11 Feb 2014
It was freezing here today. They had the worst snowstorm in over a decade.
As long as we were here we decided to visit the Statue of Liberty.
Then came the Tokyo Skytree, the world’s tallest tower. It is about twice as high as the Eiffel Tower.
And just walking Tokyo’s neighborhoods was a blast.
09 Feb 2014
As the ship was overnighting in Yokohama, we took the opportunity to spend the evening at the beautiful Ritz Carlton in Tokyo.
Our 20 course meal in the Tokyo Mandarin Oriental was one of the most unique I have ever had, and I have had plenty. They can accommodate two eight-person groups nightly and that is it.
Until tonight I never have heard of molecular gastronomy. In case you haven’t either, it has to do with gourmet cooking and getting involved with chemical changes in certain ingredients and food relationships.
So, for example the first course, Yuzu Sake Hot and Cold, was literally prepared to be both hot and cold. And I’m taking temperature not spice. Amazing.
The final course, a simple fruit dish, had us swishing a miracle berry in our mouths for a minute and then bit into a fresh lemon and lime. They both tasted extremely sweet as if they were loaded with sugar, which was not the case.
Good meal, good preparation, good ambiance and good dinner partners.
07 Feb 2014
Okinawa is Japan’s most southern main island and has its own history.
The Kingdom of the Ryukyus reigned over Japan's southwestern islands for approximately 450 years from 1429 to 1879.
Shurijo Castle was its political, economic and cultural center. Note the Chinese influence.
It was the only place in Japan where the Allies landed. From 1945 – 1972 it was under US military control.
The Shikinaen Gardens are beautiful and peaceful and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Downtown is busy.
04 Feb 2014
Today we were docked in Saipan but flew to Tinian Island. It is in the Northern Maiana Islands and is a US Commonwealth a la Puerto Rico.
The purpose was to learn about WWII in the Pacific from this important island that I had never heard of just a week ago.
Japan had taken control of it during WWI
After a week of heavy fighting and loss of lives the US took it in 1944. The entire island was turned into a 40,000 person military base with great strategic importance for the Boeing B-29. That was a great plane and now Japan was within its range.
It was from Runway Able that the planes left carrying the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
We visited the actual pits that were constructed to load the bombs, since they were too large to be loaded in the conventional manner. The B-29s were maneuvered over a pit with their bomb bay doors open to facilitate loading.
Afterwards we were treated to a local beach barbeque. It’s really a beautiful island.
Sightseeing takes a lot out of a guy
03 Feb 2014
Guam has a long Spanish history having been Magellan founded Guam in 1521 and stayed with them until the US took it over after the Spanish American War in 1898 at The Treaty of Paris.
Because of all of the territories involved, that marked the end of The Spanish Empire in America and the beginning of the US as a world power.
Following Pearl Harbor it was occupied by Japan on December 8, 1941 until July 21, 1944. Besides being embarrassing for an American Colony, its location is of great strategic importance.
1,000 Americans and 10,000 Japanese were killed here when this beach was stormed.
The Talaifak Bridge was originally built of wood in 1785, when Guam was still a Spanish colony,