Welcome to our blog

Welcome to our blog. During the coming year we travel (backpack) around the world and will try to regularly post some updates on our whereabouts on this page.

Donnerstag, 23. September 2010

Taiji, 24 September

When we arrived at Taiji Bay with the Sea Shepherd crew this morning at 0630 hrs, the sea was rough. That was a good sign for the dolphins.
Driving on to Taiji town, we quickly saw that the dolphin chasing fleet was still in the harbour.
The fishermen could not go out. That was great.

It is 1400 hrs now, the weather is nasty. Lots of rain and wind. Not something we would usually like too much, but today it feels like a wonderful gift!!

The dolphins can move on in peace. Tomorrow it is another day. Hopefully a rainy, windy day!

Come visit Taiji if you can.

Pictures Taiji 23 September 2010

Here are the pictures that go with the Bloody Taiji blog:

Approx 30 fishermen and dolphin trainers are waiting for their boats, it is 05.15 hrs in the morning. Boats with further staff are coming to pick them up.

Nets closing The Cove. Selection process is going on at the far right sight, behind the net. That is the entrance.

Most likely 2 dolphins are attached to each boat leaving the bay. That would make it
16 SELECTED DOLPHINS for the day, rather than the reported 8 we have seen. A fin can be seen in the sling.

The beach of Taiji. Walking onto the path starting at the orange fence in the back of the picture is not allowed. It would give a perfect view into The Cove...

Mittwoch, 22. September 2010

Bloody Taiji, Japan

Today we sit at the edge of the bay, in the town of Taiji, Japan.
When we got here, we recognized the place right away – it is the scene of the movie ‘The Cove’.

The 2010 dolphin hunting season started 3 weeks ago.

It is 05.30 in the morning on the 23rd of September. 4 Motorboats loaded with at least 40 or 50 Japanese people just went up to the dolphins, which are swimming around in the bay. Japanese fisherman caught them yesterday.
They entered the bay around 07.00 hrs on the 22nd.

Policemen are guarding the shore area.
It gives us a save feeling. Scott West of the organization “Sea Shephards” and his daughter Elora are here since a week and suggested we hang out with them. Which is great.

The dolphin migration season started. 13 boats, mainly those making ‘the right sound’ lead the animals away from their migration route, into Taiji. A cultural thing, the Japanese say, a 400 year old tradition. Fishermen have always gone out, caught the dolphins and killed them all in The Cove. Dolphins are the enemy and eat ‘their’ fish they say.

Around 20 bottlenose dolphins are swimming around in the bay today. You hear them breathing and flapping with their tails. The bay is divided in 3 areas, the dolphins are tired, maybe stressed, and hungry. They have been here for at least 24 hours.

We see the lightning over the rocks, there are some clouds, the weather is still fine though.

05.46, the net closest to the bay has been moved towards ‘The Cove’, the dolphins are chased into the, from the shore, invisible area. The net is fixed to both sides of the rocks, closing up The Cove.
We can’t see what is going on, the public road is blocked. Bright orange gates close off the path. Walking up the path would give us a perfect view into The Cove. A place which is clearly not to be seen by us.

05.50 hrs, the dolphin selection process starts, the Japanese team is out of sight. 06.00 hrs, there is a lot of yelling going on, we hear banging sounds against the boats. Most likely the dolphins are terribly scared.
Boats are moving back and forth. The engines are loud.

Many questions are going through our heads. Why don’t the dolphins just swim over the nets, boats just drive over the nets as well... Why don’t they jump over and leave...

06.20 hrs, the sun is up, the first boat leaves with a young female dolphin in a sling.
06.24 hrs, the second boat leaves, taking a second dolphin to the pen, located next to the slaughterhouse in Taiji town.

A third boat leaves. At least 8 to 10 dolphins are pushed back into the bay. Possibly males, too old, or scarred animals. Not suitable for the world’s dolphinariums...Young female bottlenose dolphins is what the world likes to see. The type ‘Flipper’ of the TV series.

