Thursday, May 7, 2009

Golden week holidays - part 1

The golden week (ogata renkyu) is a Japanese term applied to a collection of four national holidays within seven days. In combination with well placed weekends, the golden week is one of Japan’s three busiest holiday seasons, besides New Year and Obon week. The national holidays making up the golden week are April 29 (Showa day), May 3 (constitution day), May 4 (greenery day), and May 5 (children’s day). My hubby’s office was closed on April 30 and May 01, so hubby and I had one full week holidays this year.
Every year during golden week, we go to my hubby’s ancestral home in Ichinomiya city in Aichi prefecture to meet my in-laws. We usually use flight for the travel as Akita and Aichi prefectures are very far apart. However, this year due to the long holidays, we went from Akita to Tsuruga city in Fukui prefecture by sea and enjoyed the cruise resort for a day, did some sight-seeing in and around Tsuruga, and then used train to go to my in-law’s home. It was fun.

Ferry ship cruise
We explored western Japan by sea and enjoyed some of the remote and exotic destinations. Ferry cruise was a pleasurable and scenic way to travel and was excellent for sightseeing. We did one day and night cruise, which was a romantic getaway for us. On April 30, hubby and I started from our home at about 7.30 am and reached Akita seaport by our car at 8.30 am. Hubby parked his car at a free parking area offered by the port authorities, and then we went inside Akita seaport. After waiting for about 10 minutes in the waiting lounge, we went inside the cruise ship called ferry Azalea. Ferry Azalea is a cruising resort in Japan Sea operated by the company called Shin Nihonkai ferry. This company operates an extensive network of ferry routes between the Honshu and Hokkaido islands in Japan. Ferry Azalea started the previous day from Tomakomae city in Hokkaido at about 7.30 pm, and had transit stops at Akita and Niigata ports before reaching its ultimate destination Tsuruga city in Fukui prefecture. I was amazed by the size of the ship, which was huge! The length of the ferry ship was 195.4 meters and weighed about 20564 tonnes. 926 people could be on-board and 186 trucks and 80 cars could be loaded onto the ship. The speed of the ship was 22.7 Knots.
Ferry Azalea

Ferry route indicating the ports Tomakomae, Akita, Niigata, and Tsuruga

Ferry Azalea left Akita port at 9 am. Hubby and I wished to see the ferry depart from the port, so we went to the deck for a better view. The view was simply amazing. Hubby and I were travelling by ship for the first time and we were a bit worried about sea-sickness, but we both had absolutely no problem during the entire travel.

Me standing at the deck

Hubby standing at the deck

After enjoying the outside view for some time, we returned back inside the ferry ship. We continued enjoying the outside view by sitting at the promenade deck, which was enclosed and not the open type.
Me enjoying the outside view from promenade deck

After some time, we went to see the lobby area of the ferry ship, which was very beautiful and had a wonderful design and pattern. It was a stately, elegant, and a grand lobby. Artwork adorned the lobby. We took several photos of us in the lobby for keep-sake.
Me standing at the entrance of the ferry ship

People watching television and reading newspaper in the lobby of the ferry ship

Me standing in the lobby of Ferry Azalea

Me standing at the beginning of the staircase in the lobby

Me standing on the staircase

Me standing at an upper floor of the ferry

Hubby standing on the staircase in the lobby

Hubby standing on the staircase. I took this photo from the top floor.

We could not have breakfast at home as we had a lot of last minute packing to do and also had to start very early in the morning from our home. So hubby went to the vending machine corner in the ferry ship, and got some hot chicken pieces, a can of beer, and a bottle of Chinese tea. Yes, vending machines in Japan offer hot food services also! We enjoyed our breakfast sitting at the promenade deck. It was really very nice and relaxed environment.
Hubby buying hot fried chicken pieces from a vending machine

Hubby about to have breakfast

Hubby having a can of beer along with the breakfast

Later we went to the forward saloon enclosed deck and enjoyed viewing the front of the ship. I wished to take a photo at the front most point of the ship in the forecastle (bow) deck, just like in the movie ‘titanic’. But unfortunately, passengers were not allowed to go to the forecastle deck.
Front most point of the ship as viewed from the forward saloon deck

How I wished to pose like the main actor and actress of the Titanic movie!

