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Saturday 28 June 2008

The Largest Chinatown in Japan

The Chinatown in Yokohama City of Japan was the earliest settlement of the Chinese in the Land of the Rising Sun after the port was open to foreign trade in 1859. As a Chinese from Malaysia, I have intimate feelings for Chinatowns, so when I first alighted from the train at the JR Ishikawacho Station, I followed the signage to the largest Chinatown in Japan.

At every entrance of a Chinatown, you are sure to find a colourful gate flanking the entrance. So, visitors will know that they are heading in the right direction. There are in total nine gates in this Chinatown along; four at the main entrances, and five within the premises.

As food is the main part of the Chinese culture, restaurants usually occupy half of the shop lots in Chinatown.

Souvenir shops are abundant as Chinatown is a tourist destination in most guided tours. The bright and colourful decor will sure draw much attention from tourists.

Right opposite this colourful souvenir shop is the Tian Hou Temple (天后宫). Tian Hou is literally "Heavenly Empress" or "Heavenly Queen". She is regarded as the Goddess of the Sea for Chinese people. Therefore, many overseas Chinese worship Tian Hou as many of their ancestors went to the foreign lands by sea.

Another name of Tian Hou is Mazu (妈祖) which means "Mother-Ancestor". An elegant statue of Mazu is sitting on the main altar of the prayer hall.

The ceiling of the prayer hall is elaborately decorated with carvings and paintings.

Steamed buns are common food amongst the Chinese. So, they are sold almost everywhere in Chinatown.

When night falls on Chinatown, all the neon lights turn it into a colourful town.

As I have said earlier, most of the shop lots are taken up by restaurants.

When I walked further, I saw another gate of all the nine gates.

Before I took the train heading home, I took the picture of another gate I came out of Chinatown.

Friday 27 June 2008

Yokohama at a Glance

Yokohama is the second largest city of Japan with a population of over three million. It was among the earliest ports of Japan being forced open to foreign trade.

As one of the old Chinese sayings says: "If there is sunshine and water, there will be Chinese people." You can find one of the world's largest Chinatowns right at the centre of Yokohama City.

Passing through the colourful streets of Chinatown and walking in the direction of the port led me to the Waterfront Promenade of Yamashita Park. Minato Mirai 21, which means "the harbour of the future" in Japanese, is clearly visible from the Waterfront Promenade.

As Yokohama was one of the earliest ports opened to foreign trades, there was quite a number of Europeans settling here. Therefore, there is a street here at the foot of the Yamate Hill dedicated to the Europeans for their shopping spree, the Motomachi. Yamate Hill itself is filled with mansions in European architecture.

There is a park named Harbour View Park on top of Yamate Hill in which the name is self-explanatory. If offers a great view of the Bay Bridge in the evening.

I will be updating with more details of each location mentioned above, so please stay tuned.

Thursday 26 June 2008

Seeing Beyond Tomorrow

Miraikan literally means the museum of the future. It is Japan's National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation located at Odaiba, Tokyo.

The architecture of the building is considered contemporary in an oval shape with glass panels all round. I think the plan resembles the shape of a leaf.

Under the warm evening sun, the building shines with a golden glow.

The high ceiling of the foyer is decorated with ornaments in the shape of a leaf.

The well-known Geo-cosmos globe displays the weather image of the world at almost real time. It changes in display in random for the global sea temperature sometimes.

This is a model of the Space Station Skylab.

And this was where the astronauts went to drop their droppings.

There is also a physical model showing how information is transmitted and received through the Internet.

This is a cube with 3D dancing lights.

The exhibits are not for your eyes only, they are for you to try out and understand the theory and logic behind each exhibit. This is a remote-controlled surgery robot, but of course your hands-on experience is not to lie down on the surgery table.

One of the highlights at the museum is the Asimo robot, which is the favourite display of the young and the young-at-heart.

Wednesday 25 June 2008

Wordless Wednesday – FUJI TV Headquarters

Location: Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan
Date taken: May 6th, 2008
Camera: Nikon D70s + Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D

Monday 23 June 2008

A Sleepless Night in Shibuya

My friend invited me for a day out on my birthday two Saturdays ago (14th June) for my birthday bash, so we went to Shibuya, the most happening place in Tokyo in terms of shopping and entertainment.

Gals and ladies alike will flock to this Shibuya 109 building to check out the latest fashion for female.

As we were not into checking out the latest fashion, we went for our first movie show in Tokyo. I would say that the English movies in Japan are always behind the trend back in Malaysia. Can you imagine that "Indiana Jones IV" was just premiered on 21st June?! So, we had to settle for a relatively old movie "Juno". Movie tickets are not cheap in Tokyo. They cost ¥1,800 each. However, there will be a special offer of ¥1,000-ticket on every first day of the month.

After the movie, we went to the forever-crowded Starbucks at the corner of the world's busiest pedestrian crossing.

There are a few million people crossing the roads at this junction everyday! No kidding! This can be witnessed clearly from the Starbucks' second floor seats facing the crossing.

Ready! Get set! Go!

To get ourselves ready for the sleepless night, we fed ourselves with steaks during dinner time. In Japan, you eat steak with rice.

At around 11:30 p.m., we were all set to party!

The area with all the clubs and bars is where most of the love hotels are as well. What is the purpose of using the room for 90 minutes? I leave it to your imagination.

At around 2:30 a.m., we were tired and hungry. So, we went to a Chinese ramen shop and i had this chasyo ramen as supper.

Since there was no train back at these odd hours, we killed our time at a cafe bar near the train station.

There were a few European gals partying, even at a cafe bar with many passersby!

The busiest pedestrian crossing became something like in any deserted town!

When we took the Yamanote Line train to Ikebukuro Station to catch a connecting train back, we only found out that the train would only depart 40 minutes later. So, we decided to sleep in the Yamanote Line train that looped round Tokyo without a terminal station. We went round Tokyo 2 times in the train in 2 hours before catching a connecting train back for proper sleep.

It was quite an awesome experience for me on the night life in Tokyo. This is what I call a city that never sleeps!

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