Posts Tagged Yokohama
Today I got my fist sample of solo travel with a 3 year old. By the end of the day I was exhausted.
Whenever we return to Japan, The Penpal makes some time to check in with her church. The main branch is in Shin-Yokohama, conveniently accessible by shinkansen. We discussed and decided that Tiny Dog likely didn’t have the patience to spend a few hours at church, so we would both take separate trips to Yokohama and meet up for dinner with some of The Penpal’s friends.
The Penpal’s father dropped TD and I off at Mishima station around noon. Before boarding the train, we picked up some ekiben (train station lunch boxes) to eat on the ride to Yokohama. The clerk was surprised that TD thanked him in Japanese. It’s still funny the different reactions people have to TD depending on which parent he is traveling with.
TD munched away on sandwiches and rice balls on the shinkansen ride to Yokohama. His face was pressed against the window, jumping back in delight every time we entered a tunnel. This train ride was a lot more fun than the 15 minute subway ride from Shin-Yokohama to Sakuragicho; with nothing to see out the windows TD got bored quickly. I made a mental note to take above ground trains as much as possible in the future.
From Sakuragicho, we started our long walk towards Landmark Tower, Japan’s tallest building. The entire area around the tower is fantastic to visit: there are stores, restaurants, rides, games, and endless other fun things to do. Even with all of these distractions, TD was most impressed by the walking escalator that took us towards the tower.
We took the elevator to the observation deck on the 69th floor and were greeted by spectacular views of Yokohama, Kawasaki, and Tokyo. TD was impressed with the view for about 5 minutes, and then decided that it would be more fun to run laps around the building. We compromised and got ice cream near one of the windows while I tried to take as many pictures as possible.
On the way down, TD tried to touch the elevator doors as they closed. The elevator attendant said “yubi wo chui kudasai”, which TD translated into English for me as “Daddy be careful your fingers”. Everyone laughed at the sight of a 3 year old wearing Canadian flags translating for his gaijin father.
Instead of taking you back to the entrance, the elevator down from Landmark tower takes you to the 5th floor of a massive shopping center. As we walked through we found possibly the most exciting store ever for a 3 year old kid: The Tomy store. The entire display window was filled with an elaborate display of purarail (plastic train sets) and Tomy car tracks. We pushed our way into the store and TD spent about half an hour looking and playing with the display along with a mob of other children.
I eventually dragged him out of the Tomy Store and we walked to Cosmo World to play games. We wisely avoided the giant ferris wheel and waterslides, and ended up playing medal games (again). Getting him out of Cosmo World involved crying, bargaining, and eventually me having to carry him all the way back to the station. I should note that the humidity was about 6 million percent, and a fussy child is actually a portable space heater. By the time I got him to the station I had sweated through my shirt.
After some very busy Sunday afternoon trains we met up with The Penpal and some of her friends for dinner in a restaurant that was inexplicably not visible on Google Maps. By the time dinner was done, Tiny Dog and I were ready for sleep, but we still had a long trip back to Numazu.
Our adventures in Yokohama were a lot of fun, and my day was a great learning experience. Also, I have nothing but respect for single parents who try to get anything done.
Yesterday The Penpal and I went to her friend’s wedding in Yokohama. We spent the night in a hotel, and decided to spend today hanging out in Yokohama.
I have been living in Numazu for the past year after spending a year in Kawasaki. I do like Numazu, but I miss being close to a vibrant and fun city like Yokohama. There are lots of things to do, and it doesn’t feel as busy or crowded as Tokyo.
The Penpal and I spent some time exploring Minato Mirai and some of the areas I used to visit often. In the evening we returned to Numazu together. It was a fun day!
There is currently a shortage of teachers in the Numazu / Mishima / Fuji / Fujinomiya area. I made myself available to do some overtime shifts to make a little extra money, however schools in my area were cutting costs and were told not to allow any overtime.
