A day at Yokohama Chinatown Cosmo world and Yamashita park
During the early part of last century Japan was rapidly evolving into an industrial nation. Trade, import of raw material, export of engineered goods helped the port town of Yokohama grow into a major world city. the marine routes between Yokohama to Shanghai and Peking grew busy. This was the time some Chinese traders settled down near Yokohama port. A stone’s throw away from the harbor this settlement grew with establishment of school and temples. The wars affected life here badly, but finally as peace returned, the expat center came into its own. It was officially recognized as Chukagai or in English as Chinatown.
Currently about 3-4000 people call this area home. Chinese crafts, bags, decor items, lanterns and memorabilia are available in plenty as are Chinese restaurants. For that authentic taste of Peking duck or dim sum you can head to any of the number of restaurants offering buffet choice.
Chinese New Year is celebrated with grandeur. It’s a photographer’s delight with lantern decorations lion dance etc. And If interested you can also have your fortune read by experts in Chinese astrology.
The closest rail stations are – Motomachi Chukagai station on MinatoMirai line, Ishikawacho station on JR line, Yamashita pier by steamer from Yokohama station.
Cosmo World amusement park
The giant Ferris wheel of Cosmo world is hard to miss. It’s in an estate boasting major office and shopping complexes, right at the harbor of Yokohama. Well connected by both land and sea routes, it is a children’s world in the day. And a showpiece in the night, when the lights are switched on. You can’t go very wrong if you decide to spend a few hours with kids here.
The whole amusement park is divided into several zones. For kids, who would rather be busy with arcade games like beating the monkey or catching the fish. For growing ones, who may choose to get into a dolphin boat or say a penguin one and float around in a small indoor-type water canal. Folks willing to dare can go ride into a paddle powered coaster that runs around the park. Offers a beautiful view.
For the ones really grown up there are quite a few rides. Such as a rotating dish that also slides up and down on a half moon track. Or a carousel with a central stand that slowly stands up as the carousel picks up pace. Yeah there is enough to spend a few hours of quality time, supplemented by shopping in the Queens towers shopping complex next door.
As for ones planning to be there but rather enjoy the atmosphere, there is the adjacent old harbor turned into a city park. Some would find it similar to bay side developments in London. There is even a faux London bridge. And also an old sailing ship named Nippon Maru moored in concrete for ever. Not sure if similar to the original one it also carried tea from India!
The Cosmo world children’s park closes early. But you can choose to hop into the giant Ferris wheel that lights up in the evening and enjoy the bay view.
The best way to reach Cosmo world from Yokohama would be via MinatoMirai line. Get down right at the MinatoMirai station. Or if you are like us you can choose to come by steamer from Yokohama.
If you try to compare Cosmo World with other children’s amusement park like Disney it will not be a fair comparison though. So expectations may need to be managed, if visiting with kids who have already been to Disney. For us this was the case. However once the kids got onto the rides all complaints were soon forgotten. As for us adults it was an alternative lighter on pocket leaving spare for some shopping next door! Its a win win what do ya say?
Yamashita park Yokohama bay
It’s one long pasture of green, with wide walking paths cutting through hedges and flower beds. Wooden benches under olden-days style street lamps. A road on one side separating it from the sea. That’s all that is Yamashita park.
As the evening lights are switched on, the Cosmo world Ferris wheel in the distance and the yellow glow of the street lamps around create a dreamy ambience. Moist sea breeze sprays mist on people walking by the seaside. Evenings in summer see many town folks coming here spending a few hours.
The crowd wanes as night comes, because this harbor area is somewhat far from residential corners. It borders the business district, the office and shopping malls that have come up in place of the old warehouses. Only the Chinatown is one residential area close by, a block away. So it is not unusual for couples leaving Yamashita park heading to Chinatown for dinner. When rest of the neighborhood settles down for the night Chinatown restaurants still stay awake.
The one other resident of this area that perhaps stay awake is the old ship Hikawa Maru. Now Retired permanently, docked at a pier at one end of Yamashita park. It was the pride of Japan in its heydays as the ocean liner ferrying the rich and the famous across Pacific.
Marine Day celebrations at Yamashita Park
This daily routine takes a break though during the one day called Sparkling Twilight. It is the Yokohama annual summer festival day. Its a national holiday – Marine day. On this day Yamashita park fills in with crowd. A fair comes up on the grounds selling food and stuff. Live Art exhibitions are held. We saw how artists use chisel and hammer to carve a beautiful statue out of a solid block of ice.
As the day rolles into evening, lights come up on Hikawa Maru. Brilliantly lit Cosmo world Ferris wheel shines in the distance. Coast guard ships perform marine day parade, sailing in close to the harbor and blowing their horns as they pass by. At the preset time the horn on Hikawa Maru toots. Fireworks shoot up in a dazzling display. Night for this one day takes rest. At Yamashita Park.
For more on fireworks at Yamashita Park check out this