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Yokohama 横浜
In 1859 Yokohama was transformed from a tiny fishing port into a massive foreign trade port that almost immediately became a party town.  After 200 years of the Tokugawa shogunate (shogun warriors) prohibiting travel into or out of Japan, (enforced by the death penalty), US Commodore Matthew Perry and his armada of Black Ships fired on Edo (now Tokyo) Bay until they forced the shogunate into signing a peace treaty that allowed for trade through a few ports in Japan.  This event sparked Japan's modernization and rise to world power and not-so-coincidentally moved Japan's imperial seat of power from Kyoto (west capital) to Edo which was appropriately renamed Tokyo (east capital). :-)
Yokohama

Today, Yokohama is still a thriving foreign port and for natives of the area it's known as a fun fair of international culture and worthy of a visit.  Pictured above is Yokohama's Minato Mirai area as seen from the observation deck of Yokohama's Landmark Tower.  The building on the left that's shaped like the sail of a ship is the Intercontinental Grand (Hotel) Yokohama, and across the water from it (featuring the big ferris wheel) is Cosmo World.

 
You can check out our visit to Yokohama in 2010 at the YouTube link below. :-) 

Cosmo World

This amusement park isn't your typical ocean side amusement area it has a ferris wheel and nearby are carnival games but the comparisons end there.  Rather than having the reputation (that it might in the U.S.) of having the cheap thrills of a Coney Island or Santa Monica pier, this type of amusement is foreign to Japan and therefore exotic and romantic.  Why travel abroad when you have it all here?  The rides are made to look like their cheap American cousins, but no expense is spared in the dynamic construction and upkeep of these unique rides.
 
Cosmo Clock 21
This Ferris Wheel was the largest in the world when it was built, but that wasn't enough for the planners of Cosmo Clock 21.   They also added a digital clock and a light show to the face of the wheel.  Why?  Well, it makes for an awesome countdown on New Year's Eve, with the lights reflecting in the water and the countdown visible for miles there's no mistaking when the fireworks start in Yokohama.

Yokohama Cosmo Clock

 Even without the clock, this ferris wheel is pretty sweet.  It's a 15 minute ride to go around the clock once and at the top (about 37 stories high) the view of Yokohama harbor is absolutely breathtaking. 

 
Please see the YouTube video of Cosmo Clock
 
Cosmo Clock on New Year's Eve
 
Diving Coaster: Vanish
This fun fast coaster is the first of its kind to appear to dive into the water and vanish for a second, then re-emerge with dry passengers.   The engineers also used their ingenuity when presented with such a small space to build their original coaster, Vanish wraps around Cosmo Clock giving the passengers the feeling they've gone through the huge ferris wheel.
Yokohama Cosmo World

Please see Vanish in action in the YouTube video below:
 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZJgugiyd7o

 

The pool of water that Vanish disappears under belongs to the small park's log flume ride.

 

Cliff Drop

Cosmo World Cliff Drop


 

This flume ride has one of the steepest (46 degrees) and longest flume ride drops (60 feet) in the world.  It literally lifts you out of your seat on the way down and for that reason may be the only flume ride to have added seat belts.

Cosmo World Cliff Drop

 

 

 

 Cosmo World also has a spinning coaster, alot of little rides that spin and rock,  a video arcade, a row of carnival stands and another cute attraction called Ice World.

 

Ice World

Yes...this seemingly harmless attractive-to-lil'-kids entrance might fool you into thinking that this lame attraction gives the illusion of being cold by painting the walls blue and keeping things nice and air conditioned.  Actually, this ice box starts in a chilly room and cools down per room to -30C (-22F) in its final room.   This attraction is prohibited for children under 5 and adults over 65.

 

Cosmo World Ice World


The ice around the door below isn't a special effect.   Do you dare enter? Cosmo Ice World

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Two men brave Ice World, seemingly on their lunch break.
Cosmo Ice World

 The ice sculpture below has a warning label on it "do not touch!".... ice burn!  Yeowch!

Cosmo Ice World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although, we've seen some "freak-out" videos on YouTube, those people have withdrawn their videos.  So we decided on our visit in 2010 to visit Ice World for ourselves, the video follows. :-)

 

 

American House

Between Cosmo World and the Minato Mirai station in Yokohama's Queen Square lies a restaurant called American House!  
American House Burger


 

Yes, as you might expect, they sell authentic American food!  yay!

 

If you're thinking..."Why would I travel all the way to Japan to eat American food in a partially comforting American setting?"  then click here to link to our Practical Tips section on American food in Japan. 

 

For good american food and the atmosphere you're missing, you'll find it at American House.  They even have mixed drinks like Margaritas and will pick up your bill at your table instead the traditional japanese way where you walk up to the front and pay. 
 

They recommend the all you can eat lunch buffet for 1200 ($12)...

American House Burger


 ....granted it's been 20 years since you've seen Spuds Mackenzie in an ad, but isn't it oddly comforting?

 

American House Burger


Pictured above is an American House hamburger, fries and beer.  Look! They even have ketchup on the table!  It's not so amazing checking this out in the U.S., but trust us...on the flip side, when you're in Japan and looking at this...you...will...be amazed.

 

See a map below or click here to see how to get to American House from Minato Mirai station in "Queen's Square", Building 2 on the First Floor.


