Thursday, March 1, 2012


This was the very first place I had visited when I moved to Japan. I know this one should have been my first post but its not. Anyway, one fine day my hubby came home early from work and we decided to see the nearest tourist spot, The Yokohama Landmark Tower. 
We started from our house at 16:00 hrs which was actually a bad idea. This place requires an entire days time provided you love to hang around, shop and enjoy. I clearly remember I was a bit scared then because I didn't knew a single word of Japanese. Getting lost in places where most of the people aren't well acquainted with any of the language you know, might be a difficult situation. But fortunately that is not the case in Japan. Japanese are very kind hearted and helpful people. They go out of their way to help you out. 

Thats 'The Yokohama Landmark Tower'. The tower is situated in Yokohama city, Minato Mirai district, Japan. Yokohama city lies on the Tokyo bay, it is to the south of Tokyo. Yokohama being a port city, I expected that the evening will be very pleasant with cool and light breeze playing around. But it was a very cold evening with harsh winds blowing. That was my first experience of facing such winds. I am from Mumbai, India, where even in winter you can feel the humidity and warmth. Now the jacket which I had worn proved to be absolutely useless in those chilly winds and I was literally frozen. Luckily the distance between the Sakuragicho station and the landmark tower wasn't much. The landmark tower is 71 floors high. And there is an observatory (highest in Japan), Sky Garden, on the 69th floor of the tower. From here one can have a beautiful and unobstructed view of the city. On clear days Mount Fuji can also be seen. We visited on a cloudy and windy day, so we weren't able to see Fuji San.

The tower has super fast elevators which reaches the observatory at 12.5m/s. One can reach the 69th floor in approximately 40 seconds. It is 2nd fastest in the world. It is so fast that few visitors, including me, had ear-ache for a short time span. The guide in the elevator was telling the history and fun facts but the experience was soooo mind and ear boggling that no one was paying attention to her. Well the Yokohama Landmark Tower is 296.3m(972ft) high. Its the tallest building and 3rd tallest structure in Japan.
The observatory contains Omiyage (souvenir) and Gift shop and a nice cafe. There were few caricature artists too.

He is Gen san, one of the caricature artist, he drew us. My first interaction with Nihon Jin (Japanese), despite the language barrier he entertained us throughly. And while he was at it, he asked us to sketch him. I wish I had taken a snap of what my hubby had sketched and Gen san's expression after he saw it. It was a PRICELESS moment....

The pictures above are of Cosmo World amusement park taken from the observatory of Landmark Tower. The amusement park is built on the man made island. The amusement park has a handful of roller coaster rides, carnival  and kid's attractions, and a large Ferris Wheel that also acts as a clock. Its just like the London's Eye. We took a ride and it was amazing. But before moving to the amusement park we first went to the Landmark Plaza which is located just adjacent to the Landmark Tower. It has variety of restaurants and shops of well known brands. Here I bought a nice thick black bubble jacket. There were other shopping attractions like Queen's Tower, Red Brick Warehouses and World Porters. But due to limited time on hand we decided to spend rest of our evening at the amusement park.

While we were heading back I had randomly clicked the above picture of this huge ship. Later on got to know that its Nippon Maru, a retired sailing ship built in 1930 and is permanently docked at Minato Mirai. There are few museums near Minato Mirai namely, Yokohama Port Museum, Yokohama Museum of Arts, Cup Noodles Museum and Mitsubishi Minato Mirai Industrial Museum. 
Minato mirai is filled with history, entertainment and it is a great place to shop and dine. I spent very little time over here but still I loved it.

Few important points to consider when you are at new place: Always carry a jacket and a scarf as evenings might be cooler than the day time temperatures. Select your footwear sensibly. Secondly, carry map and translation book (in case you are in a country where english is not the first language), just for precaution. And thirdly, plan even the shortest of trips beforehand. At least google the place you wish to visit, so that you are aware of the nearby tourist attractions too.

In Japan, travel is mostly via trains or buses. So one should be really aware about railway schedules. When in Japan do check the website, it provides optimal routes, fares from start to end points and timetables of the trains and aviation in Japan.
I really wish to visit Minato Mirai once again and see the remaining tourist attractions.

P.S.: Sorry the pictures are a bit blurry. The wind had left me all shaky and shivery.

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