No Cranes On Demand


Prepare yourself for an onslaught of Japanese adventures. We’ve been ashore every day, with no breaks, and I’m way behind. I’m going to try to do a rapid-fire catch-up on the last few days, which have been pretty amazing. This was my first Japanese sunrise.


This was what I first saw coming into Kushiro in the early morning. Like every Japanese port it’s protected by a series of low sea walls.


As it turns out, there’s always food awaiting us on the dock, as if the cruise ship were starving us. This, for the donut-minded among you, was one of Kushiro’s offerings. I didn’t try them, but the area around the cart selling them smelled really good.


A small group of us piled into a van and headed north, up toward Hokkaido’s Lake Akan. Our first stop was the International Crane Center, where, disappointingly, we were about a month too early to see flocks of red crowned cranes in the wild.



Instead, the center showed us a few lonely-looking cranes in captivity,



as well as teaching us about the habits and life cycle of the supremely elegant birds.



Our next stop was a roadside rest station, where delicious snacks were available. I love Japanese food, so I was in heaven here. A kabocha fritter and crunchy wakame and sesame snacks made a fine lunch for me.



Next we went to see Ainu dancing and singing. The Ainu are the aboriginal people of northern Japan, and apparently here in Hokkaido is the only place where they have a distinct cultural, as opposed to assimilated, presence. We weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside or during the performance, but the theater building was beautiful and the performance was interesting.



It’s already autumn in Hokkaido, and so beautiful in the countryside. Doesn’t this look just like Japan should look?



The town of Kushiro itself, though, is absolutely unappealing, at least what we were able to see of it.




DSC00675The townspeople came and put on a wonderful sailaway show on the pier for us, featuring these taiko drummers, seen here from high up on my balcony.


Kushiro’s sunset was spectacular. That’s our ship, in the golden light.


We were in port with the Pacific Venus, the second-largest Japanese flag cruise ship. Here the pilot boat guides us out past her, and onward toward Yokohama.


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2 Comments on “No Cranes On Demand”

  1. Sheldon Says:

    The countryside of Hokkaido is exquisite.

  2. Katherine Says:

    thank you for letting us travel with you

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