Yokohama Ramen Coma

4 05 2010

Continuing on with the Australian Invasion (of one), the next day trip Lauren and I took was to Yokohama.  Our main reason (my main reason?) for going there was the Ramen Museum, however no trip to Yokohama is complete without a visit to Chinatown.  The Yokohama Chinatown is one of the largest in the world, and its a very bright and lively shopping and restaurant area, with a couple of shrines thrown in. 

Chinatown Shrine

Chinatown Shrine

So we wandered around there for a while, and I stocked up on Chinese pork buns and egg noodles.  Since we were going to the Ramen Museum later we didn’t have lunch at Chinatown, and we made our way along the bay side to the Minato Mirai area.  There we took a ride on the ‘Cosmo Clock 21’ ferris wheel. 

Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris Wheel

Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris Wheel

It really struck me how much the Minato Mirai district has changed since my first visit in about 2002.  It’s a much more international tourist friendly place, and there are more things to do.  From the ferris wheel we spotted a couple of things I want to try next time I’m in Yokohama, like the foot bath at the Manyo club, and putt-putt at Vivre.  Both of which are on top of the buildings! 

 

From Minato Mirai it was finally time to get our late lunch (or early dinner) at the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum.  The Ramen Museum is one of my favourite places to go in Yokohama.  Once you enter the Museum and walk downstairs into the basement, you enter a mock-up of what Japan was like in the early to mid Showa era (1925 and onwards). 

Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum

Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum

At any one time, there are about nine different restaurants showcasing different varieties of Ramen from all over Japan.  You can buy large or small bowls of ramen, and traditional Japanese sweets.  We were only able to fit in two small bowls of ramen, so we had Tonkotsu ramen (broiled pork bone soup) from the Kumamoto shop ‘Komurasaki’ 

Tonkotsu ramen

Tonkotsu ramen

and Miso ramen from the Hokkaido shop ‘Eki’  

Miso ramen

Miso ramen

 Both were very delicious, but pretty heavy.  I love trying different types of ramen, and tonkotsu still remains my favourite.  Alas, living in Kanto, the regional flavor of ramen is soy sauce, so I don’t get to satisfy my craving very often. 

And, after rolling ourselves home, that was our day in Yokohama! 

Once again, Lauren made a video, and you can check out her YouTube channel here

Advertisements




Yokohama Bike Ride

9 02 2010

JAPANiCAN ran a free bicycle rental day in Yokohama last Saturday.  It was actually a survey for the Yokohama government in trying to improve tourism and road traffic in the area, so after riding around we had to fill in a survey (but we were also paid 2,000 yen).

I asked a friend to go with me, and we met bright and early on Saturday to get our bikes.  The bikes were really interesting.  I was my first opportunity to ride a powered bicycle, and while fun, I don’t think I could live with one everyday.

We spent the next few hours cycling along the waterfront in Yokohama.  Both of us had been to Yokohama a number of times before, so we had seen most things already, but as this was my first time there with my SLR I took some photos of the buildings.

Here is the Red Brick Warehouses, which are now a shopping mall –

The buildings nicknamed King, Queen and Jack (respectively) –

Jack (the bottom one) is my favourite.

The girl with red shoes on

And of course, what’s a trip to Yokohama without stopping in Chinatown to have some eats (^-^)v My pick of the day was Chilli Prawn Buns –





Of weddings, clouds, and statues

24 07 2009

A couple of  weekends ago (see, I’m already behind…) I was invited to a friend’s second wedding party in Yokohama.

I find Japanese weddings to be very different to what weddings I have attended in Australia. Firstly, in Japan they hold a number of parties. The actual legal wedding occurs at your local ward office, and is really just like going to sign the document. Then you have wedding parties.

Most couples have at least 2 wedding parties. The first being a wedding ceremony and formal reception. The second party is more like a reception, but the couple would have had a “costume” change, and more guests would be invited. The guests have to pay for the party, around the order of ¥5000 or upwards, but this will probably include food and drink. It’s also probable that there will be some sort of game either to get to know the other guests or for prizes. These 2nd parties only last about 2 hours, and then afterwards guests will either head off to the next party, an after party, or home.

Oh, and did I mention, its also customary for guests to wear black or dark colours to a wedding in Japan???  Particularly if you go to the first party.

All in all it must be an exhausting day for the couple, with sooo many events to attend. Personally I do prefer the western style of ceremony and one reception, just seems a whole lot easier to me, because Japanese weddings are such a big production!

Anyway, the party I attended a few weekends ago was a lot of fun, and it was good to see a lot of my old colleagues. Because it was in Yokohama I opted to stay there overnight, it’s about an hour and a half from where I live, and then the following day went out further to Hakone to enjoy some hiking and onsen.

Mikas Wedding Party in Yokohama

Mika's Wedding Party in Yokohama

Alas my Hakone plans were a bit too ambitious for someone who was out late the night before, not to mention the weather wasn’t agreeable either.  Hakone, being in the mountains, is often in the clouds.  On a good day you can see Mt Fuji from Lake Ashi.

Lake Ashi and Mt Fuji

Lake Ashi and Mt Fuji

And on a bad day, well, you can’t see much at all…

Lake Ashi in cloud

Lake Ashi in cloud

On the Monday I wanted to do an 11km walk around Lake Ashi, and then hike back down the mountains to Hakone-Yumoto. I did start the walk around Lake Ashi, but about a third if the way around clouds set in and I decided it was best to turn back. So instead I headed back to my hotel, B&B Pension Hakone. My hotel was a very pleasant surprise, very cheap, but included breakfast and a discount ticket to a nearby onsen (Mori no Yu, part of Yunessun). So that evening I rested my sore muscles in the hot spring.

The next day my plan was to hike from Gora station to Tsukahara station before heading home. But again my exhaustion got the better of me (in the end I did walk over 20km in the two days) and I went to the Hakone Open Air Museum instead.

The museum was very interesting. I had been meaning to go there for a long time and I’m happy to have been now. It’s a museum dedicated to displaying statues outdoors. But for me it was very interesting to learn my own tastes in sculpture. It seems I tend towards shiny things and the human form. And not abstract sculptures, which surprised me because I tend towards more modern artwork.

Anyway, I didn’t take many photos, becuase the signs all said no photos.  But then walking about I saw many people using cameras, so here’s a couple of the sculptures I liked –

Shiny Ball thingy

Shiny Ball thingy

Disembodied Head

Disembodied Head

By the way, for anyone interested in hiking in Hakone, this site is a great resource if you don’t mind wading through the Japanese on their maps – Hakone-Zenzan.  The hikes I was planning to do were #1, #4 (which doesn’t have a map, but from Hakone Machi just keep following the closest road to the lake going left, and you cant miss the trail head), and something in the area of #18. I used the Mapple Hakone hiking map to plan my hikes.  (One day when I actually do the hikes, I’ll do a proper write up…)