* via Weekly Photo Challenge: Heritage *
At first glance, the ship appears to be just like the rest of the cargo-passenger ships I’ve seen and boarded when I was still in the Philippines. I just took a photo of it to remind me of Yokohama. However, something bugged my curiosity. There was this queue for tickets for this ship. I thought they were off somewhere, but it turned out to be a queue for a museum. Hikawa Maru is now a museum that has been kept and taken care of at her moorings in Yokohama port since 1960.
“In May 1930, NYK Line welcomed into service Hikawa Maru, a new state-of-the-art liner for the transport of passengers and cargo between Japan and Seattle. Embodying the foremost in naval architecture at the time, safety was ensured through use of thick shell plating and solid watertight compartments. In 30 years of service, Hikawa Maru crossed the Pacific 254 times, carrying around 25,000 passengers and a great volume of cargo. During and immediately following World War II, the vessel served as a hospital ship and returned some 30,000 wounded soldiers to the Japanese homeland.”
— NYK Maritime Museum
My heart skipped a few beats right after I learned the story of this historical vessel. It was a real privilege to aboard the nationally anointed Important Cultural Property. Another fact that painted a smile on my face is that Charlie Chaplin was one of the notable passengers carried by Hikawa Maru. I wonder how he was at the time. Did I pass by the cabin where he was spending his nights? I wonder….