Since I had nothing else going on, I decided to go to the Tokyo area to find something fun to do. My first stop was my old neighbourhood. I got a haircut from the really good barber near Shinyurigaoka station, and then stopped by a bank to send some money home. Thanks to advice from other teachers, I got a Lloyd’s account which allows me to transfer money from my SMBC Japanese bank account to my Canadian bank account with a flat transaction fee. The best part is that I can do this transfer from any SMBC bank machine. I need to send money home periodically to make sure that my student loans are being paid, and it also prevents me from overspending. Like other teachers, I try to watch the exchange rates and do my transfers when the forex is favourable.
After sending money home, I treated myself to Wendy’s for lunch. I then headed off to Shinjuku to buy some books at Kinokuniya. I love Kinokuniya – it is probably the best book store in the country. I was going to be productive and do some clothes shopping, but decided that since I had already been somewhat productive (getting up early, haircut, money transfer), that I should do something fun. I ended up heading to Yokohama to see a movie.
This was my first time going to a movie theater by myself. It felt strange to go solo, which is a bit funny when you consider that you really aren’t supposed to talk to people in the theater anyway. I bought a ticket for Million Dollar Baby and then killed some time playing video games at a nearby game center while I waited for the movie to start.
Million Dollar Baby is simply a fantastic movie, although it probably caught a lot of people off guard because it is marketed as one kind of movie and then half way through becomes something completely and totally different. No, I am not going to give any spoilers. I really enjoyed the experience, but would have liked someone to talk about the movie with after it ended.
After the movie I got a quick bite to eat, and then proceeded to drag my giant, heavy bag of new books through a few train stations on my way home. It’s great living so close to the Greater Tokyo area!
Today was a day off. Instead of sitting around the house, I managed to get out of bed in the morning and went to Yokohama.
I took the Tokaido line to Yokohama, which takes about 90 minutes from Numazu. When I looked up my train schedule, I found that I could have also taken the Shinkansen from Mishima to Shin Yokohama and finished with a subway connection to Yokohama station. This would have only saved me about 20 minutes overall, and would have cost twice as much.
I did some shopping around Minato Mirai, and ended up buying a figurative ton of books. I also saw a really cool street performer who was busking in front of Landmark Tower. He had a 10 minute show where he was juggling increasingly more dangerous items. I have seen street performers before, but this guy was really good. When it came time to pass the hat at the end of the performance, he must have easily made 30,000-50,000 yen (about $300-$500)
After spending a bunch of time in Numazu and Mishima, I had forgotten how big and exciting Yokohama was. It am happy that I still live so close.
Today I took my family to Yokohama. We took the Nanbu line from Noborito to Kawasaki, Tokaido Line from Kawasaki to Yokohama, and then switched to the still shiny new Minatomirai line to finish our trip to Minato Mirai station.
I had been to Yokohama several times before, but this was the first time I had ever gone inside Landmark Tower, Japan’s tallest building. There is an observation level on the 69th floor that is accessable by one of the world’s fastest elevators. The observation level offers amazing views of Yokohama, Kawasaki, Tokyo and on a clear day, Mt. Fuji. The ocean is on one side, and there is continuous city in every other direction as far as you can see. My family was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the neverending city.
From Landmark Tower we wandered around the Minato Mirai area. My mom bought a Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt, and I made sure to show off the dog walking video game at the nearby game center.
After exploring Minato Mirai, we took the train to Yokohama Chinatown. We spent a long time walking around the streets and enjoying the buildings. My mom and sister requested that we stop in a large tea shop. There were different kinds of tea from around the world from floor to ceiling. While my sister tried to communicate with the store owner, the owner’s young daughter (maybe 5 years old) came up to my mom and started talking to her in Chinese. My mom responded in English, so the conversation really didn’t go anywhere. My mom ended up giving the young girl a Canadian flag pin, which got a nice smile and some thanks from the owner.
My family enjoyed their day in Yokohama. Even though I did a very similar visit with my friends a month ago, I still had fun. Yokohama is a great place to visit.
(2014 Update) In 2014 the Abenobashi Terminal Building opened in Osaka, which is about 4 meters taller than Landmark Tower. Landmark Tower is now number two in Japan.
