Circling Japan - Summer 2014 travel blog


main stage



dock area

dockside entertainment

local cruise ship


Transportation is expensive here. Probably it would be more efficient to say that everything is expensive here. After a few delightful days in Tokyo conquering jet lag, we needed to get to Yokohama to board the Diamond Princess. There is a reliable train connection, of course, but we don’t know how to travel light. After our recent subway success, I would guess we could have made it here by rail, but schlepping luggage to the Shinjuku station and wandering around inside the huge complex with tons of people streaming by and reversing the process from the Yokohama train station did not appeal to us. So we took the efficient airport limo bus back to Narita Airport and took the Princess shuttle which was there to transport people who flew in today on air they had booked their through Princess on to Yokohama. It wasn’t clear exactly where the Princess pick up was, but we ran into a nice lady carrying a clip board who understood exactly what we were searching for. Two sets of transfers meant about two hours in a bus, but when we first arrive in a country we can learn a lot just by looking out the window.

Even though salaries much be high here, high enough to keep up with the prices of everything, the Japanese have not cut back and eliminated jobs the way we have. For example, when we would pass an exit from a parking garage, there would be three men standing there waving their arms to ensure that exiting cars wouldn’t hit pedestrians passing in front on the sidewalk or try to merge into congested traffic. When we got to Yokohama port, two officials got on board to glance at our passports and another two agents gave a cursory inspection of the baggage below. With all those helpful pairs of hands we were passed on in no time. Lots of bowing ensued.

Yokohama is a major container port and we passed lots of warehouses and cranes. But the shore line immediately around where our ship was docked was beautifully developed for local entertainment. It made us think of Navy Pier at home. A huge festival was taking place and the park was crammed with zillions of black heads bobbing to the music of a band, whose sounds were easy to hear on our balcony. A huge TV screen projected the band to those who couldn’t get near the stage and made us feel like we were at the concert as well. We could see lots of little white tents selling stuff and it would have been nice to get off the ship and wander around the festival, but there wasn’t time.

The area where we were docked was not a concrete pier as they usually are. Rather it was curved and sculpted into a hillside and covered with the same wooden planking there is on the outside decks of our ship. We could see a food hall shopping area built into the hillside and a Hawaiian band was performing on the top level. This is the second time we have seen crowds of local ladies gathered together to do the hula. It must be a big deal here. Although they were not professional, the clearly knew what they were doing and their dance moves were all synchronized.

We will be back in Yokohama in nine days and should have time to get off the ship and explore, but will have missed the festival.

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