[Note: Very long post!]
To start off, let me give a brief introduction of my recent visit to Japan!
The tourism board of Kanagawa prefecture (神奈川県) has invited me over for a very short stay in Kanagawa so that i could tour around and explore the less discovered hidden gems and promote this part of Greater Tokyo Area. There are many famous cities that fall under the prefecture of Kanagawa, you may have heard and have even visited these cities, without knowing it is actually part of Kanagawa.
Did you know? Everybody’s favorite Hakone actually is in Kanagawa Prefecture. So is Fujiko (Doramemon) Museum in Kawasaki, the traditional little town called Kamakura, as well as Yokohama, the capital city.
I will cover all these places in my upcoming blog posts, but today it’s on Yokohama!!
I have realized that all this while i only blogged about all the things i saw, ate and did in Japan, without really elaborating the “how to” part. This time around, i hope that i can provide more information on how to get around and to travel like a local, in Kanagawa Prefecture.
Arriving at Haneda airport.
First of all! If you want to know more information on traveling in Kanagawa Prefecture, you can always to to the Tourist Information Center located at Haneda Airport arrival lobby,2F.
There are many useful booklets for you to take home and decide what suits you the best!
How to get there from Haneda
While many first-timer tourists in Japan rush through their itinerary from city to city (which is understandable because you only have so much time but sooooo many awesome places to visit!), the more experienced travelers or those who have a longer stay in Tokyo, can always pay a visit to Yokohama. It would be worth your time!
If you travel by Airasia or other airlines that land at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, you can actually head straight to Yokohama, or make Yokohama your last stop before heading back to Haneda Airport, because Yokohama is only a less than 30 minutes train ride away from Haneda Airport!!
Met up with my host for the day, Iwate san from tourism board, Kanagawa. During the entire trip, there was no tourist van/taxi/limousine, we traveled the local way, using just trains and buses, so that i could experience the journey and share with you all! 😀
First, to get to Yokohama, you take the Keikyu Line（京急）from Haneda Airport. The train is painted bright red color so it’s unmistakable!
In the train.
Our hotel is around Yokohama China Town area, so we took a norikae (train change) at Yokohama Station via Minato Mirai Line.
And as if it is all fated, one of the first posters i saw after arriving our destination, is about Malaysia Food Festival in Yokohama.
Already feel like home already! Lolol. Roti Canai, anyone?
Which hotel to stay in Yokohama?
I stayed at Hotel New Grand, Yokohama city. It is just a 1 minute walk away from Moto Machi-Chukagai station.
The hotel was build in 1927 as a symbol for the rebirth of Yokohama after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. It is one of the best hotels in Yokohama and also very famous because many J-dramas actually made this a location for filming!
I just felt so honored and thankful to be given this experience T___T.
The beautiful bathroom. It is amazing how they could keep everything so impeccably spot-free after so many decades!
Top-notch toiletries. Japanese people are forever so elaborated with their thoughtfulness 😀
It was already past midnight when i arrived, after starving through the flight, the first thing i did was to dash to the nearest combini. <3
My standard combini haul: Oden because it is winterrrrrrr! Yakult Soful yogurt, one onigiri and vegefruit juice. That made me so so happy. None of my Japanese friends can comprehend this. XD
And it was not just any onigiri.
It was a Kanagawa Kintaro (Kanagawa Prefecture’s PR character lol) endorsed onigiri. Flavor was Kanagawa Prefecture grown Negi and Aburiyaki Miso. I just love love love how they always have all these localized nuances to all the products.
So simple, so yummy. Can you please check out how shiny and pearly each grain of rice is???
The next morning!
Woke up to a splendid sea view of the Yokohama Bay.
Went downstairs for breakfast at Le Normandie restaurant, which has a panoramic view of Yokohama harbor. The Western style buffet was simple but satisfying.
I swear i am not a salad person, but i refilled bowls after bowls of mix salad (lettuce, burdock sticks, mixed beans, cucumber…), Japanese greens are just so…. fresh…. crisp…. incredibly yummy. Why??? Why why why? Is it the air, the water, the sun light??? TELL ME YOUR SECRET, JAPANESE VEGETABLES!
After breakfast, i was hosted by the two extremely friendly PR officers of Hotel New Grand to have a quick tour of the hotel. (One of them is also painfully handsome my heart ached lol. )
The main building is tastefully decorated with a European touch. So grand (like its name!), so elegant.
It was used as the roke (location shooting) for many movies, dramas etc, including Shina Ringo’s MV, and Kimura Takuya’s drama: Karei-naru Ichizoku.
(The danna said he has spotted him during one of his surfing trips before. Then said he has a nice body. !!!!!!!!!!)
Apparently this was the chair he sat on. (!!!!!) *carresses*
Visited the Rainbow Ball Room, a gorgeous banquet room for ceremonies, seminars and parties.
There’s also an amazing Sky Chapel at the top floor
Which also has a panoramic of of the harbor. Can’t really capture it there so here’s a picture from their website:
How’s that for a wedding ceremony!
