Emperors & Empires Cruise on the Oceania Nautica
3/10/15 to 3/26/15

Due to the length of the review, it is in seven parts to help with the download time. The links to the other pages are at the top and bottom of each page. 

Page 1  - Pre-Cruise in Beijing
Page 2  - Pre-Cruise continued; Embarkation and Ship
Page 3 - Ship Continued;  Ports of Call: Tianjin, China; Dalian, China
Page 4 - Ports of Call:  Seoul, South Korea; Shanghai, China
Page 5 - Ports of Call:  Shanghai, China continued; Ishigaki, Japan;  Okinawa, Japan; Kyoto (Kobe), Japan
Page 6 - Ports of Call:  Osaka (Kobe), Japan; Nagoya, Japan
Page 7 - Ports of Call:  Tokyo, Japan

Shanghai, China – Day 3
We had another full touring day scheduled for our last day in Shanghai.  The weather was going to be the best yet with the temperature heading to 70 degrees.  Now that was a change.  As we drove to our first stop, I took some photos of a building we had been passing regularly that I had kept missing.  It was actually the other side of the building right next to the ship.  It isn’t a great shot, but it shows some of the unusual architectural designs that we saw all over Shanghai.  There were also lots of lovely decorations along the way.

   

Our first stop was at the Jade Buddha Temple.  As we walked in it looked similar to the other temples we had visited.  They did have some nice decorations.

   

   

As we walked around the different buildings there, we saw an enclosure with a Buddha statue and on the other side of it was a happy Buddha statue.  That was different. 

       

In the same building there were statues on the side of the room that were rather unusual.  A couple of them had rather mean faces.

   

The next building had three Buddha’s sitting next to each other.

   

On the side of the room were several golden statues of different people.  It was quite striking.

Another building had a different Buddha standing on a strange looking creature with one eye showing.  The bonsai trees outside the building were quite nice.

Finally we got to the main building with the Jade Buddha itself in it.  We passed through a courtyard with statues, one of which had four elephants on it.  The first elephant statue I had seen since our tour in Tianjin and the last of the trip.  I don’t know why I expected to see lots of elephant statues, we weren’t in India.

   

 To see the first of two Jade Buddha’s in the temple, we would have to climb up some stairs to an upper level.  So Carol waited for us to return.  Along the way there were some lovely golden displays.  Unfortunately some of them were in glass that picked up some bad reflection, but I think they are worth including.  Also on the wall were photos of important people who had visited the temple including Bill Clinton and Nancy Reagan.

   

The first Jade Buddha was a 6 foot tall statue of Buddha in a sitting position, which is made of white jade.  It was quite beautiful, but we weren’t allowed to take photos of it.  Below is a photo of the postcard I purchased of it.

We also weren’t able to take photos of the reclining jade Buddha statue; but I didn’t need to, since there was a much larger marble version of it downstairs that we could take photos of.  The jade version was pretty small at only three feet long, so this one was a lot easier to capture.

In the same building near the temple shop were other interesting items.

   

I liked the hallway with all the lanterns hanging from the ceiling. 

Our next destination was the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center.  I didn’t know what to expect from this place.  Below is the poster for the Center.

We weren’t allowed to take photos of the posters; but I did take a couple of photos of the rooms to show what the museum looked like.

   

Some of the posters had English explanations on them, which helped explain what they were about.  It was interesting to see how the government had encouraged the people to support their causes with so many different posters covering so many years.  The collection contains over 6,000 posters collected over the years 1913 through 1997.  Some of the posters are quite pretty; but there is always a message to them.  It was interesting to see the image of the United States that China was trying to show to their people.  Not pleasant to see; but most of the posters had nothing to do with the US. It wasn’t that popular of a museum, since only a couple other people came in while we were there.

On the way to our next stop, the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, we passed by several interesting and pretty buildings.  Shanghai is all about beautiful buildings.  I did the best I could taking photos out of a van window.

   

   

The Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall is a large six story building devoted to showing the development of the city and future plans.

In the entry is a large golden statue.  It is an artist’s conception of the main Pudong buildings.

There are several displays on the ground floor including a huge map on the floor.

   

But the main reason to visit the hall is to see the very large scale model of urban Shanghai as it is today with approved future buildings through 2020.  It is truly amazing.  It takes up the whole floor.  You can view it by walking around the outside and going up some elevated walkways.

   

   

It is a most impressive accomplishment to be able to build something like this.  I can’t imagine how many man hours it took to do.

