Tokyo Extravaganza D6: Yokohama, Revisited
It was a Monday, and very likely a public holiday in Japan because E didn’t need to report for work (can’t remember it now, it being almost 5 years later). Instead he gamely went along with us to Yokohama (横浜) despite it being a rather long way away. I did briefly mention about this trip in the post that chronicled my first visit to the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum and my desire to revisit. Since I did most of the planning work, and the mister had no objections to travelling down to Yokohama, I of course wanted to show them the Raumen Museum.
And it wasn’t easy locating the museum when we took public transportation, unlike my first visit when the tour bus drove us right to the doorstep. There was some walking to be done from Shin-Yokohama Station (新横浜駅) but I was all chirpy and excited about showing them how interesting the museum is.
Unfortunately, they were the very antithesis of impresssed when we finally arrived at the museum. In fact, both of them more than once commented that they couldn’t believe I made them travel so far just to see the ‘museum’. In my defence, the train ride was just slightly under 50 minutes, and hardly considered long but men being men… they tend to exaggerate when they are annoyed.
The museum was already packed with visitors when we arrived, in part due to it being a Public Holiday in Japan that day. Most were local tourists. We didn’t have breakfast so the first thing on our minds was that we should eat. Therein laid the dilemma yet again – which stall to patronise? I left the boys to make up their minds while I continued taking shots. And miraculously they made up their minds fairly quickly.
The mister and E both ordered Shoyu Ramen (醤油ラメン) while I had the Miso Ramen (味噌ラメン) from Hachiya (蜂屋) of Asahikawa (旭川). Delicious as hell, but honestly, when is Ramen in Japan ever not delicious, especially when it is a stall set up at an establishment that possessess the nerves to call itself a ramen museum? I gather not.
After filling our stomachs, we lingered further at the shopping section of the museum. I had to resist the temptation to buy the vacuum-packed specialty ramen home. In part it was because our day just started and I don’t think the mister and E would relish in the thought of lugging my shopping buys all over Yokohama. And the other part? The knowledge that there is no way to replicate the ramen at home, and I would rather retain good memories of the ramen instead of replacing them with bad ones should those I make turn out awful. I manage along fine in the kitchen but ramen outside of Japan just tastes… different.
And out we went to explore the streets of Yokohama,slightly after noon when the crowd was just slowing streaming into the city. Walking at a much more leisurely pace, I must say, compared to Tokyoites we encountered in downtown Tokyo like Ginza and Shinjuku. Less purposeful, more at peace. Must be the sea breeze. 🙂
We made our way to Yokohama Chinatown (横浜中華街). Well, it is rather hard to miss it what with the typical elaborate Chinese archways at the entrances. In fact, there are a total of no less than 5 of similar archways in and about this largest Chinatown in Asia. While pottering about the area, we came by a Chinese temple. It’s neither the biggest nor the most significant one in Yokohama Chinatown but somehow it was the only one we kept coming by. I googled extensively but to no avail as to its identity.
Nevertheless the mister took some time to explore the interior of the temple while E and I lingered to admire the architechture. Not that Singapore has any lack of Chinese temples for us to look at but well… this temple wasn’t as overwhelmingly crowded with people and burning incense so…
I took a lot of shots of it because I was just so drawn to it.
And of course, we also came by all the typical sights and sounds one finds in any Chinatown around the world. The streets and alleys were bustling with activities and come close to dinner time, everyone on the streets was looking for some place to settle dinner. Having been away from home for almost a week, the mister and I were wanting some Chinese Cuisine so that was what we concentrated on looking for. Every single restaurant we came by looked good but eventually we settled for one with an awesome display of dishes they served.
Now, this is where I have to warn any of you out there who crave for Chinese Cusines while overseas – manage your expectations. The Chinese dinner we had in Yokohama Chinatown was disappointing and so unforgettable for the wrong reasons. None of the dishes tasted anything like the Chinese food I am used to. But the Japanese family at the next table were deliciously slurping up their food so I conclude that the problem must lie with expectations. Ours, that is. Many Singaporeans don’t realise this, but we are truly pampered by the plethora of good food we can easily get close to our doorsteps that we start taking things for granted.
We crawled the streets of the Chinatown again after dinner, soaking in the atmostphere. And again came by the same temple we saw in the afternoon. Only difference was that by then, the temple was already closed to visitors.
After spending the whole day in Yokohama, we left the area fairly late in the night. Because it was a work day the next day, I guess most Japanese had already gone home. We sat in a colourful and relatively empty train back to Kamiyacho. And that was when I felt comfortable taking pictures of the near-empty train interior. Being reticent in nature, most Japanese do not like to have their pictures taken without permission. All in all, it was a fun day spent at Yokohama but it would be a long time before I revisit.