The problem with iconic cities in a country (such as Paris, London, or New York) is that tourists want to go to these cities and rarely venture outside of these areas. This leads some tourists to believe the city represents the rest of the country, which sometimes irritates people who live outside of these major cities.
This is also true in Yokohama, where people don’t like being associated with Tokyo. Why should they be? Although trains in Tokyo do go to Yokohama, the city is in another prefecture. I had the pleasure of seeing this city, which is near to Tokyo, but different in quite a few ways. My friends and I met at the train station around noon and went to the Ramen museum. I expected the museum to be just about ramen. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t. It was about the creator of instant ramen and the important impact he made on the world. The museum not only gives people a history lesson about the importance of instant ramen in history, but also encourages others to invent things and be inspired by the world around you. I was not expecting that. I was also not expecting the museum to be so aesthetically pleasing. Looking around the museum, one could tell that the museum was well thought out.
After a ramen lunch at the museum cafeteria, we decided to head to a famous zen Buddhist temple. We got lost while trying to find it, but eventually did find it. When we entered the temple grounds, it became hard to justify why we couldn’t find the temple. The place was enormous and beautiful. Being the architecture nut I am, I was happy to see how beautiful the temple was. One of the monks at the temple was very friendly and answered our questions about the temple in perfect English. The place was quiet and he invited us to stay and watch a ceremony. So we did. The ceremony was interesting to see and it was cool to watch a sect of Buddhism perform rituals that have been around for over 1,500 years.
After thanking the monk who happily gave us a tour, we headed towards China Town. I was curious to see how this compared to the China Town in LA, near where I live. Needless to say it was different. It was beautiful and along the route with shops and restaurants, there were also cool shrines and a couple of Chinese architecture inspired temples. We walked around for a little bit and then chose a restaurant that looked good and had dinner. After dinner we left Yokohama.
Although Yokohama is close to Tokyo, it has its own unique flair. The city is a great spot for anyone to come and I had a great time. I recommend to anyone vacationing in Tokyo to get outside Tokyo once and go to different places such as the countryside or other major cities. Then get lost in that area–you might like what you find.