yokohama: points north {walking tour 20: part 2)   19 comments

Saturday, April 15:  Heading inland from Yamashita Park, I come to Port Opening Square, which commemorates the the 1854 treaty between the U.S. and Japan at what was at that time a small village on Yokohama Bay.  The square has fountains, flowers and trees and a memorial to U.S.-Japanese Friendship.

Monument to U.S. – Japanese Friendship

Monument to U.S. – Japanese Friendship

Yokohama Kaigan Kyokai, on the border of Port Opening Square, was founded on March 10, 1872, as the first Protestant church for the Japanese in this country.

Yokohama Kaigan Kyokai

Continuing inland on Minato-odori, I pass the Yokohama Archives of History, established on June 2, 1981, at the historic site where Japan and the U.S. signed the Treaty of Kanagawa in 1854; it exhibits historical materials from the Edo period to the Taisho-Showa era.

Yokohama Archives of History

All along Kaigan-dori, I find miniature garden dioramas under the auspices of the “Spring Flower Festa.”  I can’t read any of the Japanese, so I can’t tell what each one represents.

Kanagawa Prefectural Office (The King) is one of the Three Towers, a group of historical towers at the Port of Yokohama. They have been given the nicknames The King, The Queen and The Jack.

Kanagawa Prefectural Office

As I approach Yokohama Park, I hear crowds roaring and yelling before I can even see the Stadium, which opened in 1978, holds 30,000 people, and is used primarily for baseball. It’s noisy and I don’t really feel like walking through the park with that stadium in it.  By this time my legs are killing me, so when I find a Starbucks on the corner across from the park, I sit at the window bar and enjoy a slice of orange cake and a peach smoothie drink.  After a bit of a rest, I am greeted by some pretty tulips dancing in the wind on the border of the park.

tulips at Yokohama Park

tulips at Yokohama Park

tulips at Yokohama Park

After leaving Yokohama Park, I walk parallel to the harbor (quite far inland) for several blocks, and then turn toward the harbor again on Basha-michi.  This is a very long stretch, with the road eventually turning into Bankokubashi-dori, and I wonder if I’ll ever get back to the harbor.  Finally, after what seems an eternity, I reach Shinko Pier, and my book of trusty walks informs me I’ve “left the first part of the tour, which covers the old center of Yokohama, the Kannai (Inside the Checkpoint) sector, in which foreigners were at first restricted to this transplanted foreign community within Japan” (Tokyo: 29 Walks in the World’s Most Exciting City).

At the western end of Shinko Pier is the huge steel Ferris wheel I spotted from as far away as the south end of Yamashita Park.  It’s part of the Yokohama Cosmo World Amusement Park; the wheel takes 15 minutes to complete a full circle.

Ferris Wheel at Yokohama Cosmo World Amusement Park

Yokohama’s Ferris Wheel

Past Cosmo World, I cross a bridge and can immediately see the 32-floor sail-shaped Yokohama Grand Intercontinental Hotel.  Between the Ferris wheel and the hotel, Yokohama’s skyline is whimsical and welcoming.

The Yokohama Grand Intercontinental Hotel

Waterway around Shinko Pier

a children’s area, which seems to be part of Cosmo World, is at the base of Yokohama’s Queen’s Square

I make my way through the National Convention Hall complex, a sprawling building of no particular interest, to Seaside Park (Rinko Park), which looks out over Yokohama Harbor from the north side.  At this point, I’ve seen Yokohama Harbor from south to north. Beside the Convention Hall is the Yokohama Grand Intercontinental.  Rinko Park is a little scruffy and has just a smattering of folks sitting on the concrete steps lining the harbor side walkway or picnicking on the grass.

Yokohama Grand Intercontinental

From here, I get a good view of the 1989 Yokohama Bay Bridge, a suspension bridge that extends 860 metres (2,821 feet) from shore to shore.

View of Yokohama Bay Bridge from Rinko Park

view north from Rinko Park

I leave the rather unimpressive Rinko Park and head inland, passing the Convention Hall to my left and walking several blocks past modern but characterless apartment buildings.

walking inland north of the National Convention Hall


I reach the inviting wide pedestrian walkway, with fountains and sculptures, bordered by the Yokohama Museum of Art and Landmark Tower on one side, and a huge modern shopping complex on the other.

Landmark Tower at the Minato Mirai 21 Complex

I don’t have time to visit the Yokohama Museum of Art today, but at least I know where it is for a rainy day.  This 1989 museum is the second largest art museum in Japan.  Its permanent collection includes paintings by Cezanne, Magritte, Dali, and Japanese artists, as well as paintings related to Yokohama. It was designed by Kenzō Tange, a Japanese architect, and winner of the 1987 Pritzker Prize for architecture.

Landmark Tower and the Yokohama Museum of Art

Yokohama Museum of Art

The 70-story Landmark Tower is supposedly Yokohama’s best known sight.  Designed by American architect Hugh Stebbins, it has a 5-story-high central atrium, with offices and the Royal Park Hotel above.  Over 200 shops and restaurants are also inside.

sculptural detail and Landmark Tower

Landmark Tower

Fancy sculpture at Landmark Tower

I continue my walk through this huge complex, with a glimpse of the Ferris wheel from a different angle.

