Feb 4/5th : Weekend in Yokohama

Outside Yokohama Station

A late post about my first weekend in Japan (Feb 4th and 5th), and I went to Yokohama (横浜), the “second largest city in Japan by population” according to Wikipedia. It’s the only city I frequently go to now since it’s close to Yokosuka (40mins) and I have my Jap lessons there.

I love diagonal crosswalks...

On the Saturday, it was just me exploring the city. I mostly just hanged around the station area, which had enough shops and restaurants to keep me busy.

Not too crowded... a nice thing compared to Tokyo

The area really has nothing to sightsee, but is ideal for shopping! There’s a huge department store (Takashimaya 高島屋) and several shopping malls right next to the station. My favorites are Lumine and Vivre, I bought quite a bit of stuff from those malls. There’s also a SOGO outside the West exit, but I was too exhausted to walk there after buying so many things.

I had Takoyaki for lunch (600yen /8pcs)...

Had to stand beside the store to eat... since it's not polite to eat when walking on the street.

First went to BICS Camera to buy earphones... and saw the Fujifilm X100 on display (finally)! There was no stock in Vancouver, unless putting an order. I played around with it a bit... I still like my Nex more, the controls are less complicated. What the X100 appeals to me is its cool factor anyway.

Next up- Tokyu Hands... This store has EVERYTHING a person needs. It's sort of a department store (8 floors) but sells anything from weird toys, food to appliances.

Climbing up the staircases was torturing.

I wanted to buy the bacon wallet, but I already have a watermelon coin pouch and a cheeseburger wallet.... and I gave up the thought.

Some Takoyaki golf balls, which my dad would love.

Taiyaki !!! It'd be so cute on little kids.

Yen origami paper, napkin... I realize only things related to food and money can capture my interests

A Ramen place on the travel guide book... and I had dinner there.

This is what I ate... Dip the noodles into the soup- but, the soup was barely hot and it was tooooooo salty. A bit disappointed.

Before heading home, I walked into More's Mall, next to the station...

And went inside this place for dessert...

This is what I had.... Green tea with mochi and red bean. OMG, the green tea was SO GOOD. The flavor was so rich. Cost 600 yen, well worth it.

What I bought... May not seem heavy, but carrying those bags almost killed me.

Unwrapping... most were bought from Vivire Mall... most stores were 70% off!!

….

Then the following day, I went to Yokohama again… this time with M-san, my colleague. She and her husband showed me around Yokohama. Since they drove, I could see much more other than shopping malls!! We first had lunch at a Jap restaurant in Queen’s Centre of Minato Mirai (港区未来)- the area in Yokohama where most landmarks are located.

View of Mirato Mirai... Must be soooo beautiful at night.

An amusement park, kinda small though

A building with somewhat futuristic look

Cupnoodle Museum... people can custom make their own cup noodle... but I didn't have a chance to see the exhibitions. I went into the gift shop though.

Red Brick Warehouse 横浜赤レンガ倉庫. I LOVE THIS PLACE!!! Inside was flea market styled, with a modern look. I heard there were some very nice restaurants too!

Was a cloudy day...

People crowding to watch a street performance

Had a whip cream mochi crepe. Why do I always eat mochi-related food? no idea.

Cute Crocs display... why advertise tea in a shoe store though?

A store that sells weird things.

I WANT IT!

I see these everywhere.... seem to be very popular here

Back to the station… an underground mall with shops and restaurants, where I usually eat after Jap lessons.

There are still many places I haven’t been to in Yokohama, such as the largest China Town in Japan… as well as Manyou Spa with many artificial hot springs (has a very nice night view).

——–

Hmmm… where should I visit tmr?

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2 hours in Yokohama

Early morning's Fuji-san

Got to work this morning and saw this beautiful scene, no clouds blocking thanks to the rain yesterday. The ocean view reminds me that I haven’t had a chance to visit the Mikasa Park or walk along the sea walk (altho it’s only 5 mins away from my dormitory). Gotta take a morning jog this Sunday….

