November 17, 2005
Left Nagoya in the morning and took a shinkansen heading east to Yokohama. Met with Rani at the station at lunchtime, had lunch, then went to the next station where my friend Kenshi waited for us. We went to the Landmark Tower in Minato Mirai 21 complex, which is currently the tallest building in Japan (296 m). We went to the top by the elevator that is said to be the fastest in Japan, but the ride was so smooth we didn't feel that we were being taken in high speed to the top, the Sky Garden on the 69th floor, where we could see the view of Yokohama City.
View of Yokohama bay from Landmark Tower 69th Floor.
Yokohama is a nice city. There are tall, modern buildings, bay area and parks that are nice places for a walk, date, or hang out; and according to Ken there is almost no traffic jam. It's a city but it's not as crowded and polluted as Tokyo. I may be wrong but that's the impression I got.
Late in the afternoon the wind was cold, so we couldn't stay long outdoors. Ken was going to take us to Sankeien but because it was windy and cold we headed to the bay for some coffee after taking silly pictures in front of the big cruise ship.
In the evening we went to Chinatown. It wasn't like most Chinatowns that are usually sell cheap stuff. Yokohama Chinatown is a town with expensive food and souvenirs. It was interesting that I found Indonesian instant noodles being sold 90 yen each!!! (Back home it's only about 10-15 yen.)
After having dinner (not in Chinatown), Ken drove us to Tokyo. We hadn't checked in; we were looking for our hotel (a weekly mansion, actually) when policemen stopped us. One of them asked for Ken's driver's license and the other searched the car. He also asked for my passport and checked my visa status Thank God I was still in Japan legally, not overstaying. But what I remember is, the policemen were polite. After searching they thanked us and helped us find the hotel.
November 18, 2005
Went to Senso-ji in Asakusa. Near Kaminari-mon (gate) I found shops with Studio Ghibli stuff that made me drool but perhaps I should be thankful they were expensive so I didn't buy anything - just refreshing my eyes by seeing the cute stuff: keychains, dolls, handkerchieves, etc. Entering Kaminari-mon means we must be ready to pass a street with souvenir and snack shops along the way until we reach the temple.
Kaminari-mon, the gate to Senso-ji Temple, Asakusa.
Swords for sale in a shop along the way to Senso-ji.
Lanterns at Senso-ji.
After spending time around the temple, we had lunch near Kaminari-mon. A nice Italian restaurant hidden in the basement. Good pizza, non-smoking, moderate price.
Then off to Akihabara, the electronic town. So many anime stuff, including hentai (if you know what I mean) but just too much that I didn't have the appetite to look for anything.
Akihabara, the electronic town
November 19, 2005
Met with Ken again in front of Higashi Kanagawa Station, then off to Kamakura. First, Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine. There was a wedding at the shrine! What a good timing. A Japanese woman & a western man. An interesting ceremony.
Then up in the shrine we watched people tossing 50-yen coins and praying. As in other shrines, there are wooden tags hanging with wishes written on them (one pays a fixed amount put it into a box then picks a new wooden tag and writes their wishes then hangs it with the other tags). There was one interesting wish, it says (in Japanese): "I wish to be Ultraman".
"I wish to be Ultraman."
From the shrine we walked the small street where there are many shops and restaurants almost like in Kyoto's Gion area. Had lunch at an udon/soba restaurant. Then went to Daibutsu Kotokuin to see the famous huge statue of Buddha, the remains from Kamakura shogunate.
The Great Buddha, Kamakura.
It is said that the Buddha statue used to be inside a temple building, but a tsunami came and destroyed everything but the big statue. (Was it too heavy for the tsunami?) So now the statue is outside.
From Kamakura we drove back to Yokohama. Ken still wanted us to ride the giant ferris wheel in CosmoWorld in Minato Mirai 21 area. I was surprised that there were so many people lining to ride it! The bay area is a nice place to hang out with friends or date, and it was Saturday night so the atmosphere was alive. (Some people were crazy enough to ride the jet coaster in the cold evening.)
After queueing for about half an hour, we finally got on the ferris wheel. The view from upside was very beautiful!! I like Yokohama.
View of Yokohama lights from CosmoWorld's giant ferris wheel.
I almost never see the city lights in Jakarta although there IS city light at night but the traffic is too bad and the city is too unsafe to be outside at night.