I love harbors and I love big ships and if there is one place to really see them up close it is at the International Port of Yokohama, the Osanbashi Pier. Last year I saw the gigantic MS Asuka II (飛鳥II) at port. It is the largest passenger vessel in Japan right now, at 241m. It has a crew of 545 and can take 960 passengers. I usually use this site to track the position of large ships but I already knew that the Asuka II is currently in port at Hakata/Fukuoka on the north coast of the island of Kyushu, in southern Japan, where it arrived about half a day ago.
The ship was launched in 1989 and is currently sailing under Japanese flag (which is unusual in this day and age of “Flag of Convenience” maritime traffic.
A couple of weeks ago I passed through the city of Shimoda on the east coast of Izu peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture. Shimoda and its harbor are mostly famous these days for being the place where Japan was finally opened to the outside world, partly with the gunship diplomacy of US Commodore Perry and his black ships in 1854. The first US consulate was established at a temple here in Shimoda in the same year. Today Shimoba harbor is much less exciting than those 150 years earlier, but I still found some interesting ships in harbor, the prime being the beautiful Coast Guard vessel Kano, a Tokara Class Medium Patrol Vessel. There is also a tourist ship “dressed up” to look like one of the 1840 era American black ships, and most of my friends who visit Shimoda feel a trip on this ship is mandatory. I was in a hurry though, and did not have time to do anything else than take these pictures and stock up on local produce at the excellent farmers (fishmongers) market at other end of the harbor! I will have to visit Shimoda again.
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?