It is good to see that the ‘unsuitable’ dolphins are back in the bay. It seems today there will be no killing. Later on, the fisherman will ‘guide’ them back to the ocean, far away from the shore. 2 Days ago the ‘undesirable’ animals were killed.
We have evidence of that!

06.59 hrs, the fourth dolphin is taking out of The Cove, hanging in a sling.
07.06 hrs, the 5th dolphin, hanging in a sling, tied to a boat exits The Cove.

The sun disappears behind the clouds, we hear the thunder far away.
It will rain today, hopefully stormy weather is coming up. Rough sea would prevent the fishermen from going out. But that is just today.The Taiji season will end in 6 months only.

Last year about 23’000 dolphins were killed, we were told.

07.18 hrs, the 6th dolphin is taken away.
07.36 hrs, dolphin nr. 7 is taken out.
07.40 hrs, it starts raining real hard, the thunder is coming closer.
If there is justice, it will probably hit The Cove...

Apparently only 30 fishermen are involved in this practise. The dolphin trainers seem to be too many to be from Taiji only. Maybe they are brought in from other parts of the country. It is not clear.
07.54 hrs, the rain is slowing down, 7 fishermen in wetsuits are swimming back to their boat. They are talking and laughing. They are standing up in their boat, fiddle with some nets.
07.55 hrs, dolphin nr. 8 is brought out.
07.57 hrs, the boat with the trainers appears out of The Cove and drives back to the shore. Their job is done... for the day.
08.07 hrs, 1 boat with fishermen is taking the net, blocking The Cove, away.
Approximately 12 bottlenose dolphins are swimming around. Sticking closely to each other.
08.11 hrs, the net closest to the shore is brought into the boat, the rain is still pouring down. The fishermen laugh.
08.18 hrs, 4 boats are waiting in the bay.
08.30 hrs, 1 boat left the area, 1 boat moves up to the last net, and starts taking it out of the water. Soon the remaining animals will be released.
08.36 hrs, 2 bigger boats arrive, the dolphins are released and will be driven out into the ocean. 5 Further banger boats, as Scott calls them, are showing up and help move the animals away.
08.42 hrs, 7 boats are chasing the dolphins out. The beach and the harbour are open to the public again.

The police officers are leaving. The fishermen are gone.

08.44 the day can start - as if nothing happened.

What went wrong today?
Nothing some people would say... we think different.

8 Out of 20 dolphins were taken into captivity, ready to fulfill the worlds demand for dolphins. Millions of people go to dolphinariums and have the time of their lives.

Dolphins are great to watch.. just NOT in captivity...

The ‘retail price’ for a dead dolphin is approximately USD 600.00. A live animal is sold for about USD 150’000.0023’000 killed dolphins per year times USD 600.00 also adds up...

3 Hours passed since we got here this morning.
Someone made over a million dollar.

Are we really talking about Japanese culture here?

Please spread the word.

This can not continue!

Don’t visit dolphinariums.
The majority of the dolphins are 'supplied' by Taiji.
A beautiful small town, some hours south of Osaka, Japan.


What can you do:

If you have the possibility to come to Taiji, please do so, witness what is going on here.

Write us for more details!

Sonntag, 19. September 2010


After 3 really busy days in Hiroshima, we took the nightbus to Kyoto.

We were lucky to arrive in a really nice hostel, flexible staff, no crazy rules. Nice fellow backpackers. Excellent. We had time to relax, do homework, cruise the city by bus and by foot - we saw loads of temples and shrines. We actually decided that after Kyoto we would cross both shrines and temples OFF our 'to-do' list :-)
We ate good local food and enjoyed the days.

It was in Kyoto that we thought of Taiji, it was in Kyoto to that we got in contact with the Save the Dolphins team and agreed to take the train down to the south of the Wakayama prefecture.


The "Peace Memorial Park" was our main reason to visit Hiroshima.

