Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Yokohama (Page 2 of 3)

Kirin Brewery 

The Kirin Brewery in Yokohama made it into my top six “Favorite Brewery Tours.” 

Also in the top six are: Revolution Brewing (Chicago, IL), Magic Hat Brewing (Burlington, VT), Lagunitas Brewing (Chicago, IL), Heineken (Amsterdam) and Miller Brewing (Milwaukee, WI). 

The tour was free, lasted 80 minutes, and had three free tastings at the end! The staff was friendly and the tour was animated with automation. I can’t wait to go back! 

Sonia and I took the train to Yokohama and then switched to a local line. From there we walked to the Brewery. 


The area was very industrial and gave us the feeling we were in the wrong place. Until we saw this sign. 


Yay! We are on the right track and only 200 meters away! Walking up to the entrance, we were greeted by a security guard. 


He showed us to the reception area. We arrived at 11:10 am. The receptionist asked if we had reservations for the tour. No, we don’t. That is ok, she said. The next tour is at 11:20. Would you like to go? Yes, please! We were given buttons to wear and an English lamented guide to help us understand the tour because it was all in Japanese. Our tour guide came and introduced herself to us! Talk about feeling like a royal! The first part of the laminated booklet included the rules. 


At the beginning of the tour, we watched a short movie. Please notice all the kids who were part of our tour! It’s important to teach the youth to appreciate beer. 

As we moved along the tour route, we stopped for a tourist pose and to snap kawaii pictures. 


After the movie, we moved to a room where we could play with the malt and hops. Tables of different sizes were set up for participants to taste and smell the ingredients. 


My favorite quote was on the ingredients page. “All the ingredients of beer are gifts from nature.”


We left the ingredients room and were taken to see where the mashing occurred. Another video and light show was used to show the purpose of each tank. 


From here, we were able to taste the wort. The kids were so excited! They were cracking us up! 

I would describe the wort as tasting like raisin bran water. Like if you put water on your raisin bran instead of milk and then drank it when you finished the cereal. Sweet and branny. 


After tasting the wort, we had another interactive exhibit to understand the fermentation process. These cute little cartoons were projected onto a table. A true love story. Yeast eats sugar releasing alcohol and carbon dioxide. Voilà – Wort becomes beer. 


Check this out! We passed by a classroom that can be reserved and you can make your own beer! They will store it for you and ship it to you when it is ready. For a small fee, of course! 


The final part before tasting is the packaging. The beer we have been learning about is now packaged into Kirin Beer cans. 


Japanese happiness is shared throughout the world as Kirin is shipped globally! Locally, we enjoyed the final stop on the tour in the tasting room. 


After our tasting, we were ready for lunch. We stopped at the Spring Valley Brewery restaurant on the grounds of the factory. 


We split a flat bread salad and yogurt fried chicken. It was delicious! 


As we were leaving, we couldn’t resist a few shots lifting the (empty) pony kegs. 

It was a fun day! I am more than willing to add this to the Julia tour when you visit. I mean – free beer!! 

Bashamichi Taproom

Dave and I went up to Yokohama to check out one of the microbrew bars. Bashamichi Taproom is owned and operated by one of Japan’s best craft breweries, Baird Brewery. Besides delicious craft beers, Bashamichi Taproom also serves American barbecue. 

We started with a Shuzenji Hertitage Helles and a Suruga Bay Imperial IPA. 


We ordered a nacho appetizer. The nachos came in orders of four. So, you could order 4, 8, or 12 nachos. We were confused as well. We decided to go with an order of 8 nachos. Turns out it was 8 tortilla chips with perfectly placed toppings. Seriously. Only in Japan can you get an order of 8 tortilla chips. 


As we were preparing to order our second round of beers, I noticed the menu had a back. Surprise! The amazing barbecue joint has a brisket sandwich. Yes, please! Good thing we only ate eight tortilla chips between us! The sandwich was delicious. American smoked brisket meets Japanese pan (bread). As the brisket fell apart, the pan held the sandwich together. Perfection. 


The second beer I ordered, Teikoku IPA, might be my favorite craft beer I’ve found in Japan. 


Dave and I shared the sandwich. The pickle bite was so many levels of perfect! 


The building is three floors and we were seated on the second. All things considered, there was so much space! No doubt we will return. Mainly because of a communication problem…


While we were eating, I saw an advertisement for a beer stamp card. It said you could get 12 beers for the price of 10. Seemed like a great deal. We already had four, we were well on our way! When I asked the waitress for the bill, I also asked for a stamp card. She asked if we wanted to put Dave’s beer on the card. (I think, she was speaking Japanese and gesturing.) we said, hai! She then told us to go to the register (first floor) and she would bring it to us. (I think)  


We took the ticket to the cashier. Another person rang us up. ¥14,000. Wait, what? $140 for four beers, eight nachos, and one brisket sandwich!?! That’s ridiculous! 