In another part there was a virtual reality type fly over tour of the city.  It was very nice, but with too many people in the room, it took away from the experience.

On another floor were other colorful displays about the city and its future.

   

On the floor just above the scale model, we could look down on it from above.  What was nice was that while we were there, they had changed the lighting to night mode, which we hadn’t seen earlier downstairs.

   

For lunch, Kelly took us to a nice restaurant.  The food was very good, but I didn’t take any photos of it.  We were on a streak of excellent Chinese food meals.

After lunch, we headed to the Shanghai Museum.  It is a museum of ancient Chinese art.  The building is in the shape of an ancient bronze cooking vessel called a ding.  The building and grounds with large white statues of mythical creatures is most impressive.

   

The interior contains a large atrium lobby that goes up through all four floors.  Exhibition halls are on the outside of the floors.  Many of the exhibition areas were closed when we were there; but the main ones were open.  I took way too many photos in the museum; but will just put in a few from each of the galleries.

   

Jade Gallery –

   

Ming & Qing Furniture –

   

   

Chinese Minority Nationalities Art-

   

   

Chinese Seal Gallery –

   

Ancient Chinese Ceramics Gallery – I couldn’t believe how old the beautiful pieces were in this gallery.  They were all between 2,000 and 3,300 years old.

   

   

       

Ancient Chinese Bronze Gallery – I couldn’t believe how old the beautiful pieces were in this gallery.  They were all between 2,000 and 3,300 years old.

   

Ancient Chinese Sculpture Gallery – This was my favorite gallery; but it was on the first floor and we started at the top and worked our way down.  So as a result, we ran out of time and didn’t get to spend as much time as we needed there.

   

   

It was a wonderful museum, but like most good museums, you need more time than we could allocate there.  We had a very nice sampling of it though.

Our next stop was the Dongtai Road Antique Market.  It was an interesting shopping area.  There were lots of shops selling so many different types of items including arts and crafts and antiques.  It was quite fascinating.

   

I did get a laugh out of the below t-shirt.  It reminded me of our visits to Russia.  They also had many souvenir type items we saw with other American presidents depicted strangely on them.

From there we took a short walk over to the bird and flower market.  It was kind of like a giant pet shop, with birds, fish, flowers, all types of strange insects and assorted other merchandise.  It was a different kind of place; but since it was our last stop of the day, we kind of rushed through, since we all wanted to get back to the Nautica.

   

   

We thanked Kelly for the great three days she had provided us and said our good byes.  I was so glad I had chosen Kelly to be our guide.  She was a real winner that made our visit to Shanghai such a pleasant experience.

When we got back to the ship, it was the clearest day yet.  I was finally able to see the full height of the buildings.  I was thrilled. 

   

   

What a great view to have from the deck of a ship.  It was a shame we wouldn’t be there when it got dark to see the lights.

I could also see the buildings near the port terminal and beyond clearly.  It was so nice to finally be able to see everything. 

   

With us leaving at 5:00 PM, I went to the promenade deck to see if we would be leaving early.  Unlike previous days, no preparation work was being done to leave.  At 5:30 PM, the Captain announced that the Port of Shanghai was closed due to fog at the mouth of the river.  They would hear back again later in the night and again in the morning to see if it was OK to leave.  We would not be able to leave the ship, since the port could open at any time and we would leave immediately.  If the port didn’t open soon we could miss visiting the port of Ishigaki.  Well I hated to miss Ishigaki; but if we had to miss a port, that was the best one with the least amount of impact.  On the other hand, I was thrilled that we would be able to see the night lights in their full glory.

After dinner Carol and I went out to look at the lights.  They were magnificent.  With the colors of the different buildings changing constantly, the every photo is slightly different.

   

We could even look over to the Bund

It had been a wonderful night.

The next morning the Captain said that the port was still closed and he would keep us updated.  The noon announcement came and the port was still closed.  Now I was worried that if we didn’t leave sometime that day, we might miss being able to dock in Okinawa; and that would be horrible.  At 1:30 PM the wonderful news came that the port had reopened and we would be leaving immediately.  Thank goodness.  We were leaving 20.5 hours late and would miss Ishigaki, but the rest of the itinerary was still on schedule.

 

Ishigaki (Sakishima Islands), Japan - 
With our being stuck on the ship in Shanghai waiting for the port to open, we missed stopping in Ishigaki.  So instead of being on the island, it was like having an extra sea day, except we were at the Shanghai dock.  The next real sea day was quite relaxing, and most of all, we were cruising toward our first stop in Japan.  As a peace offering for our missing Ishigaki, the Captain opened the bars for free drinks between 5:30 PM and 7:30 PM.  A most appreciated gesture.

