On my second day in Tokyo, I didn’t tour in Tokyo but instead headed to Yokohama. A half hour subway ride from Tokyo, Yokohama is the second biggest city in Japan and boasts some of its own interesting places to visit and a beautiful, new waterfront district. In Yokohama, I met up with my friend Yuri from Bowdoin and she took me around the city for the day.
In the morning, we went to the Cup Noodles Museum in Minato Mirai. The museum teaches about Momofuku Ando, the creator of instant cup noodles, and different interactive exhibits show you how to be innovative like Ando. Kids walked around an optical illusion room and a replica of the cottage in which Ando experimented with an instant ramen recipe.
The highlight of our visit, though, was making our own cup noodles. For a small fee, guests can design their own cup and then choose what flavor ramen and which toppings to put in their own custom cup of noodles. Odd, unique, and fun, this museum is a good, lighthearted place to visit.
After the museum, we walked next door to Cosmoworld, an amusement park in the city’s port. Admission is free and guests pay per attraction. We went on the Ferris Wheel, iconic in Yokohama’s skyline, and enjoyed the views over the city.
Yokohama’s Chinatown is the most famous in Japan, and we visited after our Ferris Wheel ride. Accustomed to small and shabby Chinatowns in the States, I was impressed by Yokohama’s. It’s spacious, scenic, clean, and offers some great street food. We got soup dumplings and bubble tea at a popular shop window Houtenkaku (上海小籠包専門店 鵬天閣 新館) and then continued onto our next stop.
From Yokohama, Kamakura is another short train ride away. Famous for its giant Buddha and beaches, Kamakura is a pleasant and popular excursion from Tokyo among tourists and Tokyoites seeking to escape the heat island effect in summer. After taking another small train to the coastal part of town, we followed people strolling to the Great Buddha. Along the way, we stopped for coffee at Idobata, a small coffee shop run out of the back of a van. The owner is very friendly, and we chatted as he made a great cup of Ethiopian.
Entrance to the Great Buddha was only two hundred yen, and to go inside the statue itself is only another twenty yen. Though smaller than the Buddha at Todaiji in Nara, I loved this one as it’s outside and among some great scenery. Yuri said she’d visited the week before when somebody else was visiting her and it was packed, but when we visited in the late afternoon, it was quiet and relaxing.
We wandered down to the beach and watched as the evening crept in. We boarded the train back to the downtown area and walked up the main shopping street to Kamakura Mameya, a peanut candy shop with lots of tasty free samples.
Back in Yokohama, we had okonomiyaki and yakisoba for dinner at Yukari in the station, and then I headed back to Tokyo for the night. Though Yokohama may feel like an extension of Tokyo, I found it to be a great, clean, relaxed city to visit away from the crowded areas of Tokyo. Kamakura also felt like an idyllic paradise. Even though it was cool in the evening, I found it to be a great retreat even in winter.
For video from my trip, head over to my friend May’s vlog.