You can find out more on Hotel New Grand’s website here.
What to do in Yokohama?
I used to think that Yokohama has nothing but Chinatown (it’s the biggest Chinatown in Japan). But there are some really worth-visiting spots i discovered and you can easily find them in wikitravel.
For me i have visited a few places, this time and also last year in spring.
This was last year! At the famous Chinatown, of course.
Akarenga (The Red Brick Warehouse). Taken last year April. There was a flower festival going on and it was breathtaking!
The view of the harbour.
That’s me last year April! Hahahah that pink hair!
You can also visit Nippon Maru, a retired sailing ship that is permanently docked at Minato Mirai and is open to the public. Also Cup Noodle museum (where you can design your own instant ramen), and Cosmo World, a theme park featuring a large Ferris Wheel that also double as a city clock. All these are in the vicinity of Minato Mirai.
This trip i have also visited Hello Kitty Cafe in Yokohama, it’s nothing like what i imagined because there wasn’t any pop pink colors! It deserves a separate blog post so i’ll blog about that later.
People to meet!
Now this is meant for me personally, but there was someone i really wanted to meet in Yokohama!
On the last day before flying back home, i arranged a meet up with Sayaka, a new friend i’ve met. On Instagram.
What happened was that, when i was pregnant with Junya, i was very curious how other pregnant Japanese mamas were doing (do they really eat sushi? what do they wear??? How big are their tummies at 20w??? etc etc etc), so i clicked on a lot of hashtags and landed on Sayaka’s page, who was about as pregnant as i was (she was 1 week ahead of me), and is mom of the cutest Japanese boy i’ve ever seen.
So i followed her, we exchanged comments, it was very fun because our bellies grew together, and we mused about the different pregnancy and childcare cultures in our own cities.
And then, on the day i was sent into the labor room, she uploaded a picture saying that she just felt her first contraction. We joked that how magical it would be if we both gave birth on the same day.
Me to baby Junya and her to Anna, a baby girl. They share the same birthday. And that is why she became a special friend. Which is why i planned to meet her up when i visit Tokyo end of the year. But coincidentally during this Kanagawa trip i dropped by Yokohama, which is her home town.
So that is the story of how i met a new friend from Instagram. #ThePowerOfHashTag.
This is Sayaka and her two adorable kids. Met them at Shin Yokohama Station.
Selfie with Sousuke ♡
Arggggh i cannot get over how cute she is!
Bringing Junya to meet her next week! And maybe they can….. i mean….? (!) Hahahha.
It was a very short meet before i had to head back to the airport. We managed to squeeze in a quick visit to Ramen Museum in Shin Yokohama.
It’s an unassuming little building, you may easily miss it!
A view from the second floor. How cute is that!!!!
The interior sports a 1960 retro Japanesque chic, akin that of the scenes in “Always, Sanchome No Yuhi” (one of my favorite Japnaese movie series). So nostalgic. Those good old days.
Not forgetting some Christmas deco!
We picked Narumi Ippudo for a quick little meal. Most of the ramen shops have mini size ramen, so that you can reserve enough belly space to sample different ramen at different stalls/shops!
Sousuke waiting for his ramen.
I was so amazed by how cool she handled a baby and a toddler outside all by herself. So much to learn from Japanese moms. Respect.
(Also, Sousuke couldn’t do a peace sign properly so i joined him XD)
Back to the ramen!
It isn’t your usual ramen since it is a French fusion of consomme base, topped with sauteed kinoko and beef slice. Basically it is like soup pasta lolol. An interesting remake i’d say, but for hardcore ramen fan, i recommend you to stick to Tonkotsu! 😀
Apparently this Ramen Museum is also one of Muslim traveler’s favorite spots because it has signs indicating non-pork menu. For vegetarians there are some great choices too! So Muslim friends, jot this down for your trip!
You can then do some shopping at the souvenir shop, everything is explained pretty thoroughly in English!
Sousuke getting carried away at the toy racing track XD
And…. that’s all for Yokohama!
Before heading back to Haneda Airport, we took a leisure walk along Minato Mirai harbour.
It was beautifully illuminated. Makes me wonder how i could have been to Kanto area of Japan so many times and missed out on this charming city.
You think you will like this place? 😀
So! We took a bus to Haneda airport (just for variation, since i have tried the train lol). The journey took about 30 minutes.
So yea, like i say, if you travel via Haneda airport, you can actually have your base in Yokohama!
Bonus at Haneda Airport:
SINCE WHEN THEY HAVE A SUSHI COUNTER AT THE AIRPORT!??!?!?!
I was just about to go straight for boarding when i spotted Uogashi Nippon Ichi, one of my favorite chain sushi stores in Japan. I mean, how blissful it is to be able to enjoy fresh sushi right before flying back home? (Yea, better still, you can also take-away and bring onto the plane lolol).
Best meal at the airport ever.
Anyway, my Kanagawa journey continues! Will update again! I’m getting the hang of it and can’t wait to share more!! 😀
Also, if you have been to Yokohama and have any tips to share, please do!! 😀