Friday, November 20, 2015

Loco in Yoko

At the beginning of this month I had a three day weekend. This means traveling! For about a month I’ve been telling people that I’d go to Yokohama. I finally went to Yokohama. This port city is just south of Tokyo and is fabled to be the place ramen started in Japan. How could I not come with sort of resume?

After a later start than I wanted, I took a LOCAL train to Yokohama instead of the Shinkansen. I traveled half the way with a friend/coworker so the increased length really wasn’t that bad. She was headed to Tokyo so we rode the train together until she had to change lines.

I had been asking around for a powerful ramen place to try there. Someone had promised to go to a specific place with me sometime in the future so I decided to put off the ramen outing until she is available. I wouldn't want to ruin my first Yokohama ramen experience afterall. This is key.
A note about my trip to Yokohama. I walked. I walked a lot. My phone keeps records of steps I take and on both Sunday and Monday I broke records. The following days I was sore from the ridiculous amounts of walking I did - that much walking. Could I have taken more local trains? Of course. Why didn’t I? Well, I’d never been to Yokohama and walking the streets allows me get a better feel of the place. At least that is what I tell myself.

I stayed in the smallest and worst hostel yet. I wouldn't recommend this place nor would I stay there ever again. It wasn’t in the best part of town - which explains the price. I had an interesting, umm, experience. As I left my “room,” this older gentleman who appeared to be on something spotted me from down the hall and walked up to me, getting very close, and said “konichiwa.” I responded but then he just stared at me. I returned to locking my room, double checking it now, but he just stood there. Eventually he just walked away. F’n weird man.

My first destination was the port. On may way though I passed by Yokohama Stadium - home of the Baystars. No baseball games were being played but I still scoped the place out as much as I could. Someday.

The walk from the stadium to the port wasn’t too bad. There was some really weird/entertaining street “show(?)” going on. I’ll let you watch the video below. I can’t say I understood entirely what was going on but I did watch it for a bit. I went from never expecting to hear “Dancing Queen in Yokohama” to “100% listening to Dancing Queen in Yokohama” in a matter of seconds. Japan is one hell of a place.

Everyone told me to check out this Red Brick place if I visit Yokohama. So, that’s what I did. This whole area had a sort of Boston vibe to it. The architecture was, well perhaps you guessed, red brick. It was filled with all sorts of shops from chotskies to high class bars. It was a neat little place. From there I walked to Cosmo World. I don’t know about you, but when I think of Yokohama I think of that damn big Ferris Wheel. Well, this wheel is near the port. It’s called the Cosmic Clock which is admittedly pretty awesome. It’s huge, lights up, is rideable, and tells you the time in a digital format - a near perfect Ferris Wheel. I walked past the Cup of Noodle Museum but unfortunately it was closed.

My last stop for the night was Chinatown. Yes, Chinatown IN Japan. Why not? What did I do in Chinatown? I ate of course. The food was a bit pricy but it was pretty damn good. I spent far too much time trying to decide on a place to go. In the end, I’d say it paid off.

The next day had a serious rain problem. I didn’t let this get me down nor stop me. I went to the closest convenient store and bought myself a 500 yen umbrella for the day. My destination was Sankeien Garden. For this walk, I relied on Google Maps to get there. The route was, um, interesting? It took me through several neighborhoods, up and down small mountains, and through more side roads than I could count. I just blindly put my faith into Google. I found a Dennys along the way. I HAD to try out a Japanese Dennys. It was not the Dennys I knew. I’m talking small breakfast menu and breakfast only at breakfast time. I had omurice. It was good, just verrrrrry different.

For being such a big garden, this place was damn hard to figure out how to get in. There were two entrances and I just totally failed in finding them at first. At this point the rain cleared and the day was improving. Sankeien Garden was a random, last minute find but man - it ranks as one of my favorite places in Japan thus far. It was beautiful. Being early November, the foliage was beginning to start. That was awesome. I don’t know why this place stuck such a powerful note with me, it just did. Hell, it was beautiful and peaceful. I took 324756295 pictures of it.

At this point I decided I was done with Yokohama but I still wasn’t ready to journey home. What does this mean? A half day dertour to good ole Tokyo. It was only about an hour away by local train. Since I was running on a weird garden high, I continued my trek Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park. The foliage gave another powerful assist to making both of these locations awesome. Meiji shrine just bled history and tradition. Yoyogi Park (beside sounding like someone hard talking to a famous picnic basket stealing bear) has a delightful juxtaposition of being a hidden away fantastical garden while being surrounded by the skyscrapers of Shibuya. Pretty awesome.

While contemplating heading back that same coworker that I left with a day ago contacted me about meeting her and her friend (who lives in Tokyo) in Roppongi. It was closeish, drinking sounded awesome, and I’d get to learn how to take the buses from Tokyo to Numazu. Win win. Though I claimed it would take me a half hour to get there, I got super lost. Super lost. To be fair, I had never been to Roppongi before and the bar was on the 5th floor of a skyscraper. I was at the skyscraper within a half hour, figuring out it was on a different floor and then the three different elevators I (had to?) take to get there was another thirty minutes. It sort of reminded me of delivering pizza to the Boca Hotel Beach Resort but with no one speaking English. I accept the fact that few people will understand that reference, but just know I mean it as a sort of time restrictive personal hell.

I found it though! Then drinks were had. I was drinking some foreign beer that I had never heard of nor remember the name of. It tasted decent and came is fun gigantic sizes that impressed/worried the bartenders that served them to me. It was that or Hennigan on tap, now you understand my decision. I got to witness higher class Japanese game spit and equally got to watch higher class Japanese game get rejected. Despite my lack of Japanese language skills, some things are universally clear as day. The drinking was incredibly fun and was completely worth the frustration of being momentarily hopefully lost. Fun times for all! I want to have a big night drinking in Tokyo in the near future.
As promised, I got to take the bus back. The bus is sort of awesome. Don’t get me wrong, trains for days. BUT, taking the local train to Tokyo involves transfers and doesn’t guarantee a seat. The bus has no transfers, takes about the same amount of time, cost cheaper (on weekdays), and guarantees a seat. The downside to the bus is traffic, which luckily, was find when I took it. Once back in Numazu we said our farewells, and thus ended the long weekend voyage to Yokohama... and Tokyo.

My next goal is to figure out how to get this giant moth out of my room.


  1. Hey Andrew,
    Let the good times roll !
    Keep the post the posts & pictures coming.

    Have a great Japanese Thanksgiving<<<

    Most importantly, have a great HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!!!