Visiting Yokohama with friends last week I just had to take a detour to one of my favorite Yokohama landmarks, the Osanbashi and the International ship terminal there. Sort of blocking our view though, was the biggest ship I have ever seen, the simply gigantic Costa Victoria. The name might ring a bell if you remember the more unfortunate Costa Concorida that capsized of the coast of Italy earlier this year. The Costa Victoria really towered above the usually quite huge Osanbashi, even though we missed out on the view of Yokohama Minato Mirai, we were impressed by the ship instead. Funny thing was, on the other side of the pier, another huge ship was resting at anchor, but I forgot her name (last photo of the blog post). I wonder if anyone on these ship reads this blog?
Kamishibai, or 紙芝居 in Japanese is a very old Japanese kind of traditional storytelling involving pictures and a spoken story that was originally meant to teach buddhist principles and moral stories to illiterate people but these days it’s mostly funny or uplifting children’s stories. Kamishibai is one of the many amazing traditions that have survived over the centuries here in Japan, and the other week while walking in Yokohama’s famous Yamashita Park I saw this old man making the best of his electric wheel chair give a volunteer performance for both kids and adults. His voice had to be enhanced by a microphone but he still made full use of his dramatic voice and wooden clappers for special effects. Kamishibai as it looks today is most closely related to the way young men in the 20′s and 30′s would use this simple performance art to travel around the Japanese countryside and earn a small living during the hard economic times of the depression, and that is also when the storytelling turned from moral to entertaining. I can imagine local mothers were happy to have their unruly kids spend an hour or two listening quietly to the storytellers while they took care of the home! This man however, is a local volunteer and is proudly wearing the official Yokohama 150th anniversary t-shirt from 2009, cY150!
Here’s the proud PC-16, or Patrol Boat Suzutsuki of the Japan Coast Guard coming in to port in Yokohama earlier this month. A very foggy day, the name of this vessel actually means “clear moon”, 涼月 in Japanese. She is an old ship, having been around since 1950 she was one of the first of the newly restored Coast Guard after the war, but still serving her country. Interestingly her main mission is not stealth, or she wouldn’t have been equipped with a rolling text signage board and huge loudspeakers. I saw so many wrecked coast guard vessels after the big tsunami in March, it feels good to see the ships that survived working hard!