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