Day 8 - Downtown Yokohama


On Saturday 30th October, we spent the day exploring downtown Yokohama.  I left my big camera behind as I thought I had seen most of what Yokohama had to offer (see Yokohama City).  It turned out I was wrong, and there was much more to see and record, so here are some photos from my phone.

First we walked to the Harbour Front and Yamashito Park, where something was going on.  All the Fire Services groups were there to do some public relations and let the children play with fire hoses and sit in fire engines.  They had prepared kid-sized uniforms for the children, so it was all very well planned.  You could even sit in a truck which simulated an earthquake.  Tokyo and Yokohama have been declared the cities in the world with the highest risk of natural disasters (earthquakes and tsunamis), and of course fires often follow from earthquakes.

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As well as entertaining the children, adults were also attracted to this show, especially to watch the Japanese-speaking, fire-juggling Westerner!  One chap had even brought his pet rabbit to watch.

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We continued strolling along the water front then boarded the big wheel for a special view of the city.  When walking back after lunch, we spotted kayaks playing water polo in the waterway near the big ship.  That looked like very hard work, but definitely a good way to improve your paddling skills.

We were heading for the Cupnoodles Museum which I thorouhly recommend, especially on a grey day.  This museum celebrates Mr. Momofuko Ando who invented what we know of today as Cup Noodles.  The museum has displays to encourage visitors to think out-of-the-box and be creative; qualities which drove Mr. Ando to success after many years of failure.  His first invention was Chicken Ramen (1958) [just add hot water to product in a bowl], his second invention was the Cup Noodle (1971) [relied on new packaging techniques so everything was in the cup], and his third invention was Space Ramen (2005) when he was 95.

His obituary in The New York Times ends with, Ramen noodles have earned Mr. Ando an eternal place in the pantheon of human progress. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. Give him ramen noodles, and you dont have to teach him anything.

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The most fun thing about this museum is that you can sign up to make your own pot of Cup Noodles and/or make the noodles themselves.  We made our own pots which firstly we had to personalise by drawing on the outside (how often are adults allowed to behave like children?). Then our pots were put into the system so we could add the noodles (upside down packaging) and a selection of flavourings. Then they were film-wrapped for us to put into a special carrier bag and take home.  And, a great time was had by all!

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By now it was getting dark, and the ghosts had come out to play on Halloween. In all the parks nearby were these balloons with lights inside.  As the balloons were tethered to the ground, they floated around in the wind in a ghostly manner; very effective and such a neat idea.  I am sure Mr. Ando would have liked this!

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This night was the Illumination Festival and the walkways around the water front were dotted with all sorts of light installations.  Yokohama lights up at night time anyway, but this was extra special. The light show on the old Customs House (below right) displayed a colourful video accompanied by voice as the women’s mouth moved; striking use of an old building and new technology.

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So, another day well exceeding our required step-count and showing us what a city can do with a little bit of imagination.

© Helen Gray 2020