Left work early at 5:30pm to go to Yokohama… because today was my first Japanese lesson with M-san’s mother. Since I still haven’t received my Gaijin card, I have no cellular phone. M-san had to take a photo of me to show her mother, so she could meet me at the Yokohama station. The trip took exactly 1 hr, and I had no problem spotting her mother at all (They look 80% alike). Although M-san’s mom (will call her sensei from now on) lives in Yokohama, her house is actually 1.5 hour away from the Yokohama station… so it’s sort of like the midpoint between us. Sensei teaches foreigners part time, and her English is fluent (just as her daughter)… She looked stylish for her age and was very nice to pay for my drink at the Bagel place, which was the “classroom”. The lesson was 1.5 hour and costs 2000 yen… she said she already gave me a discount since I was a student lol But when I think about it, it’s actually not that expensive, consider she probably need to spend ard 800 yen for a roundtrip. She brought a book and told me to buy it after the lesson. I didn’t… because I only had 100o yen on me after paying her, plus I have the ebook for it. However, I think I will buy it tmr after work since it’d be more convenient if I can write directly on the book. I was really tired after work today, so even though the stuff she went over was a “review” for me… I still made mistakes here and there. Maybe weekday lesson isn’t a good idea after all. I initially prefer weekday because I thought I would go for weekend trips to other prefectures… However, my current plan is to hang around Yokohama over weekends.. since train fee is cheaper, and the city is huge… I have not seen most of it yet. It just doesnt make sense to pay 800 yen round trip simply for a 1.5hr lesson.

I have seen good reviews of this pork cutlet place.

Anyway, was gonna have dinner at Yokohama before heading back… but I only had 1000 yen on me, and average food around the station area easily costs over that amount. Too bad, gonna save some $$ before trying the Tonkatsu T_T

Lost at a station....

It was almost 9:30pm and I went to the wrong station again. It’s because I forgot the Rapid train wouldn’t stop at my station.

So I was starving in the cold...

finally got on an empty train.

Had Jap-styled risotto as dinner, 399 yen. Not worth it, should have ordered the salad+soup+rice combo for 290 yen... which is pretty much salad+risotto

Bought some sweets as dessert after dinner. Green tea/redbean mochi and Sakura flavored buns. Notice the pack of Natto? I'm gonna give it another chance =P

—–

As promised, I took a photo of my flooding washroom.Notice how my flipflops are floating… I tried to snap a photo with water ripples, couldn’t get the timing right. But I think the water reflection is clear enough.

Solve this math problem: What's the volume of water when a 1 square metre area is flooded with approx 2cm of water?

Hope it’ll be fixed soon.

Anyway, thinking of going to Tokyo (Shinjuku maybe) over the weekend. Hm, should I?

Foreigner’s life in Japan – Part I: Settling down

I am alive! I know, it’s been one full week since I’ve arrived… but it was almost like I vaporized into thin air. I totally didn’t expect this (think Murphy’s law): no internet, no cell phone, closest pay phone with international calling is at city hall (which is closed on weekend BTW). But I finally made it to this day, of course, I kinda have to pay premium for it. Otherwise, I can only surface two weeks later… this story deserves another post.

Anyhow, without internet, there’s no entertainment at my dorm. So I have been sleeping really early (11pm) and waking up early too! At least I feel my lifestyle here is much much healthier than in Vancouver… too bad this all ends from now on XD

Without further ado, I will stop babbling now and go straight to (pasting) my daily (offline) diaries…

Day 1 (Jan 30th). Foreigner Noob

It’s pretty self explanatory, please look at the photos.

Nice meal on JAL, dessert is ice-cream! The drink is plum wine by the way =)

It all began with a 9 hour flight on JAL, which I spent 80% sleeping and the rest watching a documentary about pandas.

A photo of my luggages as I was waiting for the N'EX train at the airport.

So after 2 hours on Narita Express, I finally arrived at Yokohama station. Can’t believe how many people there were at the Yokohama station, could barely passed through the flock of people.. Reminds me of Hong Kong’s Central MTR station, except Yokohama station is busy like that ALL THE TIME! It took another transfer for Keikyu Line to reach Yokosuka Chuo station. A-san (my supervisor) was really nice helping me with luggages. First thing he did was to bring me to my dormitory, and gave me a brief tour of my home for the next 7 months. My dorm room is on the third floor (girls only) with locked entrance- pretty safe.

