Day 33

 It’s Sunday, but there is work to do. The sun is back, the heat hasn’t really left. All the reasons for an afternoon departure. We are joining Róbert in Yokohama. Yokohama is the second-biggest city in Japan in terms of population. It is 45 minutes away in subway. We exit the subway at our rendez-vous point, Yokohama’s Chinatown, one of the largest in the world. Yokohama was the one of the first Japanese ports to open to foreign trade, in 1859. Foreigners were allowed to live in Japan only in a small area of the city. This explains why there is such a big Chinatown, and an occidental neighborhood next to it. There is, furthermore, a big US military base on the other side of the bay, with a US neighborhood: pay in dollars, US movies at the same time as in the US, US goods… We will not have time to check that out. 

It’s Sunday, Chinatown is very crowded. At each of its entrances, an ornate gate, bigger ones for bigger streets. It is full of shops and, even more so, of restaurants. But there are also a number of temples and shrines. We enter a few boutiques, then check out a first shrine. The Yokohama Kuan Ti Miao shrine is a Buddhist shrine in honor of an emperor. It was destroyed multiple times (earthquake, war). It is quite colorful, with red very present (as always) but lots of green, too. After the visit, we buy sesame balls, something Noe has been dreaming of, and go check out a second temple: the Masoboyo temple. It has a grandiose gate, and is also quite colorful. 

After a little detour to go through one of the streets of what used to be the foreigner quarters, an avenue that looks a bit more European than most here, we reach the Yokohama bay. There is a place that exhibits a giant robot, we take a peak at the robot moving from outside the gates, as many. It’s the Gundam factory. We pass the NYK Hikawa Maru, a ocean liner of the thirties on which some stars travelled (Charlie Chaplin). The boat was converted in a medical boat during the war, and survived the war as such. It was restored as a maritime museum. As we walk, we notice more and more dogs, most of them in carriages. It seems small and medium dogs are transported by carriage in Japan, and Yokohama is a dog (and pets) friendly place. We reach the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, in front of which takes place the curry and music festival. The place is full of dogs! We are hungry and decide to have some curry. An unexpected firework starts, sending the dogs in frenzy. After dinner, we continue walking amongst dogs and dog owners, and go have a delicacy the teenagers have been asking for a long time, bubble tea. It will be Noe and Samuel’s first, maybe not last. A last stroll through Hammerhead park, to see the peer that was built to greet foreign cruisers but has never hosted any, as it was built just before Covid, and it is off to the subway. The baseball game has finished, clearly, so we are not alone. Thankfully, after one stop we get seats, as the subway gets more and more crowded, but in a very orderly way. After a while, it gets better, and we reach home in time for a quick call to Europe, showers, and sleep.



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