Day 8 – Yokohama

June 10, 2007 at 11:50 pm | Posted in Japan, Travel, Yokohama | 2 Comments
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Tuesday had arrived and I took the train to Yokohama for a day trip to explore the city but more importantly to meet up with the awesome Miki. Unfortunately I had dressed for summer on a less than summer-y day. At any rate this did not deter us from hanging out and catching up. Admittedly, I am counting on Miki to point out when I’ve forgotten or made something up (hopefully you’re reading this despite the delays).

We made our way to the Minato Mirai 21 district from the station in our quest for that staple – food! After a bit of indecision we settled on a diner that specialised – if one can say that – on Yokohama’s cuisine through its various historic developments, with different parts of the restaurant themed to look like, for example an 19th century parlour. Feeling full after our meal we delayed heading outside due to poor weather and opted for coffee and people watching. While the atriums seem quite empty apparently this is anything but the case on weekends.

The sky now a little clearer we walked towards Yokohama’s famed Cosmo Clock Ferris Wheel. Unfortunately, due to bad weather it was not open. Instead we wandered down to the bay and checking out some of the shops along the way before looking out over the water.

Now it was onto some of Yokohama’s museums starting with the Port Opening Memorial Hall (Yokohama was one of the first ports forced open by Westerners). Not a lot is going on at this free venue (which appears to be largely used for conventions/meetings etc) but you can wander around and see some of the work that went into restoring the building after the great earthquake of 1923.

We walked from the Memorial Hall to the Yokohama Archives of History for some education in Yokohama’s and Japanese history. Using the former British Consulate building the Archives offers a good opportunity to learn about the city’s role in the opening of Japan through gun boat diplomacy and the subsequent impact of foreigners in the city during a turbulent period in Japanese history. There is quite a lot of English – to the point where I must admit I got bored of reading and started skimming. Nonetheless a very good effort on their part to explain the Japanese position to a non-Japanese.

By this stage we were on our way to Yamashita Park but decided to rest our feet and grab a coffee at the similar to but not quite Starbucks – “Excelsior Caffe“. This ended up being a good call as it started raining, luckily by the time we were done it had cleared up and off to the park we went. There were plenty of other people (mainly students) doing the same and everyone (us included) took many photos. While in the park we stopped by the Statue of the Girl with Red Shoes (follow the link and scroll down/ click the on page hyperlink to read the story).

From the park we walked into Yokohama’s extensive ChinaTown, sampling some street vendor food which helped top up our energy (earlier coffee aside) as we walked into one of the city’s tree-lined shopping streets (Miki when you get the chance let me know it’s name), later that evening it looked charming with the lights on throughout the leaves. At the end of the street while pondering the best route to the top of the bluff so we could look out over the bay we were approached by an old Japanese man who knew some English but spoke mainly to Miki and advised a suitable route. So off we went up the steep hill and arrived at the historic bluff (where the foreigners used to live during the period of unequal treaties) just before dusk settled. On the bluff’s main street you have historic European style buildings on one side and the foreigner’s graveyard on the other. During the day you are free to wander around the cemetery. Instead we detoured slightly to look at some of this historic buildings before retracing our steps to the lookout at the bluff. At this stage daylight was almost gone but this afforded the opportunity to view the twinkling neon and other lights from the skyline and bay area.

After making our way from the bluff we stopped by the massive Don Quixote discount store that sells everything from TVs to  shampoo and after stocking up on some essentials we walked back to Minato Mirai for some food. By this stage we were both pretty exhausted from all the walking and dinner consisted of us staring at food and languidly consuming it as we fought to stay awake. Of course eating a big meal helped enormously with this struggle. Nonetheless we pulled it off and managed to get back to the station and head our separate ways.

I know I would not have had as much fun in Yokohama without a local tour guide and friend but the city has plenty to offer the casual visitor as well and I know I have only touched the surface of what it has to offer, for example you may be interested in its Doll Museum.

Thank you Miki for a great day!

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2 Comments »

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  1. hey hey! yes I am finally catching up on your blog entries since I haven’t had a chance to read any while I was back in Syd.

    The tree-lined street /area is called “Motomachi”. Glad you enjoyed your day in Yokohama (plus Quil fait bon tarte!!), that was my pleasure to be your local host to show you around! I had great fun those days as well, I cannnot tell you how much I was missing talking about random stuff and laughing at things with you..!!

    It was somewhat funny to be back in Syd you not being there anymore. Hopefully I will see you in London one of these days..!!!

  2. Thank you Miki for filling in the details! It was great to hang out with you and see some of your country.


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