Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day 14 in Tokyo

Diane is feeling better so we have arranged to meet Paul at Yokohama at the same time and place (Yokohama Station) as day 12. Everything goes well and we arrive at what we think is the right place. No Paul. (I should point out that today is Tuesday of Golden Week, with zillions of people all heading for Yokohama. Also Paul doesn't have a mobile.) We realise that since Yokohama station is absolutely huge, we may not be in the same spot as before. After 40 minutes of searching Paul finds us!!

We head over to the mall for a light lunch (Paul warns us that we are having ramen for an early dinner). We decide that a bakery is best option, with a wide variety of breads, rolls and pastries. The Japanese may not have a long history of bread making, but they have come up with some amazing options that we simply never see in Australia. And the hygienic method of self serving using tongs and trays works well

Paul and Geoff head off to the NYK maritime museum while Laura and Diane go shopping.

The museum is in the Yokohama branch office of the Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) line - it was built in 1936 and seems to have survived WWII unscathed.

The exhibits inside are most impressive with handy English translations. The exhibition really traces the growth and development of the Japanese merchant marine and it's vessels. There are some excellent models, some 1:48 scale but no photos allowed

After spending an interesting time in the museum we meet the girls and then head off to meet Joss who has finished her Emglish classes for the day. We are going to the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum.

This attraction bills itself as the world's first food amusement park and contains nine separate ramen restaurants in a recreated section of Tokyo in the year 1958.

This year is regarded as significant because of the invention of instant noodles thus enabling more widespread availability of ramen. The various ramen restaurants are long established institutions from various parts of Japan

Our first ramen was from Sakamoto and features a chicken and soy sauce based ramen.

Our second ramen was from Momofukutei and featured a pork and soy sauce based ramen completely different from the first.

It was now time to head home. We were all full. We caught the local service back to Yokohama and waited a short whole for the train back to Shinjuku. A lot of other people were waiting as well. I've noticed that just when things start to get crowded there is someone in a uniform to direct things.

The guy with the megaphone might look like a field Marshall in the Italian army, but he was typical of so many people who keep things functioning despite the crowds. I think we loathe crowds in Australia because they often result in disorganization and chaos, particularly with the abysmal public transport. In Japan their genius for organisation and control shows. People take notice when someone in a uniform tells them to keep left or right, to stop or go, or whatever. I guess they realise that everyone benefits when everyone cooperates . Not that people here need to be told - they generally obey traffic lights, they line up to get on the train etc (the place where the train doors will be is marked on the platform - the trains actually stop in the same place every single time, even though they are doing 80 km/hr when they first hit the platform). This is a new experience being part of what appears to be a very co-operative society, at least at a public level. I guess this is the only way a city of 13 million can function so smoothly.

As we get near 'home' we decide we can just fit in sweets. We head to the local convenience store to grab some treats.

These stores are all over the place and are really the equivalent of the now extinct Australian corner store. They can be a '711', an 'AM PM', 'Family Mart', 'Lawsons', etc but all of them are like mini supermarkets, not the sadly misnamed convenience stores we have in Australia.

-- Post From Geoff's iPhone

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