 

Okinawa, Japan -   
Since our first port in Japan turned out to be Okinawa, we would have to go through immigration there rather than on Ishigaki.  I had worried that this could cause us to be late for our tour, which we had scheduled for 9:30 AM when the itinerary had shown that we were arriving at 9:00 AM.  The night before at the show, Dottie told us that immigration would take about an hour to an hour and a half, which would have been a problem for our private tour.  Fortunately the captain was able to move our arrival in the port of Naha to 8:00 AM, which made a big difference.
We arrived at Naha to a cloudy morning; but the forecast was for a high temperature of 72 degrees and partly cloudy, so it looked like we would have great touring weather.  The Naha skyline was quite different from the one we left in Shanghai; but then again, most skylines pale in comparison to Shanghai. 

The port terminal itself did look rather modern, especially with the large video screen welcoming us to the port.  With the camera pointed at the ship gangway, we could see ourselves as we walked toward the terminal

   

It also had a jetway gangway; but we weren’t using it since we had to enter the first floor of the terminal to begin the immigration process.  The ship called passengers to go through immigration by deck number.  We were in the last group.  But as Dottie had told us, the process did move along pretty quickly.  After completing immigration, a musical group welcomed us to Okinawa.  We were all able to get off the ship and meet with our tour before the appointed time.

Our guide for the day was Yukari of Marsh Communications (www.mctg.biz/en/guide/index.html). That is a strange name for a touring company; but the owner and our tour guide, Yukari Marsh, also does provides Japanese-English translation services in her company.  Needless to say, her English was very good; as was her knowledge of Okinawa.  She did an excellent job for us and we were very happy with her.

Yukari had a very nice van for us and a very pleasant driver named Sam.  Since it was a large van, we were able to put Carol’s TravelScoot in the main van door, so it didn’t have to be collapsed and reassembled at every stop.

On the van’s dashboard was a Shisha.  It is a lion and dog combination from Okinawan mythology.  We would later see them everywhere in Okinawa.  The right creature has an open mouth to ward off bad spirits and the left one’s mouth is closed to keep in good spirits.  I really liked the Shisha and had planned to buy one later in the day; but due to unforeseen circumstances, I didn’t get to.

Our first destination for the day was to visit Peace Memorial Park.  The park was unveiled in 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa and end of World War II.  Our first view of it was the large white towers.  The lovely tree lined entry to the park was an indication that this would be a special place.  Sam parked the van close to the museum, which we would be visiting later.  It was a very attractive and well landscaped building. 

   

   

The grounds were quite beautiful.  They are dominated by the Cornerstone of Peace.  The design is called the Everlasting Wave of Peace.  The 116 black granite stones are in a wave pattern.  It was erected to: (1) Remember those lost in the war, and pray for peace; (2) Pass on the lessons of war; and (3) Serve as a place for meditation and learning.  There are names of over 240,000 people who lost their lives on Okinawa. 

   

They have the names of people from all countries that lost their lives including 14,009 Americans.

Close by was the Flame of Peace in a circular pond in the middle of a large open area.

   

It was such a peaceful setting.  I could see why it was chosen for the site of this memorial.

At one end of the beach was an area called Suicide Cliff.  It is where many Okinawans committed suicide when the Japanese army ordered them to, since they warned them that it would be better than to have to tolerate the terrible things the barbaric Americans would do to them when captured.  When the war ended, the Okinawan’s were pleasantly surprised at how nice they were to them.

After touring the grounds, we went back up to the museum.  Photographs were only allowed in the museum lobby.  It is a shame, since it was a very good museum with many interesting displays.  I was able to take a photo of some leftovers from the war in front of the museum.

Since we had only signed up for a four hour tour, we were only going to visit one other place, Shuri Castle.  When I had originally booked the tour, Yukari wasn’t sure that we would have time to see both places, since there was a lot of driving between the two sites.  We knew that we wouldn’t have a lot of time at the castle, but did want to see it.  This castle was originally built in the early 1300’s; but unfortunately the Japanese military set up their headquarters in the castle’s underground area.  It was shelled for three days from the Battleship Mississippi and mostly destroyed.  It was rebuilt between 1958 and 1992.  The grounds were surrounded by high walls.

