Memorial Peace Park and Museum. It was an eye-opening and sobering sight to see. It’s awe-inspiring to see a whole city dedicated solely to promoting peace in the world. The museum has some of the most horrific sights I’ve seen, but I feel like I better grasp the impact of the A-bomb after visiting.
Then we took a ferry to Miyajima Island to see the Itsukushima Shrine with the “floating Torii gate.” There are wild deer roaming around the island which made for some fun experiences. We also ate our way through the island, which became a theme with this group we traveled with. We stayed that night in a hotel but we had two dinners once we were there: one at a traditional ramen bar and then at a conveyor-belt sushi place.
The field program continued bright and early the next morning. We took the Shinkansen again to Kyoto. We saw Nijo Castle, which was the castle of the First Tokugawa Shogun, Ieyasu. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as are the other 2 places we visited this day. We then travelled to the Golden Pavilion which ended up with absolutely gorgeous photos. It was phenomenal to see in person, and I wish we had more time to explore the grounds around it. Our bus hurried us along to the Kiyomizu Temple where we wandered up a small walking street overflowing with food stalls and shopping. We ate our way up to the Temple, bought charms, and ate our way back down the street to our bus. Then we hopped back on our ship (after a long, winding line to get back on) and pushed away from Japan.
Now we are all realizing tomorrow we have to pack for China, since only have a 2 day break between Japan and China! It’s such a struggle to get back into the swing of classes these two days, so wish me luck! I’ll post some more in-depth posts a little later.