After work a group of teachers from different NOVA branches all met up in Yokohama for nomi-hodai karaoke. For those new to this blog, nomi-hodai means “all you can drink”. To leave enough time for everyone to get to their last train, we only rented the karaoke room for 90 minutes. As soon as we got into the room we immediately started ordering drinks on the convenient wall phone. I sang some of my usual karaoke songs, and tried out “Bust a Move” by Young MC and “Working for the Weekend” by Loverboy (Canada represent!). We all had fun and decided to try to make Thursday karaoke into a regular event.
On the way home, there were two drunk guys waiting for the train. There was less drunk guy (LDG), and really drunk guy (RDG). RDG couldn’t stand by himself, so LDG was holding him up and got him some water. Seems like a pretty nice guy, right? That ended when they got onto the train.
When the train started moving, LDG called RDG’s girlfriend or wife and then put RDG on the phone. RDG was barely intelligible, which I am sure didn’t do him any favours when he got home. After the phone call, RDG was starting to fall asleep. Just as he was nodding off, LDG leaned over and flicked him on top of RDG’s bald head. Hard! RDG tried to swing a punch at LDG, but he was so intoxicated that he basically just flailed his arms ineffectively. Naturally, LDG found this to be funny and so he flicked RDG’s bald head again. RDG started yelling “ITAI!” (it hurts!). LDG was an ass, but at least I got a free show on my train ride home.
Bouken day (adventure!). My new floor couch was delivered in the morning. I had to use Japanese on the phone when the delivery people called. This sounds impressive, but I basically just said “hai” about 6 times until they hung up and delivered the couch.
After a nice nap, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and go for a walk. I started with a 15 minute walk to the cool park near my place. Upon climbing a really large hill, I found there was an exit on the other side. So I kept walking through this really cool residential area with big houses on a hill. Residential areas are like mazes here, and I was lucky to find my way out the other side after much walking. By this point, I decided to head back home, but I didn`t really know how to get back the way I came. I found a road sign, and started following it. However, the road back had no walking path. So I made a useless 30 minute circle around the area, and started walking towards one of the other stations listed on the sign.
Just after the 2 hour point in my walk, I pass a sign which says I am now in Yokohama city limits. After many more wrong turns and cutting through another park I found a bus route and decided to walk along side it to the next station. Finally about 3 hours after I started, I found Azamino station, which is on the Den-En-Toshi line and the Yokohama subway. I took Den-En-Toshi to connect with the Nanbu line and then returned to Noborito. It took me about 20 minutes to get home by train!
I estimate I walked about 10km in total, possibly more, so I rewarded myself with some Wendy’s. Random walks in huge cities can be fun.
(2014 Update) – According to Google Maps, I walked at least 7.5km, but probably more due to the unexpected loop I made.
I met a language exchange partner in Yokohama today, let’s call her Aruko. We did a lot of walking around together. One of the highlights was the Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery and accompanying museum. When Japan reopened the country to the outside world in the 1800s, Yokohama became the place where most of the foreigners settled. The cemetery houses some of the important foreign settlers from that time period.
After sightseeing and a lot of walking, Aruko and I went to Yurindo bookstore which has a large English section, though not as good as Kinokuniya. I bought the second volume of the Complete Sherlock Holmes collection. I also found an interesting book that teaches Japanese speakers how to talk dirty in English. Seriously, this book was explicit. No, I do not have examples, and no I didn’t buy it.
I should have bought it 🙂
Today I spent a great day in Yokohama with the Penpal. We started the day off with a trip to the famous Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum. Just like the name would indicate, this museum is dedicated to the history of Japan’s favourite noodle soup. Japan has some unique museum ideas.
The upper level has a history of ramen in Japan, including pictures, videos, old packages, and TV commercials through the years. They also have an impressive collection of ramen bowls from famous ramen shops across Japan. The basement is the truly interesting part. There is a recreation of a city block set up to look like 1958 Tokyo. Within the city block there are 8 different restaurants, each specializing in a different type of ramen. Also, there are long lines. We waited about 45 minutes (the shortest line) to eat some really delicious noodles. The Japan geek in me loved the experience, but the cynical Canadian in me pondered the wisdom of paying to get into a museum so I could wait in line and pay for ramen.
