Ogasawara Maru

The captain and crew shut the door of the Ogasawara Maru

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船長と他の制服を着た乗務員が小笠原丸のドアを閉めます。今回で、小笠原の写真ツアーは終わりです。また今度、もう一度、小笠原丸に乗りたいです。

I thought there’s no better end to this travelogue about Ogasawara than this photo of the captain and crew getting ready to shut the door to the ship prior to departure.

Strange Tokyo Bay view of working ships

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東京湾の中で、ひき船とクレーンは海の商業のしるしです。

There’s something very unknown and exciting in seeing working vessels in a modern harbor. Returning to Tokyo, in the foreground is the Ogasawara Maru’s light fixture. In the center of the frame a tugboat pulls a barge with a giant crane. The vista is wide open, and the sea moving at its own pace.

Elaborate send-off ceremony on ferry’s departure

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小笠原から船が出るときに、儀式があります。陸上では、はっぴを着ている人が太鼓を演奏します。港では、小さな船がたくさんついてきて、さよならのあいさつとして、皆一緒に海に飛び込みます。

When leaving Ogasawara, there is an elaborate send-off. Men, women and children in Shinto happi jackets pound drums and ask for a safe voyage. A flotilla, including kayaks, fishing and diving boats, follows the ship through the harbor. And as the boat nears the edge of the open sea, in a scene that all the regulars seem familiar with, people in the small boats dive and jump into the sea in showy unison.

Truly, this is the most jolly transit send-off I could imagine.

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Uncoupling the containers signals that we’re getting close to port

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次の日の朝10時ごろ、運送用コンテナを止めていたワイヤーがはずされました。やっと、港が近いと分かりました。

It’s about 10 am, about 24 hours into the boat trip, when I notice this worker uncoupling the containers. We must be arriving in port soon. Behind the worker and the containers, that’s a lot of ocean!

Cargo is loaded prior to departure

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おがさわら丸は貨物をたくさん運びます。巨大な歯車を操作しているおじさんの仕事は正確です。

I love how the passengers share the Ogasawara Maru with a large load of cargo packed in containers. These giant gears operated by a senior citizen control such exact placement.

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Escape by boat to nature sanctuary on the very far side of Tokyo

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最近、東京から離れることを考えていました。3月に、小笠原の父島に旅行しました。交通は船だけで、25時間かかります。小笠原丸のデザインが好きです。逞しくて、効率的で、簡素です。

April 1 is the start of the business and school years in Japan. Recently my thoughts have turned to escaping the city, which I recently accomplished. What better than a long sea voyage to the remote island of Chichijima? Sub-tropical and isolated from continental evolution, Chichijima is part of the Ogasawara islands one thousand kilometers south of Tokyo. Administratively, they are part of Tokyo. Yet a far side of Tokyo removed from ordinary urban life.

Of the two options, we chose the 25 hour ferry boat from Hamamatsucho over the mega-cruise ship out of Yokohama. Given the amount of time in transit, the boat itself is a major element of visiting the islands. This large ship called Ogasawara Maru carries up to a thousand people as well as all supplies, cars, and even livestock for the few thousand inhabitants of this island group.

The design evokes Japanese efficiency and optimism of the 1980s, sturdy, reliable, with few frills and no luxuries. I love the dolphin artwork, and brass rails. Unfortunately, because of the weather and conditions, the captain’s tour was canceled on both directions.

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