The Great Southern Route : 2013 - 2014
GSR | 249 Work with your agent a couple of months before you plan to arrive for submission of documents for pre-approval. He will need to have an understanding of the Japanese departments that this paperwork has to go to. With so much shipping in Japanese waters the government is very strict in all vessels following the correct procedures, however a good agent will get all of this done for you, keep you posted with the right information and it will not feel difficult. As a yacht cruises through different regions of Japan you must clear out of one area and into another. This can usually be done with a phone call and a fax of ships paperwork by your agent, so it is important to keep in contact with them on a daily basis as you cruise. I enlisted the help of a yacht company called Creation Marine in Osaka to help me and they were brilliant. At that time there were no yacht agents in Japan. Creation did all of our shore- side work for us, checking us in and out of various regions with customs and coastguard as we moved about Japan. from Wakayama we moved on into the Seto Nai Kai (the Inland Sea) to Kobe where we docked at Shin Nishinomiya Marina. Again this marina was massive with a large visitor pier and an average depth of five metres. Although full of smaller yachts, it can easily take yachts of 60 to 65 metres. The guests disembarked here for four days. first mate ‘Matchan’ had arranged for them to take a private tour of Kyoto, experiencing tea ceremonies, geisha, and traditional theatre. Then he had arranged for them to go to Nara, a stunning mountainous countryside area, and stay in a luxury ryokan (traditional Japanese house) for a few days before returning to the yacht to continue cruising. This gave us some time off. We ventured into Kobe and had dinner out every night. Luckily of course my whole crew was Japanese and they knew the best places to go. The best restaurants were Izakaya, which is almost like Japanese Tapas, they serve all sorts of small dishes from a massive variety of Japanese foods. The prices were fabulous too. four of us would eat and drink for three or four hours and generally the bill was around 30 or 40 uS dollars equivalent, per head for some of the most exquisite food I have ever eaten. You’d pay thousands for this in New York, London or Paris! After the guests returned we carried on cruising, now in the completely protected inland sea. Ships were everywhere and it was like rush hour in the Straits of gibraltar in certain places! We cruised under the longest suspension bridge in the world, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, and on for about six hours to the island of Shoda Sima. All of the Islands in Japan are mountainous and Shoda Sima looms ahead from 30 miles away. The Seto Inland Sea has a ‘warmer than Mediterranean’ climate and Shodasima’s olive groves along the hillsides are testament to this. We went to the large natural harbour on the south side of the island and docked at a commercial dock (which was the cleanest commercial dock I have ever seen). This is a very local island and in the village nearby, the owners visited a local restaurant that was almost unchanged for hundreds of years, enjoying rEAL Japanese food, not western Japanese food, and sharing the experience with real local Japanese people – fantastic. of what you’re saying, even though they do not understand a thing! They are far too polite to stop an English speaker in full babble. To tell someone that they do not understand them can be a mortal etiquette sin! Though the politeness at first is overwhelming, when you actually slide yourself into this culture you suddenly realise that it is one of the most civil societies on the planet. Our first stop was on the western side of the Izu Peninsula. As you round the western side, Mount fuji comes into view dominating the horizon even before the coastline of mainland Honshu is seen. You can see fuji from the eastern side too, it is that tall! We anchored in uchira Bay and the owner invited all crew to have dinner on the back deck as the sun went down by Mount fuji. The next day the owner went ashore early and took a trip to Hakone. Hakone is very famous in Japan and the old Samurai houses still stand there. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty and stands in the foothills of Mount fuji. Afterwards they went to pay their respects to “fujisan” by going to the 5th station which is at the tree line, 7500 ft altitude, and observing the Shinto shrine dedicated to Princess Konohanasakuya, the daughter of the god of the Mountain. That night, we cruised to Wakayama at the entrance to the Inland Sea. Wakayama has great ‘onsen’ which is the Japanese name for volcanic hot springs. They are a little disconcerting sometimes for westerners as Japanese people all go in naked, but you can come by secluded areas to bathe. At Wakayama we docked at Marina City which can easily take yachts of 60m or more. It is important to retain the services of an agent that understands yachts. The shipping industry is huge here, but shipping agents will treat yachts the same as a 300 meter cargo ship, so employ someone who has experience in the professional yachting world. Paperwork to enter Japan can be complicated.
2010 - 2011