Kat Petron: A Guest’s View of Japan

Kat Petron: A Guest’s View of Japan

Sharry’s Note: We first met Kat and James Petron when we arrived at Waikiki Yacht Club on our voyage to Japan. Kat was the Port Captain for WYC and James is a 1600 ton tug captain for K Sea Towing, moving fuel barges around Hawaii. Kat runs a business managing and renting vacation properties in Honolulu. If you are interested in renting a place for a day or for a month contact her at:Hawaii Vacation Properties LLC

Sales, Property Management and Vacation Rentals


Kathaleen Petron, Principal Broker

Kat and James in Kanoehe Bay

James tug, Naupaka

Kat Petron: A Guest’s View of Japan

23 September 2010

Ashiya, Japan

We have had the most incredible time aboard STARR with our gracious hosts, Don and Sharry.

When we were invited to do some cruising (or gunk holing as James and Don call it) on the Inland Sea of Japan, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I have been keeping up with Sharry’s blogs but it is of course much more significant when you can take in the experience yourself. I know Sharry will provide a wonderful account of all the places we visited and the history behind it, as she is such an ardent researcher who is constantly checking maps, guide books, visitor brochures and the internet for the history and accurate information of places she visits.

We arrived in Ashiya, Japan late on the 14th of September, and were so happy to see our good friends Don and Sharry and the famous MV Starr. By the way, we all met in Honolulu when Don and Sharry arrived at the Waikiki Yacht Club last September on the way to Japan. Starr is famous because this boat is quite a showstopper everywhere we went in Hawaii and Japan, and a great introduction to conversation with the Japanese people.

Sept 15, 16, 17, Shodoshima

After a good night’s sleep, we departed the Bellport Marina at 0800 and headed to the Seto Nakai ( Inland Sea), first stop, the little island of Shodoshima. This was a great place to escape the world. Couldn’t even get internet in the little cove that we anchored in, which was a great way to start a long overdue vacation. We all relaxed then took the shore boat to town and walked around the neighborhoods. There were quaint, darling little houses with little gardens and little people tending to them. Oh, I will be saying little a lot because everything in Japan seems little. Little shops, little people, little cars, little furniture, little, little…..get it?

Besides being at anchor and the peacefulness of it all, I think the highlight of Shodoshima for me was meeting Eiko Uenishi. A lovely lady who we literally met on the street and ended up in her home for tea! She was curious about us and we were curious about her and of course we accepted her very kind offer visiting her home and joining her for tea. We brought some little sweets from the little neighborhood bakery and off we went. She prepared what she called an “informal tea” , but I thought it was very formal for what I am used to. We stick a tea bag in a cup and call it good. Not in Japan. Tea is special and sharing tea is like breaking bread. Eiko was proud in a humble way to share her culture with us, and I felt so honored that she was giving us an inside tour of the real Japan.

Starr in Shodo shima

Eiko Uenishi preparing tea

Sept 18 – Takamatsu on the Island of Shikoku

We arrived at Takamatsu around 1000. We were greeted by the harbor master, tied up on the wall, got on our street clothes and headed for Udon! Noodles are one of the main staples in Japanese cuisine. Udon, Soba, Ramen, Somen. Cold, hot doesn’t matter. The Japanese wait in long lines to eat at their favorite noodle shop. Luckily we got right in, but you must eat fast and then leave. No leisure time at the counter when people are waiting to come in.

Udon in Takamatsu

The Udon Chef

Enjoying our udon

After lunch, a train ride (approx 1 hour on the “fast train”) to Kotohira, and a long, steep climb up to the Konpira Shrine, which honors the spiritual guardian of seafarers. Very fitting since we are a group of seafarers! It is supposed to have been founded during the first century. This is a darling little town with little bridges and shops. Also the shrine was easy to get to, just follow the Japanese as many of them bring walking sticks for the pilgrimage to the Shrine. Located halfway to the top of Mount Zozu, the shrine stands at the end of a long path, with 785 steps to the main shrine and a total of 1,368 steps to the inner shrine. Hundreds of little shops line both sides of the walking path all the way up to the shrine. We climbed every step and took in the magnificent view from the top. It was a great experience being in the middle of hundreds of Japanese that were also taking in the beauty and enjoying the day with their families.

