Shimizu, Japan

Shimizu, Japan is our final port stop before the cruise ends in Yokohama (near Tokyo) tomorrow. There is really not much to see or do in Shimizu; it is known for its views of Mt. Fuji on a clear day. I had researched the port on my usual travel sites but not found too much of interest. There is a 4-story shopping plaza and a connection to the train station; not much else. There is also a ropeway (you take the train to get there) that will give you nice views but since we had done that yesterday in Kobe did not really want to repeat the experience. There is an archeological site somewhere near but to hire a taxi costs about $100/hour so not really worth the cost.

The forecast today was for blue skies and (relatively) cool temperatures. We didn’t reach port until after 11 am and it turned out to be a cloudy day. But, it was clear enough to see the mountain! I am not sure why I am so excited about seeing a mountain; where we live, we are surrounded by them. Nonetheless, there is something fascinating about seeing this particular mountain. I took some pictures from our deck.

Our ship was greeted by the local high school’s marching band. They were accompanied by a drill team of sorts, but the drill team seemed to do dance moves more so than what you might see in the US. I think our ship coming in to port was a big deal for this small community; there were printed signs around with pictures and information about the Jewel. The marching band was being watched by large number of townspeople; they lined the waterfront area.

There were a few maps in the terminal area showing what Shimizu had to offer. Apparently, in addition to the shopping plaza there is a place you can go to try on traditional Japanese outfits and have your picture taken. We spotted the ferris wheel which is next to S-Pulse Dream Plaza.

Outside the plaza are some kiddie rides as well as the ferris wheel. The bottom level of the plaza has lots of shops selling food. . .mysterious food. . .all labeled in Japanese. Some of the vendors offer free samples. One guy offered something that looked like dried smelt. I wimped out and did not try anything. There were also a few restaurants. The second store has additional shops; the third has a museum; and the top floor a cinema. It is worth a walk through but we definitely stood out as tourists!

Many shops and buildings in town are called “S-Pulse”. I think I figured out why – the S-Pulse is the local soccer (football) team. As we walked down the street we saw evidence of this, including plaques in the sidewalk with footprints and handprints of famous team members.

I took a few more pictures of Mount Fuji and if the clouds clear more later, will probably take a few more! Though there are not that many places to see in Shimizu, the town was very welcoming and friendly. Not only was there a marching band performance in the morning, there was a welcoming ceremony in the afternoon. A couple dozen chamber of commerce members as well as the town mascot and a few geishas were on hand to welcome the captain and a few of his officers. Speeches were given by both groups.

 That evening, a geisha show was given on-board by local performers.

We have enjoyed our time in Japan much more so than China. Not too many onboard were enamored of China; it was too polluted and dirty. Of course, we only saw port cities; we may have had an entirely different impression if we had ventured inland. I have not seen everything I wanted to see in Japan but we will be spending 4 days in Tokyo so will have further opportunities to experience the culture there.

What we have concluded is that cruising an area just gives you a brief taste of it; we felt rushed and confined more so on this trip than on previous ones. I think much of this is because we have been branching out from cruising and taking trips on land more frequently. We are finding we like the freedom of that style of travel more and more. We still have a 3-week Panama Canal cruise before we end our current trip, but have decided to postpone our South America cruise we had planned for December. We may rebook it later, but we would like to investigate other ways of seeing the continent other than cruising.