Kobe, Japan PT 1 MAR 2 2024

In the last blog I mentioned the captain hinted that bad weather might prevent us from docking at Omaezaki, Japan. Did we get there? The answer is no. The seas were very rough during the night with the wind howling continuously. There is something spooky about a dark night with howling winds. 

The next morning we were not surprised when morning arrived and the captain announced the port was canceled. It was too rough for the pilot boat to bring the local pilot to join the ship, and local regulations required a regional pilot onboard when docking. The port was closed. 

The captain had an unexpected sea day so he slowed the ship down to a scenic cruising speed. A couple hours later we were sitting inside on the upper deck when Bill suddenly saw Mt Fuji. Until now it had been clouded in, but there it was in all its glory. We headed to the open aft deck to take pictures. Just then an announcement was made and everyone headed outside. It was like a big party with people taking pictures, selfies and exclaiming over Mt Fuji’s beauty. Disappointment over the missed port was quickly forgotten.

The rough seas continued all day. At one point we went down to deck two where people were standing in front of the large windows, memorized by the huge waves right outside the windows. We tried to get pictures, but it was too difficult to get a perspective through the glass. I walked through the indoor pool area. There is a retractable roof that slides open when the weather is warm and sunny. Today the roof was closed and it was making a very loud combination of a squeal and bang as the roof flexed in the rough seas. 

At bedtime I told Bill I was physically tired from trying to stay upright all day. It seemed like whatever direction I wanted to move, the ship pushed me in the opposite direction. But neither of us were seasick, and for that we were very grateful. 

The next day we arrived at Kobe, Japan. Even though it was very cold, it turned out to be our favorite Japanese port.

As we arrived in the harbor, a fire boat met us and put on a welcoming water display with changing colors.

Kobe has a population of 1.5 million, making it the seventh largest city and third largest port city in Japan. Several companies such as Eli Lilly, Proctor and Gamble and Nestlé have their Asian or Japanese headquarters in Kobe. It is also famous for a very expensive beef called “Kobe beef”. The beef comes from Japanese Black cattle and is known as a delicacy because of its flavor, tenderness and fatty, well marbled texture. It has only been exported since 2012.

The ship was scheduled to stay overnight in Kobe which gave us two full days to explore. We had an excursion booked for the second day but decided to explore on our own the first day. Bill found a Hard Rock Cafe at Universal Studios located in the nearby city of Osaka. The Kobe Port Authority provided a well-staffed information center at the port terminal. We asked the friendly, helpful staff the easiest way to get from Kobe to Osaka. No problem. Just take the monorail from the port to the train station and then take three trains to Universal Studios Osaka. Bill was confident we could figure it out, so off we went.

Buying tickets for the monorail and trains was easy since they had a button for English instructions and we had plenty of Japanese yen. The hardest thing was trying to figure out which platform each train left from since everything here was in Japanese only. We only needed to ask for help a couple times. They have guard rails that come up and down to stop people.

They also have floor instructions to control the flow onto and off of the trains.

The third train let us out right at Universal Studios where many stores and restaurants were located, including the Hard Rock Cafe. Fortunately, everything was outside the entrance to Universal Studios, so we didn’t have to pay to go in.

We bought Bill a shirt, had lunch nearby and reversed directions back to the ship with the three trains and the monorail. The biggest problem was it was just so cold. We stopped at an outside mall before getting back on the monorail but it was so cold we gave up.

Our appetizer of hot French Onion soup for dinner that night was especially tasty and warmed us up. 

After dinner the city put on fireworks display, we could see from the outer decks of the starboard side of the ship. It was very cold, but the always thoughtful crew were outside handing out deck blankets to drape around us for warmth.

Next up: Kobe part 2

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