Thursday, 17 September 2015

JVlog #24: A Typical Sunday Afternoon in Yokohama

Good Day Everyone,

I've been rather inactive on my blog lately due to struggles with my arthritis ridden body. Living with chronic pain, and the subsequent insomnia this causes, means that I don't have the physical energy to do much at all. Even eating leaves me feeling utterly exhausted at times. However, on days like today when I'm feeling a bit more able, I try to do what I can :o).
An iconic steel sculpture in Yokohama
Yokohama sights, incl. the Nippon Maru ship museum and Cosmo Clock 21 ferris wheel
In today's post I wanted to share a vlog with you showing you what a typical Sunday afternoon in Yokohama was like for us, sharing some of the local sights. Yokohama is Japan's second largest city and just a 30min train ride away from Tokyo, making it a good day trip spot. It is an old port city and it's proximity to the water gives it a more relaxed vibe compared to Tokyo. Many sights/activities/places of interest are all within easy reach of one another. It's the kind of city that you can easily explore on foot or bike. There are self rental bike stations (Bay Bike) at most tourist sights.
On this particular day we wandered through a less touristy part of Yokohama where there was a  street festival taking place. After quickly realising that we'd seen many of the acts at a previous street festival we decided to catch the subway to one of my favourite parts of Yokohama, Motomatchi, the last stop on the MinatoMirai subway line. Motomatchi and the neighbouring hills of Yamate/Bluff area are where many of the foreign traders settled when Yokohama opened itself up as a port town, after the Edo period where Japan's rulers prohibited interaction with foreign countries. 
A (very faint) snow capped Mount Fuji behind the trees in the centre
In this area there are many western style buildings, some of which have been turned into museums and coffee shops, as well as a foreigners cemetery. On a clear day you can see Mount Fuji in the distance near the cemetery's main entrance. There is a walking route which takes you along the edges of the cemetery down to the back of Motomatchi shopping street. Along the way you get a great view looking out towards the iconic Yokohama Landmark Tower and during spring there are some beautiful cherry blossom trees to admire.
Yokohama Landmark Tower and Motomachi
We wandered through the residential streets at the bottom of the cemetery so that I could show you what a typical residential area looks like along with the style of Japanese houses. With space at a premium, houses are small and don't have much in the way of gardens/outdoor space, unless in a rural location (such as what we saw in Kawaguchiko/Mount Fuji area). Even the smallest of house will have a gap between itself and the neighbouring house. You don't see terraced houses in Japan. I'm guessing this is to allow wiggle room in the event of an earthquake. To me, Japanese houses all look very different to one another. You don't see the kind of uniformity that we get in England with streets and streets of houses that all look the same. Even though most houses don't have a front garden, (or if they do it is a very small), there will always be some sort of potted plants/flowers outside the house, which I think is rather nice touch.
In the midst of the residential houses there is a large fish pond which is home to some beautiful koi carp. I remember the first time we came across this purpose built pond, it felt quite random, just tucked away amongst the houses, but then Japan is definitely home to randomness and that's what we love about it. Can you just imagine a pond like this in the back streets of England?!
From the fish pond we headed for a bite to eat, before wandering through Motomachi shopping street. This street is the closest thing I ever came across in Japan that resembled a traditional high street that we get in England. As the name suggests it is a street lined with shops (including many familiar brands like Zara and Gap) and cafes and restaurants. It is especially beautiful during Christmas time when it is decorated with festive lights. It is definitely worth exploring the side streets that come off the main shopping street as there are lots of independent shops selling anything from crockery and lace to food and witches... yep that's right witches! There is a whole shop dedicated to witches, as you'll see in the vlog above.

I hope you enjoyed this little insight into our time in Japan. If you're ever in Tokyo then I would highly recommend a day or two in Yokohama.

Love Sheen xxx
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