Saturday, November 29, 2008
day 332 - Shimoda
Beautiful weather. Thankfully there were no tsunamis we had to be careful to. (To which we had to be careful? Nani-nani...)
So anyway, we've just been on our final Big Holiday in Japan. We weren't online for a week or so, so these next few posts are retrospective.
Our first port-of-call was the beautiful city of Shimoda on the Izu Peninsula.
It also happens to play an important part in Japanese modern history, since it was here that US Naval Commander Perry arrived in the early 1850s with his fleet of steam-powered Black Ships and "suggested" that Japan might want to open up its ports for international trading. (Coincidentally there were also huge forests of oaks in the region which would make excellent charcoal for steam engines.)
It was good timing, as the major nations of the day had technologically by-passed Japan which was stuck in its own form of feudalism. The Meiji Restoration that followed was probably the antecedent to Japan's current strong economy and relatively affluent and stable society.
We went on a cruise around Shimoda Harbour on a diesel replica of the main Black Ship complete with dummy rotating paddle-wheel.
Perry and the US are celebrated widely here. The canal and street bear his name, and the whole incident has been absorbed into the Japan narrative.
Looking back at the modern resorts and the mini-torii - it's not Miyajima, but it's cute...