This marks what is hopefully the first instalment of a five-part series that talks about the cities I’ve visited in Japan more than once. I don’t know how successful I’ll be keeping the posts on schedule because right now only this one’s getting written, but we’ll see how it goes lol.
Today’s city is…
(photo credit: me, summer 2016, from the ferris wheel in Cosmoworld)
When I think of Yokohama, I think of balance. It’s incredibly modern (look at that photo!), but also a place where history survives on the streets. Not unlike Tokyo, but with a completely different angle to its history. Yokohama is almost inherently cosmopolitan: it boasts a 150-year-old Chinatown, and has held open the doors for Japan’s foreign trade since 1859. This sounds like an oxymoron, but there’s so much in Yokohama that has been foreign for a very long time. This is further evidenced by an entire area that’s dedicated to preserving the West’s first touches on Japan in the mid-19th century – I don’t have photos for you (I forgot to take some during my trip in the summer) but you can check this link out: Bashamichi. There are random plaques on the architecture explaining the history of the building in question, and it’s even written in English!
I’ve visited Yokohama six times, but have only really been there properly twice. ‘Been there properly’ meaning staying there more than a day and really taking in the vibe of the city. A large part of why I wanted to visit ‘properly’ in the first place was because (a) my favourite Takarazuka actress, Nozomi Fuuto, was born and raised in Yokohama and (b) Ohno Satoshi from Arashi starred in a drama in 2016 (I’ve been an Arashi fan for half my life, I got into them in 2003) that was set in Yokohama, and I wanted to visit all the places that he filmed at. I’d watched the drama with my spouse so it was even more fun since we’d walk around in Yokohama and point out the places that featured in the drama, and sometimes we’d hum the BGM that played in a particular scene as we walked through a certain place the scene was filmed at.
Photo credit: still me
The picture is from my 2016 trip, and shows the view from our hotel room. We stayed at the Hotel Montery Yokohama, in a room with a harbour view, i.e. it overlooks Yamashita Park. (Yes, we splurged. It was 13 000 yen a night.) The room looked like this. (We didn’t take a picture of our hotel room for our 2018 trip because it was a run-of-the-mill business hotel. We stayed here, in Kannai, for two nights.) We chose to stay in this area because it featured heavily in the drama.
There’s also a ship in that picture; it’s the Hikawa Maru, an ocean liner that’s docked at Yamashita Park. BTW I adore Yamashita Park, it’s just a park, but it’s really vast and the grass is really nice and I wish I could live there:
JUST A PARK,
BUT THE GRASS!!! IT FELT CLEAN!!! AND MY SPOUSE IS CUTE!
AND THE VIEW!!!
These are from 2018, by the way. ALL PHOTOS IN THIS POST CREDITED TO ME, ME, ME
I realise I’m setting a pretty high standard for the other parts in the mini-series with all these photos and I’m not sure if I have enough photos archived to embellish the other posts, so I shall pace myself. Also, bandwidth.
Another place that I visit every time I go to Yokohama is Chinatown. It’s got some great Chinese food. I really enjoy the dim sum buffets! Bearing in mind I was raised in Singapore and therefore not some undiscerning peasant when it comes to food, I think I can safely vouch for the quality of the Chinese cuisine that can be found in Yokohama’s Chinatown.
This was me in 2016 being super emotional about getting to eat authentic carrot cake with proper chili sauce in Japan
There’s another place that I like to go in Chinatown: The Yokohama Hakurankan. It’s got a lot of nice souvenirs and I can buy rare flavours of Baby Star Dodekai there (Baby Star Dodekai is one of my favourite snacks, produced in Yokohama; there’s a mini-factory right there on the second floor). And because the Hakurankan is right smack in the middle of Chinatown, I like to take a rest there after my activities in the area. ‘Rest’ doesn’t only mean a toilet break (although the toilets are nice!) – there’s a rooftop cafe on the third floor of the Hakurankan, and when we were there the weather was perfect enough for us to try the cafe’s free footbath! (We didn’t buy anything from the cafe, we just went to use the footbath LOL)
The smell of chlorine was really strong, but hey, at least we know it’s disinfected!
Also, we were surprised to find out that Yokohama has a zoo that you can enter free. We later found out Coca Cola is a major sponsor of the zoo, so that kind of explains it (corporate-social responsibility effort). It’s called Nogeyama Zoo.
Bear that kept swinging its head left and right
Really nice photo op in the currently-unused polar bear enclosure
Some people have told me they don’t like visiting Yokohama because it’s a city. But I like it for that very fact. Having grown up in a city means Yokohama promises me things I expect, but with a different flavour. And it’s that change in flavour that I seek.
This is just a fraction of my experiences in Yokohama. There’s so much more I haven’t shown you, like the Aka Renga Warehouse, the Cup Noodle Museum, Cosmoworld, my favourite pancake place (Eggs’n’Things), my other favourite pancake place (Butter), the lovely shopping places that I don’t spend any money at (Bay Quarter, World Porters, I love window shopping), my favourite food souvenir (Ariake Yokohama Harbour)… But I’ve spent two hours on this post and I have no more time. XD
Please don’t expect all the other parts to be picture-heavy. Thanks. XD
You make me feel so blessed to be working in Yokohama!
Sad thing is, once you work in a beautiful place, the beautiful place becomes a dread to visit on your off days, hahaa. But I totally agree with you that Yokohama is amazing. In fact, I feel that the shopping here trumps those in main tokyo cities like Shibuya and Shinjuku!
I shall find time to visit Minato Mirai and Yamashita Park one of these days. And I absolutely love akarenga because it’s so stunning at night.
@GJH! Let’s go hunt down pancakes. From Butter, to Bill’s to Eggs’n’Things!