mm515: Japan – Travelogue 1.3

Lynne and Steve’s 30th Anniversary Extravaganza: Our Japan Adventure

Hayama – Yokosuka – Yokohama – Tokyo June 21 – July 1, 2000

Sun. 2000-06-25, Election Day, we think. Yokohama.

Did we mention that we guessed that Sunday was Election Day? We saw some posters, with color pictures of mature looking people, and the numbers 6 and 25 sort of close together. But how we knew something must be up: the mini-vans, with clusters of loudspeakers, blaring messages at peak volume. I know that Saturday afternoon both Lynne and Dan were disturbed from their short naps by an unusually loud specimen. Heard them Friday. Lots of them Saturday. A few Sunday, although we were out of town. None since. I guess our poster-decoding was correct. Did the loudest candidate win?

Sunday was our first venture afield. The day started most pleasantly with Sunday brunch at the Officer’s Club on the base. Tablecloths, silver service, polite wait persons, decent buffet style food, mostly occidental but some oriental. The dining room, at the 9:15 hour, was filled with families. Very nice.

After returning his DVD rental, Dan once again parked his car near the entrance, and we walked out into town, down the mall street, to one of the railroad stations. Purchasing our ticket to Yokohama, including a transfer to a different line, from a machine was novel. Dan consulted a chart on the wall to determine the fare, and fed money, bills and coins into the appropriate slots, and received tickets and change. Very efficient. We were headed for a couple of destinations in Yokohama, and the very fast express train got us to the main Yokohama station in less than half an hour.

Transferring to the Negishi line, we rode for about three stops to Kannai station. Dan consulted his map, and led us out of the station, and along a busy boulevard past Yokohama station, home of the Yokohama Bay Stars baseball team. People were camped out waiting to buy tickets for that evening’s 18:00 game. We walked around two sides of the stadium, and, just as the map predicted, found a gateway to Chinatown, our first destination of the day.

Yokohama’s Chinatown is the largest in Japan, and contains about 600 restaurants and 300 or so stores of other kinds. Dan says that some of the restaurants are famous for doing ¥40,000,000,000 per year in business, an absolutely astounding total.

The streets were crowded with tourists, again mostly oriental, sampling the huge dumplings and eyeing restaurant after restaurant. Lynne found a bunch small key chain souvenirs, and we window shopped some of the antique stores (very, very expensive). But, after Dan’s excellent navigating we found a tea store (apparently not the one we were looking for, but okay nonetheless), and bought some bulk green tea.

In retrospect, and we realized it soon, we planned our day wrong. We visited Chinatown, with all of its manifest dining enticements while we were still digesting our delicious breakfast. We should have made Chinatown our second stop, not our first, so we could take advantage.

After Chinatown, we walked back through a park which surrounds the other two sides of Yokohama stadium. They didn’t tell us, though, that it was unpaved, and the mud (from all the rain/mist – our first afternoon here we saw some sun; after that, none until Tuesday) was an unpleasant surprise. We got back on the train at Kannai, and went down a few more stops to Negishi station, where we caught our first bus, to a stop Dan remembered about 10 or so minutes later, near Sainken [sp?] garden.

This is a park and preserve, put together by a wealthy silk merchant over 100 years ago, in the middle of a tony residential area, and not far from docks and refineries. But you’d never know that once inside. For ¥600 each, we were suddenly in a quiet park, with a marsh, and many flowers, and a lake, and a bunch of cats, oddly enough. We walked for a while, and watched a cute young girl feeding pieces of bread to some very large, very hungry carp who had very little competition from one lone duck, and a couple of turtles(!). We finally were hungry, and sat down to an interesting snack of gelled fishcakes (oden, I think, and some served on a stick!), and tea.

We strolled past buildings hundreds of years old that were rescued by this philanthropist (although I believe he lived on the grounds originally), and climbed rather more brick and mud steps than two of us cared to, up to see a three-tiered pagoda from the sixteenth century (I’m remembering).

Recovering (and not a little miffed that we found no benches at the top), we climbed down and entered the inner park, full of more historic buildings gathered from across the country. By then the place was overrun by tour groups, and we had little patience for more. So, we walked the half-mile or so back to the bus stop, took the bus back to the station, took the train back to Yokohama, transferred to a different train than the one we’d taken out, but which got us back to Yokosuka eventually.

Sunday night we threw together some supper at Dan’s, and retired early, once again.

MORE TO COME

So, feeling a bit rusty after more than a four-year hiatus, and reflecting a totally internal need to get some content back into the ether, I’m repurposing a couple of personal travel journals. Because both are lengthy, in excess of 30 pages (Word document pages, that is), I plan to slice them up into more digestible form. I will try to resist the urge for much after-the-fact content or style edits, especially content. This is Yr (justifiably) humble svt, circa 2000, and the travelogue documents an amazing (for us) adventure, and where my head was at nearly 13 years ago. Your comments are always welcome.

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