I had no trouble in having a good sleep in my bed in our small Super Hotel Yokohama room following our first night in Japan, and indeed, woke up refreshed and super excited to tackle this wondrous new world full of signs that I couldn’t understand but an environment that nevertheless I felt quite capable of navigating.
Terrance was with us on our first day here in Yokohama, and following his lead, Ryan and I successfully navigated a particularly delicious breakfast in the hotel’s cafeteria (true, we weren’t particularly adventurous in terms of food tasted), before we nipped out to explore a bit of the beautiful Yokohama Park that was literally just outside the door (whilst Terrance returned to his room to prepare for the long day ahead).
Yokohama Park was established in 1875 by British technologist Richard Henry Brunton, who designed this cozy park between the Japanese part of town and the foreign settlement. In those days, foreigners played cricket there sometimes, and soon baseball games to promote international friendship were taking place between Japanese and foreign teams. Now the park is dominated by the Yokohama Stadium, the home ground of Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars.
It’s a stunningly beautiful and tranquil park with interesting sculptures, a Japanese garden, a fish pond, a kids play area and of course lots of trees and flowers – the park is known in particular for the 69 cultivars of tulip that reside there, resulting in stunning mid April displays when anything up to 160,000 of these flowers may bloom!
Without getting lost, we managed to find a spot where Terrance eventually arrived to pick us up, and off we strolled towards the nearby JR Kannai train station, which given that this is the stomping grounds of the local baseball team, is bedecked in DeNA Bay Stars mascot livery!
This was our first introduction to the relatively complicated Japanese train system. Luckily for us though, the big cities are making a push for more and more English language signage, meaning that together with Terrance’s fledgling Japanese, we (and by we I mean Terrance) worked out how to get to where we wanted to be and what tickets to buy (through very clever ticketing machines I might add) – our destination, Hamamatshucho in Minato, Tokyo.
After all, we were going to be hitting one of Japan’s most iconic symbols as our first tourist sight – the legendary Tokyo Tower!
Train rides in Japan are very different from train rides in Cape Town. Well, rather, the train part is very similar – the noise levels however are completely different! (Let’s just say, this was one of the first trains where a) we could hear ourselves think and b) we were definitely the loudest onboard!)
We arrived in Hamamatsucho which is a very productive business and commercial ward in Minato, and in the process stumbled across one of our very first sights – the Tokyo World Trade Center Building.
Completed in 1970, this 40-story commercial skyscraper is one of Japan’s earliest skyscrapers!
Anyway, fixated on the sight of Tokyo Tower in the distance, and mesmerized by all the surrounding tall buildings of this obviously busy and well off part of the city, we grabbed our cameras and started walking…