October 14, 2008

A Weekend in Yokohama ~ Saturday

After breakfast I headed over towards Motomachi, an area situated beneath the Yamate hill which features the foreigners' cemetery and some Western-style residences still left from the old foreign settlements. It seems that many of the foreign settlements in the early open ports of the Meiji era were perched on top of hills ~ Yamate in Yokohama, the Kitano area of Kobe and the Glover Garden area of Nagasaki. I'm not sure if this was by choice or whether it was the only areas that foreigners were allowed to build housing, but it's distinctive nonetheless. Well, I'm digressing now anyway, because I didn't actually wander around the Yamate area this time, though I have been on a previous visit.

Motomachi itself is a stylish neighbourhood with picturesque shopping streets filled with boutiques, cafes and restaurants that seem to be aimed at a clientele that has money to spend on the finer things in life. As well as clothing boutiques, there are zakka stores, French restaurants, wine tasting bars, studios to learn the tango and other dances, and so on.

The tori at Itsukushima Shrine, Motomachi

A dance studio

From Motomachi it's a short walk to Chinatown (another common feature of the early open ports mentioned above), which is packed with restaurants, food stalls, groceries and souvenir shops.

Lunchtime sees queues of people waiting outside the most popular restaurants, some of which seem to cater mainly for groups judging by the size of the lunch courses offered. I opted for a (slightly) shorter wait and some great food ~ prawns in chilli sauce and crispy fried noodles.

Detail from the entrance to a temple

Chinese dumpling stall

After lunch I strolled over to the other side of the port to the Minato Mirai area with Landmark Tower (the tallest building in Japan) and the Queens shopping complex as well as the distinctive big wheel.

This weekend also saw the staging of the Yokohama Jazz Promenade which saw a couple of days of gigs in various different venues around the city as well as some street performances at certain designated places. There were three such areas in the Minato Mirai area ~ one outside, one inside the shopping complex and a third in the disused dock in front of Landmark Tower. I took some time out to watch some of the acts, some of which were really good, though there seemed to be an emphasis on big bands rather than smaller combos at the places I watched.

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