Friday, 28 January 2011

A little bit of China, Europe and a Fair

There was only one place we went to which was outside of Tokyo and that was Yokohama! 3rd January was when we went because it was one place Hannah really wanted to go, and it was cheap to get there from Tokyo so why not? Really glad I went now, I think it was one of my favorite places on this trip.

When we arrived we walked the whoooole length of the town to reach Japan’s largest China Town! And it was huge! And FULL OF FOOD! OMG it smelt so good! We found a reasonably priced place down one of the streets and had some of the nicest Chinese food I’ve ever had! It was normal chahan (friend rice) but…it just tasted different to what you get in England. Probably because it was made for Japanese tastes rather then English tastes, and probably because Japan is closer to China it has a more authentic feel about it. I mean, yes it was made by Chinese people and no it’s not real Chinese food because it’s made different, but still it just tastes waaay better then English Chinese food and is significantly less oiling (although it’s still an oily meal). I don’t know if that made sense…so here’s a picture of the meal:

After wandering around the area all the streets began to look the same! Manjuu stand (steamed buns), Chinese temple, tourist shop with extortionately priced tea/Chinese toys/Chinese clothes. It was cool don’t get me wrong! And I really loved exploring all the little side streets and the smells of the food were sooo good! I even got some Chinese pastry things from one lady (the only ones there it seemed) which were soooo delicious! I wish I could go back now and get more! But after a while we got bored and decided to go exploring around Yokohama. We digged out our maps and ah-ha! A park! So wandered over to the park.

What we found on way to discovering the park was not something I had expected to see at all! It was long shopping district which seemed to have been made from different parts of Europe. It just had a very distinct European feel to it. It wasn’t necessarily the contents of the shops or the people (obviously) but the buildings themselves seemed to be based on different architectures from Europe. France, Germany, Sweden…it was like stepping into a Miyazaki movie!

At the beginning of this shopping district as we first approached (which is what attracted us to it in the first place) was the sound of drumming. We followed it to find a lion dance happening! Three guys, one playing drums, one flute, and one as the lion started to play and the lion ran around scaring small children and then preceded to run into the store they were performing infront of before running back out to finish. I have a feeling the dance was intentionally for that store. Maybe good fortune?

We back tracked a little after exploring the shops (found an import shop with foreign sweets, foods and liquor!) we headed up to the park. But as we wandered up we first came across a “Foreigners Cemetery”. This was the most random thing, I thought! It was certainly a Christian cemetery and it went all the way up the hill on the edge of the town. We climbed up following the cemetery and lo-and-behold there was a church at the top and a sign explaining that the cemetery was had been burying foreign Christians for hundreds of years (since after Perry forced Japan to open their borders and trade with America in the 1850s). NOT ONLY THAT but the cemetery held the resting place of Charles Wirgman!!! Now if I had read his name 4 months ago I wouldn’t have cared at all, but thanks to Media and Culture I know who this man is! He’s an Englishman who came to Japan after it opened it boarders to write for the London Times. He drew serious paintings of Japan depicting it for the Brits back home, but also made satirical comics which were only for the resident foreigners but got picked up by the Japanese. His work was…well it never intended to become anything but they say that it did have an impact on those who came after him and was one of the factors which helped develop Japan’s manga (comics). I knew he was buried in Japan but forgot it was Yokohama, and to be there where he was was quite awesome.

Anyway, at the top of the hill past the cemetery was a large area full of houses based on foreign houses. There was even a map pointing out the different homes that once belonged for foreign diplomats in the 1800s such as “the French House” or “the English House”. The parks themselves, we noticed, were even called “France Park” or “America Park”. The one we wandered over to was America Park and it had a lovely view of Yokohama and the bay. You could even see Tokyo. It also had a few of the houses so we found the England House which didn’t look very English except for the HUGE rose garden out the front. Some of the roses were even in bloom!

It was beginning to get dark by then so we wandered back down to town and found a Sukiya (cheap fast food gyuudon (beef on rice)) and had dinner. Then we headed back to the harbor where (earlier that day) we had passed a HUGE fun fair with the famous ferris wheel which acts like a clock! At least at night it does, because the lights on the ferris wheel count down and then every 15 mins the lights change into a rainbow display. We then headed over and went up on the ferris wheel! Ahhh I was nervous at the top but the views were amazing and as long as the thing we were in didn’t rock too much it was fine…I think.

That was going to be our final thing but as we headed back to the station we came across a street performer. He was just…so good! So charismatic and funny and although he messed up a lot he didn’t fail to turn it into a joke or to interact with the audience in some way. People gave him a lot of money at the end too, even I was tempted to but I was already in dept to Hannah ^^;

(Btw he didn’t mean to hit his head with the Diablo)

Ahhhhhh twas a good day. I’m glad I’m writing this now because I can remember it all over again.

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