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…

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…

Miyajima Monkey

The monkey has been waiting two years for yesterday. Ever since the Kongos booked this Japanese cruise, the simple simian has been wanting to see the floating gate at the sacred island of Miyajima. This small island in Hiroshima Bay known for its temples, virgin forests, deer, and the O-torii Gate. It was the O-torri gate that Kongo wanted to see but the rest of the island is pretty wowie-zowie too. The O-Torii Gate is a waterway entrance to the Itsukushima Shrine. Visitors passing beneath the gate (like those in the boat above) are said to have all the sins…

Beautiful Busan

After an overnight sail across the Inland Sea, Kongo arrived in the port city of Busan, South Korea. Busan is the second largest city in South Korea with about four million residents. Kongo has visited here before during his navy days a couple of ages ago. The monkey’s memory is a bit foggy (navy liberty can cause this) but it seems that the city is all grown up now. Between the busy waterfront, the bustling streets, and an over-the-top fish market there is plenty to see and do in Busan. Kongo strolled an elevated walkway built over the ocean to…

Mountain Monkey

There’s nothing quite like a sacred mountain by the sea to get the monkey’s juices flowing. Yesterday he spent the day hiking around Mt. Daisen in the southwestern part of the island of Honshu. Soaring about 5,400 feet above the Sea of Japan this is another volcanic mountain created over hundreds of thousands of years by several eruptions. Since about 70% of Japan is mountainous, it’s inevitable that you’re going to spend some time with them and every town seems to have its own sacred mountain. At one time there were at least 30 Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines scattered…