Day 6 (21 Dec 2016): YOKOHAMA
While Kelvin and I were in Tokyo a while back, we decided to make a day trip down to Yokohama. Located by the sea, Yokohama is a port city, where the earliest immigrants settled in Japan. Till this day, there are many Japanese immigrants living here in Yokohama.
Our day began with a visit to the Cup Noodles Museum at Minatomirai, dedicated to the genius of Momofuku Ando, the founder of Nissin Foods and the inventor of instant noodles and cup noodles, as well as the history and development of instant noodles. Entrance fee was 500 yen.
Upon entering the museum, there was a ticketing counter, and a display of some of the cup noodles that we can find in Japan.
The first thing we did there was to head to the My Cup Noodles Factory at the third floor to design our very own cup noodles. Each visitor is assigned a time slot to enter, and if we want to design our own cup noodles we just have to let the ticketing staff know and they will give us a ticket with the assigned time slot. When we were there, we saw many school children on a field trip.
To design our cup noodles, we first purchase an empty cup from one of the vending machines. Each cup costs 300 yen.
After that, we were showed to our seats where we can design our cups. The area was really clean and the markers provided to us were relatively new and of really good quality. They definitely bothered to replace the spoilt markers every now and then.
After designing our cups, we queued up to have our cups filled with the dried instant noodles, choose our toppings (4 toppings per cup), and have the cups vacuum sealed. The friendly staff were there to explain the process to us (albeit in Japanese) and I was amazed by how well they maintained their enthusiasm throughout, even though they had to repeat the same thing all over and over again to every visitor. After the cups were sealed, we stored them in air-pumped bags. Overall, it was a really fun experience and I wouldn’t mind doing it again.
After a really enjoyable experience designing our own cup noodles, we headed to the second floor, where there was a gallery and theatre explaining the history and development of cup noodles and the ideas of Momofuku Ando. I was really amazed by the huge display of cup noodles, from the first instant chicken ramen in Japan in 1958, to the different varieties of cup noodles available today from all around the world.
It’s amazing to see how much instant ramen has grown in variety and popularity throughout the years, and that the instant noodle has grown from being a post-war food solution to creating a whole new “instant” culture. The development of instant noodles would not be possible without the dedication and hardwork of Momofuku Ando, who overcame a lot of challenges to create a successful business. Instant noodles would not be so popular today without Momofuku Ando’s willingness to develop the instant noodles business by sharing his recipe with the world and bringing in healthy competition to the market.
After a tour of the Cup Noodles Museum, we were hungry and so we decided to head to the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum for some ramen tasting. A one day ticket costs 310 yen for those 13 years or older, kinda sucks to have to pay to enter a place to eat ramen, but I guess you’re paying for the management and maintenance of the place.
The area where the ramen shops were felt like I was going back in time. There were so many ramen shops we didn’t know which one to choose, so we just looked at the menus of the different shops and ate at those that appealed to us the most. The good thing is that some items have the half-portion option, leaving us space to try different kinds of ramen from different shops. More information can be found on their website: http://www.raumen.co.jp/english/
After ramen tasting, we took the train to Motomachi-Chukagai station, where we visited Yokohama Chinatown, Japan’s largest chinatown. The chinatown was evidence of the large number of Chinese immigrants living in Yokohama.
Yokohama Chinatown was really crowded with lots of locals and tourists alike, with many souvenir and gift shops, snack shops and Chinese restaurants. Lamian and Xiaolongbao seemed to be very popular with the locals here, with many restaurants and long queues. We came across this dumpling food stall that was lined with locals and we tried some Shengjianbao, which are pan-fried soup dumplings. They were cripsy on the outside and soupy on the inside, soooooo good! I’ve never tried these before outside of Japan, so I can’t make any comparison, but these were really not bad at all.
Before the sun set, we walked to nearby Yamashita Park, which is a beautiful park by the sea. We came at a perfect time, when the weather was good and the sun was about to set. I love big parks and sea views, so this place was perfect for me, and it kinda had a romantic vibe to it too.
Another place we walked past was Osanbashi Pier, where many ships were docked. We could see Cosmo World and the Red Brick Warehouse from there.
As night fell, we decided to do some window shopping and have a light dinner at the Red Brick Warehouse, which is a historical building that houses restaurants, cafes and shops. It was formerly a Customs Inspection House for Yokohama Bay’s shipping activities in the early 1920s. Beside the Red Brick Warehouse buildings, there was a Christmas Market as well as an ice skating rink. Compared to the ones at Roppongi and Ebisu, this one was the biggest I’ve seen so far.
And this concludes our wonderful day trip to Yokohama. Overall, it definitely has a more laid-back vibe than Tokyo, and it is definitely worth visiting for a day or more 🙂