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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT OCEANIA AND THE ORIENT

This was a satisfying, and maybe even fabulous, trip through New Zealand and parts of the Orient.  However, a year and a half ago I completed My Ultimate Global Adventure, and here are further details if you want to follow up on that initial link.  Click on this latter site if you want details on why I show this Gold Koi as my one most eventful experience.

Then, in the Spring of this year I had My Ultimate Fantasy Adventure (MUFA 2014), which was not as elaborate, but still incredible.  I guess the highlight of this trip was my Crystal Symphony cruise from Tokyo to Honolulu:


My Fall Circle Pacific Adventure 2014 was very similar to MUFA 2014, both being about a month long, but in reverse.

What I learned most on this trip was a bit more about Japan:
  • My sense is that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will easily win re-election because there is no opposition.
  • It is like President Barack Obama calling a "snap election" for a new president, and there is no Republican Party.  It would be like Obama, or Hillary Clinton, running against  candidates from the Green, Libertarian and Constitution Parties.
  • There are 11 parties in the national Diet (same as Congress), and for Abe to gain a controlling majority, he needed to form a coalition with the fourth largest party, Komeito, which is a Buddhist organization.
  • Doesn't sound like it, but Abe's Liberal Democratic Party is conservative, just like the U.S. Republican Party.  The equivalent of Democrats in Japan is just about everybody else--except for the Communist Party--and is in almost total disarray.  
  • After Abe gains a mandate on December 14, he will:
    • continue to tick off the Chinese and Koreans, the latter, particularly over the Comfort Women issue (his administration has coerced the local newspapers to help him convince the nation and world that these sexual slaves mostly were camp followers and were paid, anyway)
    • increase military spending to better posture for those disputed island
    • continue to dance around the Fukushima nuclear debacle
    • do everything possible to get most of the 50 nuclear power stations to operate (only two are currently generating electricity)
    • further watch the Japanese economy sink in recession
  • By the time of the final 2% sales tax hike to 10% in April 17 he will be so unpopular he will call another election to kick  him out, if he lasts that long, and he won't, for  after topping 70% a year and a half ago, the latest poll shows his popularity at 44%.  Since 1994, there have been 13 Prime Ministers.  That's about 1.5 years/PM, so, actually, he is hanging in there quite well.
Well, so much for politics.  About my Fall Circle Pacific Adventure:

  • I spent nine days--or was that eight, because I lost a day crossing the International Dateline--on what could be the finest cruise ship there is, the Crystal Symphony.  Nothing much happened on board, except that I almost lost my life attempting to take my daily walk on the 7th deck track.  I also noticed early on that my blood pressure was abnormally high.  Could have been from too much alcohol or salt or both, so I cut back on both, spent an hour a day walking on deck and using the spa, and my pressure returned to almost normal.  As dismal as this all sounds, how can one not enjoy the Crystal Symphony.  My regular dinner companions were Myrna/Richard to the left and Joyce/David above, who are all from Honolulu.
  • I visited with Yu-chan (above) at the Osaka Aquarium.
  • Had a truly fabulous meal at Hajime's in Osaka.  Here I am with Chef Hajime.
  • My tonkatsu at Hamamatsu in Nagasaki was exceptional.
  • Everyone should visit the Peace Parks at Nagasaki and Hiroshima, especially in the Spring for the Cherry Blossoms and Fall for the change in colors.  Yet, and maybe not sufficiently appalling or horrific, are the symbolic remembrances.  Here at Hiroshima, now known at the Atomic Dome:
  • In Osaka, I also learned that Kinki University had closed the growth cycle of Blue Fin tuna, and had worked out a marketing program with Toyota.  Can you believe that Mitsubishi controls the world Blue Fin tuna market?  However, all tunas feed high on the trophic level, so what would be ideal is a fish that eats plankton, and the Whale Shark could well be the ideal future protein source for humanity.  While the following photo, from China, is difficult to stomach, that could be our future:

  • I'm not into visiting castles, but Nagoya (top) and Matsumoto Castles were certainly venerable, and the first to greet me as I walked up was Pearl's Gold Koi at the latter:
  • My final night in Japan I had a four course Shirako Fugu dinner:

You need to click on that Shirako Fugu  link to find out what are in that bowl.

I saw Mount Fuji a whole lot of times, including the morning of my final day in Tokyo:


Then later that day I visited Korakuen Garden for my first time.  Beautiful.


Not my greatest trip, but one my very best, considering that I'm headed for 3 million miles on Star Alliance.

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Well, this is boring, but, I guess still good...the Dow Jones Industrial Average again broke an all-time high, up 33 to 17,912.  I can't explain why.  I thought it would crash by now.

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Oh my gosh, out of nowhere pops up Super Typhoon Hagupit at 180 MPH, and the expectation is that the strength will largely be maintained as the track seems to head straight for MANILA by early Saturday morning:



Here we are in December, and we have the strongest typhoon of the year!  Global warming?

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