Week 2

Honshu Island

Just like the itinerary you get on a cruise ship, this has fun info, an activity and a story spotlight about one of the kids you are helping at UC Davis Children's Hospital! 

Taste of Japan


All okonomiyaki consist of a base mixture: wheat flour, egg, fish broth, and white cabbage. The Osaka mixture often contains seafood and nagaimo, a type of yam. Various ingredients can then be incorporated into the mixture or just added on top: pork, egg, cheese, squid, bonito, seaweed, shrimp, spring onion ... etc. The pancake thus prepared is then cooked on a hot plate (teppan), either in the kitchen or directly on the table in front of the customer at a restaurant. The final dish is then coated with sauce, mayonnaise or okonomi sauce. Made of inexpensive ingredients, easy to prepare, it quickly became a dish of times of crisis, for example after the Kanto earthquake in 1923, or in the aftermath of the Second World War. Okonomiyaki is a very hearty and nutritious dish. 

Learn how to make it here: https://www.sanraku.com/okonomiyaki-recipe/ 

Cruise Beverage


Today’s sake relies on four main ingredients: water, rice, yeast and koji, a mold with various culinary purposes. Sake-specific rice is polished to expose the starchy interior. It’s then soaked, steamed and cooled before koji spores are scattered across it, creating a ‘mash’. The koji converts starch into sugar, which then turns into alcohol during fermentation. After this, the mash is pressed, filtered and then usually pasteurized. Traditionally, sake was always brewed during mid-winter, taking around 40 days to make. On the west coast of Honshu, Japan’s largest island, you’ll find Niigata Prefecture, the most prolific sake-producing region in the country. In south-central Honshu, there’s also Nara and Kyoto — two cities that served as Japanese capitals during the eighth, and eighth to 19th centuries respectively — where sake has long been a staple. Here, the drink is smooth and slightly sweet. To the west, Hiroshima’s soft water produces mellow alcohol, while to Kyoto’s north, Ishikawa is known for complex sakes brewed using airborne yeasts. In Kyushu’s warm, rice-rich south, sake is sweeter, while colder northern climes like Fukushima and Akita produce bolder flavors.
A short blog on Honshu Sake tasting: https://yamaguchisake.com/2020/11/25/event-enjoying-the-sake-of-western-honshu/ 

Fun Facts

Overview of Honshu

Honshu is the largest island in Japan. It’s also the most populous as you’ll find some of Japan’s biggest cities are found on the island, such as Tokyo, Osaka and Kobe.


Honshu has an entirely different climate from Hokkaido. The climate on Honshu is subtropical – the winters are mild, and the summers are warm and wet. In August, the temperatures can soar above 30 degrees celsius whereas, in winter, temperatures average around 5 degrees celsius.


As we’ve mentioned, Honshu is the most populous island in Japan. There are approximately 104 million people living in Honshu, which equates to about 80% of the entire population of Japan!

Size of island

Honshu takes up an enormous area. This island covers around 250,000 kilometres squared.

Major cities

Most of Japan’s largest cities are located on Honshu, with 58 cities on the island in total. Here are some of the main cities of Honshu:







Anime set in Honshu

Honshu, being the largest island with the most influential cities, has numerous animes that either take place on this island or are heavily influenced by the local regions. Check out this map that pairs anime with their prefectures! 

Japanese Philosophy

Fortune will always come to a house with laughter.

Keeping a sense of humor in life is important. No matter how grim things can seem, it always helps to laugh. A little perspective can often do a world of good when skies are gray.


Welcome aboard, fellow travelers, to JR East's delightful Pokémon with YOU train! Prepare yourselves for a whimsical adventure filled with Pokémon magic and heartwarming moments!

As we embark on this enchanting journey, let the vibrant Pokémon-themed decor of the train carriages ignite your excitement. From Pikachu-patterned seats to Poké Ball-inspired decorations, every detail is designed to immerse you in the captivating world of Pokémon.

Our adventure begins at Ichinoseki Station, where the Pokémon with YOU train sets off on its merry voyage. Feel the thrill as you step aboard, greeted by cheerful Pokémon characters adorning the walls, promising an unforgettable ride ahead!

