Amazingly though, Ryan had already figured out what is said to be a particularly complicated train fare system, and on our first try (with a
little lot of help from Google Maps), we effortlessly navigated our way out of Shinjuku, Tokyo, and headed via train to our hotel back in Yokohama.
After a short while of putting our aching feet up for a bit of rest and recovery, we once again put on our shoes and headed out, this time walking towards the waterfront area that we had found the other night.
However, this time around there was still a bit of sunlight to be seen, meaning that we actually stopped to look at the historic site we had walked right by the first time around – Kaiko Hiroba Square, the spot where the historic Treaty of Kanagawa was signed (under threat of force it should be said) between the Empire of Japan and the United States of America.
Signed by Commodore Perry and the representative of the Tokugawa Shogunate (effectively the administrators of Japan at that time), this first treaty between the two nations effectively meant the end of Japan’s 220-year-old policy of national seclusion by opening the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American vessels.
(It also ensured the safety of American castaways and established the position of an American consul in Japan. The treaty also precipitated the signing of similar – usually unequal – treaties establishing diplomatic relations with other western powers.)
Anyway, the site is now home to a beautiful water-based art installation, commemorating the signing of the treaty, as well as a small Archives of History museum.
Continuing our walk to the waterfront area (which is actually part of Yamashita Park we later discovered), we also encountered the Yokohama silk museum – but seeing as neither of us are particularly tickled by silk (though that said out aloud, does sound kind of nice now that I think about it), we made do looking at the old but pretty statue and continued on our way.
The first thing we spotted as we entered the west end of Yamashita Park was the intriguingly out of place “India Water Tower”, an Indian water fountain that had been presented to Yokohama by an association of East Indians living in Japan some time ago.
There are some great views of the area from here (not to mention quite a number of fitness enthusiasts, lovers, and families taking advantage of the relaxing space), and one of the things that you can also spot close by is the impressive Hikawa Maru – a luxury trans-Pacific passenger liner that operated between 1930 and 1960.
Nicknamed the “Queen of the Pacific”, during its operation the vessel crossed the Pacific Ocean over 250 times and carried 25,000 passengers and cargo between Japan and Seattle & Vancouver. It also operated as a hospital ship duing World War II.
These days however it is permanently docked at Yamashita Park, open to the public and functioning as a bit of a maritime museum.
(Sadly, we didn’t actually know that back then, otherwise I suspect Ryan and myself might just have made a little time to take a peek onboard!)
We next headed up the stairs and started our journey along the Kaiko Promenade, a popular, lengthy tourist-friendly route that essentially follows the tracks of a discontinued freight rail line from Yamashita Park all the way to the Minato Mirai (Harbour of the Future) area, passing a number of historic sites (like the Customs Tower, and the Aka-Renga Red Brick Warehouse) and tourist attractions (like the Cosmo World amusement park, World Porters, and the Landmark Plaza) along the way.
At this stage the evening was kicking in pretty quickly, as you might have noticed by the diminishing amount of sunlight in my quickly snapped photos!
And then we came across something quite unexpected.
As we neared the historic Red Brick Warehouse, we stumbled on a massive Oktoberfest celebration on the go, complete with beer (lots), noisy revellers, loud German music, and of course, beer maids!
Though that said, I guess we do celebrate Oktoberfest here in South Africa as well. Right. So, any excuse to down more beer then I suppose!
However, seeing as Ryan isn’t a beer (make that alcohol) drinker, this then wasn’t a stop for us, and so instead we marched on, ignoring the now set sun and heading straight for the bright lights of the Cosmo Clock 21 ferris wheel in the distance…