Day 18

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Sunday, June 6—Yokohama

As Advertised: Breakfast at Novotel. I am free all day, and Chie will be free most of the day.

Morning: Daytime Option E (or come visit our apartment)
Afternoon: Daytime Option F
Evening: Come visit our apartment and then go out to Dinner Option 3. That night, I will be hanging around the second floor of the Novotel, meeting an old friend, so drop by and we can have a drink and a chat together on your last night in Yokohoma.

We awoke to rain. Needless to say, we had been warned: in “Four Perfect Days in Yokohama,” Glenn had written:

Weather: At this time of year, the weather in Yokohama is mercurial, in transition across three seasons: (a) beautiful warm sunny late spring, with highs in the 70s, low humidity and breezes; (b) dark overcast drizzly monsoon, with highs in the 60s, high humidity, and sometimes strong winds; (c) blazing mid-summer, with strong sun, highs in the 80s (rarely in the 90s until August), and occasional thunderstorms. Let’s hope for the first season, but as you move into June, it’s wise to have an umbrella handy and a rain alternative.

And of course he’d provided those alternatives:

What to Do Indoors: Rain is always a possibility in June. Landmark Plaza and Queen’s Square are entirely covered, and you can get there and back by subway without getting wet [this of course assumes you could get to a subway station dryshod]. There are several large museums, including the world-class Yokohama Museum of Art near Landmark Tower. My recommendation (rain or shine) is a smaller museum: the Yokohama Archive of History, which as a good general introduction (in English as well as Japanese) to the opening of Yokohama and its development as the entry point for Western culture into Japan, as well as a special exhibit on Commodore Perry right now. If you are interested in ships, shipping, and shipbuilding, there are two maritime museums: the larger is next to the Nippon Maru, with a combined ticket; and NYK (the Mitsubishi shipping line which was once the world’s largest) runs another in its classic old headquarters building with Corinthian columns on Kaigan-dori street. A new attraction (so new I haven’t been there) is called China Museum, a multi-story complex just inside Chinatown from the East Gate. It purports to take you back to Shanghai in the 1930s, with entertainment, restaurants, and shopping all under one roof.

Reading these suggestions now gives me a lot of ideas for what to do next time we’re in Japan (we came home, as most travelers do, unsatisfied and determined to return), but on this particular day, we didn’t follow any of them (we had, however, been to the Yokohama Archives of History on Friday). Instead, after a leisurely start, getting out about 9 for breakfast at Denny’s, where we were joined by Sam and Debby, we returned to the hotel to regroup and persuaded Joan to join us for a visit to the Yokohama Doll Museum.

We “did” the Museum pretty thoroughly, including sitting through an unfathomable but apparently hilarious puppet show that appeared to along Punch and Judy lines. Naturally, we hit the gift shop on the way out, and I bought a book for our daughter, Virginia, containing the song and story of the Little Girl with Red Shoes On.

We left the museum about 12:30 and returned to the hotel, where I changed my soggy socks for dry ones (apparently for the second time), after which we sallied forth again to McDonald’s to have Big Mac specials for lunch.

Another return to the hotel, this time to collect Matthew, and then we headed for the Yokohama Silk Museum, which we found fascinating but exhausting: my feet and back were protesting that they were about “museumed out”! We left the museum, where Barney had bought a beautiful violet silk scarf for Virginia, about 3:45 and again returned to the hotel where I peeled off wet socks for the third time, this time replacing them with stockings for our visit with Glenn’s friend, which he had described as follows:

On Sunday evening, I plan to hang around the Novotel to meet a friend who will just have flown in from Hawai’i the night before (too late to join our banquet). He is Robert Stern, my closest friend since we met in 1988, also a teacher of IB history and Theory of Knowledge. He taught in Tokyo until 2001, and for the last three years has been at the I’olani School in Honolulu. Paradise didn’t satisfy him, though, and he is returning to Tokyo with his wife and two sons. He has heard a lot about all of you for 16 years and is looking forward to meeting as many of you as are free that night. Please stop by the bar or restaurant for a drink and a chat.

We had some difficulty making connections. Despite Glenn’s no doubt excellent directions, Robert had gotten lost, and then he somehow missed us because we were in the lobby and he went straight to the bar (having gathered at 4, we’d discovered that the bar didn’t open till 5, so we repaired to the lobby to wait for Robert there). As a favor to Chie, the bartender opened up at 4:45, about five minutes after we finally made contact, and we had drinks and snacks and visited till nearly 7.

Throughout the trip Barney had been toying with the idea of buying a digital camera, so we set off to take the subway downtown to Yodabashi Camera for another spell of dithering and soul searching. We had difficulty finding the store (despite what should have been clear directions) and couldn’t understand why even the helpful officers at the kōban (police box) seemed unclear on how to direct us. We later learned that there are several Yodabashi electronics stores in the area, and we had not been clear about which one we were looking for. We did eventually find the store, but sure enough, as I wrote in my diary, “his feet terminally cooled.” We did at least have the experience of taking the new Minato Mirai subway line, as described in the Subways section of the Travel and Transport page.

Returning to Yamashita Park, we had supper at Denny’s and returned to the room about 10.