Monthly Archives: March 2016

I LOVE JAPAN ❤ 日本の今を伝えたい!- Yokohama –

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Today, I want to talk about my city of residence: Yokohama.

Why? Because I feel like it’s sometimes overshadowed by its neighboring city, Tokyo, despite its many offerings in terms of cultural sites and modern shopping districts.
Although Tokyo is the most popular city by far with foreign tourists, Yokohama remains an alluring attraction for domestic travelers.

I’ll start with the most central area of the city, Minatomirai.
Minatomirai is the central shopping district in Yokohama, and overlooks the iconic Ferris wheel.
From the station exits (either Minatomirai Station on Minatomirai Line or Sakuragicho Station on JR Negishi Line), there are a number of well-known tourist attractions within fairly short walking distance.

Yamashita-koen is a park that stretches along the waterfront by the port and leads to Osanbashi pier, the place of embarkation for luxury cruise ships such as Queen Elizabeth 2.
It’s a structure that manages to blend the old shipbuilding tradition of wooden planks and a sleek, modern design.
It’s a popular spot for romantic walks for couples and on clear days, you can see Mt. Fuji from the pier.

Close to Yamashita-koen is the historical Red Brick Warehouse building.
Having served as a storage facility during the wartime, it’s now a busy shopping & dining area.
There’s a shop that specializes in curry-filled buns, and I usually stop by for one if I’m in the area.
You’ll also find a jazz bar/restaurant Motion Blue on the second floor.
It’s a sister establishment of Blue Note Tokyo, and regularly features some of the most highly regarded musicians and artists in Tokyo area.

Another location that’s constantly bustling with visitors from outside of Yokohama is Chinatown.
Meat buns are popular there, and you’ll see people lining up to get some from the popular shops.

If you’re visiting Japan, you might also be thinking of trying some ramen.
What you may not have known though, is that there are many different types (the chief ones being pork, salt, and soy sauce) in addition to regional variations of each.
And unless you’ve tried a bunch of different restaurants for comparison, it’s not really possible to fully appreciate this popular Japanese dish.

Well, if you’re in Yokohama area, you’re in luck because close to Shin-Yokohama Station (about 10 minutes by train from Yokohama Station on Yokohama Line), you’ll find Ramen Museum.
Its interior is decorated like post-war Tokyo, and conveys kind of a busy, chaotic atmosphere.
While it’s obvious that the creators of the museum paid a lot of attention to historical details, the main attraction isn’t what’s preserved from the past but rather the current snapshot of the famous ramen makers from all over Japan.

Ramen Museum features eight famous ramen houses from around the country, each representing its region and distinctive style.
You can also order half portions from the vendors, which is nice because that makes it easier for you to try at least a few different restaurants.

I’m going to stop here for now, but some of the other notable places around Yokohama include Kamakura (famous for its shrines, kind of reminiscent of Kyoto in terms of historical vibe but smaller), Enoshima (a seaside town close to Kamakura), and Sankei-en (traditional Japanese garden).

If you ever come to Tokyo, then by all means, enjoy what the city has to offer. But don’t forget that Yokohama is an amazing city in its own right…!

I LOVE JAPAN ❤ 日本の今を伝えたい!- Japan’s New Tourism Plan –

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According to news sources, the Japanese government will soon launch a new plan designed to increase tourism, utilizing “cultural assets” in order to accomplish this goal.
Of course, this all ties in with the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Under the plan, many historical sites that are usually ignored would be given new repairs, and explanations would be available to tourists in English.
The idea is to expand the base beyond the usual historical places in Kyoto and the modern decor of Tokyo.

Japan Rail passes are reportedly part of the renovation as well, and will be available for purchase in Japan.
Currently, only travelers planning to visit Japan can purchase them, which makes travel for Japanese residents prohibitively expensive (but affordable for tourists).
I, for one, would welcome this change.

I think it’s a great idea to open Japan up to more than just the usual haunts for tourists.
There’s much more to explore.
Also, given how costly it is to go from one place to another, giving tourists and residents alike some relief would be a most welcome change.
Everyone would benefit, and that’s a good thing!