It’s been more than 2 weeks since I first arrived here, and I wrote something similar on my last post but I’d like to reiterate – I know for sure it’s definitely stopped feeling like a crazy holiday experience and the fact that class begins again on Thursday (28th) has started kicking in. I’m spending less money on touristy things and I’m starting to crack down on getting serious again with my language learning.
I do have to say, though, that I think Japan being a “weird” country is kind of an exaggerated misconception. I think it’s just very different but in no way is it on a different level than what you might encounter in England, for example. One of the things that I was led to believe was that the television here is absolutely insane and adverts are all completely crazy… but everything I’ve been watching so far is actually pretty normal and the same kind of zany you’d find on English TV.
I was sweating as soon as I walked out of the station
I think it’s just because everything is presented in an unfamiliar way. I’m glad I’m realising this stuff now, because I think it’s definitely a sign that I’m getting used to things here. I’ve yet to immerse myself into pop culture, what music is popular, trendy celebrities, etc. but I’m coping just fine without that knowledge for the minute.
I’ve been up to a fair amount of things this week, including going to Ikebukuro, an arcade in Shibuya, revisiting Harajuku (18th September was a holiday in Japan and it was 30 degrees Celsius heat… not well thought out as a day to go to such a popular spot) and the imperial palace gardens (which I technically didn’t even get to visit because they were closed, so I was left outside the gate with a bunch of other disappointed tourists).
The focus of this post, though, is on a little trip I took to Yokohama, Japan’s second most populated city, situated an hour south from Tokyo.
I love how crowded and lively Tokyo is. It’s a very welcome change from how things were in Norwich… but I couldn’t help but feel pretty at ease with how we were no longer having to navigate through crowds of people. It’s not even that there was any tension with being in big crowds, but somehow, I found myself appreciating the small break.
The station we disembarked from happened to be very close to Yokohama’s own China Town – it’s the biggest one in Asia. It also has a very different feel to the one back in Soho. It was a very pleasant surprise that we managed to find a restaurant with vegan options, run by a very lovely Taiwanese man who insisted we come back next time we’re in Yokohama. I’ve got no idea what it was called, but it was tofu and seitan in a kind of spicy oil, served with rice. (Needless to say it was absolutely delicious)
We found ourselves exploring China town a little bit, looking at all the trinkets that were on sale (featuring the mascot of the area, which is of course a panda), before we headed toward the ocean.
The Ocean & Cup Noodles
Yokohama is a port town. This is the first time since I’ve been in Japan that I’ve been in such close proximity to the sea.
And on such a boiling hot day in the middle of September… I definitely needed that experience. No beaches or anything of the sort here, but just being in close proximity to the water was more than enough, strangely.
…I suppose it must sound a bit tame. I’m not writing about any crazy things that are happening to me as I was doing before, but like I’ve mentioned… I just feel more at peace now and I think that must be reflecting into how both people and the environment are interacting with me.
Or – perhaps – it was just because I got to escape to a quieter town for a day. Either answer is fine.
This was hanging from the ceiling I guess?
As we let the universe guide us to wherever we needed to be, we actually came across Yokohama’s cup noodle museum… which, for an entrance fee of 500 yen, you can come across a land of Inspiration!TM and Believe In Yourself!TM and You Have The Power To Live Out Your Dreams!TM.
I mean it. It was written on basically every single wall.
I write that as if I’m making light of those things, but I fully appreciate wholesome messages. It’s more the fact that those things were coming out of a cup noodle museum that I’m making light of. It almost felt like it was fateful that I saw something this weirdly inspirational at this time in my life, too.
Yokohama Landmark Tower
The last segment of the day was spent on the 69th floor of the Yokohama Landmark Tower, otherwise known as the Sky Garden. In a manner similar to what you can see from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the whole of Yokohama can be observed from this building. We arrived at the perfect time – allowing us to view the horizon in the day time, just before the sunset, and then with a small amount of time we could observe the beautiful night sky as well.
One thing I didn’t manage to catch on my camera was the fact that Mount Fuji was visible, ever so distantly. Fuji can no longer be climbed, as the season lasts only from August – early September (?). It means that I’m going to be unable to do so while I’m studying here… but the future is filled with possibilities, and it doesn’t mean I can’t observe the mountain up close.
Until then, I’m more than happy to observe from a distance.