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Old 18-08-2022, 03:08   #1
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Why Not Japan?

I just saw the Amakusa islands on the Japanese channel while relaxing at my hotel.

Why on Earth are we not cruising here? It’s beautiful. I’ve never heard of anyone here cruising to Japan or even dreaming about it.

I think I recall one single guy somewhere in Japan on one of the forums once.

I’m curious why such a beautiful cruising ground seems to be ignored in our community.
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Old 18-08-2022, 04:08   #2
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Re: Why Not Japan?

Chotu,
I know a few people who have cruised Japan, mostly on the way to Alaska from N.Z. Yes, it is very beautiful and the Japanese are very hospitable. Lots of bullet-proof fishing harbours, but not a lot of typical pleasure boat marinas.
IMHO, the reason its not cruised much is a) not easy to get there (you have to cross different weather zones) and far away from the "milk run" tropical route most cruisers take across the Pacific. b) Its not tropical and most cruisers have a fetish for the tropics. c) Tricky navigation, lots of summer fog, heaps of shipping in the Inland Sea. d) You are pretty much on your own up there, not likely to run into other cruisers. e) Once you are there, it is a long hard slog to get to Alaska or the USA (or do you just turn around and head back South?)


I had friends who were teaching English in Fukuoka and living on their yacht in a fishing harbour. Some Japanese guys on a big motor launch in the berth opposite almost hit them backing out one weekend. My friends freaked out and shouted curses at them. The local fishermen freaked out after the motor boat guys left; turns out these guys were Yakuza (Japanese mafia guys who cut off their own little fingers as an initiation ritual). The locals figured my friends were dead meat. Nothing happened for a week, then a big black limo pulled up, a guy in a suit got out, came to their boat and said "the boss wants to talk to you". The big boss spoke no English, but his henchman translated for my friends. Basically he said that nobody had ever had the nerve to yell at him, and he was so impressed that he wanted to take them out to diner! They got taken to a super exclusive sushi place and had a great time.

Yeah, by all means do the Japan run.
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Old 18-08-2022, 04:09   #3
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Re: Why Not Japan?

In Aust we have the Melbourne,capital of the southern state of Victoria to Osaka in Japan,most competors cruise after the race ,some sell there boats outher s cruise back to Oz .⛵️⚓️
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Old 18-08-2022, 04:34   #4
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Re: Why Not Japan?

I think that you could have a really nice cruise up (and back) the coast of Viet Nam and China to spend some time in Japan but VN only has one short section of coast open to pleasure boats and in China you can only go from one marina to the next at a cost of a few thousand dollars each time - not for the marina fees but for administrative costs - you are treated like a ship and have pilotage fees et al.
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Old 18-08-2022, 07:01   #5
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Re: Why Not Japan?

Iíve sailed in Japan on a vessel owned and sailed by Japanese sailors. They would love to have more cruisers visit. If you need help with the complexities of cruising in Japan, get in touch with any yacht club as they will gladly help.
The port authorities have mountains of paperwork to process but every Merchant Mariner I have spoken with has the same feeling...the authorities do everything they can to be good natured about it and helpful. Being polite is socially necessary. You need a lot of patience because consensus is required within their group. All the authorities must agree on everything and processing a visiting sailing vessel is not an everyday occurrence. One of the most shocking things is paying for things. You are a guest and Japanese sailors will pick up the tab before you finish your drink. Donít be surprised to see people waiting for you to awake in the morning as they hold breakfast gifts quietly on the dock.
Itís still yachting in Japan.
One of the most beautiful places to sail in the world.
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Old 18-08-2022, 09:22   #6
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Re: Why Not Japan?

Its near the very top of my list after Hawaii when i finally head west across the pacific.
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Old 18-08-2022, 10:07   #7
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Re: Why Not Japan?

It's Done.

Example:

The Fuji Yachts Web Site

The Fuji Yachts Web Site
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Old 18-08-2022, 10:42   #8
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Re: Why Not Japan?

Keeping in mind that Mindanao and the southern Philippines has a lot of unrest. The waters around Taiwan are politically sensitive, as is the South China Sea.

You'll either beat your way all the way back south, or take the return route through northern latitudes and potentially rough seas back to the US.

I've heard it's amazing.
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Old 18-08-2022, 10:43   #9
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Re: Why Not Japan?

A significant reason Japan is not more popular with cruisers is that the northwest Pacific is a difficult place to get home from. Weather windows for passages away from Japan are short, passages are long, and tropical storm timing can be challenging.

Nothing impossible, mind you, just tough.

If you look at the best timing for routes TO Japan, and then FROM Japan, you will find your stay there is either very short (weeks) or you stay the year.
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Old 18-08-2022, 14:22   #10
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Re: Why Not Japan?

I have not sailed to Japan but from what I see it is really amazing. Iím looking forward to it.
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Old 18-08-2022, 15:11   #11
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Re: Why Not Japan?

Typhoons, Chotu!

We've friends (the builder, PO, of our boat and his family), who have done the Australia, Japan, Alaska, North America to Mexico route twice, and through the Canal once. Loved it, made lasting friends.

If nature is your thing, the Japanese islands have monkeys whom biologists observed transmit knowledge from generation to generation, which was a big deal in the study of "animal intelligence" . A monkey decided to wash a potato. She liked it better washed. She taught her babies to wash potatoes by example, and they in turn taught theirs. Monkeys, like dogs also learn from the example set by others. Not a big surprise in the scheme of things, but kind of fun.

We were also friends of the couple nuku 34 mentioned above. Times have changed since then, and I wouldn't count on the Yakuza treating me to dinner, if I dissed them! Still, everyone we know who visited there liked it. The trip to AK from Japan is quite windy, and should be done in spring, while it is still cold and there are risks of Arctic storms, so it is not everyone's cup of tea.

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Old 19-08-2022, 03:34   #12
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Re: Why Not Japan?

Check out https://www.konpira-consulting.com/. Kirk Patterson is based in Fukuoka and is an ex-cruiser. We are looking at spending a year there as a few weeks just seems silly when we eventually head north.

Japan is difficult due to language and hyper-developed seashores - very few areas to anchor out or moor. Hence the value of using an agent to help.
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Old 19-08-2022, 04:43   #13
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Re: Why Not Japan?

Any route suggestions for sailing from Australia to Japan? Maybe a Cairns or Darwin start point.

This us on our list. With a Japanese admiral aboard the whole language barrier thing is no issue.

We have travelled Japan quite a bit together. Always drawn to coastal areas and coastal islands.

My observation is lots of small fishing ports dot the coasts. Lot of rocky shores generally and anchoring might be a problem. If you could get access to the ports though that would be good. Lots and lots of aquaculture - nets etc. Don't know how well that is charted.

Spectacular coasts though.

Key would be not causing any problems for the fisherman in the ports but my experience with Japan is that generally they are very hospitable and welcome visitors. Being polite counts.

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Old 29-08-2022, 12:35   #14
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Re: Why Not Japan?

Iíve often wondered the same thing, and it goes for South Korea also. Jeju is amazing and I would love to see it from a sailboat.
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Old 29-08-2022, 13:11   #15
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Re: Why Not Japan?

Hal and Margaret Roth cruised Japan and included their experience in their book Two on a Big Ocean. I believe this took place in the late 60’s. All of his books are excellent reads.
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