Just before Yukari was going to purchase the tickets for us, Carol told me that she had some bad news for me.  I couldn’t imagine what it could be, since unlike some of our previous trips, she didn’t appear to have fallen down or hurt herself.  She told me that she had left her camera in the restroom of the Peace Museum.  I was thinking to myself that had I brought my backup device, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal to lose the camera; but I didn’t want to lose her photos.  I take most of the photos on a trip with my Canon DSLR.  Carol takes some also; but the main thing that I didn’t want to lose was the food photos that I take with her Canon point and shoot camera.  It does great food photos and it is much easier to take to meals.  I figured that someone would take the camera and the photos we had taken would be lost.  We told Yukari what had happened.  She told us not to worry, since Japanese people are very honest and don’t steal things.  I had previously heard that about the Japanese people; but didn’t know how true it was or if someone from another country could be visiting and take a fancy to Carol’s camera.  Yukari called the museum to see if the camera had been turned in.  After a brief conversation, she asked me to describe the camera.  Sure enough, they had it.  Talk about relief.  We would figure how to get the camera back later.

We entered the courtyard to see a beautiful large red building with beautiful decorations and statuary.

   

The Japanese architecture was quite different from the Chinese.  Even the wingtip roofs were less inclined.  I just loved all the dragons on the roof.

Inside the building was a throne room that we could only take of photos of from outside the openings.

   

Nearby was a small museum that had models of what the castle looked like originally during ceremonies.

We looked around a little bit more and then headed back to the ship.  It was a quick visit; but quite adequate.  I had originally planned on being dropped off in town with Margery and Gale to go to lunch and do some souvenir shopping, while the others went back to the ship.  That plan changed since Sam was going to take me back to the Peace Memorial Museum to pick up the camera.  Yukari asked if I wanted her to go with me, since Sam didn’t speak English.  It didn’t seem necessary, since she told Sam what to do and I was just picking up a camera at the desk.  With the drive to the museum being 45 minutes each way, Sam and I did communicate some and it was kind of fun.  I was quite happy when entering the museum and seeing Carol’s camera.  I couldn’t thank the people in the museum or Sam enough for helping me.  During the day, we had noticed how sweet, polite and respectful the Japanese people were.  We were looking forward to seeing more of Japan in the days to come.

Close to the port was a very unusual structure.  It was what is referred to as the Treehouse Restaurant.  It is supposed to be a restaurant in a Banyan Tree; but the tree part is actually concrete made to look like a tree.  I had seen photos of it before.  In fact it was on that days Oceania Current. I was lucky that I just happened to look out the window as we were passing it.  Thank goodness my camera has a very fast focus. 

I was quite happy to see the Nautica towering over the terminal building.  I had not had lunch and it was getting close to 3:00 PM, when the buffet would close.  I did miss the buffet; but I did get to have a hamburger at Waves Grill.  Quite good indeed.

After lunch I was able to get some photos of the Naha skyline in the sunshine. 

I happened to walk outside around the time we were getting ready to sailaway.  I was surprised to see a drum group playing for us.  I only had my iPhone with me at the time; so I took a couple photos.  I didn’t want to stop watching them to get my main camera, since the show was quite enjoyable.  It was a nice send off from an enjoyable port.

 

Kyoto (Kobe), Japan -  
After a sea day with an enlightening enrichment lecture on Japan, I was ready to visit Kobe.  Coming into port, we could see that it was a mountainous area.  As we got closer to the port area, I could see that this was going to be a very nice place to dock.  There was an ultra-modern hotel next to the terminal; as well as a tower and an amusement park across the way.

   

As we were getting close to tying up, a group of women in black outfits with drums began to perform.  They were putting on quite a show.  They were jumping up and down, beating on their drums, yelling and just providing a superb welcome for the ship.  Everyone was out on their balconies and people were on the open decks taking in the show and waving at these lovely people that were playing their hearts out.  It went on non-stop for over fifteen minutes.  It was great entertainment and very heart warming.  It was really appreciated and the passengers couldn’t cheer enough for their efforts.  It was a great start to the day. 

I took a video of a small segment to help remember it; but since I could barely see the iPhone screen due to the glare of the sun, it isn’t that good.  I also should have turned the phone to landscape so that I could have zoomed in.  It also doesn’t show the more athletic moves they did later in the performance.  It was really something.



Since we would be in Kobe for two days, we would visit the Kyoto the first day, since it was further away and Osaka on the second.  When we boarded the ship in Tianjin, they let us know that we would be leaving at 5:00 PM on the second day, rather than the original 6:00 PM; which would shorten our Osaka visit.  Our tour guide for the two days was Aki of All Star Osaka Walk (http://allstarosaka.com).  She was a lovely young lady who would provide us with two very enjoyable days. 

