Yokohama 2018 travel diary: day 4

Thursday, 1 March, 2018

We rose at 07:30 again and went looking for something different for breakfast. M. suggested going into Landmark Tower Plaza because there were plenty of food places in the ground floor level there. We found a French patisserie called Vie De France which was open. I grabbed a raisin scroll and an orange pastry that was a fat cylinder, as tall as it was wide. This second one was a new thing to me, and turned out to have a nice bitter orange marmalade flavour, combined with lovely fresh flaky pastry. It was really good. There was a misunderstanding with the lady who sold them to me however, as for some reason she included a coffee on my order when I didn’t want any, and it took some work to get the staff to understand that I didn’t want a coffee and to refund the price.

Then we returned via Starbucks where M. got her morning coffee.

The morning session of the meeting was a break to allow us to attend the CP+ camera show during the press-only time, from 10:00 to 12:00. However I had a meeting planned with Suzuki-san from Canon at 10:15, to discuss our work on the ISO TC42 committee. I went down to the meeting room a bit after 09:00 to get one of the press passes for the show, but then came back upstairs to hang out with M. until she left to go visit the Cup Noodles Museum.

I went to my meeting with Suzuki-san, and it didn’t take very long. We agreed to establish more frequent email communication than I’d had with Nagata-san (whose job as my liaison with Canon Inc. Suzuki-san had taken over).

Rap dancers at the CP+ camera show

After that I had some spare time to visit the camera show since I’d arranged to meet M. at the Cup Noodles Museum at 11:30. I went over to the exhibition hall and swapped my press ticket for an entry pass, then went in to wander around the exhibits for a bit. I walked down once from end to end, then exited to go upstairs to the second hand camera market and camera gear sales area. This was crowded, as it was already open to the general public, whereas the main exhibition was in the press only time, and the public were already beginning to queue for entry. I found the Kenko stall and bought one of the inexpensive camera phone attachments that provides a telephoto lens, similar to the wide angle and fisheye attachments I bought last year. I also went to the Manfrotto stall and bought an extendible monopod for a bargain sale price of 2500 yen. Then I went back downstairs to the main exhibition and walked back the length of it along the other main aisle. I didn’t have a lot of time to wander around, but that was okay, having been here to see it the past two years. Much of it looked very similar, though of course a lot of the camera models would be new.

Antique cameras
Antique camera display at CP+ camera show

I left and went back to the hotel room to drop off my purchases, and then walked over to the Cup Noodles Museum to meet M. I was there a bit early so checked out the gift shop until she emerged. She looked through the shop too, then returned her audio guide and we were ready to head off for some lunch.

We went to the Red Brick Warehouse, and got a table at Granny Smith for some pies. They had three types of savoury quiche, but all had meat in them so M. couldn’t have any of those. They also had apple in them, like basically everything else the place sells. I chose a chicken one, plus a hot apple cider to drink, while M. got an apple pie and a coffee. The quiche was okay, but not very big, so I decided I had to try an apple pie too. I selected the rum and raisin version, which came with ice cream and cream on the side. This was very nice.

Granny Smith pie
Rum and raisin pie at Granny Smith

After lunch we walked across to the Yokohama Museum of Art. I put my coat and hat in a locker and we bought the general entry tickets for 500 yen each, not bothering with the special temporary exhibit. I’ve been here each of the past two years, and they are constantly changing their permanent collection exhibits, so it’s been different each time, including this visit. This time it was an exhibition of surrealist painting, sculpture, and photography, with works by Salvador Dali, Man Ray, Max Ernst, Joan Miro, Rene Magritte, Pablo Picasso, and many others, including a large room full of Japanese surrealist artists who followed the western movement.

Mural for Helena Rubinstein
Mural for Helena Rubinstein by Salvador Dali

The photography room had a collection of large prints, in very grainy and dark black and white, by Ishiuchi Miyako, a woman who rose to fame with her Yokosuka Story photo essay book on her life growing up in Yokosuka, a place she didn’t like. This was reflected in the photos, all from that collection, which dripped with grim grittiness and despair. This was an adjunct to the special temporary exhibit, which covered later work by Miyako.

Having gone through the fairly small museum, we crossed the square in front of the Mark IS shopping centre, where we descended to the first basement level to check out the food shops. M. found a savoury quiche that was vegetarian, with dried tomato in it, and bought one of those, which she was happy to eat cold. We also stopped at a shop that sold mochi balls and other rice based sweets. I bought a skewer with four small mochi balls on it, smothered in a thick brown sauce, while M. bought what was essentially a blob of sushi rice topped with a large layer of red bean paste. We sat at a nearby table to eat them. The sauce on my mochi balls turned out to be a sort of salted caramel, sweet and salty at the same time. It was okay, but quite rich. (I later discovered these were mitarashi dango, and the sauce made of soy sauce and sugar, so I was basically right.)

