A mega, uber technical country with slow lousy, expensive wifi or none at all, a Data sim card is $55 for 3 GB.
I haven’t blogged about Japan, either moving in the southern volcanoe islands with no wifi, no data or just too busy or lazy.
Nearly 9 months have passed since arriving in Japan. This is a very short version, I’ll write more about some of the nicer adventures in the upcoming blogs.
April to May , 2017
We left beautiful Okinawa ultra modern marina, great new friends, and departed for the Japanese tropical blue water islands 60 miles west of Okinawa and then turned North towards Kyushu. We motored 13+hr days for 5 days stopping at small islands with the average population of 150 to 5,000
We ran into the Osaka Yakuza (mafia), disgruntled knife wielding fisherman on 60′ fishing boats, gracious wonderful citizens who were curious about the foreigners on a small sailing yacht, generous farmers, mad drivers, and shop keepers who apologized for not having bread in stock. Mostly friendly locals who wanted to give us a ride or offered food. A 90 year lady cleaned new bamboo shoots and was off to the market.
We were on a tight schedule to make it to Nagasaki marina for our scheduled haul out. Weather wasn’t helping the schedule. We endured a big storm on our way to Iwo Jima, grateful to be tied up in the worst of it. We spent 10 days in the Nagasaki Sunset marina painting Konami’s bottom and routine maintenance. Our Australian cruising friends on SV Dione from Micronesia were there also. Afterwards spent 3 days sightseeing before moving North.
Nagasaki, the second site of the WW2 devastating A bomb was very moving and heart wrenching. Displays of cranes and peace for the future, and written pleads to all nations to end all war.
We continued along the west coast of Kyushu stopping in remote villages and mega city Fukuoka before entering the Kanmo Kaikyo strait. This relatively narrow passage between Kyushu and mainland Honshu is crowded with cargo ships, freighters and tugs, and fishing boats. The current can run at 6-8 kts at the peak so timing of the 10 nautical mile passage was critical. It was thankfully uneventful but interesting to watch it all go by.
June 2017 through the Seto Nakai
The inland sea was fantastic. More than 3,000 small islands, some uninhabited other than a small flshing dock, some with shrines, museums, and temples. Motored all of it, through narrow straights with rushing currents, fish traps and farms, cargo vessels, fishing boats trolling giant nets stretched in our path. Beautiful water gradually turned green with bits of trash everywhere. We rushed to arrive in Osaka to catch a flight to Busan, Korea to renew our 90 day visa. By June 20 Konami was tied to her summer home in a small inland boat harbor filled with a small fishing fleet, dirty water that made us cringe,still does, and giant steel manufacturing plants. Ok, its cheap that’s why. $950/month vs $350/month with no amenities to speak of but its closer to my family in Kyoto and Osaka. Good bye clear blue water!
A much needed down time with my mom, sister and niece from the States. We spent 2 wonderful weeks with a family reunion with our large Japanese family. We had a terrific time sightseeing in Kyoto before my family departed back to the States.
10 days after they departed Japan we got the distressing news of Mom’s fall needing a hip replacement. I flew back to Oregon and spent 4 months with my parents. John stayed on for 7 weeks in Japan to secure the boat for typhoon season.
August – November 2017
Most of our time was spent tending to my frail parents, short precious time with our sons and families, met 3 new grandchildren, and a few short hours with siblings and good friends where ever we could meet up. We ate everything we had missed in the 22 months being away. All the fresh fruits and veggies, ice cream, pizza, great Oregon craft beers, chocolate and wine.
Culture shock had set in too. We experienced depression, insomnia, boat separation anxiety, overwhelmed with land living and responsibilities. Everywhere outside conversations invaded our heads. When you’ve been away for long periods of time where you don’t hear your native language you automatically tune out all language and conversations. Then, all of a sudden its like someone turned on the incessant noisy TV.
December 8, 2017
We gave families and friends hugs, well wishes and returned to lonely Konami just in time for winter. We spent a week stowing new boat gear, airing out winter clothing, and packing up summer gear. Got out our trusty folding bikes and got back into our routine of just 2 people talking, quiet boat, coin laundry, crowded streets, walking 3 blocks to the toilet and decrepit shower stall. John had to move Konami to the outer area of the marina before he left Japan so wifi wasn’t available unless we walked to the marina office and sat in the unheated building.
My Japanese girlfriend, Kimiko sent us 2 down comforters with sheets and a puffy down jacket from Tokyo and the package was waiting for us they day we arrived from the airport. Kimiko saved us as we had no blankets on board. We came from the tropics remember?
Winter is miserable here, fortunately we have a diesel heater in the engine room that blows toasty 70 degree heat. We didn’t remove the webasto heater, John was adamant about bringing it with us. Smart guy!
Christmas and New Year 2017
We spent Christmas eve sailing in the local yacht race with friends on their boat. Cold and slow but it was nice to be out sailing. The party afterwards was enjoyable with the local yachties. There was Santa Claus too though we must’ve been bad this year as we sadly didn’t receive any presents.
Kimiko saved us again and invited us to spend Christmas break with her and her husband, Koichi. A vacation!! Warm beds, hot shower and bath, flushing singing toilet, incredible food – she is a wonderful cook by the way. Great shopping and sightseeing in the Tokyo area. Lots of beautiful shrines and prayers.
New Year celebration is beyond a normal holiday. 7 days of eating traditional foods that bring happiness, health, good fortune, family closeness, and mean hangovers.
We had exceptionally good weather while in Tokyo. Sunny, cold wind but lots of nice winter clothing. We had a very memorable New Year celebration, something I always wanted to experience.
Back in the groove of boat living, watching old recorded TV shows, cuddling with our blankets as the wind howls outside. We’ve had snow flurries, very little rain, lots sunny freezing days. Diesel is around $5/gal and the heater burns about a half gallon /day so we bought a small watt electric heater to help. We also bought an electric waterpot and small stovetop butane burner to help offset the cost of propane. A 20 pound tank of propane is $48, expensive. Coin laundry is about $15 for 2 loads. With the heavy clothing its costing a little more than summer wear. Food is our biggest expense. We spend about $150/week, not including meals out. We don’t eat a lot of meat either. Train tickets are outrageous, a trip to the big grocery store is $3/per person so we ride our bikes as much as possible.
We plan on doing more sightseeing, though February is supposedly the coldest month of the year. Great, as if it hasn’t been cold enough. But we are down to just a few months before we leave Japan so land travelling all bundled up.