A few months ago, I came across this impossibly cute video and the deafening roar of the Maneki Neko has been stuck in my head….therefore, last week I packed my bags for Japan to answer the call of Neko-sama…On the first day, I had the privilege to check out Yokohama while experiencing a minor earthquake.
Yokohama is a good place if you want take a short half day trip outside of Tokyo but is not willing to travel too far.. Basically, there are enough sights and sounds to keep you occupied for half a day or so, but don’t stay too long, because, trust me, you’ll start getting freaking pissed off when you find yourself spending time inside of H&M or Uniqlo, spending heaps of money on items you could easily get cheaper in Singapore. So.. you already know what happened to me, but let’s move on.
1) How to get there:
Contrary to popular belief (that the Japanese Railway system is hopelessly difficult to navigate, plus that rumor that there are some trains that take you to the right locations and then there are those trains that’ll thrust you into the twilight zone depending on your luck..) it’s pretty easy to get a decent grip of the railway systems over there. Once you’ve reached the station, proceed to the counter and ask for a map of all the major lines (mostly you’ll be travelling on the 1)JR, 2)the Metro or 3) the Tokyu/Minato Mirai lines). In order to get to Yokohama, you’ll need to switch from the JR Yamanote Shibuya 渋谷 Station to the Tokyu Toyoko 東急東横line which pretty much takes you to all the places you need to go in Yokohama.
A really small map of the Tokyu line. Basically you’re supposed to be on the red line, which magically transforms into the blue line without you having to change trains. Unless you are on the wrong train, then you’re gonna die….well not really.. but maybe.
2) Minato Mirai
Minato Mirai houses most of the attractions that Yokohama has to offer, be it the massive and sprawling shopping establishment known as Landmark Plaza + Queen’s East or the ominous ferris wheel, or the red warehouse. Here’s a map:
My pick: Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse 横浜赤いレンガ倉庫
Originally a customs and administrative building, the Red Warehouse has in recent years transformed into a cultural and entertainment hub for the hip and happening (which means everyone, since everyone is hip and happening in Japan). It’s a bit of a hassle going there though; it’s really quite a bit of distance away from the Minato Mirai Station.. It’ll take about a 20 minute walk, or never if you run a little. Trust me, it isn’t a distance meant for running, even if its just a little…
Just in case you get lost, here’s a photostream of the things you’re supposed to see along the way in their rightful order (1) Ferris Wheel, (2) Ramen Museum, (3) Crossing the blue circle bridge, (4) small sand field facing the harbour)
There’s 3 floors of little makeshift stores sending quirky bits and pieces but unless you’re completely fine with paying exorbitant prices for things that I can guarantee you don’t need, I suggest you explore the place for its dining options. While you’re there, do check out Nana’s Green Tea, a place that sells the most delectable Matcha Desserts. After that, head on the the 2nd floor for a little bit of fortune telling if you understand Japanese and is into that kind of thing.
3) Beating myself up about it: Motomachi元町
Motomachi (元町), from what I can gather on TV, is a magical, super fantasic (!!) shopping street that feels like walking straight into a fairy tale or a shrek movie…. The place is located near the Motomachi/Chukagai (元町／中華街) Station on the Minato Mirai Line. I didn’t manage to check out the place while I was there, so now, I hate myself a little….but there WILL BE A NEXT TIME…………
To be continued…. because I am hungry and I need food now.