The four big islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, & Shikoku make up the “mainland” of Japan. We’d now sailed all the way up the chain of the southern islands and were closing in on Kyushu.
A few days traveling along the coast brought us to Nagasaki, our first big city in Japan.
We docked at Dejima Wharf Marina in the evening. The next morning we unfolded our bicycles and spent the entire day touring the fascinating history-rich city, including temple row with its eight majestic temples along the same street.
But the highlight of our time in Nagasaki was meeting…
We spent a day visiting the Peace Park, the Hypocenter, and the Atomic Bomb Museum. It was a very sobering experience. What struck us profoundly is the lack of blame directed at the United States. In fact, many people we met in Japan told us they understood why the US did what it did. The museum is especially powerful in laying bare the deaths caused by the US, French, British, and Russian nuclear bomb testing in the decades after the end of WWII, as well as a sincere plea for a nuclear-free world.
THE ATOMIC BOMB
Nagasaki was the site of the second atomic bomb dropped in 1945. The question over whether the use of atomic bombs was necessary to end the war is still debated. In our opinion, after reading quite a bit on the subject, we feel a line was crossed. The United States should not be proud of being the only nation to use atomic weapons to kill humans. We do not need to apologize for defending ourselves when attacked; however, we need to acknowledge when we do wrong. We are not very good at that.
Yes. Unfortunately the bottom paint we’d applied in Thailand only a year and a half earlier was failing terribly. We also needed to do a proper repair on the port wing deck crack that had developed in Borneo.
Ken-san, whom we’d met on Yakushima, had given us a lead on a small boatyard on the west coast of Kyushu not far from the town of Karatsu. It was a hundred year-old yard with a railway that had serviced fishing boats for decades but was now was trying to improve its decreasing business by hauling sailboats. The yard had never seen a foreign boat before, let alone a trimaran. Two day-sails after leaving Nagasaki we were on a small dock in Minatomachi, and a few days after that we hauled on their “trimaran-refitted” railway.
We will not bore you with the details of this haulout. We will say that the honesty of Akira (the boatyard marketing person) was as lacking as that of the quality of much of the boatyard work. Akira was the only person in all of Japan who did not treat us kindly or with respect. Perhaps this was because he had spent 20 years living and working in Europe?
However, our month in the boat yard brought us into contact with wonderful new tomodachi!
A typhoon was predicted to arrive and the work on Migration wasn’t finished. But that didn’t matter now. We did not want to be on land with hurricane-force winds — Migration could easily become airborne. We quickly did the bare minimum necessary to get her launched and then high-tailed it to Iki Shima which had a well-protected harbor.
Luckily the typhoon petered out before it arrived. We returned to Minato-machi briefly and then sailed on to Fukuoka and moored in Odo Marina.
We needed new port permissions for the next prefecture so we took the subway downtown to the government office that issues the permits. After conducting our business we went exploring. Fukuoka is a big city and it was fun to walk through the pedestrian shopping district. In the early evening we stopped at a small local restaurant — chosen at random — for dinner. Two young women – the only other diners – overheard us speaking English asked us where we were from and thus, like so many times before, a conversation began.
We had various projects to do in Fukuoka and, since it was a big city, we also needed to provision. We loved the signs at the supermarket and home center. Read the fine print and don’t forget:
Food way that was able to take harmony for you is offered wonderfully and dynamically.
Seto Naikai – The Inland Sea
The main islands of Kyushu, Honshu, and Shikoku ring a huge body of water known as the Seto Naikai – The Inland Sea. It’s over 200 miles long, is protected from all directions, and contains over 3,000 islands. Most importantly, it offers the best protection from typhoons — and we were entering the most active typhoon season.
We left Fukuoka early in the morning and entered the sea through the western entrance — the Kanmon Kaikyo. We timed our passage perfectly thanks to Choichi-san’s assistance in Odo. The currents in the strait can flow at more than 9 knots; faster than Migration could sail or motor in most conditions.
Over the next days we sailed and motored 130 miles to the east — between islands, under bridges, and past hundreds of different types of boats and ships — to finally arrive at Onomichi: a very cool town with a great vibe. It became one of our favorite places, mostly because of the wonderful tomodachi we met there.
In between having fun with our friends, we explored the town, had a great bicycle adventure, and a wonderful visit from Bruce’s brother and sister-in-law, Doug & Pseu.
Onomichi has about 140,000 residents, so it isn’t huge. Yet it has 20 temples and shrines. Its streets and temples climb the steep hill from the shore and provide awesome views across the Seto Naikai.
The Shimanami Kaido is a series of five long bridges that cross the Seto Naikai from Onomichi on Honshu to Imbari on Shikoku. The bridges and the roads across the islands they connect create an expressway 60 km (37 miles) long. And because it’s bike friendly, of course we had to ride it!
Visitors from America
Doug and Pseu (Bruce’s brother and sister-in-law) came to visit! How cool is that? We spent a couple of days on the boat in Onomichi and sailing around the surrounding islands. Then we took a trip by Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto. All good fun!
More Tomodachi: Aibara-san & Kumiko-san
Aibara-san & Kumiko-san pulled into the dock next to Migration aboard their sailboat Polestar, and soon came over to investigate the big red trimaran visiting from the USA. It was rare to find Japanese sailors cruising away from their local waters; they had sailed up from Matsuyama on Shikoku. After drinks on the deck of Migration, we joined them for dinner in town. Though they are both gentle and soft spoken, discussion was lively and interesting… and easy since they both speak English. We exchanged emails and they invited us to visit them in their home town. And we did… but that’s in the next Migrations.