Kat and James in front of the Main Gate of Konpira san

A palanquin ride to the top

The Shrine for Seafarers

A Prayer for Safety at Sea

Our Seaboys are now covered for another 10,000nm

Sept 19 – Onomichi on the Island of Honshu

We arrived at Onomichi in the afternoon. This is a serious industrial port that has shipyard cranes galore. We took a tour of the port in the shore boat; and James being a tug and barge kinda guy, was in heaven looking at all the shipyard stuff and machinery. Onomichi is proud of their cranes as they are lit up at night which creates a very colorful skyline. It was very interesting watching the Ferries working back and forth in the channel all day and night.

An Onomichi ferry boat

Shipyard cranes

After our port tour we headed to town. And what a town it is! Onomichi has great restaurants all along the waterfront and a shopping arcade which runs along the waterfront just inland a couple of blocks. Talk about shops. Wow, shop after shop: sweet shops, sushi shops, pottery shops, tea and coffee shops etc. etc. Of course window-shopping is one of my favorite things to do, and a good way to get to know the culture. We stumbled across a lovely Japanese fusion restaurant and had a gorgeous meal. The food looked like art. Every dish is distinctively created to be appealing to all the senses. The service in Japan is the best, bar none. No matter if it is a noodle shop or a fine dining experience, their constant attention to detail and desire to please their customers is exceptional.

The restaurant

Beautiful Food

More Beautiful Food

Beautiful Sake

The next day we took the gondola ride to the top of the hill to Senkoji Park. The gondolas are called ropeways in Japan, which makes perfect sense. The park at the top of the hill is full of Temples, The Onomichi City Museum of Art, and an Observation Platform to take in the view of Onomichi. It is a very picturesque city especially from the top. We walked all over and then hiked down the somewhat steep hill. After the hike to the Konpira Shrine, I was sure glad we took the ropeway to the top and walked down

The Ropeway

View of Onomichi

The Navy Castle

Sept 21 – Shiraishi Island

We arrived in the morning and were greeted by someone in a ponga (a skiff with outboard) before the entranceway of the tiny little port. Don and James were on day 2 of cleaning the barnacles off the bottom of Starr, so they took advantage of the clean water here to finish the job. The afternoon was pretty hot so we all opted to stay inside Starr’s AC cooled cabin. Some friends of Don and Sharry, Paul and Amy, came over for dinner. We enjoyed our ritual evening cocktail on the flying bridge, and then had a lovely dinner prepared by Sharry. Sometimes it is easy to forget that you are on a boat when you are on Starr. Six people fit comfortably at the dining table and the galley is pleasurable to work in. Even if you are doing the dishes! We really enjoyed the evening talking to this American/ Australian couple, who met in Japan and have lived here close to 20 years. Their insight of their life on this small island made for quite interesting conversation.

Entrance to the small harbor

Our Panga Pilot

Amy Chavez

Paul and James

Sept 22 – Underway from Shraishi to Ashiya.

We departed Shraishi 0800 and arrived in Ashiya at 2000. Our longest leg this entire trip. But being underway is just as much fun as touring these neat little ports, towns, cities and villages. What is the saying?…. It is not the destination; it is the journey. Well that definitely is true in this case. Cruising the Inland sea of Japan is just as fun as sightseeing on the land. It is also a very special experience. Cruising by island after island, passing the many different coastal freighters and boats, sailing under the many architecturally beautiful bridges, is a cruiser’s paradise. Also, I must mention the weather. While it was very warm, there was no wind and no sea swell, which created a perfect calm for running boats. Mahalo Don and Sharry for sharing this time and experience with us. We appreciate your hospitality and we have many wonderful memories to take home with us.

As the Japanese like to say when something is totally AMAZING………………“Sugoi!”

Sayounara and Aloha, Kat and Jim Petron – Honolulu, Hawaii

One of the beautiful bridges of Japan

A small fishing boat

Kat on the bow

  • Roy & Anne Puffett
    Posted at 16:21h, 06 June Reply

    Don and Sharry, you guys have done a great job with the Starr.

  • yuki
    Posted at 23:17h, 16 August Reply

    nice info. experience that you share this blog is very cool. I wait for other interesting information.

  • ogitu
    Posted at 23:10h, 26 October Reply

    amazing japanese tour

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