View Larger Map

If you get lost on the way you can ask someone "Where is Queen's Square?" "Doh-koh wah Koo-weenz Soo-koo-way-ah dess kah?"  romanji is "Doko wa kuwinzu sukuwea desu ka?"
 
Chinatown -Another really cool feature of Yokohama is the largest Chinatown in Asia (and one of the biggest in the world).
Yokohama Chinatown
 

There are four gates at the entrance to Chinatown, Goodwill Gate is seen above.  There are five more gates inside the borders.   Maybe you'll pass under one on your way to over 200 restaurants, a gorgeous shrine, and Daska (a mall and theme park designed to emulate 1920's Shanghai). 

 

Beautiful shops line the streets.

 
Yokohama Chinatown

 

Check out this YouTube video to catch the easy-going vibe in Yokohama's Chinatown right in front of Daska:
 
Daska (known in english as the "China Museum") is an 8 floor chinese "theme park" decorated like in the 1920's - 30's style of Shanghai's golden era.  If you're a bit confused about what the golden era in Shanghai would have been like, we've included a clip (click link below) of "Anything Goes" from "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom".  It's not perfect, but you'll get the idea. :-)
 
Yokohama Daska

You'll probably recognize it first by the Chinese Fu (dog statues) at the entrance, it costs you 500 to get in.

Yokohama Daska

 

Daska was built to coincide with Yokohama's 30 year trade relationship with Shanghai, from the 2nd to 4th floors you'll find restaurants that carry dishes sent from four of China's top cantonese restaurants and dishes from nine of the best Chinese restaurants in Japan.  Here you can truly taste and compare the best of the best of authentic chinese food.  Pictured below are chinese lanterns hung in the food court at Daska.
Yokohama Daska

 also, check out the cool panda shaped pork dumpling below.

Yokohama Daska

 

 the dumpling above is sold at Tinshinen restaurant on the 3rd floor.

 

...the 5th to 8th floors have various displays and performances that reproduce the golden age of Shanghai culture that prospered from the 1920s to 1930s. There are even performances on the spiral staircases that line the walkways.
 
Trick Art Museum
Among the features on these floors is a Trick Art Museum for 500, on the 5th & 6th floors.
Yokohama Daska

 Art in this museum is set up so you can take pictures with optical illusions.

Yokohama Daska

 

Panda World 

If you're crazy for Panda's then on the 7th and 8th floors of Daska is "Panda World"

 
You might even see the Panda mascot, walking around outside.
Yokohama Daska

  

Please know that Panda World has a photo exhibition of Panda's only, and probably the biggest collection of Panda memorabilia in the world.
Yokohama Daska

 

So if you love pandas, you'll probably have no problem paying the additional 500, but if you can take it or leave it, Panda World might not be for you.

 

TEMPLES

Kanteibyo Temple

This buddhist temple (built for the chinese deity Guan Gong) was originally constructed in 1862 in the middle of town so that the neighboring businesses could benefit from its good luck.  Guan Gong is the deified personification of a real person named Guan Yu, a war hero (of the Three Kingdoms) who helped to defeat the Han Dynasty and is respected for his loyalty and righteousness.  At this temple he is worshipped as the Chinese God of Prosperity.

Guang Gong Temple


 

Masobyo Temple

Also in Chinatown is this temple to the goddess of the sea "Ma Zhu" (sometimes "Mazu" or "Matsu") protector of fisherman and sailors.   Built in 2006, this quickly became a major tourist attraction, it was built in response to the a city effort called "citizen based town planning".  The community voted down an apartment project in favor of this beautiful shrine.

Mazu Temple
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
As with the deity above, Ma Zhu was a real person named Lin Moniang who stood on the shore near her hometown wearing bright red clothing to guide sailors (including her father and brothers) home no matter what the weather was like.  There are at least two versions of Lin Moniang's death. In one version, she died in 987 at the age of 28, when she climbed a mountain alone and flew to Heaven and became a goddess. Another version of the legend says that she died at age 16 of exhaustion after swimming far into the ocean trying to find her lost father and that her corpse later washed ashore in Nankan Island of the Matsu Islands.
 
These shrines are probably most famous for their celebration of Chinese New Years including parades and lion dancing.  Please see YouTube video below:
 
For a detailed map from the station in Chinatown, please click the link to a map below:
 
 

Getting There - Yokohama

 

From Shinjuku 新宿 - Take the Shonan Shinjuku 湘南新宿 Express to Yokohama 横浜 then transfer to the Minato Mirai みなとみらいline.  On the Minato Mirai みなとみらい line -- Get off at Minato Mirai みなとみらい station for Cosmo World and American House. 

Price: 720

Time: 42 minutes

OR continue on to Motomachi-Chukagai 元町 中華街 station for Chinatown.

Price: 740

Time: 47 minutes

 

 

From Nakano 中野  - Take the Chuo 中央 line or Chuo-Sobu 中央総武 line to Shinjuku 新宿, then transfer to the Shonan Shinjuku 湘南新宿 Express to Yokohama 横浜 then transfer to the Minato Mirai みなとみらいline.  On the Minato Mirai みなとみらい line -- Get off at Minato Mirai みなとみらい station for Cosmo World and American House. 

Price: 800

Time: 52 minutes

OR continue on to Motomachi-Chukagai 元町 中華街 station for Chinatown.

Price: 820

Time: 57 minutes

 

 

For more amusements, please click the link below:

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