Bus tour with Luxury Travel Japan
Hi everyone, how are you all doing? December is upon us. In Japan’s lunar calendar, December is called Shiwasu, which means that it is a busy month for monks to run around attending to Buddhist affairs. I imagine everyone will be busy towards the end of the year this December, but please take care of yourself and stay healthy.
Great news regarding vaccine development has been flowing recently, notably Pfizer and Moderna in the United States. It seems that Pfizer will be able to prepare about 50 million vaccines this year, and 1.3 billion vaccines next year, Moderna will produce about 20 million vaccines this year, and 500 to 1 billion vaccines next year. The cost of Moderna’s vaccine is expected to be about $20/dose. If realized as planned, this would indeed by amazing news! Very, very good news for people all over the world.
By the way, in Japan, there is an ongoing travel campaign for Japanese residents that seeks to optimally balance the goals of preventing infection and boosting economic activity, and tourist destinations have accordingly been regaining their bustle as of late. However, since few people are interested in bus trips, the fortunes of bus companies have been seriously deteriorating. The other day (November 6th), the travel industry association ANTA, of which I am a member, operated a day trip bus training to Chiba prefecture in the midst of all the Corona happenings. I decided to hop on.
The location of Chiba prefecture is indicated by the red circle on the map above. Chiba is located on the Boso Peninsula and surrounded by the sea, so the fishing industry is thriving. In addition, there are many famous surfing spots, beaches, hot spring inns, hotels, golf courses, the Tokyo Disney Resort, and also Narita Airport, which you all must know or have heard about. The prefecture is, among other things, well known for its leisure industry.
The main point of this bus training trip was to experience a bus tour during Corona times by one’s self, and to observe the way of riding buses and the infection prevention measures taken at the various stops during these times. I left Tokyo from Shinjuku at 8 am. The photo above is from the bus window in the office district of Shinjuku. This was a weekday, but since it was before the time most arrive at their offices, the pedestrian traffic was sparse.
First of all, everyone donned masks before boarding, and the tour operator measured the guests’ temperatures and disinfected their hands. According to the tour operator, all the places in the vehicle that passengers might touch, such as seat belts, air conditioning vents, and window opening / closing knobs, are disinfected. It is difficult for the tour conductors to take on more work, but they know they must do their best to provide for a fun trip while preventing corona infection.
The photo above explains the ventilation system in a large tour bus. These buses have excellent ventilation, and there is a mechanism that takes in the air outside the vehicle from the front and discharges it outside to the rear of the vehicle, allowing the air inside to be completely replaced in about 5 minutes. In other words, fresh outside air is always pumped into the bus.
In Chiba, we visited the Kamogawa Grand Hotel at Kamogawa Onsen in Minamiboso and experienced saury catching at the market.
The uppermost photo shows the restaurant on the top floor of Kamogawa Grand Hotel, followed by the open-air hot spring on the first floor. There was a wonderful view of the blue sky and the sea beyond.
The photo above is a saury grabbing experience at the open market. Whole saury are in the ice water, and you may take as much as you can using just one hand. I was asked to bring back souvenirs, so I did my best! (hahah) How many do you think I was able to grab?
The correct answer is 7 fish! I had earlier been given tips on how to grab so many.
Here’s how to eat saury very deliciously: 1. Sprinkle with salt and leave for about ten minutes before baking. 2. Rinse and sprinkle with salt again to bake. This simple procedure is all it takes to make the saury super delicious!
By the way, saury is written in Japanese characters as “autumn-sword-fish”, which means fish of the autumn season. This day was November 6th, so it was barely in season, but it was fresh and fatty plump, making it oh so delicious.
The last stop is the Umi Hotaru highway rest area. It is here where, in the middle of Tokyo Bay, a bridge goes underwater into a tunnel along the 14-kilometer highway called the Tokyo Bay Aqua Line. The highway connects Tokyo and the Boso Peninsula in Chiba. Can you see the bridge in the second picture? The tunnel portion of this highway is actually notably longer than the bridge portion. Why is it structured like this? The reason is that many huge ships are sailing in and out of Tokyo Bay, so if they made the entire length a series of bridges, they’d have to be high enough to allow the huge ships to pass through. This would be very pricey, and rather impractical. The reason why they didn’t make the length all tunnels is that tunnels are much more expensive than bridges. Conundrum solved!
The light of the coming sunset is very pretty from the Umi Hotaru lookout.
The next newsletter will be on January 1st, after Christmas, so it’s a little early, but I would like to wish everyone a nice Christmas. And I pray that next year will be a good one.