A cruise ferry ship is literally a multi storey resort on water so we checked out our new home of the day, and did some exploring. After the breakfast, we familiarized ourselves with our new surroundings. It was getting rather warm, so we went to our room to keep our jackets. Ferry Azalea had various types of rooms. There were the suite rooms, deluxe rooms, first class twin rooms, first class four capacity rooms, second class berth rooms, and second class rooms. We stayed in the first class twin room. The interior looked like a typical Japanese neat and clean city hotel. We liked our room.
Hubby standing in front of our room

First class twin room

The ferry ship offered a lot of services to enjoy cruising. There was a shop to do on board shopping. We bought T-shirts as souvenir from the shop. The ship offered various kinds of services for amusement and pleasure. There were on board bath-house and sauna room in the ship. There was also a Jacuzzi at the back of the ship. However, the Jacuzzi service was offered only during the summer time (July/August). In addition, there was a self-service laundry room, though I did not see any one using it.
Bath house

Jacuzzi at the back of the ship

Laundry room

There was a sports room for playing table tennis, and also a game room to enjoy various kinds of games.
Sports room

Game room

There was a video theater room to enjoy movies. We watched a movie for a few minutes only as we were more eager to explore the ferry ship. To avoid disturbing others, we took the photo of the video theater later on when no one was there in the theater.
Video theater

The ship offered gourmet food. There were three restaurants named Grill, The Restaurant, and Cafe Lounge. The restaurant named Grill was closed.
Cafe Lounge

The Restaurant

After familiarizing ourselves with the ferry ship surroundings, we again went outside to the open deck and enjoyed the sea and the sun. It was a very lazy and relaxed morning. After some time, we returned back inside the ship and hubby sat in the cafe lounge enjoying the outside view from the glass window. Hubby had been very busy in his work and never really got this kind of holiday for more than four years. Being in the research and development (R&D) section of a company, it is difficult to avoid urgent phone calls from office even on holidays, and many times he had to go to work during holidays also. R&D section of a Japanese company is structured in such a way that sometimes working on holidays just cannot be avoided, I guess. However this time in the ferry ship, hubby’s mobile phone had no signal in the sea. So hubby got one full day (and night) to relax. However, he is so used to working for 16-17 hours in a day that initially he had difficulty to relax! He kept saying ‘hima da na’, which means free or spare time. But soon he began to relax and dozed off sitting in the Cafe lounge.
Hubby relaxing at Cafe Lounge

Me enjoying the ferry ship

At about 12.15 pm, we had lunch in The Restaurant. The food was delicious.
Our lunch

After lunch, we went to the deck again and enjoyed a relaxed afternoon. Later, we went to our room and rested for a while.
Me at the deck

Hubby at the deck

At about 3.30 pm, the ferry ship reached Niigata port. We walked around in the deck and took several photos of Niigata city from the ship. After about 45 minutes, the crew officials started preparing for the departure and at 4.30 pm, we left Niigata port. Hubby took a video of the crew officials preparing for the departure of the ship.
Niigata city as seen from the ferry ship

Niigata port waiting lounge

Me standing at the deck

Crew members preparing for the departure of the ferry ship

A crew member preparing for the departure of the ferry. I wished to stand in this pose with my hubby!!

Video of crew officials preparing for the departure of ferry ship

We enjoyed the view of Japan Sea as we left Niigata port. We took several photos here for keep sake.

Me enjoying the view after our departure from Niigata port

Hubby posing after our departure from Niigata port

A lighthouse

It became dark within an hour and we returned back inside the ship. We had our dinner in the same restaurant. I was not at all hungry but had dinner just to enjoy the experience. Hubby retired for the day soon after the dinner. I was so full and lazy but watched television programs for an hour or two, and then went to sleep.
Hubby all set to sleep

We got up at 5 am the next day and reached Tsuruga terminal port at 5.30 am. I enjoyed the ferry ship cruise so much that I had tears in my eyes while leaving the ship! We took several photos of the ship from the Tsuruga port waiting lounge.
Front portion of ferry Azalea

Middle portion of ferry Azalea

Back portion of ferry Azalea

A miniature model of ferry Azalea at Tsuruga seaport

Hubby drinking a can of hot coffee while waiting for the bus at Tsuruga seaport

After some time, we took a bus to Tsuruga railway station. We did sight-seeing in and around Tsuruga on May 01, about which I will write in the next post. We enjoyed ferry ship cruise very much. It was one of the best and most relaxed holidays of my life. I am now already eagerly looking forward to my next shipping cruise!


Kazuo Nagata said...

Funatabi wa omoshirokatta.

Anonymous said...

didnt u get sea sick? i took something similar from niigata to otaru and i swear after tat no more ship cruises...gosh...even with heavy medication i was not feeling good at all...

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks for your comment Kazuo-san. Ship cruise was really nice and relaxing for us. We both enjoyed it!

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks for your comment ckuramitz. Oh, you have sea sickness. I think it takes about 18 hours to go from Niigata to Otaru port by sea. I can understand how miserable your ship cruise might have been!

Fortunately, I and hubby, we both did not get sea-sick. So we could enjoy the cruise very much.

However, I have car sickness problem since my early childhood. As unbelievable as it may sound, sometimes I still suffer from it!! We have lots of sickness bag in hubby's car...