Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sapporo (Muroran)

  Sunday 30 September – Sapporo (Muroran, Japan)

Located on the southwest part of the island of Hokkaido, Muroran is a major industrial centre and the gateway to Hokkaido.

Our full day excursion was to Sapporo (some 2-2.5 hours away from port).  Sapporo was designed by American architects in the 1870s.  It was the host city for the 1970 Winter Olympics – the mountains being on the western extremity of the city.

Odori Park spans 13 city blocks with shopping beneath.  This Sunday was Autumnfest – the equivalent of our food and wine festival.  We strolled the length of the activity (three blocks) and then returned via a lunch stop (at a hotel for a Sapporo beer, curried beef and rice, and pizza bread which was  a strange combination when in Japan!

Back on-board the Captain announced that the approaching typhoon would make unsafe our visit to Aomori on Monday and with the need to clear customs before leaving Japan, it was best to exit from Muroran.

We were entertained by a performance on the dock prior to departure.

After dinner, we went along to ‘Name this Tune’ and joined in with a Canadian couple and some others, doing reasonably well.
Monday 1 October – at sea (in lieu of Aomori, Japan)

Apart from a rough patch when leaving land this morning, our day at sea was sunny and blue most of the time.

We had been looking forward to some Japanese food and a half-day tour of pottery kilns and the  Tachineputa no Yakata display of parade floats - elaborately painted washi paper floats towering over 72 feet and weighing up to 17 tonnes.  They are a part of the Goshogawara's festival that occurs every 4-8 August.

Instead we took in another port lecture on Vladivostok, and a presentation on horse whispering by an Australian (Trevor Knight) who is a country/folk entertainer on stage tonight.

The Captain announced that the earliest he can get to Vladivostok is 6pm Tuesday but that is better than early Wednesday morning.  Customs formalities normally take four hours or more, so an early arrival means a fuller day in port.
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