Like most of the people we met in Japan, she was such a sweet and polite person; and was so considerate of our needs.  She went out of her way to make sure we were enjoying ourselves, while providing lots of historical facts.  Aki’s tours are designed to take public transportation rather than a van with a driver.  It makes the tours much less expensive; but it does mean that we would have to walk more than if we had a van.  That was fine for Margery, Gale and me; but there was no way that Carol and Doug would be able to do that for our visit to Kyoto, so they stayed at the ship.  Aki met us outside the terminal and we took a cab to the Shinkansen station.  The Shinkansen trains are very high speed and can travel up to 180 miles per hour.  The train ride would only take 28 minutes, where the bus ride for the Oceania excursion took two hours.  Of course that did pick up at the ship and end at tourist stop.  But with the train, we didn’t have to worry about the automobile traffic and possible delays. The one way ticket cost $25 each; but it was worth every penny.  The sleek trains just look like they are made for speed.  Not only is the ride very fast, but it is so smooth and quiet.  Below is a video looking out the window as we were speeding through town.  I loved it.

 


After getting off the high speed train we got onto another local train for a short ride to our first destination, the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine.  It is the most important shrine in Japan to Inari, the Shinto god of rice.  It is known for its thousands of Torii gates.  But as we walked to the shrine, we were impressed with the single large Torii gate at the entrance.  It was Saturday and the place was packed with people.  It was a clear sunny day with a temperature in the mid 60’s which made it an even more desirable place to visit that day.

   

The first main building was interesting in that rather than the lions we had seen protecting temples.  Apparently foxes are Inari’s messenger, so they are also there as protectors of the shrine.  This fox has a key to the shrine in his mouth.

   

There were many pretty building and pavilions on the shrine grounds. 

   

   

We had to climb up some steps to get to the next level, where the thousands of Torii gates began. 

   

Below is a map showing the trails of the gates.  They go all the way up Mount Inari; but we weren’t planning on going that far.  We just wanted to see some of them.

   

There were just so many gates and so many people walking the same paths we were.

   

When walking up the mountain, the sides of the gates have no writing on them; but when you look down the mountain, you see the names of the person or company who donated each gate.  Below is a price list showing how much each size costs.  The five foot gate costs about $1,500 and the ten foot one costs about $11,000.  Aki said that there were 8,000 Torii gates at the shrine.

After we had walked through enough gates, we came down a different path with many concrete lanterns.  The grounds were really pretty.  I could see why the shrine was such a popular place to visit. 

   

Of course a shrine isn’t all seriousness.  There were some people being silly; as well as those in traditional dress taking selfies.

   

We also had those begging for contributions.

To get to our next destination, we would have to take a cab.  We walked over to a hotel that was next to the shrine and the shrine parking lot.  Aki called for a cab; but it was taking a long time to come.  We noticed that there weren’t many cars coming into the parking lot.  With the lot being full, no cars could come up to where we were waiting, so we walked down the hill to the entrance.  We could then see what the problem was.  There was a long line of cars waiting to get into the shrine parking lot; but since there were no spaces, the cars weren’t moving on the one lane road.  The police finally told the cars to move along so the traffic could get through.  Our cab soon arrived and we were able head to our next destination, Sannenzaka Street.  It is one of the oldest streets in Kyoto dating back to the imperial times.  It has so much atmosphere with the shops, restaurants and tea houses, not to mention the plum blossom trees that had started blooming.  Fortunately, we were walking downhill rather than up the very crowded street. 

Aki took us just off the main street to see a peaceful pond area.

   

Some young ladies passed by us in their colorful traditional clothes.

Just off this street was another set of steps going down to a different street with more shops and people.  This was quite a popular area.

Carol likes fans, so I took a couple photos of some shops that had pretty displays.

   

In the distance we could see the Yasaka Pagoda.  The first pagoda there was built in 592 AD.  The current one is much younger having been built in 1440.  So it is almost 600 years old.

   

Further along our walk, we came to a group of young women dressed as geishas.  They were taking photos of one another.  Others also took photos of them, as did I. 

We passed by an interesting hotel that apparently rents by the hour, the Love Inn.  Aki told us that with so many young people still living with their parents, there is a need for young couples to have a place to go where they can have privacy.  Hourly hotels are apparently pretty popular in Japan.

I couldn’t resist taking a photo of a poodle with pink ears.

