It is a great mystery about Mount Fuji, that the closer you get the more elusive it gets, and when you least expect or least of all look for it, there it suddenly appears in front of you on a clear and sunny day. A couple of weeks ago I visited Enoshima on the southern coast of Japan, not far from Yokohama which in turn is not too far from Tokyo to make it a very simple day trip or even half day trip. Not even on every sunny day can you see Mount Fuji from the ocean front here in Enoshima, but on this day we were lucky and the gorgeous mountain was visible throughout the day until the sun set at night.
To get to Enoshima from Tokyo it is often easiest to catch the express in Shinjuku, on the Odakyu Line. It will take you to the imaginatively designed Takase-Enoshima station (片瀬江ノ島駅), modeled after the mythical underwater castle of the dragon God of the sea, Ryujin. There are many tales and stories of the dragon, but the most famous is of Urashima Taro who spent three nights in the castle, each of which equalled a century in the outside world.
Enoshima is famous for more than the rocky island, there are also a marina, several beaches, a great aquarium and plenty of opportunities for fishing and water sports. The way to the island from the station is pretty simple and uses a long flat bridge over the ocean. Halfway along the bridge there is a landing for a couple of small boats which ferry passengers to the far side of the island, saving tourists at least an hour’s walk. In one of the photos you can see one of the boats, the Bentenmaru.
At Roppongi Hills you can enjoy a meal or a drink while checking out the tenth installment of the famous Dragon Quest game series. There’s a special menu, cardboard figures on display and even a car decorated in the usual itasha fashion. The handsome waiter didn’t flinch at all when I took his picture and they even had the famous blue slime nikuman for sale! Although not for take out I was informed. I missed them when they went on sale in the convenience stores a few months ago. If you are a fan of the Dragon Quest games you must attend! This whole thing is done in collaboration with the official Dragon Quest bar in Roppongi that I have passed a hundred times but never had the courage to enter. One of these days I will have to make a blog post about it!
As I have stated many times before on this blog, I love ships and boats and submarines of all kinds. While walking along the industrial harbor front of Shiogama City in Miyagi Prefecturre (way up north of Tokyo) I came across these fishing vessels gearing up to go out for a night of fishing on the east cost of Japan. I believe that the huge banks of light (that are lowered and extend far out across both sides of the vessel) are meant to attract Squid that are hooked on long line trailing the ships. Just look at all that glorious machinery! Commercial squid fishing is no walk in the park and it takes serious resources to do it profitably. I believe these vessels were all part of the same fishing corporation. Dusk, Saturday night, Miyagi.
It’s time to balance up this blog with something for the boys – some pictures I took in May of the recently launched Hyuga – the biggest Japanese naval warship built since World War 2. Technically it is classified as a Helicopter Destroyer to fight submarines but it can also be interpreted as a Helicopter Carrier, should that actually be allowed under the current Japanese constitution. It is based in Yokosuka, a naval town very close to Tokyo and also the home of the US fleet in Japan. I am not a military buff but I am a ship buff – my brother doing his service in the navy and me working extra during my eduction on a river boat.
It is possible to rent a boat or go on a tour of Yokosuka harbor and see all these magnificent ships for yourself, and it is an impressive feeling gliding up next to the Hyuga or even better, the USS George Washington (also in harbor when I visited).
The Huyga (named after the old name for Miyazaki Prefecture) is 197m and was only commissioned in March 2009. In these pictures you can probably tell that she is unloaded and riding very high in the water. In active service there will be about 360 sailors and pilots serving on this ship.