During my week in Japan last November, I took a couple of trips outside the capital to nearby cities, the first being to Yokohama (横浜市) which lies south of Tokyo in Tokyo Bay – a half-hour journey from Shibuya on the Tokyu Toyoko Line (東急東横線).
I got off at Minatomirai (みなとみらい) station in an area known as Minato Mirai 21 (みなとみらい21) which translated means “Port of the Future in the 21st century”. After exiting the shopping mall above the station the first thing you’ll see is the Cosmo Clock 21 which is a giant ferris wheel combined with the world’s largest clock.
This particular vision of the future was conceived in the 1980s and as such is looking a bit dated and overly stark.
The InterContinental Yokohama Grand hotel is shaped like a giant yacht sail.
Nearby is Japan’s tallest building – the Yokohama Landmark Tower (横浜ランドマークタワー), standing 296 m high. It reminded me a lot of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building – not exactly pretty.
Outside is an enormous steel sculpture called the ‘MokuMoku WakuWaku Yokohama YoYo’ which was designed by Hisayuki Mogami in 1994.
Rather bleak and sterile boulevards.
More of the twisted YoYo.
The Nippon Maru, a historic naval training ship, is docked outside.
You can get a better feel for the scale of MM21 as you walk towards Bashamichi Station (馬車道駅) but it looks much better at night. Notice the Tower Bridge copy in the background!
Yokohama was the first port city which opened up Japan to the rest of the world in the mid-19th century and the area around Bashamichi Station has many historic buildings built in a western style during this period.
The area was also the first place in Japan to have gas-fired street lights which have recently been re-installed.
Despite being late in the season there were still some beautiful autumn colours on the trees lining the avenues.
I came across many groups of older folks doing oil and watercolour paintings.
Being Japan there were of course other groups diligently sweeping up the fallen leaves.
Yokohama also has a famous Chinatown but I gave it a miss seeing as I already live in China! To be honest I found half a day in Yokohama more than enough so perhaps I think more research will be in order before visiting again.
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Interesting area. The sterile looking streets are really boring looking. But the Landmark Tower is imho quite beautiful, gives an alien look, an impressive look. Thanks for the article.
Thanks emko – impressive yes, and quite brutal!
Did you visit the Yokohama port terminal? it’s a must see for architecture lovers: )
Sounds like you just gave me a reason to give Yokohama another look 🙂
[…] 걷다 보면, 나는 종종 일본이 1980년대의 미래상(vision of the future)에서 멈춰있다는 생각이 드는데, 이는 여러모로 조경 디자인의 상징이 […]
Hi David, I went to Tokyo last year for a visit for the first time and I know exactly what you mean. The stuff in Tokyo is tech based but not in a contemporary way. I couldn’t think of any phrase that could describe it very well but an 80’s “vision of the future” isn’t bad now that I think of it lol.
Yeah, having lived in Japan for a year now I still get the 80’s vibe in many areas, the city is like a living time capsule.
[…] sin mas que decir.Paseando por Tokio, a menudo se tiene la sensación de estar atrapado en una visión del futuro de 1980 y en muchos sentidos lo es, es la contradicción que caracteriza el paisaje del diseño en […]