It was now lunch time, so Aki took us to a small restaurant that she was familiar with.  Their special for the day was a tempura plate for 580 yen or just under $5.  It was different from our normal tempura at home.  The plate had shrimp, squid, onion, sweet potato, pumpkin and fish sausage tempura; along with miso soup, rice and tea.  Quite a deal and I enjoyed all of it.

   

At the end of the meal Gale went to the single restroom in the restaurant.  When he came out, he wanted to get his camera to take a photo of the commode.  Because the room was so narrow, it had a sink on top of it.  Of course I had to take a photo of it also.  I had never seen one of those before.

We then walked over to the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto, Kenin-Ji.  It was founded in 1202.  Now this was quite different from the temples we had seen in China. The exterior was a more subdued style with very little ornamentation.

And the biggest difference was the interior.  We had to take our shoes off to walk around the very modern appearing rooms. 

This gold screen was quite an eye catcher as was the full wall size blue mural.

   

The courtyards were nicely landscaped.

   

There were other interesting pieces in the temple; but it was just strange not to see any furniture.

   

We walked over to a different building that had a wave like design in the sand next to it.  The interior actually had a piece of furniture, a chair in the middle of the room facing a gold statue.

   

The next hall was quite impressive with a throne and a large painting of two dragons on the ceiling.  The painting took two years to complete and was installed in 2002 for the temple’s 800th anniversary.

   

After putting our shoes back on we walked over to the Gion Geisha District.  The term geisha means artist or person of the arts.  This district is lined with tea houses where the geishas serve or entertain the guests.  Since the tea houses aren’t open during the day, we couldn’t see inside them; but Aki said they are very popular at night.

   

   

We walked over to a main street where we would meet our cab for the last attraction of the day.  When we got there, the street seemed to be blocked off.  Shortly after we arrived we heard loud speakers blaring and people marching our way.  It was a labor protest combined with a no nukes rally.  It was rather interesting.

   

   

We had to change our meeting place to a side street where the cab could get through. He was taking us to the place I had most wanted to see in Kyoto, the Golden Pavilion.  It was originally a retirement villa for a shogun; and per his wish it was turned into a temple upon his death in 1408.  It has been reconstructed many times.  The top two floors are covered in gold leaf.

Upon entering the grounds, we walked by some beautiful trees and moss covered ground. 

After passing through the entrance gate, we saw some attractive buildings; but those weren’t what we were there to see.

   

When we came around a corner, we could see the Golden Pavilion on the other side of the lake.  It was just gorgeous.

   

We were so lucky that we were there when the sun was shining and that it was shining directly on the pavilion.  Of course that part wasn’t lucky, because Aki knew that we needed to be there in the afternoon for the light to be right if we had the sun. 

In person, it is an unbelievably beautiful sight.  I took photos from so many angles, it made it very difficult to pick out which ones to include in this review. 

   

I wasn’t alone.  There were lots of people from the Oceania tours and many other tour groups snapping away.

The whole area was so pretty.  I really liked this place.  I didn’t want to leave; but we had to.  We walked past another building that had a tree that Aki said was hundreds of years old.  It needed a wood structure under it to support it.

On the side of one of the building was a photo of the Golden Pavilion in the winter after it had snowed.  I had to take a photo of it.  Wouldn’t that be a site to see in person?

On the way out we could see the lovely natural areas of the temple grounds.

   

There was a long flight of stairs to walk down to leave the park.  I was so glad that Carol hadn’t come.  There was so little that she could have done from her scooter, not to mention trying to transport it on the train and taxis.

From there we picked up another cab and headed for the train station.  Since we weren’t in as big a rush as we had been in the morning we took a slower train that stopped at several stops before reaching Kobe.  It only cost about $8.50 and would take only 58 minutes.  But the downside of that train was that it was very popular and very crowded.  And by crowded I mean there was very little room to move at all.  Margery was able to get a seat at the first stop.  She said that her NY City subway experience helped.  It took another fifteen minutes before Cherie was able to sit down.  Then when we got to the very popular Osaka station, I was able to snag a seat for the last 15 minutes.  After leaving the train we took a short cab ride to the ship.  The next day we heard that some of the Oceania excursions ran into very bad traffic and it took well over 3 hours to get back from Kyoto.  I loved the trains.  It had been another outstanding touring day.  It was time to visit Martini’s Bar for the happy hour.

That night we went out to check out the lights in the area.  The tall tower was the highlight of the night followed by the Ferris wheel. 

   

The Ferris wheel had some beautiful colors and animated designs on it; but my camera just couldn’t capture it.  It was most entertaining.

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