Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Yokohama

Hello everyone, and welcome to day two of my Japan adventure. Yesterday I decided to take a day trip to Yokohama, mainly to get my Japan Rail Pass but also to walk around. Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan, and is quite the booming metropolis, let me tell you. It's not so geared towards the tourism industry, however, but I still had a nice day walking (and walking, and walking!) around and taking things in.

I started the day with my first solo trip on the train. I practiced saying "One ticket for Yokohama please" in Japanese the whole way to the train station (Yokohama yuki no kippu o, kudasai), but when I got there all I managed was a blundering "Yokohama, kudasai?". The man at the counter quickly counted up the fare and pointed to the ticket vending machines. Oh well, so much for dazzling the locals with my Japanese.

The trip took about 30 minutes, and when I got to Yokohama station (a quite large station, with 10 platforms), it took me a moment to get my bearings and locate the tourist information center. But locate it I did, and 10 minutes later I left with my Rail Pass in hand. Yay! I roooooock!

Of course, when I finally got out of the station, I really had no idea where I was going, so I just wandered around in the general direction of the port until I found a street map and figured out where I wanted to go. My first stop was the Landmark Tower, the highest building in Japan, with the fastest elevator in Japan (takes about 40 seconds to go up 69 floors). There's a nice 360 degree observatory up there where you can take good pictures of the city.
That's a view of Cosmo World, an amusement park right in the heart of the city. I didn't go, but I thought it was neat. I had lunch in Landmark Plaza, then visited a Silk Museum, where they had lots of lovely traditional Japanese Kimono on display. Very cool. And look! They had silk yarn on display! :)
After the museum I decided to head back to the train station. On the way, I had to face something I had been dreading since I got here. In retrospect, I don't think I was ready, but there was just nothing for it. It had to be done. What peril was this, you may be wondering? Take a look.
That would be the infamous squat toilet. The public toilet system in Japan doesn't use Western style toilets. The reasoning is that you don't actually touch anything, so while it may be awkward, it's actually more sanitary (Hah!). Now, anyone who's grown up in the West and is endowed with female genitalia understands how relieving oneself using these things can be daunting to say the least. We're just not accustomed to the concept of aiming when it comes to that whole area. But really, it wouldn't have been such a big deal if I'd only had to pee.

Unfortunately I didn't. Only have to pee, I mean.

Ugh. I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that I, ah, overshot the mark a little. All I'll say is, thank goodness I've been desensitized by changing Maxime's diapers. *Shudder* And in the words of the sage and eminent Forrest Gump "That's all I have to say about that".

Moving right along, I managed to get back to the train station on time (I actually caught an earlier train back to Yokosuka), and was surprised to see that Philippe was already in the hotel room when I got home (at around 5PM). After looking at my pictures and laughing his ass off at my recounting of the bathroom incident, we went to the bar for a quick drink in the lobby (Sapporo beer for me, Coke for him), then headed out for dinner.

We managed to stay up until 8:25 PM last night! Woo-Hoo! And contrary to the previous night, I managed to sleep pretty much straight through till this morning. I'd say that we're getting over the whole jetlag thing except...We were up at a quarter to five this morning. Oh well, we're making progress!

More random impressions:
  • Jaywalking: they just don't do it here. It could be 4 in the morning, without a car in sight, and they would still wait for the light to change. If you're from Montreal, you'll understand how flabbergasted I am by this.
  • Vending machines: they're everywhere, and sell anything from juice to beer to coffee endorsed by Tommy Lee Jones. Thirsty? Walk fifty paces, you're bound to stumble into a vending machine.
  • Uniforms: also very prominent. Everyone from the lady at the restaurant to the guy guarding the gate at the construction site has to wear one. Kinda neat. Very formal.
  • Cutesy logos: I'll try to get a picture of what I mean today, but there are all these cutesy-wootsy pictures and logos everywhere. When you consider that these people spawned the Samurai, I just don't get it.
Today I'm off to Kamakura, a 20 minute train ride away and an important city in the Shogun era. They're forecasting rain here, so I don't know how much sightseeing I'll actually get done, but I'll keep you all posted tomorrow. Happy knitting!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello!!
Loving the travelogue, thanks for all the detail...
So sorry, however, to hear about the squat pot. I cringe in sympathy.
Hope you're having fun and that it's not raining too much - just a bit of atmospheric-ness, perhaps?
Looking forward to the next instalment
KTenabler

Anonymous said...

Salut!

Mouhahaha!! Funny indeed the details..

BTW, don't worry about the rain, because in Montreal we got about 20cm of snow/gresil/rain all mixed up!

Anonymous beau-frère ;o)p

Jennifer said...

1) how tempting was it not to grab the silk yarn and run?
2) you're very brave to uh, brave the public transit system on your own! The Amazing Race makes it look so hard, and yet here you did it in one day. Go you!
3) was that your bag on the floor in the squat toilet cell? *squirm*

Knit & Purl Mama said...

Love the travelogue, I agree. And I love the impressions.

Sorry to hear about your toilet experience. That's the one thing that sucks about traveling - the toilets!

I can't believe they don't jaywalk... there are a lot of places in the world that don't... Montrealers are special.