But, I pay. And then try to understand what happened. Dave and I are discussing the price of food and the fact beer prices weren’t listed. Surely, the beers weren’t ¥2,500 each. That’s absurd. We were on the train home and it finally dawned on me to look at the receipt. That’s when I realized, the card itself costs ¥10,000 – $100!!! The food and four beers were only ¥40,000 – $40. Much more reasonable. 


And notice Dave’s beer isn’t on the receipt, because it was the first stamp! Simultaneously, the other side of the card clearly showed the price! 


So, yes, we will be going back. We have 11 more beers to drink and perhaps 11 more brisket sandwiches to eat! 

Nogeyama Zoo & Park

Dina and I both needed a trip to the Daiso and we wanted to visit the four-story Daiso in Hinodechō. I thought we would make a detour to help entertain the little person acompanying us. The Nogeyama Zoo is a small and free zoo about a 10 minute walk from the Hinodechō train station. First stop at the zoo was the ice cream stand for a vanilla, apple, and mango swirl. 


There were a couple cool animals at the zoo. The red panda, the peacock, and the giraffe were our favorites. 


After visiting the zoo, we went to the park. From my research, I learned the park had a a variety of flower gardens and this time of year we should expect to see the hydrangeas in bloom. There were several hydrangeas and they were absolutely stunning. 

A couple of my favorites because they include my beautiful friend and one her sweet daughters. 



There were two small rose gardens that deserve a picture or two as well. 


The zoo and park were a pleasant detour. I continue to be amazed at how many quiet parks / gardens are tucked away throughout the major cities. I truly love how the Japanese incorporate natural beauty into urban settings. I look forward to sharing these hidden gems with you when you visit. 

Yokohama Garden Necklace 

A bright sunny Monday is the perfect time to visit the Yokohama Garden Necklace. 


The Yokohama Garden Necklace goes from the end of March until the beginning of June. It is designed to highlight the green initiatives the city of Yokohama has taken. The main gardens and parks of Yokohama are connected (like a necklace) around the city by filling the urban spaces with strategically placed flowers and greenery. The mascot of the event is the cute bear with a flower hat. Kawaii! 


Today, I went to visit Yamashita Park. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such an extensive flower collection. The park is along the waterfront of Yokohama Port. The ships provided a nice background. 


And so did the city skyline. 


In the middle of the park, was a large fountain with a statue of The Guardian of Water. 


Interestingly, the Guardian of Water statue was a gift to the people of Yokohama from the people of San Diego. It was presented in 1960. A fitting gift from one coastal town to another! 


As I mentioned, the flowers were spectacular. Roses, foxglove, impatients, iris, lilies, snapdragons, asters, and many others! 


Maybe a few close up pictures. 


Yamashita Park was a small gem bursting with flowers. If you plan a visit next spring, I will be sure to add it to Julia’s tour when we visit Yokohama. 

Running Past Roses

Our regular running routes takes us past a beautiful rose garden. It is the garden of a private residence. When Dave and I run past around 5:15am, the owner is out tending his roses. When Dina and I run past at 7:30am, he is out tending his roses. I think he might be out all morning! They are truly stunning and well maintained. The first picture shows his car and the start of the garden. As I’ve mentioned, space is not wasted in Japan. 

If you notice in this picture, there is a sign.


Upon closer inspection, I realized the sign was advertising an event occurring this weekend at the Takeshimaya Mall in Yokohama. 


The event goes from 5/19-5/21. I mentioned the event to both Dave and Dina. Dave said, you should go. Dina said, we should go. Ha! She and I worked our schedules and decided Friday morning would be best.

We took the train to Yokohama. We weren’t really sure what to expect. I just knew from using Google Translate on the sign, the event was on the 8th floor of the mall. It took us a minute to find it because we were overwhelmed with the underwear sale also going on. Check out the illuminated mannequins! 


We eventually found the rose event. Can you believe it was crowded! 10:30am on a Friday! 


The rose arrangements on display were a variety of color and sizes. All were beautiful. 


A couple pictures of my favorites. 


Look at the difference in sizes! 


There were also judges evaluating the rose fragrance. 


We met a very nice lady who spoke English. She helped us vote for our favorite rose. The roses for judging were mounted on a plaque. We were instructed to vote based upon color, size, and fragrance. Dina voted for number 8. I voted for number 1. Although, we will never know which rose won, it was fun to vote. Every vote counts! 

My ballot. 


There is always something that makes the experience a little funnier. As if the underwear sale wasn’t confusing or bizarre enough, there was also a Buddhism exhibit on the same floor. It cost ¥800 to enter and the sign said: no photographs, no talking, and no touching. As if either of us would pay not to talk. People should be paying us not to talk! Ha! I was actually looking for money to pay for a ticket when I realized this wasn’t the exhibit we were looking for – the roses were right behind us! Whew! That was close! Our event was free!


Motomachi 

Earlier this week, Yasuko-San called to tell me our Friday English class would need to be cancelled. That gave me a whole day to do – whatever! Happy Friday to me! 

Dina also had a free day and we planned to go to collect more sea glass at Sea Glass Beach. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans for the day. It never rained but, remained overcast and cool. Not so much beach weather. 

