Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Megami Bridge- Nagasaki City

It's not too often that the Grand Lady of Cruising, the QE 2 is in town. When an opportunity to see this majestic ship in the Port of Nagasaki arises then a true fan will do whatever it takes to see her up close and personal.

In a true story, my mum and I were supposed to cruise around NZ on the QE2 back in 2020 but the night before our departure from Sydney our cruise was cancelled by a Covid outbreak.  Obviously our chance to cruise on the QE2 went down in flames but it still remains on our agenda and I am sure that one day this cruise will come to fruition.

On this particular day not only was I able to see the ship depart from the Port Terminal but I hightailed it to the best vantage point in the city, the Megami Bridge to see her in all its glory.  In fact, I wasn't the only one!!  There were hundreds of people already on the bridge and arriving at ever minute to get a last glimpse of her on its departure.

Hope you enjoy the pictures and videos, I know I did when I was taking them!

Please click on this link to see the Megami Bridge on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Please click on these videos below to see more of the QE2 and its departure from the Port of Nagasaki.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Sohonzan Shrine: Saikai Town, Nagasaki Prefecture

Our popular WW2 History and Culture Tour of Nagasaki incorporates a long drive at the beginning of the day. So, I was looking for a location to visit in order to reduce the time spent between attractions. Low and behold this huge Torii (Gate Entrance of Shinto Shrines) came into view and instantly I knew that this was the place that I was looking for.

At first, I thought that the Cultural component of the tour would be boosted to meet up with the many historical locations already firmly in place. But little did I expect the Sohonzan Shrine to tick every box and literally surprise me to no end that this location in its own right is one of the highlight attraction of the whole day.

It has everything you need as a shore excursion stop.  A chance to stretch your legs, a toilet break, nature and landscapes, a strong cultural component and in total a site that makes you glad it was included in the itinerary. 

Of course, in my time here in Japan, I have been to a thousand shrines. Some are excellent, some are ho hum, some are preached as the most important or religiously significant shrines of the region.  In this case, I won't do any of that but what I will tell you is that Sohonzan Shrine will leave a strong impression on you even if you have been to many in the past.

I am really please that many of our clients have felt exactly the same way about their visit and time here at Sohonzan Shrine as I did on my first time.  It is now a mainstay attraction of this tour and I hope it will be for many years to come.

Please click here to see the Sohonzan Shrine on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

The entrance

Pray for Ukraine

Names of benefactors


Peaceful location

Beautiful gardens

Shinto heavenly powers

Plenty of Carp

The torii gate is massive

Please click on the videos below to see more about Sohonzan Shrine and its appeal.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Okawachiyama- The hidden pottery village: Imari, Saga Prefecture

There is a hidden pottery village located in the mountainous area of Imari Town in Saga Prefecture.  It is such a gem of a location that not many people know about it, except of course those who are ceramic lovers.  For these people the location is 7th heaven as it is so peaceful and tranquil, at times it feels as though one has stepped back in time.

Okawachiyama which translates as Big River in the Mountains doesn't feel like a place designed for the 21st Century.  Time runs a lot slower in these parts of the countryside and its a place where you can forget about life for a half a day and feel the time slip of the region.

On this particular day, I arrived a little later than I wanted to.  It was a weekday and there was hardly anyone around so basically I had the whole village to myself.  I have been told that this isn't the case on weekends when quite a lot more tourists and visitors from around Kyushu congregate in the pottery regions of Kyushu looking for that one special piece that will make their ceramic collection complete. Of course for those die hart fans of all things ceramic, this is never the case!  You will never be satisfied with what you have and you will always be looking for the next piece.

I will plan another trip over the following months to get a better lay of the land.  Even if the village is busier I am sure it will still be a quiet and quaint place to explore all the nook and crannies in great detail.

Please click on this link to see Okawachiyama Village on a map:

Please click on the photos below to enlarge:

Many different types of ceramics

Kilns galore

Quality Chinaware

The main bridge is very decorative

Chess anyone?

Looks of workshops to explore

Plenty of side streets to explore

Ceramic murals are everywhere

This is a potters village

A special piece

Many shops selling their wares

Pottery exhibits are plentiful

One of the more narrow entrances

As quaint as it gets!

The quality is exceptional

Please click on these videos below to see more about Okawachiyama, the quaint hidden pottery village: