No one wanted to attempt to visit Disneyland on a Sunday. So while MJ and Wilson wanted to spend another day of shopping, I decided to spend the day exploring elsewhere. I never would had guessed what I would chance upon in Yokohama today.
We woke up fairly late this morning and headed together to Shibuya where the rest would begin their shopping. From here I could change to the separate Tokyu Toyoko line for Yokohama.
I alighted on the next station though, a quick stop to check one of the shops at Daikanyama. It was 11 am but most of the shops here weren’t open yet, the one I was looking for didn’t open till 1 pm.
Back at the station for the train bound for Yokohama, I spotted a poster ad for the AKB48 book that I was looking for. Though it was available at the concert on Wednesday, the AKB48 Fashion Book won’t be released till the following Tuesday.
Thanks to the typhoon on Wednesday, I didn’t get a chance to explore any of the areas here. So here I was back at Yokohama.
There weren’t nearly as many departmental stores here in Yokohama. The shopping streets outside the station consisted mostly of smaller outlets. I passed by another Don Quijote building here, there wasn’t a theater here but the local AKB48 still fans gathered outside to trade photos. Mostly teenage boys and girls. They kept their photo collections in ring binders.
Since we stayed sheltered in Shin-Yokohama during our visit, this was my first time walking the streets of Yokohama. Apart from the lack of skyscrapers, another noticeable difference was that there weren’t any maps on the streets like back in Tokyo. In my mental map, I knew that I wanted to head south-west towards the coastline so I decided to follow the river downstream.
The buildings got less and less commercial and I eventually found myself lost in a deserted residential area. After about an hour of walking, I finally reached a main street where I spotted a sign for a nearby train station. Locals were headed there, so I followed along in the direction.
I ended up in a flea market of sorts. The roads around the train station had been blocked off today and residents were here selling their old belongings. I looked through the stalls but didn’t find anything of particular interest, I have been more cautious with my purchases the past few days. Lots of people selling old clothes and toys. At one stall, a little girl tried selling handmade crafts.
The flea market continued straight into a shrine along the road. One stall here sold candy floss and large chocolate coated bananas for 120 yen. I decided to try one of the chocolate bananas.
While they certainly looked nice, the chocolate turned out to be quite diluted. Considering though that individual bananas cost a 100 yen here in Japan though, the store seemed to be providing more of a service.
The river I was walking along passed through one of the streets here. Many huge Koi fish were swimming by the bridge that lead to the train station.
At the station, I learned that I had ended up at Tennocho, a town in a whole separate ward.
I had exited on the wrong side of Yokohama station and had been walking in the wrong direction all this while. Turns out, the river flowed from the sea, not towards.
I returned on a train back to Yokohama station and this time switched to the Minatomirai line for Minato Mirai.
At Minato Mirai, I headed towards the coast. It wasn’t far from the station. There was an exhibition hall anda park on the left, Cosmo World was on my right. Really strong winds were blowing from the coast but for some reason I decided to take a look at the park.
Much to my surprise, the park was filled with scattered groups of cosplayers!
At first I reasoned that perhaps this was a popular cosplay spot among the locals in Yokohama. But as I proceeded deeper into the park, the sheer number of cosplayers here made no sense. Also, some normally dressed people carrying passes, went from group to group to take photographs.
I spotted a girl squatting behind a bush. She was trying to hide from the freezing sea breeze. I asked her politely about what exactly was going on here, while apologizing for my poor Japanese.
It turned out that they were having a cosplay event here. According to her, for 2000 yen you could get a pass that allowed you to take photographs of the cosplayers freely. I was interested.
Soon another girl in the same outfit and their photographer friend came by. She explained to them my situation. Despite knowing that I was from Singapore, they spoke to me slowly in Japanese without being the least bit condescending, for that I was truly thankful.
The photographer had one of the passes too, so he was the man to ask. He directed me towards the exhibition hall I had seen earlier. I could get a pass there.
I found the mentioned hall. It was full of even more cosplayers here who didn’t dare brave the cold. At the entrance a booth had been set up for registrations. It cost 1500 yen for cosplayers to participate in the event and 2500 yen to get a photographer’s pass. When it was apparent that I wasn’t local, the two people at the counter were left stumped. They decided to call a young man down who I presume was the event organizer.
After some formalities, the young man proceeded to tell me that this was a member’s only event. I tried inquiring more information, to which he would ponder about in a confused manner before repeating that this was a member’s only event. I tried explaining my situation but he didn’t seem to be the least interested. In the end he just continued to repeat the same thing. The irony of this was that even if it was a member’s only event, I was a registered Cure member. It was apparent to me that the guy was just being unhelpful because I was a foreigner, so I eventually gave up.
Annoyed, I returned back in the direction of the park, there was a cafe there I saw earlier and it was already way past lunchtime. Inside the cafe though, I encountered the friendly locals that had helped me earlier. They were surprised that I didn’t manage to get the pass. They could see no reason why I should had been refused entry. Unexpectedly, the bush girl from earlier decided to brave the cold journey back to the exhibition building to help me get a pass.
She explained my situation to the two staff at the counter and they proceeded to hand me the entry form. The rude man from before came around and acted important for a while. He gave me a hard time before eventually signaling to let me have a pass when I showed him my business card.
We headed back to the park to meet back with the others. It was getting late so they seemed to be in quite a hurry to take photos, yet they took the time to help me out. I thanked everyone for saving me. That’s them in the display picture. The photographer goes by the name of Zero-san. The girl on the far right Chihiro-san, was the one who helped me get the pass. On is their timid friend, Wataru-san.
They soon began their photo shooting session by a fountain in the park. Feeling a little out of place I didn’t stay for long, I bid my farewell and headed back to the cafe for lunch. It was 2.45 pm and I was starving.
On hindsight though, I realized it might had been a little rude of me to leave the group so quickly after the effort they took in getting me the pass. This I regret deeply.
At the cafe, I don’t remember ever eating as hurriedly before. The event was scheduled to end at 4 pm so I had only about an hour to spare after lunch. The winds in the park were getting stronger so most of the cosplayers in the park headed to the confines of the halls. Had I been here earlier, I would had been able to take some nice shots in the park. But just being able to participate in this surprise event was already quite something.
All of the other people carrying photography passes carried large bulky cameras. Even the cosplayers themselves carried chunky the DSLRs, they even brought reflectors so I didn’t get too much attention with my tiny camera. They were more than happy to pose though when I asked politely. A lot of the cosplayers hoped for some direction on my part as to how I wanted them to pose but I couldn’t do much with my poor Japanese and lack of anime knowledge. They fulfilled pose requests of all sorts from the photographers and fellow cosplayers.
Though some carried the hobby into their 20s, most of the cosplayers were teenage women. They all came in groups of similarly themed friends.
The better cosplayers clearly stood out from the rest. The unpopular ones saw no business. They huddled around in corners of the hall waiting. Some were even happy when I asked to take their photo. Most of them had their own name cards which had a picture of themselves and their Cure ID. Some of them had entire albums of cards, one for each character they had cosplayed as. I politely traded name cards with some of them.
Before long, the event ended. There was one large space at the event dedicated to just the luggage bags of the cosplayers. After the event, they quickly transformed back into their normal attire and headed back to their respective towns. Blending back into the public crowds, (apart from their tiny luggage bags) you would never had guessed that any of them cosplayed.
After the event, I trailed the rest of coast and passed by Cosmo World. It housed what was once the largest Ferris wheel, the Cosmo Clock 21. This record was broken by Osaka’s wheel but the wheel in Yokohama remains the world’s biggest clock.
Yokohama has remains one of Japan’s main ports ever since the Americans invaded it with their warships back in the 1800s. I passed by some of the warehouses and docks before ending up at Yamashita Park. It’s 750m long stretch of greenery along the coast. Parked here was the Hikawa Maru steamer, an old ocean liner that now serves houses a naval museum.
The architecture in the park seemed somewhat tacky and the winds by the sea were really strong so I headed inland. Hiding behind buildings offered little protection from the wind though, as it came from all directions. I decided to check out Chinatown since it was just a street across from the park.
Yokohama’s Chinatown doesn’t really house Chinese immigrants. Instead it has grown into a popular tourist destination. Most of the shops and restaurants here clearly catered to tourists. Sure enough, there were lots of tourists here this evening.
I found a food stall selling various Chinese finger food. The store owner was surprised that I asked politely if I could take photos of his shop, I guess most tourists didn’t bother. He happily urged me to go on ahead.
If there is one type of Chinese food that I really do enjoy, it has to be Dim Sum. The stall had some Shu Mai, so I ordered a stick. It turned out to be pretty bland, the stuffing was more similar to Gyoza.
Nothing else really caught my interest at Chinatown so I headed back toward the station.
Across a stretch of restaurants, I found another nearer station on the Minatomirai line so I didn’t have to endure the full journey back to the previous station. I was to meet back with MJ and Wilson at the hotel before we decided where to have our dinner.
On the way back, I returned to Daikanyama to check out the boutique that was closed earlier. The girl running the shop looked like a halfie, though its hard to tell when almost all Japanese women dye their hair blond. She spoke decent English.
I learned from her that the pendant I saw on their online catalog wasn’t available till next month. Disappointed, I made by way back to the hotel where the rest were already waiting.
I met up with the gang at the hotel lobby. On my way back to the hotel, I had spotted a Tengu branch just further behind the train station so I suggested heading there. It wasn’t difficult to convince MJ (who was eager to have more of their delicious diced beef and pizza) to agree.
The waiter was quite shocked when we ordered 3 pizzas right from the start. He tried explaining how large they were but we were fully aware. We also ended up ordering 3 servings of diced beef (two lemon and one garlic), some Yakitori and Gyoza.
Wilson ordered a raw bonito without quite knowing what it was. Most people will better recognize the fish as the shredded flakes that normally top Takoyaki. I tried a piece, didn’t like it. It had a really strong fishy taste that reminded me of Salmon.
Satisfied, we returned to our hotel rooms to retire for the night. But not before getting some desserts from the nearby 7-11.
Today had been a really interesting day for me. To unknowingly chance upon such a cosplay event here and to somehow find myself part of this event was definitely a unique experience. The main highlight though, was the helpful trio I had met at the event. I remain deeply touched by their kindness and patience. This incident made me realize in contrast, how unfriendly I had been trained as a Singaporean.Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.