23 May 2023

2023 Japan Adventure - Part 6: Departing from Kagoshima

Welcome to the sixth installment of my Japan Adventure log! In the previous post, I recounted my experience going out on my very first shore excursion (anywhere, ever). This time, I'll share my activities in the latter half of that same day, after returning to our cruise ship. In the future, I want to visit Kagoshima again, and do some free-style exploring. Since we were new to cruising, we didn't feel comfortable just leaving the ship to do whatever yet. Kagoshima, and our next stop Nagasaki, were the only ports where we didn't spend any time exploring on our own. I'll make up for that someday!

Friday 🍀 17 March 2023 ☘️ - Departing from Kagoshima

One of the first things I noticed when I entered the ship was the answer to a question I had all along: Will they celebrate St. Patrick's Day on this cruise?

I haven't included many photos so far of souvenirs I purchased, but this is a special one I really want to share: a Yakushima cedar teacup! It was for sale in the cruise terminal as we headed back to the ship. I was proud to be able to explain to the seller that I had really wanted something Yakushima cedar because it's the favorite thing of my favorite character, All Might!

After this, our first visit, it became our regular habit to have a snack or dessert at the Arts Café 🫖

The clouds came in and obscured the volcano in the afternoon, making it lucky that we got a clear view of Sakurajima on the observation excursion!

As the ship readied for departure, we were pleasantly surprised when the people of Kagoshima treated us to a farewell performance of energetic traditional Japanese music 🎶🥰🎵

Everyone was dancing, singing, and playing so whole-heartedly for us, I actually felt really sad to be leaving 🥲💕

Goodbye, Kagoshima! We'll return someday!

It was incredibly peaceful after we left the high energy of the farewell performance behind~

Sean looking dapper at dinner ✨

This was our first time eating at Indochine. It became my favorite restaurant on board, because it had the best (of the ridiculously few) vegan options.

Saffron rice and hot & sour soup! They were both sooo yummy! This was one of the few times I felt really satisfied with the regular menu food on the Silver Muse.

Next stop, Nagasaki!

It was my wish to drink green beer on St. Patty's this year; they didn't have any but we made do with some green mixed drinks ☘️ Sláinte!

So ended our first port day on board the Silver Muse 🛳️ Next time I'll share our visit to Nagasaki, including an excursion to Arita, a town famous for its pottery. I lost my mind over a cake plate 🤩 More about that in my next entry 😉 Please look forward to it!

17 May 2023

2023 Japan Adventure - Part 5: Arriving in Kagoshima

Welcome to another entry in my Japan Adventure series! Here begins my two-part account of our first port, Kagoshima (if you don't count Osaka, where we boarded the Silver Muse in the first place). Today's post will cover morning to noon (almost to the minute 😯), including arriving at the port and heading out on our first excursion. The latter involved a ferry ride, a hot spring foot bath, and a visit to the Sakurajima volcano observatory! Retrospectively, this was one of the best days I spent in Japan on this trip, in terms of the weather. It was nice and cloudy all day, so I didn't have to worry about sun protection, and all my photos were perfectly lit by the diffuse lighting offered by the clouds 🥰

To read the previous entry in this series, click here.

Friday 17 March 2023 - Arriving in Kagoshima

This was the first and, I think, only time I saw an algal bloom on the sea! Fascinating!

Selfie with Kagoshima prefecture!

I didn't know at the time, but this is the most active volcano in Japan, Sakurajima!

Pulling into the port, I noticed some hubbub on the corner...

...it turned out to be a welcome party, waving flags from many nations, shouting loud and clear
「いらっしゃい!!」 "Welcome!!"

I love this shot; the ship carrying us, the people welcoming us, and the volcano watching over us ❤️

I shouted a return greeting, in Japanese, to the person in the red shirt while I was still on the ship. She seemed to remember me when I walked through the cruise terminal, because she switched from English to Japanese when she welcomed me through 🥰

This being my first cruise ever, I didn't realize ports had terminals specifically for cruise ships!

Me and my husband, Sean, waiting for our turn to board the tour busses in front of our ship.

All the tour busses were really nice! This was the start of our first shore excursion.

During my first ever ride on a ferry, to get to Sakurajima, I took some pictures of the volcano. I was inwardly pleased when others saw what I was doing and got out of their vehicles to take their own pictures 😊

Our first stop was the hot spring foot bath! It was situated in a beautiful park~

One of our fellow passengers kindly offered to take a photo of me using the relaxing foot bath.

It was dreamy soaking my feet in hot mineral water while watching these birds soaring overhead ✨

The next stop on our excursion was the Arimura Lava Observation Deck!

There was a small shop at the entrance selling souvenirs and food made from a regional specialty citrus fruit called kinkan (spherical kumquats). We got some sweet, delicious kinkan juice to start!

Along the observation deck walking path, there were many marked groupings of pyroclasts like this.

And in those pyroclasts, people had taken up depositing coins, like a volcanic wishing well!
We added to the collection while we were there 😁

Me showing off Sakurajima! This was the best view from this observatory 🌋

Before boarding the bus to go back to the ship, we purchased a bag of fresh kinkan! We snacked on these delicious treats throughout the remainder of our vacation 🍊✨

After this, we returned to the Silver Muse and spent the rest of the day aboard the ship. I'll share about that in my next post! Please look forward to it!

