Ahh.. Yokohama.. the first thing that comes to my mind when I say “Yokohama” is the famous brand that makes damn good car tyres. It happened to be one of my previous set of tyres on my car back in Australia. It’s not until I am in Japan that I realise a lot of famous Japanese brands are real Japanese towns/cities! Kawasaki is another example.
Last weekend, I got to see "Yokohama”, the second largest city in Kanto prefecture, just 40 minutes south of Tokyo. I am also lucky enough to be able to catch up with a Japanese friend that I met almost 10 years ago in Australia, whom I have not seen ever since. Facebook kept us in touch, and what do you know, I actually have a local tour guide today for a trip to Yokohama.
Actually I should say tour guides.. Her name is Yoko, and Ku-chan (her nickname) is her 4 year old daughter. Ku-chan doesn’t speak a word of English, so it was a little difficult communicating with her. But she certainly didn’t have difficulty doing the typical Japanese pose for a photo:
Yokohama is a port city, so naturally, I get to see some water! If there is one thing I realised what I had been missing since I started travelling in May, I had not seen any decent ocean for a LONG time!! So, it’s nice to see a view of something resembling the ocean when I got there:
It’s not a city with grand attractions, that’s for sure, but pretty enough to keep you interested for a day. I was told it is an ‘escape’ for young and old couples alike from Tokyo to do their ‘thing’ here. So, naturally I spotted a LOT of couples sitting by the sea-side. At one point, I wasn’t sure if I should be here!
We first paid a visit to the so called “Ramen Museum”, which showcases Ramen from across the country. Here you get to taste ALL the different varieties of ramen from soy-based, miso-based to tonkatsu-based (pork bone) in all different styles. All of these are available from the approximately 8 stores in 1 building. You certainly can have TOO much ramen here, because that is all they sell!
As you can see, there is a little bit of a crowd, and some stores had a wait time of up to 45 minutes. Here is one that I had (Tonkatsu based)
And this one is actually called “Tsukemen” where the ramen is separated from the soup itself.
I certainly didn’t have the stomach to try all the stores there, not to mention it will empty my wallet out at the same time! So, after the meal, it was a quick tour around the ‘history’ section of the Ramen museum. I now feel so compelled to try out every Ramen variety available out there! This can’t be good!
Perhaps the next biggest highlight of Yokohama is Chinatown! Normally I would avoid it at all cost, since I just came from a month of travel in China. And given I am Chinese, why would I want to come to Chinatown in Japan for!!? Well, this one in Yokohama happens to be the biggest in Asia, and one of the biggest in the world! That’s why!
Like a typical Chinatown, it is full of food, markets and noisy salespeople shouting. Of course, it feels a little different to the Chinatown that I am used to as well. Every Chinese here shouts in Japanese!! Aside from that, you can spend quite a good part of the afternoon to walk around this place, given the size.
Nevertheless I still feel like I am in China, with the endless choice of food available. Ku-chan (Yoko’s daughter) has been hinting her mum to get ‘Nikuman” all day (meat bun), which is apparently a big thing over here. So, naturally that’s the first thing we went for:
I have had plenty of “nikuman” (Japanese for “Chinese meat bun”) before, but the typical size of the “nikuman” here is not quite what I expected:
Apart from it is HUGE, they sell quite a lot of varieties as well. I actually found this one rather fascinating!
Yeah.. a BLACK Chinese bun!! And another surprise came, when I bought one, and actually found what’s inside:
It’s ‘bee-hun’ noodles, along with a pink layer of bun as well! It’s almost too pretty to eat, I would say. Fortunately, it didn’t taste too bad either. It’s not the best, but that’s one original Chinese bun!
It was fairly hot day here in Yokohama this time of the month, so all of us were quite tired by 2nd half of the afternoon. Ku-chan was probably the only exception and her eyes lit up when she saw a little playground in Chinatown:
Even without any Japanese, I got the hint that she wanted to play with me, leaving her mum to have a rest at a nearby bench. Somehow, without any assistance, I understood her actions and requests, and played hide-and-seek, the swing, and the little slides there. It didn’t take long before I was a big hit with her! Talk about undiscovered talent! I am actually pretty good with kids, even when I am not able to communicate with them at all!
Good thing is I learnt quite a few Japanese words from her today, like “Okii Shiteru” (Make it bigger), and “nureru” (getting wet, e.g. paper), and “nikuman” (meat bun). So, this day trip wasn’t just about Yokohama, but a day to learn some new Japanese words, and discovering a hidden talent of mine.
Makes me think, perhaps I can be a pretty good dad. Ku-chan certainly made me look that way!!