The Ferris Wheel from the Landmark Tower side

I pass the Nippon Maru training ship docked in an 1896 ships’ basin of stone.  Built in 1930, the Nippon Maru was a sailing vessel used to train naval students.  It circled the globe 46 times before it was decommissioned in 1984.

Nippon Maru training ship

Nippon Maru training ship

Hard Rock Cafe

After passing the Hard Rock Cafe, I realize I need to walk through Landmark Tower to get to Sakuragicho Station. At the basement level, I walk past shops and restaurants and bakeries until I finally emerge on the other side, on a pedestrian walkway over the Metropolitan Expressway K1 Yokohama Route.

Yokohama overpass

My plan is to cross through Sakuragicho Station (two stops  northwest of where I got off this morning) to continue the rest of the walk to Kangai (Beyond the Checkpoint), which is the original area for Japanese citizens when Yokohama was founded.

view heading toward Sakuragicho Station

As I cross into this area, I can see remnants of the old Yokohama, with its food stalls and red lanterns.  If I continue the walk, I should see two parks, a temple, a shrine, and shopping areas.  I walk for almost one kilometer, but it’s getting darker bit by bit, and I keep thinking I should get back on metro and go two stops south to where I started the walk, at Ishikawacho Station near Chinatown.  After all, I did promise the shopkeeper at Amina Collection that I’d return to buy a few things. 🙂

Noge District

I’m getting awfully tired by this time, and have walked 20,000+ steps, or over 9 miles.  This part of town looks confusing, as it’s not laid out on a grid pattern like the more modern part of Yokohama. To be honest, I have no idea which direction I should go to find the Nogeyama Fudoson Temple, the first place on my walk, and  I’m too tired to figure it out.  I decide instead to cut this part of the walk short.  After all, I can easily continue another day, as I live less than an hour from Yokohama.

Noge District

Noge District

I return to Amina Collection at Chinatown (how I have the energy for this, I have no idea, but when shopping calls, I must listen!), where I buy a blue kimono jacket with orange flowers, a lavender blouse with aqua embroidery on the sleeves, and a royal blue cotton top with bell sleeves.  The two tops are “one size fits all” and are rather billowy.  The shopkeeper, the same thin hippie-ish Japanese girl with the turban and the maize-colored skirt, is still there, and she helps me with the purchase.  She can speak and understand English, so she talks nonstop.  However, her pronunciation is so abysmal that I can only decipher a few words here and there.  She’s very nice and encourages me to go to the tax-free office to get reimbursed for the tax I paid, but it’s in the opposite direction to metro, and I am just too exhausted to bother.

I take the train back to Sakuragicho Station, where I have to change to the JR Yokohama green line.  I’m not positive I’m on the right train when I get on, so I ask a man sitting directly across from me: “Machida?”  There are two lines at that station, one to Tokyo and one in the direction of Machida; this one is nearly empty and we sit at the station for quite a while as the train originates here.  The man across from me, who introduces himself as Kaz, can speak English very well, and he asks me where I’m from and what I am doing in Japan.  Since he is speaking across the train to me, he asks if he can come sit next to me. He is all dressed in proper business attire; white shirt, tie, black suit; he informs me he has spent the day at the National Convention Hall at a medical products convention.  I tell him I had walked past the convention hall earlier in my walk and I show him the map of today’s walk; I admit I’m exhausted as I walked about 10 miles.  He says he sells medical imaging technology and tells me about technologies at the conference such as cryo-ablation (freezing of tumors) and RFA (Radio Frequency Ablation, or burning of tumors).  He says both treatments result in the tumor dissolving, due to the normal body temperature and the treatment.  We talk the entire time back to Fuchinobe, about all kinds of things.  He sheepishly tells me at one point, with exasperation but humor, that talking to me all this time has exhausted him; he’s not used to thinking and speaking so much in English, although he seems quite natural at it.  He has clients all over the world in many Western and Asian countries, so he is actually used to speaking in English.

We both admit when we part ways that the 1-hour train ride back from Yokohama seemed much shorter because of our conversation; I know has been enjoyable for both of us.

When I finally arrive back to Fuchinobe, I grab a bite to eat at a basement restaurant that serves sushi and beer and chicken grilled on sticks, and then I ride by bicycle home, exhausted and yet exhilarated by the entire day’s adventure. 🙂

Total steps today: 23,784 (10.08 miles).



19 responses to “yokohama: points north {walking tour 20: part 2)

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  1. Love all those tulips and the little gardens. Such a long walk Cathy! I’m amazed you continued for so long. Very unusual sculptures at the Landmark Tower. You seem to be enjoying your Japanese adventures 🙂 I hope you find more interesting places this weekend.

    • I too loved those tulips and the miniature gardens with their little dioramas, Jude. They lined the entire street to Yokohama Park. Yokohama is such a nice city, clean and orderly, but then I haven’t seen a dirty place yet in Japan! That area around Landmark Tower is posh and upscale, and that one twisty metal sculpture was quite dramatic. I really am enjoying my Japanese adventures! I really do love it here. 🙂 Ah, if only so much of my time wasn’t taken up by work!

