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…

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…

Wow Kanazawa

Geishas, soft-serve ice cream covered in gold foil, beautiful parks, temples, and more. Kanazawa seems to have it all and then some. From the warm welcome on the pier to a farewell performance of local dancers waving goodbye to the ship the city of Kanazawa welcomes its visitors with sunshine and flair. Kanazawa is a castle town dating from the 16th century. The feudal lords who ruled here invested in culture through its many parks and temples. It has always been known as a rich town and that is probably what sparked the indulgence of eating ice cream covered in…