Note: You can view Mick’s photos of this day here.
On our 4th day in Japan, Mick and I decided to take a day trip to Yokohama. One of our guide books said that while going there is interesting, it isn’t necessarily better than going to Nikko or Kamakura. But for some reason it appealed to both of us and since it was just a 30 minute train ride from Tokyo we decided to do it.
Our first stop when we got off the train was the Yokohama Museum of Art which displayed a lot of traditional Japanese art done in the early-mid 20th century. The special exhibit was the collection of Kojima Usui, a Japanese art collector and author (among other things) in the early to mid 20th century.
Our next stop was the tallest building in Japan, the Yokohama Landmark Tower. It has about 70 floors, and the world’s second fastest elevator (about one floor per second). The observation deck and restaurant at the top boast a gorgeous view, but it would’ve been especially beautiful at night.
Next we went to a buffet restaurant at the top of the hotel at the Landmark Tower. It was a lovely buffet which included both Japanese and Western food, though most of the guests on this day were Japanese (I don’t think I saw any westerners, which is something you start to do in Japan–look for the other westerners). During lunch, I reminded Mick that it was his last day of being a thirty-something. He promptly ordered a cocktail to get through the sharp pangs of regret (of course I joined him).
Yokohama is one of the few cities in Japan that has a Western influence in a chapter of its history. In 1854, Commodore Matthew Perry sailed to Yokohoma with a request (demand?) from the U.S. that Japan open its ports to trade with the U.S. As a result, Yokohoma became a port city with a Western presence for over 100 years, though much of that has been destroyed either by earthquake, fire, or bombing in WWII. The monument pictured below is the site of the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Amity between the U.S. and Japan. Mick just thought it would make a cool picture.
There is a lovely section of the Yokohama waterfront called Yamashita Park which is a very nice walk (and loaded with people walking their dogs, which of course I loved). There is a Japanese song about the Girl in the Red Shoes. The story of the song is a bit complicated, so read the link if you’re interested. This statue commemorates the Girl in the Red Shoes.
As with any city, Yokohama has many museums, some more important than others. During our walk we passed the Silk Museum, which we decided might be interesting. The only reason for it’s existence is the promotion of silk, as it is located in the upper floor of a silk factory. It was interesting however, and having never given a thought to how silk was made, I did learn a bit. I bought a pair of black silk toe socks called tabi in the gift shop.
Another museum we went to was the Yokohama Doll Museum. I have loved dolls since I was a child, though I was almost too tired to go into this one. There were hundreds of dolls from all over the world and it was cool to see, however I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it unless you happen to have an hour or two in Yokohama with absolutely nothing else to do.
One of the main reasons I think both of us were attracted to Yokohama was its China Town. Of course I love the China Towns I’ve visited in America and I thought it would be cool to see one in Japan. Turns out it’s just like the ones in America! There were loads of restaurants and junky souvenir shops.
A nice lady caught my attention because she wanted to give me a hand massage with these plastic things she had on her fingers. Being the tired traveler I was, I couldn’t resist. As she massaged, she explained what each point in the hand affected in the body, such as the neck, head, liver, legs, etc. Next she started massaging my legs with some kind of wooden rolling pin type thing. I would’ve been happy to stand there all day but I started feeling guilty. I ended up buying a pair of shoe insoles with pressure points on the bottom which are actually very comfortable.
I think Mick has a fascination with the plastic food here because he keeps taking pictures of it. It’s funny because sometimes this "food" looks very appetizing and other times it just looks dusty and plastic. This was one of the good ones:
On our way back to the train station there was a Hawaiian-themed restaurant in an Airstream trailer that I thought was funny, so I made Mick take a picture. Japan is full of quirky stuff like this.
This being the 4th day of travel, Mick and I were both pretty exhausted by the time we got on the train to go back to Tokyo. We joined the countless sleeping business men in a quick snooze.
Dinner on this night was to be a 7-11 (or the equivalent) special. It turns out that convenience store food is pretty delicious in Japan, and not an uncommon meal for the busy Tokyoite. On our walk back to the hotel from the train station we stopped and got sandwiches (which, unlike the American-type found in similar stores, boast the softest, freshest bread you can imagine). Add some boxed sake from the mini-bar and we were set!
Tomorrow: Kyoto bound and a new decade begins for Mick…