The most famous landmark in Hiroshima is the Atomic Bomb Dome. It is one of the few buildings that survived the 1945 Atomic bomb explosion.
Around the building, which was one of the first places we saw in the park, we met various survivors who told us their stories. It sounded almost unreal.

The atomic Bomb dome, around this building - some 2 km in each direction - most buildings were blown away. That included the people!

Scattered throughout the park lots of other monuments and statues are placed by the different parties. For example the statue for the Korean victims above.

A story that touched us a lot is the one of The Children's Peace Monument. It is a statue dedicated to the memory of the children who died as a result of the bombing. The statue is of a girl with outstretched arms with a folded paper crane rising above her. The statue is based on the true story of Sasaki Sadako a young girl who died from radiation from the bomb. She believed that if she folded 1,000 paper cranes she would be cured. To this day, people (mostly children) from around the world fold cranes and send them to Hiroshima where they are placed near the statue. The statue has a continuously replenished collection of folded cranes nearby.

(text from Wikipedia).

Here is a picture of some of the paper cranes hanging down in strings. There are millions!

After going through the park, we went into the museum. An incredible place, very educational but very confronting too! It was extremely sad - especially in the old part of the museum, where wax figures were shown. Nothing was left to the imagination, people with skin falling off and dying gave us a really bad feeling.

An old watch - it stopped ticking the moment the bomb fell on Hiroshima.

Hiroshima is the first city in the world on which a nuclear bomb was dropped. Up to 140'000 people died because of this AWFUL happening.

Hiroshima today is a modern city, and the people seem to be fine - but that might be the outside only... Still today, Hiroshima does a lot to show the world that peace is extremely important. Something like this may not happen any more.

All in all, an unforgettable visit!!!

Away in the country

We left Tokyo by bus to Takayama and changed there to a take a local train to the trainstations closest to Rocky and Ikumi's place. Rocky has signed up as a Couchsurfing host and we knew him through another traveler we met at Cyril's house.

Staying with a Japanese family in the countryside was something we really wanted to do and we are greatful for the opportunity we got!

We stayed 3 days, the details on what we in the littel town of Maze follows around the middle of October. Here a few updates though.

Fadia, a couchsurfer from France and her husband Philippe stayed with Rocky and Ikumi as well. That was great for Matthew, who needed some help with his Mathematics course.

Thanks Fadia!

A really great experience was a village ceremonie Ikumi and Rocky took us one evening. We are not 100 percent sure, but this ceremony is held twice a year, it is religious and it has to do with the harvest. Anyway, it was really interesting be part of such a happening. After the official part, tables, food and drinks were brought in and we were invited to stay. It was awesome to be there. Great people and great food too!

Couchsurfing in Tokyo

Let's go back in time for a moment.
After 3 days in Japan we moved to Cyril's place. She is a member of Couchsurfing and responded positive on our couchsurfing request.

Cyril is amazing, as you can see at her door entrance, we were not alone. Between 10 and 15 travelers are staying at her place during the whole month of September.

Today there were 11 people having dinner in the livingroom. There are also 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, a balcony, a bathroom, the toilet and the hall.

The 3 of us had a room for ourselves, we slept in our sleeping bags on typical tatami mats. Excellent!

Thanks Cyril, we had a great time!

Mittwoch, 8. September 2010

Tourists in Tokyo

During the first week in Tokyo we have done loads of sightseeing. We visited 9-floor department stores with loud music and screaming sales staff and loads of high tech gadgets.

We walked through the city, watched people - it is amazing what people wear here!! We checked out the metro system, got lost, but have always found our way back :-)

We slowly started eating some Japanese food, but stick to french bread for breakfast!

We went to all the 'must see' sights, such as Shinjuku. A famous area in Tokyo.

We visited shrines and temples and learned a bit more about Shinto and Buddhism.