My tiny apartment...

My desk area.

Empty bed.... with old mattress

Small kitchen with stove.

After that, we went for dinner around the area (he treated me!). I ordered squid sauce spagetti (which is black BTW), bad mistake… because I had to try my best to talk with my mouth shut the entire time. After dinner, he walked me back and lent me his phone to email my parents about my safe arrival. The day pretty much ended with me unpacking+cleaning the room.

Toilet looks like this after cleaning...

Organized desktop which looks like a dumpster now....

The bed is kind of soft, but I don't really care.

I really have to thank my colleagues who lent me their fridge, microwave, water boiler, and bike (coming soon)! My supervisor too, as he (probably with his friend) carried the fridge all the way to my room (no elevator at my apartment) and delivered other appliances to my door.

Man, it's just sooooo convenient to have microwave... though I've been eating out mostly.

Day 2 (Jan 31st). City Wanderer

Natural light shines through in the morning...

It was my day off before work began, I woke up with sore arms in the morning. First thing I had to do was to get my Foreigner’s ID (a.k.a. Alien card or Gaijin (外人) card) from the Yokosuka City Hall. It’s a nice 15 30min walk from where I live.

By the sea wall...

I chose the path by the ocean so I could enjoy the fine view (to be honest, I was actually lost, that’s why it took half an hour lol).

The city hall... The process was not smooth as they asked a lot of information which I didn't know, at the end had to spent 200 yen calling my supervisor.

After the alien registration ( need to pick up the ID in two weeks), I wandered around Yokosuka Chuo (横須賀中央), the downtown of Yokosuka. Yokosuka is a small city, so is its downtown… because I am already really familiar with the area now. =P

What "downtown" looks like from outside of the train station.

There are a few malls, a slot machine/arcade place, many restaurants, some shops, and two (that I know of) 100-yen stores…

One of the malls...

As you can see, the streets are quite empty.

Despite the area’s size, there are many good deals…

I bought this jacket that was on sale for 1980 yen (originally around 4800 yen).

In fact I bought so many things that I was struggling to carry everything home!

Need to rest up a bit to before heading home...

At the time I was already addicted to the 100 yen stores, so I went back and forth to Yokosuka Chuo three times in that day!  Little did I know there’s actually a 100-yen store nearby my place, although I still haven’t got time to visit it yet!

Look at the receipts, that's just how crazy I was.

Mostly just living supplies... I actually bought other stuff such as bloom, bucket, etc. Too lazy to photograph tho...

For lunch, I went to McDonalds… I actually walked in with the sole purpose to fish for free Wi-fi, however, I didn’t feel too good sitting down w/o ordering anything… So I got what’s on promotion that day.

My first lunch in Japan, MacDonald's it is!

To my surprise (not), hamburger is simply with a piece of patty- no cheese, no nothing.

To my frustration, there’s NO GODDAMN wifi!!! I tried Starbucks, NO EITHER! I later learned that Japan’s WIFI is similar to lunch…. there’s no free lunch in this world, right? XD

Cute bowls at a store that remind me of my grandparents...

On the way back to my dorm, I wandered around stores near by: Uniqlo (meh, don’t really like Uniqlo in Japan), a store similar to Home Depot, LIVIN (a 24 hour supermarket, where I bought some essentials and food)…

Cute pink cooking set for less than 1000 yen from LIVIN...

My bento dinner, and I didn't have microwave at the time... so I ate it cold. I'm sure it would've tasted so much better if heated.

I also bought some Onrigiri for 64 yen each as breakfast for the coming days.

At around 8pm, N-san, my neighbour+colleague who went to Tokyo for a work trip came back and visited me. We chatted a little and scheduled a time to meet up next morning so we could go to work together…

—-

Though I am thrilled to have internet back into my life, I’m just too exhausted right now… Will continue part 2 tomorrow after work.