After the museum, we wandered around Yokohama’s Chinatown. Even though I had been to Chinatown recently, I still saw new things on my second visit. From Chinatown we moved on to Minato Mirai to see the port area. Since we had been walking all day we stopped for karaoke to get a break. I sang Barbie Girl, various Beatles songs, and some Radiohead. The Penpal sang a lot of Sheena Ringo
After karaoke, we headed to Cosmo Clock, the giant Ferris wheel together. About one month earlier I had gone on Cosmo Clock with Asako, misread signals, and ended up making an ass of myself. However, the Penpal and I had been talking to each other often and started to see a bit more than just a friendly connection. Today, I was finally able to interpret signals correctly and made a move that was well received. Redemption in Yokohama!
We walked back to the train station hand in hand, cautiously optimistic that this could be the start of something good. I love Yokohama!
(2003 Original post)
I fought off the worst hangover of my time in Japan to go to Yokohama. I wandered around Chinatown and Minato Mirai which is on the waterfront. Minato Mirai has the world`s 3rd largest Ferris Wheel called the “Cosmo Clock” which takes a full 15 minutes for one revolution, and offers views of Mt. Fuji on a clear day. There were amazing Christmas decorations everywhere. Beautiful! I want to move to Yokohama.
This is another case where my original post was severely lacking detail at the time for a few different reasons, the main one being that I had a date with Asako from the band I met at the John Lennon museum.
The hangover was from my night out at a bar in Noborito which you can read about in yesterday’s post. After meeting a fairly epic night out with Marshall and some random Japanese guys I was feeling like death warmed over. I managed to get myself rehydrate, showered, and loaded up with ibuprofen so I could meet up with Asako in Yokohama.
Our first stop was Chukagai, Yokohama’s Chinatown. Chukagai is the largest Chinatown in Asia. We went to one of the many restaurants for lunch and had chahan (rice bowls). In Canada there are a lot of Chinese restaurants that serve fried rice, however they are all “Canadian Chinese” food that has been made more palatable for Canadians. Their fried rice is generally cheap and relatively flavourless. The fried rice we ate in Chukagai was simply amazing. It was bright and full of flavour, with chunks of meat and vegetables inside. When we were done eating, Asako literally sprinted to the cash register in order to pay for both of us, evening the score from our lunch in Shibuya a few weeks earlier.
After lunch we wandered around Chinatown and headed over to Minato Mirai 21, a shopping and tourist destination on the waterfront. Minato Mirai is home to Landmark Tower (Japan’s largest building), stores, movie theatres, an amusement park with ride and games, and Cosmo Clock. Standing at 112.5 meters, Cosmo Clock was at one time the largest Ferris Wheel in the world. It is also a very popular date spot. There is always a line of couples waiting to get into one of the 60 cars and make the 15 minute rotation with a great view of Yokohama.
Asako and I were having a fun day together, and she suggested that we go on Cosmo clock together. I took this as a positive sign, and about half way around the wheel I made a move.
For those who don’t know me, I am generally oblivious to signals that females give me. In fact, I am planning an upcoming article about my lack of skill when it comes to my romantic interactions with the opposite sex. The situation started with “awkward guy” as a baseline, added in hangover, homesickness, language barrier, lack of cultural knowledge, and mixed in being on the rebound from a 5 year relationship. This created a perfect recipe for poor timing. Perhaps after a few more dates things would have worked out differently, but the move was too soon.
Things were a little awkward for the rest of the time we spent together that day, and at the station Asako gave my hand a squeeze and walked away for her train. There was no discussion of the situation, but the message was fairly clear, she was not interested in turning our fairly new friendship into a relationship.
As I write this 10 years later I am cringing at the memory. It was a good day in Yokohama, but it could have ended better.