      This is the first time I’ve taught second year students at a university abroad, and now I know first hand the complaints about lack of motivation. Every day at work is a challenge.

      • It is a pity that we have to work to afford to travel, but you seem to have found a good way of doing this. I don’t envy you teaching, but I am sure you will do a great job as you are very dedicated. Good luck with the other job offer too. I hope it all works out for you.

      • Yes, I think when Mike retires, then we can both travel together, but when I want to travel alone, I feel I need to pay for it myself. Believe me, teaching would never be my chosen profession, and I hate doing it in the USA, which has no benefit of travel. It’s solely a means to an end for me! But I love how when I teach abroad, I can actually live in a place for a period, which is a whole different experience than traveling. I love that aspect of it.

        As for the other job, I honestly don’t think it’s going to happen. I got an email from them saying they’ve filled 90% of the fellowships and will fill the last 10% by the end of May. My chances are dwindling by the moment. Oh well, it will be both a relief and a disappointment all at once. As always, I wonder if my age has anything to do with it. 😦

      • Is Mike keen to travel then? I thought D and I would travel more now we have time together, but he really doesn’t want to. He prefers to stay at home and work on his music. And I feel guilty going off on my own, which is something I need to work on!

      • I’m not sure Mike is as keen to travel as I am, Jude. So I may have to continue to fund my own travels on my own even after he retires. I’m always hopeful though. For the most part, I try not to feel guilty, especially when I go off for months at a time, like I am doing now, but I still do feel a little guilty. I think it’s important to find what is meaningful to us, and to do it, some way or another. 🙂

  2. Interesting but exhausting for sure! You mean your students are not motivated?? Hmmm….. I seem to remember my ex-husband (who was in Japan from ages 15 to 32) telling me students work like crazy to get into a good university, but once in university, they are given a bit of a break and are not pushed to succeed as much as when they are in their primary and secondary education levels. I am surprised though as I did not think this applied to English classes, as they don’t have to take English if they don’t want to as far as I know. On the other hand, there were so few distractions when I was there, way before the Internet and PCs. I got hold of an ancient word processor and I nearly died I thought it was so advanced a technology! We had no cable TV and satellite TV was just beginning to take hold. Certainly I had no English TV for the whole 5 years I was there. Perhaps with all they have to distract them, students take English a bit for granted now as it is all over the place if they want access to it. My students there had to pay quite a lot to take our classes, and so they were motivated. I guess….?

    You seem to be eating very little! I am just glad you know to avoid Chinese menus permanently and stick to Japanese food. And beer of course!!!


    • I have second year students who are a mixed bag. All of them have to prepare for a study abroad in Malaysia or Thailand next semester, and they are totally unprepared. Yet they don’t see the urgency of getting prepared. Of course there are always the good students; as I was always an eager student, I can relate to them much more. The ones who seem to drift through, with no effort or motivation, totally baffle and frustrate me.

      I’m teaching in the academic program, all academic writing, group presentations, lecture note-taking, etc. These students don’t have a choice; because they’re in the Global Studies and Collaboration program, they’re required to take English for two years, and many of them don’t care about it at all. I wonder then, why did they pick their major?

      In our two-year program at SCIC in China, the 2nd year teachers had the same problem as I’m encountering here. Lack of motivation and interest. It’s no fun having to teach these kinds of unmotivated students. I love the ones who are motivated though; they’re the ones who keep me going.

      And yes, the beer here is fabulous, although I’m still not a fan of much Japanese food that is similar to Chinese food: gristly and chewy meats, etc. I love the seafood for the most part and the veggies. Ramen, sushi, tempura and soba noodles topped with vegetable tempura: these are my go-to foods. 🙂

  3. You’re managing to cover a lot of territory on these walks, Cathy. I love your last tulip photo. Such a vibrant colour.

    • Thanks, Carol. These walks are very extensive; I think I will have to cut parts of them off when they don’t interest me. That being said, it does feel good to get the lay of the land on foot. 🙂

  4. Yay! A tulip extravaganza, Cathy. 🙂 You do seem to have to work darn hard to get your pleasures in life, but it’s wonderful to see you making the most of the opportunity.

  5. Wow, you are something else! It would be more than I could handle, all that walking and sight seeing, going back to the shop, deciding what to buy, the conversation about medical products – but then you write in great detail about it, remembering names of buildings, etc. Anyway, thanks for the Yokohama tour and I hope you slept well! 😉

    • Yes, Lynn, it was a lot. I’ve found most of the walks in this book I’m using are quite extensive. I think maybe I should divide them and do half each day! But it all is fun, and I don’t know why, but I enjoy pushing myself to walk till I drop, and to see as much as I can see. As this job is only 4 months long, and I work much of that time, I feel I have to get out nearly every off day in order to see all I want to see! 🙂 I only have 3 months left at this point; time here is flying!

  6. I love the tulips. If I had just done that walk I don’t think I would have had any energy left for shopping! You must be a dedicated shopper. 🙂

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