As we chug along the picturesque landscapes of Tohoku, be on the lookout for Pokémon sightings through the train windows. From Pikachu playing in the fields to Snorlax napping under the shade of trees, the charm of Pokémon is woven into the very fabric of this scenic journey!

But the real magic awaits as we arrive at our destination, the Pokémon with YOU Park in Sendai. Step off the train and into a wonderland where Pokémon dreams come to life!

Join Pikachu and friends in exciting games, interactive activities, and delightful performances that promise fun for Pokémon trainers of all ages! From photo opportunities with your favorite Pokémon to themed playgrounds and attractions, the park is a haven for Pokémon enthusiasts!

And don't forget to visit the Pokémon Center within the park, where you can indulge in a treasure trove of Pokémon merchandise, from plushies to trading cards, ensuring that your Pokémon adventure lives on even after the journey ends!

As we bid farewell to the Pokémon with YOU Park and board the train once more, let the memories of our Pokémon-filled escapade warm our hearts. But fear not, for the spirit of Pokémon will continue to accompany us on our travels, inspiring new adventures and forging everlasting bonds!

If you purchased a Japan box to enhance your Virtual Cruise experience, we hope you enjoy the very special, golden Pokémon cards as a souvenir from this trip! Until next time, farewell and happy Pokémon hunting!

Japan Box Highlights

Welcome to a delightful exploration of a unique Japanese tea experience: Your goodie box included two of these three teas! As we embark on this flavorful journey, prepare to tantalize your taste buds and awaken your senses to the exquisite harmony of roasted rice, vibrant Matcha, and the humble Sencha.

Our adventure begins amidst the bustling streets of Kyoto, where ancient traditions and modern delights converge. Here, in the heart of Japan's cultural capital, we discover the artful fusion of two beloved tea varieties: Genmaicha and Matcha.

First, acquaint yourself with Genmaicha, lovingly dubbed "popcorn tea" for its aroma reminiscent of freshly popped corn. Imagine lush green tea leaves mingling with golden grains of roasted brown rice, creating a symphony of flavors dancing on the palate. But our journey doesn't end there; we elevate our experience with Matcha, the crowned jewel of Japanese tea culture. Picture vibrant green powder, meticulously ground from shade-grown tea leaves, renowned for its exquisite flavor and unparalleled richness. Now, envision the marriage of these two tea treasures: the earthy warmth of roasted rice entwined with the lush intensity of Matcha, creating a symphony of flavors that unfold with each sip. Whether enjoyed in a traditional teahouse or amidst modern life's hustle and bustle, Roasted Rice Tea with Matcha invites you to savor the timeless beauty of Japanese tea culture.

In Japan, roasted green tea holds a special place in the hearts of tea enthusiasts, offering a unique and comforting flavor profile that embodies the essence of Japanese tea culture. Imagine the gentle aroma of toasted leaves mingling with hints of nuttiness, creating a warm and inviting brew that soothes the soul. Roasted green tea, often referred to as Hojicha, undergoes a careful roasting process that enhances its depth and richness, making it a popular choice for both casual sipping and formal tea ceremonies alike. Whether enjoyed on a serene afternoon in a traditional tea room or as a comforting companion to a bustling day, roasted green tea captures the timeless elegance and tranquility of Japanese tea culture.

Now, let's delve into the enchanting world of Matcha green tea, a revered treasure in Japanese tea culture that captivates both the palate and the spirit. Picture vibrant green powder meticulously ground from shade-grown tea leaves, imbuing each sip with a lush intensity and unparalleled depth of flavor. Matcha is more than just a beverage; it's a symbol of refinement and mindfulness, often celebrated in elaborate tea ceremonies where every movement is imbued with grace and reverence. The ritual of preparing and savoring Matcha is a transcendent experience, inviting participants to cultivate a sense of harmony and presence in every moment. Whether enjoyed in a serene temple garden or a bustling urban café, Matcha green tea embodies the rich heritage and timeless elegance of Japanese tea culture, inviting you to savor its exquisite beauty with every sip.