Sunday, February 24, 2008

China Town - Yokohama, Japan 2/24/2008

Today I ventured into Yokohama's Chinatown, one of the largest anywhere. Yokohama itself has over 3 million people - its Chinatown is also vast. The Chinatown streets are ornamented with colorful, tall, gold-gilded entrance gates, orange globe lanturns strung high overhead and, beside several teeming streets are temples and shrines.

Vendors were competing to sell chestnuts as I walked by, and shops stocking fish, clothing, fine furniture, fruits and vegatables, and tea were all around. Chinatown, Yokohama is a bustling, lively district.

Also...some strange and exotic cooking ingredients were on display, that is, if you consider sea horse and dried bat exotic and strange (I do).

On the way back to a train station, I and a few comprades ducked into a "silk" museum - very educational, but we were really just getting out of the wind (and the cold).

Anyway, here are a few pictures of Chinatown, Yokohama. DOUBLE CLICK on the picture for a VERY LARGE PICTURE.

Entry Gate to China Town

Typical China Town Street Scene

Downtown Shrine

Downtown Shrine

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Kamakura 2/23/2008

Today is Saturday, a day for a new adventure. So what do you do on a day off work in Japan? Well, you go visit a city with a zillion Buddhists temples and shrines of course - that city being Kamakura.

I only had time to visit one temple, one very large temple, and squeeze in a visit to "shopping town" which is a busy bizzar of restaurants, mom and pop stores, and sidewalk vendors selling their wares while calling out for your attention in polite sing-song style.

Tomorrow I visit Chinatown in Yokohama, but for now check out the video and a few pictures of Kamakura shown below. Note: I can't upload high quality pics from my hotel room for some unknown reason, so the pics below may look a little washed-out - the real scenary is of vivid colors.

Shopping Town

Large Temple
Temple in Front of the Large Temple
Below, A Second Temple (in front of the Large one) with Buddhist Ceremony

Ceremony Closeup

Ceremony Closeup
Ceremony Closeup
Ceremony closeup
Ornate Barrels Stacked Beside a Shrine
Another Kamakura Shrine
YouTube Video of Ceremony

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Yoykosuko - Day 1 is Sunday, my first full day in Japan - I arrived last night and, after a ten hour flight (SEATAC to Narita airport), and subsequent two hour bus ride to Yokosuko, I am feeling no jet lag and should be ready to conduct business on Tuesday (Monday is a holiday - yea).

I am staying at the Hotel New Yokosuka, a nice hotel near the Navy base; seemingly close to the center of some metropolitan activity.

So what is my hotel room like? Think of a single room, where the one and only room is 9 feet wide by 9 feet long, and most of that real estate is taken by a bed, small desk, and small refridgerator.

I think you get the picture. The silver lining is that it is difficult to lose any of my possessions, they all conveniently surround me.

The town is bustling with activity. On a short walk I approached two different temples/ shrines, observed colorfully robed priests marching while beating drums, passed by two train stations, and visited a seven story high shopping plaza where, as you might imagine, the supermarket seafood section was stocked with just about anything that can be found above or below the surface of the ocean.

My first two dining experiences included dinner at a sushi house and at a fried rice shack. In the sushi restaurant, while seated at a booth, plates of sushi rolled by on a conveyor belt and you snatch what you desire before it is out-of-reach.

In the fried rice quick-stop, the rice combination dish is paid for at a vending machine, cooked by a chef, then delivered with a paper placemat. You see... the plate is steel, oven hot, and is frying your otherwise uncooked food as it is served. You actually cook the food yourself by stirring it around on the scalding hot plate, simultaneously lifting the placemat up to shield your face from the sizzling hot oil.

I am finding dining in Japan combines an ounce of pragmatism with a pound of risk.

There are temples secreted high up on hills above shopping centers; integrated small, tranquil spaces complete with statuary, traditional Japanese pagodas, and small gardens. Here are some of my temple pictures:

See the Youtube video below - the video depicts first impressions of mine while walking around Yokosuko . The audio isn't so great but I am working to improve it.