11 May 2023

2023 Japan Adventure - Part 4: First Day at Sea

Welcome to the fourth entry in my 2023 Japan adventure photo log! Click here to go back to part three. Today's topic won't take much time to cover, because we were at sea the entire day during this part of the trip. I hope you'll still enjoy these images and the story they tell about our journey from Osaka to Kagoshima 😊

Thursday 16 March 2023 - First Day at Sea

Another unexpected habit I got into, starting this day, was taking a photo of the sea every morning 🌊
My first breakfast on board! Cold cereal is my FAVORITE and they had plant milk for me to enjoy it with 😄 I also had cream of wheat, hashbrowns, and baked beans~
We were seated in the most gorgeous spot for breakfast~ The couple next to us was very easy to talk to, so we had great company, as well. If I remember correctly, their son teaches art history at a university!
I normally avoid the sun at all costs, but it was so dreamy on our veranda I couldn't help spending some time soaking up the rays and the view 😌
I truly fell in love with the ocean on this trip. There are many reasons why, but for one, it is astoundingly beautiful!
The cabin service people put a cap on our leftover bubbly so I was able to drink it slowly over a course of days, rather than feeling forced to drink it all at once (especially after my previous night of overindulgence!) or else let it go to waste. I'm pretty proud of this photo showing it off 😆
This is another framed tapestry that caught my eye in one of the ship stairwells. It was several feet tall!
We explored more of the Silver Muse this day, including taking a look from the observation deck.
Me and Sean on the observation deck! It was technically called the Observation Library and it did indeed have many books and plentiful seating in which to read if one wished!
The biggest event of the day was getting a massage! It was so nice being gently rocked by the sea while being worked on by a massage therapist 🌊💆‍♀️✨ The only downside was being pushed to buy spa products afterwards; it ruined the relaxing vibes!
At the end of each day on the cruise, we received the next day's "Daily Chronicles" and chocolates! The Chronicles included useful information about shipboard activities, excursions, the upcoming port, the weather, etc. I kept them all for my scrapbook 📑✨

That's all for today! Told you it would be short 😉 Next time I'll share our adventures in Kagoshima, including visits to a hot spring foot bath, a volcano observatory, and my first ride on a ferry! Please look forward to it!

10 May 2023

2023 Japan Adventure - Part 3: Boarding the Silver Muse

Welcome to part three of my Japan adventure chronicles! In part two, I shared my very first day in Osaka (not just the first day for this trip, but my first time setting foot there ever!) which mostly consisted of exploration of the immediate area surrounding our hotel. We were passing the time until boarding of our cruise ship, the Silver Muse, was scheduled to begin. Today, I'll share photos of my boarding experience (another first; I had never been on a ship of any kind before!) and my first impressions being on the ship!

Wednesday 15 March 2023 - Boarding the Silver Muse

We were shuttled from the hotel to the boarding location via tour bus. The wait for our group number to be called was longer than the ride itself.
First clear view of the Silver Muse!
We were thrilled to discover that we had been upgraded from the cheapest and smallest suite (all the cabins are suites on this ship) to the top of the mid-range options! The bathroom included everything you see here plus a separate shower and bathtub, with luxury Bulgari toiletries. The only negative was how disturbingly loud the flush on the toilet was. I have no idea if that's just a thing on cruise ships or what 🤔

Here are the sleeping and sitting areas of our Deluxe Veranda Suite. The black cases on the bed were luxury sanitation kits that included a pack of face masks, hand sanitizer, antimicrobial wipes, and hand lotion ❤️
Both of the gigantic mirrors in the sleeping/sitting areas had smart TVs inside! We received notifications, messages, and news about the cruise on it, and could watch live video feeds from a couple different locations on the ship, among other things.
Drinks were included in our cruise fare, and they provided a bottle of sparkling wine in our room to kick everything off 🍾 I do wish marking ourselves as teetotalers was an option, though. I like the flavor but not the alcohol, and my husband, Sean, doesn't drink at all.
The fantastic view of the Osaka Cruise Terminal from our ✨~veranda~✨ 😄 We were expecting to have nothing more than a picture window (that is, a window that gives a great view but doesn't open) when we booked, so being upgraded to this suite was dreamy for the veranda alone!
カンパイ!or Cheers! 🥂 I popped open the bubbly, and Sean had Sprite 😄
We explored the ship after getting settled in our room. It was full of interesting and unusual art! This is an example of some glass work.
Here is an example of avant-garde sculpture.
A framed tapestry; these were my favorite.
Non-representational painting. I loved the colors and textures of this one.
Me and the great wheel at night! My only regret is not getting to ride on it!
Our first dinner on board was at Kaiseki, a Japanese style restaurant. They kept the drinks flowing much too liberally, especially the delicious sake! I enjoyed it at the time but I don't want to drink like that again 😅
The atmosphere and food presentation was excellent in this tiny restaurant, but I have to admit, their vegan "options" were very limited. Still, we had a good time, enjoying our first evening on board any ship ever!
Although I don't have any memory of departing from the port, because I drank WAY too much, my hangover woke me up at three-in-the-morning and I got to enjoy a dreamy vision of the moon shining through the clouds and lighting up the sea 🌘💕

So ended our first day in Osaka, our first day on the Silver Muse, and our first night on the cruise. I'll be back soon with part 4 of my adventure, which was a full day at sea, heading towards Kagoshima. Please look forward to it!