Gold Digging Monkey

Kongo loves living in the Golden State.  There’s always a lot to see and do just about anywhere you visit here. Over this Memorial Day weekend he was in the Sacramento area and decided to explore the origin of the “gold” in the Golden State. It was all pretty much of an accident and involved an unlucky man named James Marshall. You might think the man who sparked the California Gold Rush would be anything but unlucky but Marshall managed to blow just about every opportunity he ever had. He was a carpenter and wheelwright who landed in California in…

Azamara Club Cruise Review – Japan

Kongo just completed an “intensive” 15-day cruise about the Japanese islands aboard the Azamara Quest. This review is an in-depth critique of that cruise and examines the good, okay, so-so, and downright awful aspects of this cruise line and the voyage in general. If you’re considering an Azamara cruise in the future, the monkey urges you to read on and he would be happy to answer any of your questions. In many ways this is a hard review for the monkey to write. He’s generally fairly forgiving and upbeat and takes life as it comes with a little grumbling now…

A Final Day in Tokyo

Kongo finally returned to the port city of Yokohama and had a final day of sight seeing in Tokyo before flying back to California. After cruising for fifteen days, it had been a long trip for the monkeys. Mrs. Kongo was complaining of blisters on her toes (after doing more than 17,000 steps one day in the wrong set of walking shoes), Kongo was getting blurry, and they were both tired of ship tours. So on this last day they took off on their own to see a slice of the capital city they hadn’t seen before. After a quick…

Monkey Mount Fuji

This time of year the locals say you can only expect to see Mt. Fuji about twenty percent of the time. Fogs and clouds usually obscure the famous peak but when Kongo came here the sun was out and it was a clear (ish) day that got hazy in the afternoon. From sea the snow-capped symbol of Japan is magnificent and awe inspiring. It’s one of those places you’ve seen pictures of your entire monkey life and there it was right there in front o you. Fuji’s almost perfect cone shape comes from volcanic activity and the mountain is the…

Takamatsu

While visiting Takamatsu, Kongo toured the famous Ritsurin Gardens. The garden literally means “chestnut grove garden” and there are plenty of chestnut trees here. It was started by a feudal lord in the early 1600s and it wasn’t finished for 100 years.  The garden is a major attraction of the city of Takamatsu and one of the most historic gardens in all of Japan. It’s a favorite outing for children and these primary school students warmly greeted the monkey with waves and chants of “hello! hello!” There are more than 1,200 pine trees in this garden and they are all…

A Day in Kyoto

There are 1,600 temples in Kyoto and the monkey was doing his best to see some of them. After mooring in the port city of Kobe, Kongo climbed aboard the bullet train (Shinkansen), the  for a quick ride to Kyoto. Bullet trains travel at speeds up to 200 mph and they are smooth, quiet, really cool. There are even airline-like stewardesses to keep you nourished while you zip along. The stations at Kobe and Kyoto are filled with teeming throngs of travelers, groups of school children headed out on field trips, and businessmen and women heading to important meetings further down…

Yashimaji-Ji Temple

High on a plateau overlooking the modern city of Takamatsu is the ancient temple known as Yahimaji-Ji. Founded in 754 by a Chinese monk named Ganjin. The bright red Torii gate reflects the Chinese influence on this mountain-top temple. Beautiful Buddhist icons and pagodas cover the mountain. The site also offers spectacular views of the city of Takamatsu and the Inland Sea. Legend has it that the Chinese monk who founded the temple was blind but was somehow led to this spot by a raccoon. So there are plenty of raccoon statues about to remind us of this happy hook-up…