Viking Orion arrives in Shimizu on a glorious morning and the magnificent cone-shaped Mt Fuji is clear to see as we eat our breakfast. This 3000 foot high mountain last erupted 300 years ago and can be seen from miles around. We have a busy day in this city of 700,000 people. We set out in the bus to Mt Kuno to visit the lavish Kunozan Tosho-gu shrine which was founded in 1617 and was originally a Shinto Shrine. Someone obviously decided that today was the day we need to get the heart rate up because of the shrinking clothes so the day starts with a step class! Off we go to the cable car which takes us down the mountain we have just come up in the bus! Heaven forbid – what is this about? But then we arrive at ze bottom only to climb back up to ze top on the other side of the mountain so we must climb 120 high rise stone steps to get to the Tosho-gu shrine where there is much to admire (after we check we are still breathing). There are extravagant wood carvings with much gold leaf and colorful Japanese lacquer and it is stunning. There are several buildings and the gorgeous colors are enhanced by all the beautiful maple trees, camphor trees and cherry trees where we get to see the last of the blossoms which are about to fall off the trees. We get as many photos as we can of this disappearing blossom! And now, just to finish us off, we have another 60 stairs to climb as the cable car delivers us back to the top where we started!
Nearby is Nihondaira Park, a 1,000 foot plateau offering sweeping panoramic views of the city of Shizuoka (Shimizu), the mountains of Izu, Cape Omaezaki and the famous Mt Fuji. There is a nice walk through more lovely gardens to the viewing platform surrounding a lovely wooden building at the top. This is a mountainous country and wherever we have been there are mountains surrounding the cities along this southern coast.
We have been told by several of the guides that only 1% of Japanese people are Christians. The history behind this is that up until the 16th century there were many Christians but the feudal government prohibited it in the 17th century when Shinto took over and then Buddhism followed. Shinto is seen as a relaxed philosophy whereas Buddhism is seen as more serious. The two have now merged and live in harmony. People get married in Shinto Shrines and take their newborn babies there for a ceremony at the age of one month. Funerals are held in Buddhist Temples. They have a saying here – you are born a Shinto and die a Buddhist.
This city exports green tea, mandarins and wasabi. Yamaha and Honda motorbikes are also made here and many automobile parts. Shimizu imports huge quantities of frozen tuna for sashimi and also soccer balls! In this city and surrounding districts we have seen more houses than apartments but many of the suburban areas seem to also be sprinkled with businesses amongst the houses.
Off we go in the afternoon to visit Minho no Matsubara on the Minho Peninsula where we take an interesting walk down a wide boardwalk surrounded on either side by a grove of very old pine trees which are protected by UNESCO and we end up on a “sandy” (make that dark grainy) beach. On either side of this boardwalk are nice houses with pretty gardens.
We are welcomed back at the ship where we are given a glass of bubbles on the wharf and many of the crew are lined up with red umbrellas forming a guard of honor and dancing to the music in the sun. An hour later the ship departs the lovely Shimizu with many people lined up at the wharf to farewell us. This happens at every port and is so special to witness.
Something is going on today – maybe the boss has advertised me on Trade Me or something. There is a knock at the door which I answer and there is a tall man standing there holding up his stateroom entry card. He says to me (while looking down) “the keycard didn’t work”. I tell him “wrong wife”. He apologizes profusely and wanders off. Five minutes later, we go down to Deck 1 to disembark for ze tour and there is a man standing there obviously waiting to go ashore. A Viking crew member announces to this man as I arrive down the passage “here is your wife now Sir”. Once again – wrong wife! What is the boss trying to tell me here? The day finishes with a five-course dinner at the Chef’s Table because we have earned it after climbing ze stairs!
One thought on “Shimizu”
Serene but oh so exhausting Shannon. A day to remember with the beautiful maples cherry blossoms Shinto Shrines & many many steps to climb.
Wonderful photos for the record of this fascinating trip.