Day 175 - Japan's Most Famous Chinatown

Sunday, July 31st, 2016
2nd Day in Japan; Yokohama

Watchful Eyes

This could be yours for $65 CAD
I'm paranoid. Standing in a pharmacy near the heart of Yokohama, people keep staring at me. I'm walking around the aisles, looking for what's the same, what's different, and finding these faces out of the corner of my eyes, peering just over the shelves. I give a sidelong glance, awkwardly, to see who it is that's staring at me. It's a cutout. They seem to place them right where a person's face would be. Yeah... they were all just cardboard.


To be fair, people do stare fairly often, just like in China… or pretty much anywhere I go. I can’t understand what they say here, but body language doesn’t change much. I watch the people flow through the narrow streets; Shimou is enjoying looking at all the Japanese cosmetics. Goths, punks, business people, anime folk, and all sorts of other subcultures are prevalently on display here. Of course! you might be thinking, it’s a major city! but remember how I said the styles are more varied here than in China? This is an example of what I mean. Sure, you can find those groups in China, but most of the ones I come across on a daily/weekly basis don’t stray that far from the standard styles and fashions.

Ok, this video does a terrible job of conveying what I was describing, but it's still something, I guess.

China takes some outside influences, but largely tries to stay in their own vein; Japan seems to celebrate multiculturalism more, while also maintaining their own cultural heritage. Both Shimou and Yuzu had pointed out that it's not weird for people to be wearing the traditional garb here, which they often wear throughout the summer during their firework events. 

Okonomiyaki Brunch

Jumping back: We had eaten brunch at an Okonomiyaki restaurant next to our BnB. This is what Yuzu had made me for my birthday back in Perth, which is made of finely chopped spinach, eggs, cheese, and a few other things that are fried into a really thick pancake thing. We sat on the ground with the short tables. The owner gently assisted us in cooking our food on a flat top set in the table. They made conversation with every customer and were quite friendly. Shimou had pointed out that on the menus, they will often have their own names. In this instance, it said “Don't be afraid to ask Mr. Blah for help.” 

My Sidekick, Porkbun Man!
Language Barriers

I feel like I did when I first entered China, but worse because I at least knew how to say a few basic things in Chinese. They seem very friendly, and expressive, and like they genuinely want to help whenever she talks to them. But I can only say “Thanks” and maybe “goodbye” or “oh really?” and “what is that?”… Oh right, and “give me your money,” “quickly” and the words for genitalia. Thanks, Australia!

We had hitched a tube to the center of town, which leads us back to that aforementioned pharmacy where Shimou is about to be hit on by another foreigner while I am watching the crowds. What a place! He told her she was pretty, asked if she had a boyfriend, and said she looked like an actress. Works for me. Why? Because it puts her in a good mood. Everyone wins! Well, except the dude. Acceptable loss, really.

Customer Service

I’d lost Shimou for a moment in a small store. She was in the back trying on samples with a salesperson, who offered me a seat. Smart. If you want to make a sale, make sure the tag along is at least comfortable, if not entertained. She apologized for not attending to me immediately and pulled up the chair. If they ever needed to get around me, they were very gracious and careful. To be on the receiving end of this is great, but to have to provide this service might get a bit tiring.

After Shimou had her fill of shopping, and me my fill of lounging in a cafe, we went to Yokohama's Chinatown. “Why?” you might ask. Trust me, I also asked this, joking that we just came from the biggest chinatown in the world. It’s because I wanted to see Japan's version of China, both their take on food and the atmosphere. It's cleaner in every way. Shimou said the spicy tofu she ate was better than what she's had in Beijing. 

One thing that Japan has much more of than China is Sesame flavoured things. I grabbed a sesame soft serve cone from Japanese Chinatown. I kind of miss a good sesame tinge every now and again. If you want to make something taste Asian, toss in some sesame oil. Yum.

Subway Conversion 

Shimou was figuring out our ticket situation, studying the subway map while I stood back. An older woman, missing some teeth, came up and started speaking to me. Over her shoulder stood a bored-looking teen girl, silent. The woman knew a couple phrases in English, but seemed like she wanted me to go somewhere with them. “No money” they said, and I said that I don’t believe in god. They said “no god” but kept repeating “there is evidence” but couldn’t say what the evidence proved. The best I could get was that they thought that praying at Mt.Fuji would stop earthquakes, and that they had proof of this. We all had a laugh when I misunderstood her saying “earthquake” for “Ice cream.” In the end, I walked away from the promise of eternal happiness.

Who says I don’t have willpower?

Bonus: A confusingly fast walkthrough of our apartment. I didn't think time lapse would shrink it down this much, but a full walkthrough at normal speed just seems too much.
Also, apologies that I forgot to turn to landscape mode instead of portrait...

Word of the Day - Japanese Edition
English - Japanese [pronunciation]

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