A Warm Welcome
After a water jet display from the Iwakuni Coast Guard, passengers disembarked and were greeted by members of the Iwakuni Domain’s Traditional Rifle Association and Choruru, the face of Yamaguchi’s PR Headquarters. Staff from the Iwakuni City Tourism Division presented each of the passengers with postcards of the Kintaikyo Bridge.
Iwakuni and Yanai City ran the Information Desk. Yanai’s famous goldfish paper lanterns were a big hit.
Wharf Opens to the Public
Usually closed for security purposes, the port authority took this opportunity to open the wharf to the public for the first time ever. Many families came to see the see L’Austral at the wharf.
Booths were set up to teach Japanese calligraphy and origami. Guests could write characters on a paper fan to keep as a souvenir.
Those who were interested in an optional additional tour joined the Iwakuni Domain’s Traditional Rifle Association and went to the Kintaikyo Bridge to watch the association’s performance. The rifles were surprisingly loud. Below you can see a picture from that day, with the cherry blossoms in full bloom.
The local specialties area had all kinds of souvenirs available for purchase, including Yamaguchi’s traditional crafts such as Ouchi Laquerware and Hagi-yaki pottery, and various brands of sake including Gangi, Gokyo, Iwakuni’s famous Kinkan Kuromatsu, and Asahi Shuzo’s Dassai which is now sold even in France. They were popular not just among the passengers, but also the local people who came to see the ship.
In the evening, there were many performances, ranging from traditional local dance societies, to flute and dance performe by women and children in kimonos. Everyone got excited as the passengers joined in to the local traditional Konuka dance. The Iwakuni Corp of the Japan Sea Cadet Federation put on a semaphore display making sure that our guests could enjoy their stay in Iwakuni to the fullest before the L’Austral departed.
Due to rain, the welcoming ceremony was held inside the ship. Mr. Fukuda, Mayor of Iwakuni, Mr. Nakanishi, Director of the Iwakuni Harbor Management Office, and Mr. Miyaji, Director General of the Industrial Strategy Department all attended. After receiving flowers from Mina OYA, Miss Iwakuni, and Eri HARADA from the Japan Sea Cadet Federation presented Captain Mickael DEBIEN and chief engineer Didier MONTIL flowers, the mayor presented them with Iwakuni decorative pottery plates. There was also an exchange of commemorative plaques.
The Big Send-Off
The departure of the L’Austral was marked with a fireworks display as it headed toward the Port of Uno in Okayama.
We hope to see the stylish L’Austral back in Yamaguchi again soon!