Mitarashi dango
Mitarashi dango

After this snack, I had to leave to attend the afternoon’s ISO meeting session, which began at 15:00 and ran for three hours. M. stayed behind in Mark IS to browse through all the shops. Earlier in the day I’d found that there are several ramen shops that made vegetarian ramen, all clustered in the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, a sort of historical theme park that recreates a village square from the 1950s, surrounded by ramen shops. So we’d decided to head there on the train after my meeting for dinner. I told Elaine about it and she was keen to join us, but Jonathan had other plans already and Neelam was feeling unwell so wanted to stay at her hotel.

So after the meeting, I returned to the hotel room to pick up M., and we went to meet Elaine in the hotel lobby, and set out for Shin-Yokohama together. Elaine didn’t have a Suica card so bought a single ticket to Yokohama, and then would have had to buy another single for the subway ride to Shin-Yokohama, and then do the same for the return trip. So I suggested she get a card, but it could us a couple of false leads until we found the correct office where we could buy one, but eventually we managed it and she used it for the rest of the trip from Yokohama station onwards.

After a long walk from the Minato Mirai line train to the Yokohama subway, we travelled another five stops to Shin-Yokohama. We emerged from the exit nearest the front of the train, which was just a block or so from the Ramen Museum. We found it easily, and paid about 300 yen for entry. The ground floor was a museum display and gift shop, and also had a slot car race track and a sort of hobby shop.

60 years in the past
Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, recreation of 1950s Yokohama

But we walked down the stairs to descend to the double height basement levels which had been built to resemble a small village square in 1950s Yokohama, with a ceiling painted as a sky at dusk to complete the illusion. On the two floors there were arranged a dozen or so ramen shops. We found Muku Zweite, the shop that had the vegetarian ramen that M. thought looked the best, and navigated the use of the ordering machine outside with the help of a waitress. We had to feed money into the machine, then select buttons corresponding to our orders, and take the tiny printed tickets. The waitress called out our orders to the kitchen and the chefs got busy with pots and open flames that licked to ceiling height. Elaine and I both got the “most recommended” ramen dish, which had two types of pork meat, and apparently a seafood broth. I added a boiled egg to mine as an extra, and also got a beer, while M. decided to have a sangria, and Elaine a grapefruit juice.

Ramen kitchen
Ramen kitchen at Muku Zweite

We went inside and sat at one of the three tables in the establishment, though there were also a few seats at the bar facing the kitchen. The grapefruit juice came in what looked like a tall shot glass, and Elaine said it was thick like jelly. M.’s sangria came in a small glass jar with a lid, and was full of large chunks of fruit. When I ordered the beer, the waitress asked if I wanted light or black, and I said black. It was an Erdinger dark beer from Germany, and in fact I noticed that there were a couple of German beers, and the blackboard above the kitchen had “Prost” written on it. And them I realised the “Zweite” in the restaurant name was probably derived from German too.

Muku Zweite ramen
“Most recommended” ramen at at Muku Zweite

The ramen arrived in big bowls, and we tucked in. The waitress showed me and Elaine a piece of paper which had written on it, “This soup has two layers, enjoy them without mixing together” (slightly paraphrased). However neither of us noticed any layering properties in or bowls, and we were mystified as to what it meant. Nevertheless, it was all delicious, with thick ribbon-like noodles in the richly flavoured broth. M. really liked hers, saying it was one of the best noodles she’d ever had, and the best meal of the trip.

Old Yokohama
More of the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

When we’d finished, we left to explore the place a bit more, walking around all the shops and then around the level above, which was made to look like narrow alleys between wooden buildings, all decorated with old style details that really made the atmosphere convincing. We found a stairwell, where Elaine read one of the Chinese characters as “bath”, and indeed it was tiled in bath tiles, and there was a wooden cutout of a bath patron in a towel, with the face cut out for photographic posing. The stairs just went up and down levels and there was no bath, but the atmosphere was perfect.

Old Yokohama alley
“Alley” in the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

After exploring all the nooks and crannies of the basement levels, we returned to the ground floor and browsed through the museum and gift shop. Elaine bought some pens for her son, but we didn’t get anything. Then we left to return to the station and catch the trains back to Minato Mirai and our hotel. We left Elaine just outside the station as we wanted to go find something sweet over in Landmark Plaza, while she headed back to the hotel.

We went into a supermarket and I found a new flavour of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream that I’d never seen before: chocolate cherry. So I got a small tub of that, and M. bought some Pringles-like chips for the flight tomorrow. The ice cream was similar to Cherry Garcia, but with chocolate ice cream rather than vanilla, very nice. I ate it back in the hotel room, and we turned in for the night, leaving showers for the morning since we needed to check out and then catch or flight home in the evening.

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