We arrived in Muroran to sunny skies and cool temperatures. The port is industrial; no structures were located where we tied up. A huge windmill was perched at the pier’s edge, and many more were on the nearby hillside. There were several buses and a makeshift boundary area but little else. The town and many of the sights were farther away from the port area, so transportation is needed here; you cannot just walk to town.

Jim looking at the port from the ship.
Watching the pilot getting on the ship.
Flag on back of ship with bridge in background.

Top Attractions

Muroran is not a major tourist destination. It may be developed in the future, but currently, there is a short list of attractions, including Cape Chiku, an aquarium, a pretty bridge, and a shrine. The cruise line offered a few excursions, but we preferred to explore independently.

Cape Chikyu

Once we got off the ship, with the assistance of an interpreter, we took a taxi to Cape Chikyu. The ride was about 30 minutes through winding residential streets. The parking area at the cape was small, but we were glad we arrived early. Our driver agreed to wait while we checked out the lighthouse and viewing platform.

Three flights of steep steps later, we arrived on the viewing platform to stunning ocean sights laid out before us. The lighthouse was perched on a cliff below, warning ships of the impending dangers ahead. This lighthouse was small but mighty. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to go inside; the area around the lighthouse itself was blocked, and there were “no entry” signs (well, we think that’s what they said) posted near the gates.

Sign at Cape Chikyu.
World Sculpture at Cape Chikyu.
Bell at the top of Cape Chikyu.

There were a few other people on the platform, but no tourists. A local couple offered to take our photo, and we reciprocated and took theirs; all communication was done by hand signals. After enjoying the views, we returned to the parking lot and our waiting taxi. We learned at the botanical garden that taxis are not always available in small towns at remoted destinations, so we were grateful our taxi driver agreed to wait (we also left our coats in the car so he knew we were coming back).

View of the lighthouse from the viewing platform.
Cliff area from the viewing platform.
Jim and Rosie by the rail on the viewing platform.

Downtown

Back in the taxi, with Google Translate’s help, we asked the driver to take us downtown to the largest shopping area. There are no shopping malls as we know them in Muroran, but we had been told there were several areas with shops near the downtown area.

Our driver dropped us off outside the train station in the middle of several shopping areas shown on the map. We walked several blocks to the Don Quixote Megastore, enjoying the early signs of spring.

Red tulips in bloom.
Cherry tree in bloom.
Yellow tulips in bloom.

Don Quixote Mega Store

The store had the term “mega” in it, so we had high hopes of finding the few items on our list. It was indeed mega-spanning over three levels. Jim bought a bottle of water, told me to enjoy myself, and parked himself on a bench.

The store’s first level was mostly groceries with cleaning products and paper goods mixed in. Anticipating our five sea days, I headed to the snack aisle. None of the brands were offered, and they were all labeled in Japanese. I did find some peanuts only because they were in clear packaging. Some products had photos on them that were helpful, but I was not adventurous enough to purchase anything else.

Floors two and three were filled with clothing, household goods, and toiletries. I would compare this store to a Super Walmart on steroids. It was a bit overwhelming; I left the store with a funny pair of socks and the peanuts.

Store by train station in Muroran, Japan.
Canal in Muroran, Japan.

The Search Continues

Our shopping list was small, and we had a few souvenirs we wanted to purchase, but after walking miles and hopping in and out of many shops, no souvenirs were found. We asked several locals, using Google translate, and the best they could come up with was a shelf at the local 7-Eleven that sold dry fish.

Back to the Ship

Tired and defeated, we found a taxi to take us back to the ship. After exiting the taxi, we were approached by two young ladies in school uniforms. They spoke English pretty well and asked us if we had a few minutes to answer some questions about international travel. One of the questions was, what can Muroran do to attract more tourists? We suggested that they open a souvenir shop. We also discussed things to see and do. We had a great conversation with them and then boarded the ship.

Mountains from the sea
Lighthouse view from the sea.

Time to Move On

We had a wonderful send-off with a performance from a local dance team and watched the pilot boat pick up the pilot once we left the pier.

Dancers at the pier.
A group of dancers at the pier.
Close up picture of dancers at t he pier.

As we sailed on to our next port, we kept an eye out for Cape Chikyu. It finally came into view, and we snapped a couple of photos from the ocean side.

Cape Chikyu, Muroran, Japan
Cape Chikyu from the sea.