Day 16

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Friday, June 4—Yokohama

As Advertised: Breakfast at Novotel (as described earlier). Unfortunately, Chie and I are both busy at school all day until late afternoon.

Morning: Daytime Option B
Afternoon: Daytime Option C
Evening: Come visit our apartment, and then go out to Dinner Option 2

At last we were ready to start really exploring Yokohama. In one of his several travel guides, “Four Perfect Days in Yokohama,” Glenn had written:

Your time in Yokohama is far too short, but Chie and I hope that you will see enough of the city to understand why we love it and to want to come back. There is a Japanese proverb which roughly translates as “If your family isn’t from Kyoto, even after three hundred years you’ll never be considered a native. To be an Edokko (Tokyo native) requires three generations. But three days in Yokohama are all it takes to become a true Hamakko.” (It’s more concise in Japanese, but you get the idea.) As a harbor town since its origin, Yokohama has welcomed people of every nationality, language, and religion from around the seven seas and poured all of their cultures on top of one bowl of (Chinese) noodles—still distinct ingredients but combined into one delicious meal. During your four days, you’ll pass the longevity test and become naturalized “Hamakko” as well.

Four days indeed didn’t seem like much, but we tried to pack in as much as we could. At the time, after a couple of weeks of highly structured and tightly scheduled activities, our self-directed days in Yokohama seemed very lazy, and that was quite pleasant. Looking back, I am surprised to see how much we actually did.

This day (like all those that were to follow) started with breakfast at Denny’s, which we had ascertained was a much more reasonable option than the ¥2,200 “discount” breakfast at the Novotel.

At some point after breakfast, Barney and I, accompanied by Sam and Debby, walked the short distance from the Novotel to the Yokohama Archives of History. Sam and Debby did not stay long, but Barney and I browsed for a couple of hours, paying for our gift shop purchases right about noon.

After leaving the museum, we walked a few blocks farther toward downtown to find a bank where I could get an additional $100 changed into yen. We settled for a branch of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, where the exchange was handled smoothly following an extremely methodical procedure conducted entirely through gestures.

We returned to Yamashita Park with just time to buy more chocolate mint ice cream bars from FamilyMart before joining the rest of the party (except for Dad) for a one-hour harbor cruise on the Marine Rouge. Here we all are on the Sky Deck waiting for the departure of the boat. Left to right: Tom, Joan, Barney, Debby, Sam, Matthew, and Chris (click to enlarge).

When we returned from the cruise around 3:30 p.m., the group disbanded. Barney and I set off to the other end of Yamashita Park to walk the Kaiko Promenade west to Landmark Tower, returning through town, rushing a bit because we’d agreed to meet Tom and Joan at 6 for supper. We got back, almost on time, to find that Tom had gone to Motomachi to pick up some photos he’d left for processing, so we had time to rest awhile and soak our weary feet.

When Tom returned, about 6:40, we headed out to explore Chinatown and find a cheap-but-good restaurant. Glenn had written:

[A] culinary experience not to be missed is Chinatown, which is more than just a meal. You can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants, but you may want to ask at the information center if you want Mandarin, Sichuan, Shanghai, Hunan, or Taiwanese cuisine. All of these exist, but you need to find them among the majority of Cantonese restaurants. One hint is that the food is just as good at smaller mom-and-pop places on the side streets. They may have shorter menus and less neon, but you’ll pay a lot less for the same taste than you would at one of the block-long behemoths on the main street.

If any of us had read this at the time, we had forgotten it or just ignored it. We ended up at a restaurant-cum-bakery that was less than a block long and had no neon (but a fair amount of illumination, as shown below) for an adventure that was fun and tasty and, for Yokohama, apparently pretty cheap (¥4,858 for two). Although I have a receipt from the restaurant, it is all in Japanese, and no one remembers the name of the place (if we ever knew it), nor do I remember much about what we ate. After puzzling over the menu (which none of us could read, and which contained very few photos), we told the waiter to just bring us a bunch of different entrées to share.

Apparently I went back the next night, located the restaurant where we had eaten, and took this rather fuzzy photo. When I sent the photo to Glenn for identification, he wrote, As soon as I saw the photo, I recognized it as Kaseiro, one of the largest and gaudiest restaurants in Chinatown, on the main street. In 1988, the last time Mother came to Japan with Dad, Chies parents insisted on taking all of us to dinner there, although we always preferred the less pretentious mom-and-pop places on the back street. I didnt realize youd been there, but that makes two generations of Scogginses.

From other sources I learned that the cuisine at Kaseiro is “Beijing-style.” The restaurant (which has three locations) also has an elaborate Web site; at right is a small daylight photo of the front of the bakery entrance. Evidently Kaseiro pastries are distributed to various coffee shops around Yokohama as well.

Unfortunately, we never had time for further exploration in Chinatown, about which Glenn had written:

Also within walking distance is Chinatown, the largest in Asia (unless you count China), with hundreds of restaurants, an impressive temple, lots of shopping, and a series of elaborate gates at the compass points. The eastern entrance is a few blocks from the Novotel, with an information office just inside the East Gate. Chinatown is fun to walk through any time of day: in the morning you can watch the restaurants opening up and deliveries of exotic food; in the daytime you can wander around the markets and shops and get the flavor of Hong Kong, trying to guess the provenance of unrecognizable food; at night the big restaurants on the main streets shut down, the back alleys are still hopping with tiny bars and food stalls.

After leaving the restaurant about 8:45 (according to a receipt from the Kaseiro bakery), we wandered through Yamashita Park, enjoying the nighttime activities (this may have been the evening that we saw a street entertainer juggling a chain saw), and eventually climbed up to an area at the east end of the park labeled “World Square” on our maps. This appellation seems to be unknown to Google or even to Glenn (though I did find a tantalizing aerial view through Microsoft Virtual Earth™) and I have only vague memories of interesting columns and cascades of water, along with arrows (in the pavement?) pointing to faraway places, giving the distance to each. It was too dark to take pictures of the park itself, but it provided a great vantage point for taking pictures of the illuminated Marine Tower.

The Guardian of Water statue in Yamashita Park, presented to the people of Yokohama by the people of San Diego, California, a Sister City, in May 1960. The fountain is programmed to create a continuously flowing progression of varying appearance, and I later made numerous attempts to capture the “perfect” daytime view (see Day 19 for the result).

The festive nighttime illumination of the Hikawa Maru.

Nighttime illumination of the Marine Tower.

On our way back to the hotel, I couldn’t resist taking this picture of Barney with Ronald McDonald in front of the McDonald’s/Denny’s where we often ate.