Kagoshima was another port we visited last year and were able to use local transportation to travel over to the island and visit the volcano. So this year we decided to do something different.
Since this was our first Japanese port after leaving China, we had to go through Japanese immigration and customs inspection. Fortunately this year it was done in a brand new facility compared to doing it on hastily set up gear on board the ship. We got off early before the HAL tours started, so there was no line. We conferred with Jeremy and the local guides as to how we could get out to the Peace Museum. Jeremy was apprehensive and the local guides wanted us to take very expensive taxis. But I persisted and the local guide directed us to take a Chiran bus which left from a stop about 4 long blocks from the ship.
So off we went walking in a driving wind and rainstorm. By the time we reached the bus stop, we were thoroughly drenched. Our bus was late but we began the ride at 9:30am and according to our map, the ride was expected to take an hour. The bus windows were fogged up with the moisture from the passengers so it was difficult to see out and get our bearings. Additionally there was not one single word in non-Japanese characters except for the stop # and fare on the electronic fare board up front. With the GPS on my phone I could see the route that bus was taking. When the Peace Museum showed up on my map, I was able to press the STOP button. As my bills were wet, the driver assisted in getting us change. It was around 900 Yen or $9US for the fare.
The Peace Museum is devoted to the tokkō (kamikaze) pilots who trained and flew from the Chiro airbase. No photography was allowed inside the museum, but they have an excellent electronic tablet with English commentary about the various exhibits which include pictures of the 1,036 pilots who trained and flew and died out of this airfield in the Okinawa battle. While the museum and perspective is from the Japanese view, it's still a sad commentary on what was a costly and ineffective method of fighting. Only less than 20% of the tokkō missions were successful. It's a museum worth visiting. Nearby is the Samurai Village, but we didn't have enough time to visit it. We did have enough time to enjoy a nice noodle lunch meal at a local restaurant before getting on our return bus.
A few stops later, another couple from the ship got on the bus after visiting the Samurai Village. Again we used my phone's GPS to navigate our way back to get off at the correct stop. We then walked back to the ship and arrived there before the 4:30pm onboard time. We changed clothes and went up to the Crow's Nest to watch the sailaway. The volcano was covered by clouds this year while last year it was clearly viewable during the sailaway.
We ate dinner in the Pinnacle Grill (a prize we won in the BBC trivia game a few days earlier). I had a ribeye steak while Angela had Alaskan King Crab and Lobster (the Lobster was a $20 supplement) and we shared the items. Afterwards we attended a HAL senior officer cocktail reception before watching an outstanding Jamaican singer, Monique Dehaney. Her show was energetic and she had the audience fully engaged. We chatted with her afterwards and it was interesting to hear about her career (little professional training but lots of passion about music). We then watched the late show of "The Last Samurai" starring Tom Cruise. We really liked it.
Our next port is another repeat from last year (Hoshoshima), and we have a long walking tour planned. Stay tuned.
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