Also history is a theme here in Tokyo, we visited the EDO museum, a very impressive museum about the EDO era (1600-1868).
The Tokyo tower was one of those 'must see' places we have seen, but just to tick them off our list. As Robin would say, let's not go, I am not a tourist.
The fishmarket we haven't seen yet, getting up at 4 a.m. is not so much to our liking. But we visited the Panasonic building, a great place to find out what the latest is on high tech inventions.
Some inventions were really cool and really useful, others were in our eyes totally useless. Big emphasis is on ecological solutions. A lot of fun was the 3rd floor, a kind of science center, hand on stuff with good explanations. Definitely worth the visit.
As the hostel was really 'a pain' we almost immediately tried to find a couchsurfing address, for 3 people and with the size of the apartments people have in the city, our chances were small. Still, we were extremely lucky that a nice lady from the Philipines was ready to invite us.
Cy, thanks so much for the great time we had at your place!! You are wonderful.
We stayed 5 days, met loads of people - as Cyril's place looks like a hostel and many other couchsurfers came and went during our stay. We will go back the end of September.
Time came to move on and we took a bus to the country side. More about that later.

Arriving in Japan

Yes, we are doing fine... :-) - Excuses for not writing the last 2 weeks but we have been crazy busy, enjoying ourselves in Japan.

Before we left we spoke about which countries we like to visit. Matthew especially wanted to go to Japan.
Sonja was not especially keen but... Japan it was.

Even that we never visited Japan before, we did not really prepare ourselves, and that leads to interesting moments, to say the least.

Let us start from the beginning:
We bought a travel guide in Canada (The 'Rough Guide' we took).
Just before leaving Vancouver we Skyped with a hostel in Tokyo and made a booking. So far so good.

China Eastern Airlines flew us from Vancouver to Shanghai, China, where we transfered to our flight to Tokyo. One way, good value, just the arrival was a bit... and that was an issue.

We arrived too late to take a metro to the city, the hostel closed at 2300 hrs and there was no way to make it on time.
The airport was about to close, no signs in English were to be found to find a reasonable hotel in the airport area. The only one was around USD 600.00 per night. Which we were not planning to take!

Security was wondering what we were still doing at the airport, and we tried to speak with them. This was next to impossible due to the amount of English they understood / spoke.
Anyway, to make a long story short, our first night was at the airport.

Around 20 people either had really early flights and would not be able to arrive on time if they would not wait at the airport, and some got stuck like we did. The airport doors closed, part of the arrival hall was dedicated for us, the lights went out, and during the whole night security staff was staying with us. Looking after us so to say.

On the picture: The lights just went back on. Robin just got up, Matthew was just waking up.
The sleeping bags and mats were just packed up again.

Our first full day in Japan started. We were ready :-)

The people in the hostel were fine with us arriving a day late. It seems like it is common practise that people get stuck. How strange is that!! But rules are rules in Japan, and that means that we checked in and were basically put out on the street right away.
"Between 1000 and 1700 hrs the hostel needs to be cleaned and all guests shall leave", the message was.
Seriously a joke!! It was cooking hot outside and we could only return 7 hours later.

Anyway, we live with the rules and jumped into life in Tokyo.

We were so exhausted the first few days: the heat, the lacking English knowledge of the Japanese citizens - which we did not at all expect - , a totally different culture, all the new experiences, new food and so on, and so on.

Japan is Manga (Japanese comics) and Anime, and various museums and centers are dedicated to Manga, animation and design. A very interesting place to visit was the Ghibli Museum, it is about the Ghibli animation film studios. Look it up on Wikipedia if you are into this stuff. It was a great place to visit.

Not everything, or better not everyone, was new to us in Tokyo. Rolf, our travel companion for a few weeks on our 2nd worldtrip lives in Tokyo with his girlfriend since a year. We met him in Shinjuku, the picture is at the famous statue of the dog Hachiko.
Thanks Rolf for showing us around - and guiding us a bit into the right direction :-)

So far for a start. More to follow soon.
All is going well for us.