Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tokyo and Yokohama

So, I'm sitting here at my hostel trying to figure out how exactly I could've managed to have lost half of my laptop's power cord last night... Fortunately, it was the less important half, the hostel has one I can borrow, and I should be able to get a new one once I'm back in the US in less than a week. To be honest that's not bothering me all that much though - Maya, the girl that's sitting at a neigboring table, for the second straight night, happens to be annoying me significantly more - not even sure what exactly it is about her, I think it's the fact that she talks a lot (loudly), and, to me at least, appears to be an idiot...

But I digress, Tokyo... and Yokohama... and pictures - right... So, I wondered around Asakusa, the Tokyo area where my hostel is, and this being Sunday, there was obviously something going on because a bunch of these girls were standing around having a million tourists (mostly the Japanese ones actually) snapping pictures of them:


Not Geisha?


Not having spotted any actual geishas in Kyoto, I figured I might as well join in, even though I'm fairly certain these girls have absolutely nothing to do with geishas, and are probably some sort of a promotion for selling whatever the things are that each is holding in her hands? But, hey, they did look nice and were dressed up in proper Japanese kimono attire. BTW, a fun side note on Kyoto: I suspect the closest I came to seeing a geisha in Gion, the district Lonely Planet (in its unfailing wisdom) claims to be frequented by geishas, was passing my a fetish S&M club... If it's geisha you want, I imagine they can provide somebody dressed like that... I chose to leave it to someone else to actually enter the place, it just seemed to underline the fact that even if there once were geishas in Gion, I'm a little skeptical about any showing up there these days.

As the afternoon rolled around, I figured I'd make a quick side-trip to nearby Yokohama. It's actually a city of 3.5 million, but being a mere 30 minute train ride from Tokyo, seems to just be a part of the larger metropolis. It does, however, feel like a comparatively relaxed place where you can wonder by the waterfront and perhaps catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji from the observation deck of Japan's tallest building. So, a few pictures:

Japan's not quite Dubai, which has built a gigantic ski resort in the middle of the desert, but I did pass by a perfectly tropical palm tree yesterday, just to come by an ice skating rink not too far away today.

As for more famous attractions in the city, this is the Yokohama Landmark Tower - the tallest one in Japan. Features a Guiness World Record - an elevator that goes up at 750m/min (45km/h. You'll just have to do the miles per hour conversion yourself - I've been in metric countries for a better part of the past six months!)

Inside the tower - let's play the 'can you spot Alex in this picture' game.

From the observation deck. Significance: this is the Yokohama Port, from which the mini departed barely over a week ago. Hope you're enjoying hanging out with all those new cars on the auto-carrier in the North Pacific, mini!

Facing the other way on the observation deck, a slightly hazy view of Mt. Fuji. Really does look a lot more perfectly conical when you are not actually on the mountain.

The Yokohama skyline, by night, at an angle. If I had a tripod, I could get this shot without the angle, but then I'd have to carry the tripod around with me. Plus, I rather like the angle!

Yokohama is also famous for its large Chinatown, teaming with Chinese restaurants and stores seling a variety of Chinese themed souvenirs. Also, a couple of shrines - Yokohama Masobyo Shrine pictured here. I considered going to the Brazilian restaurant in Chinatown (naturally), but was dissuaded by the $40+ prices... and the fact that I expect to actually be in Brazil in a few months.

And later that night, wondering by the waterfront, back towards the train station.

And I just can't leave Yokohama without mentioning the best restaurant ad I've seen in Japan yet... This is from the official Yokohama tourist guide book, given to me by the very helpful Tourist Information Center at the Yokohama train station:

Meat Cooking by the Meat Shop, Mizumura
Djust dfiscovered in the back allery. Fabulous meat dishes at low prices

All spelling preserved exactly as the guide book presented it to me. Apparently, we don't spell check much in Yokohama.

PS. Maya remains an idiot...

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