Day 5: Arrival in Sakaiminato Port in Matsue, Japan
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Previous Post: Arrival in Kanazawa Port, Japan
The ship arrived in Sakaiminato Port at around 9am and, just like the previous day, the tour participants gathered at the 5th floor lobby of the cruise ship before disembarking the ship.
Our first stop was the beautiful Matsue Castle. This castle is one of the five natural treasures of Japan and one of the 12 remaining original castles in the country. One of the oldest surviving castles in Japan, Matsue is called the “plover”. According to our guide, there were many beautiful castles in Japan but most of them did not survive fire, earthquakes and the anti-feudal demolitions of the Meiji Period. Matsue Castle is also called the “Black Castle” because of its darkly-colored austere exterior.
The entire castle complex was protected by a towering moat and surrounded by a manmade river which is now offered to tourists who wants a short cruise around the castle. The castle is also dotted with many food stalls and souvenir shops.
After a long walk from the castle, we proceeded to the Matsue History Museum to learn how to prepare an authentic matcha green tea and to taste wagashi – an authentic Japanese sweets.
Upon entering the tearoom, we met Mr. Tsugio Itami, a “Contemporary Master Craftsman” who is considered an expert in making original wagashi Japanese confectioneries.
While enjoying the wonderful view of a beautiful Japanese garden from the tea room, they also demonstrated how to make a hot matcha drink using the pure green tea powder.
After the tea break, we headed to Horai Kichijitsuan where we had our fantastic tempura lunch. Aside from tempura, assorted pickles and pink salmon, we also tried Izumo Soba, a type of Japanese noodle made from buckwheat. The outer shell of the grain is grinded together with the grain itself, making the noodles more flavorful, aromatic and nutritious compared to other types of soba in Japan.
Next is Adachi Museum of Art, a museum inside a beautiful garden. From the moment we entered the museum, a beautiful enchanting garden welcomed us. As we walked inside the museum, we were also entertained from simply looking at the beautiful photos of the garden during spring, autumn and winter.
While walking around the museum, we saw beautiful wooden and glass windows that perfectly showcased the different gardens surrounding the museum building. The white gravel, the ponds, beautiful rocks and the well-landscaped plants collectively provided a calm and relaxing ambiance. It was as if we were looking at a beautiful painting of a Japanese garden. The museum also has a souvenir shop and several tea and coffee shops all situated beside a Zen garden.
That was probably the highlight of our visit in Shimane. It was perhaps the most beautiful garden I’ve seen so far. No wonder the Journal of Japanese Gardening in the US ranked the gardens at number one for 13 consecutive years from 2003 to 2015.
Our final stop was at Daisen-ji Temple in Tottori Prefecture. Daisen is the perfect location for adventure seekers and for those who love to explore temples and shrines. During our visit, we walked uphill near the village center to reach the main entrance of Daisen-ji, a Buddhist temple also considered as a National Treasure of Japan.
Apart from the village center that is dotted by hostels, souvenir shops and restaurants, Daisen is also a popular winter destination because of a nearby skiing spot.
While walking around the village center, our tour guide Danny mentioned that he also lived in Angeles, Pampanga for a short period of time to learn English a couple of years ago. No wonder he speaks English very well.
After enjoying ice cream near the temple, we headed back to the parking area and proceeded back to Sakaiminato Port. As the ship leaves the port, a group of kids bade us farewell while performing with a marching band.
Day 6: Arrival in Busan Port in Korea
Due to busy schedule prior to my Japan departure, I was not able to secure a Korean Visa. And because the last port we were visiting is Busan, which is in Korea, I had no choice but to stay inside the cruise ship.
While the rest of the media group joined the Busan day tour, I pretty much enjoyed the entire day inside my cabin watching TV and updating my blog. It was also our last stop before we head back to Fukuoka for our flight to Manila so I took the opportunity to tour around the cruise ship since we never had time to do it due to busy schedule.
Most people think that cruising is just for luxury travelers. That’s what I thought too but things have changed. Cruising is still the most relaxing way to effortlessly explore multiple destinations in one go and, best of all, it is now affordable.
Joining the Costa Victoria North Asia Cruise is probably the best way to explore some parts of Japan if you want a convenient and seamless experience. While enjoying the amenities inside Costa Victoria, we were able to experience Fukuoka, Maizuru, Kanazawa, Sakaiminato and Busan, all in one go. We were able to explore each port and nearby tourist attractions every single day without worrying about transfers and accommodations.
Each port we visited allowed us to explore local shopping, enjoy local food and experience local culture by visiting historical and religious sites famous to the place. We also felt very welcome in each destination especially during disembarkation and embarkation where we usually get entertained by local performers.
As I end this article, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Travel People and Costa Cruises for inviting us. I really enjoyed the cruise!
Now I’m missing the relaxing sea breeze from the veranda of my cabin.
Watch Cora’s Vlog about our Tour in Matsue, Japan
Watch Cora’s Vlog about their Tour in Busan Korea
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