Yokohama- Day 2
Just like old times, like old times…
In my Kyoto student days, I experienced Japan through my friends, as we wandered our way through cities and temples and railways. Me and my friend had an extra day to kill in Tokyo, so we decided to meet up and explore Yokohama. Yokohama is a port city just southwest of Tokyo, Japan’s second largest city with some 3.6 million people. It’s perhaps not as well known worldwide, or culturally influential inside Japan, as Tokyo or Osaka, because it’s actually inside Tokyo’s metro area and thus doesn’t exercise too much of its own influence. The fact that Tokyo can claim other cities of millions as satellite cities is what makes it the largest metropolitan area in the world.
It’s also a very young city by Japanese standards, not having really come into existence until the 1850s, when the Tokugawa Shogunate set it up as a free port following Commodore Perry’s incursion and forced “opening” of Japan.
My first impressions surprised me. Despite the fact that a million more people live in Yokohama than in Osaka these days, Yokohama feels like a very relaxed place. It’s not nearly as tangled or madcap as Tokyo or Osaka, broader, quieter, and greener…”high rent”, you might even say.
But we were really here for the Chinatown. Yokohama has the largest Chinese community in Japan, and apparently one of the largest outside of China. It’s dense, madly busy on a weekend, and as you might gather, full of opportunities for lunch.
It also boasts two genuine temples- one to Emperor Guan, a deification of an ancient general from the Three Kingdoms age, and one to Mazu, goddess of seafaring. The intricate decoration and well-maintained condition of the temples makes an interesting contrast to Japanese religious architecture, which tends to favor a slightly more subdued aesthetic of natural weathering.
As the shadows lengthened we said our goodbyes and set off in different directions for home. I wish we could have had more time, but we might have a chance to hang out this winter in Osaka.
As an aside, I really let this post fall by the wayside. I am, after all, here to find a job, and I’ve let that take major priority over the past few days since returning from out East.