Instead, we decided to venture up to Motomachi shopping district in Yokohama. Here is the gateway welcoming shoppers. 


Motomachi 500m upscale shopping street in Yokohama. It is located between Chinatown and Yamashita Park. Here was our route on the train. 


The street was filled with a couple of familiar stores. 


There were also a variety of other stores. Like this men’s purse store. The St. Bernard bag was too cute! The sexy lady men’s pins were just weird. 


Speaking of purses, I did buy a new purse from Kitamura2. 


I’ve been searching for a new crossbody bag to replace my tired Longchamp bag. This purse was a 40th birthday present from my Mom before we went to Paris.  I have enjoyed carrying for the past two years so much. It is absolutely perfect. If Longchamp still made it, I would buy at least two more in blue and black.  Considering the miles and continents it has travelled, it’s in pretty great shape… just like me! Ha


Today, I welcomed Blue Boy into my life. He is cute, functional, multicolored, and my first Japanese purse. He has a few more zippers than Longchamp and a very big job to fill. 


I was so thankful to have Dina along with me. She provided sound support as I invested in my new traveling companion (my new purse) and she provided comic relief at a fine leather goods establishment. First, you must stick your hand in his mouth. Which I did… it was furry and warm. 

And then there was the all-American fire truck… in Japan. 


The best was helping Dina find a new hat… maybe not this one. 

It’s Japanese size! 


And there was the incident with the BIG chair. Honestly, I wanted to sit in it. I was just too scared of making a scene! A selfie will have to do. 


One more place to mention as we walked through Motomachi was the adorable pet store. Kawaii!!!

These two puppies were ridiculous. The first one will not get bigger than a soda can. He was only ¥199,800 or about $1800. 

This little fluffy friend was ¥299,900. For shock factor, let’s say $3,000. (I know, I rounded the wrong way) by the time you buy supplies he will be that much! Crazy cuteness. 


We reached the other end of Motomachi and we were ready for food. 


We decided to head to Chinatown for lunch. On our way, we passed this adorable group of teenagers. Pandas in Chinatown, of course. 

Eventually, we found a delicious sushi restaurant in Chinatown.  Tuna rice bowl made complete with a grapefruit Hi-Ball and corn on my salad. 

Tuna rice bowl…. Nom nom nom…


As we headed back to the train, we saw our Panda friends again. This time, the were more than willing to pose! Kawaii! 


Happy Friday! May we always have a good friend(s) to laugh, shop, and drink with!  Kanpie! 

Yokohama Baystars 

Dave and I went to the Yokohama Baystars baseball game on Saturday afternoon. This was our second time to a Japanese baseball game. We went last summer shortly after we arrived. It was funny to read my previous post. It truly seems like forever ago and that I was still in a jetlag haze. This experience was so much easier!

It was a beautiful day and I was able to take a few pictures of the flower gardens surrounding the stadium. The tulips were stunning.


Unfortunately, the Baystars lost. They are actually off to a rough start this year. It still was a fun day with my favorite liberty buddy.


Despite the lose, the game is entertaining on so many other levels. Including the always happy beer girls.


Not only have they perfected the art of the perfect pour, they climb up and down the stairs the entire game. All while carrying a pony keg on their back and smiling. Plus, they look perfect! They pin their hats to stay in place and their makeup is flawless! I can only imagine how strong their legs are by the end of the season!!

The other entertainment is the constant chanting for each batter. It is constant regardless of who is at bat. The highlight is during the seventh inning stretch. Everyone releases blue balloons.


The other treat is as the food options. Because we are in Japan, edamame is always an option. And always a good one!


Another cultural difference is how clean the stadium is after the game. Attendees are expected to put their garbage in the garbage cans. The stadium is very tidy, for the most part, after the game. Imagine expecting Americans to put their trash in the trash can!

The Japanese baseball schedule follows the American schedule very closely. Please consider that if you are interested in attending a game when you visit.

Yokohama Tourist

Wednesday we headed to Yokohama. Our destination was the Cup Noodles Museum. On our walk to the museum, we were sidetracked by the rides at Cosmo World. Cosmo World is an amusement park in the Minato Mirai area of Yokohama. Our first stop in Cosmo World was a spin on the Cosmo Clock 21 – aka the giant Ferris wheel. 


On the ride, we had a great view of the surrounding city. The large red brick building behind the roller coaster is the Cup Noodles Museum. 


The tall rectangular building is the Landmark Tower. 


Port of Yokohama. 

A few pictures of the park and the roller coaster Vanish! 


After our ride on the Cosmo Clock 21, James and Delaney rode Vanish! Vanish! is a disappearing roller coaster. 

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JJ was able to capture a great picture of the kids on the roller coaster. They are sitting in the front car. 


After our visit in Cosmo World, we continued to our original destination, the Cup Noodles Museum. 


We enjoyed having the opportunity to decorate the cup and select our own cup noodles flavor. 


Selecting the flavors! 


After we made our cup noodles, we visited the museum. The museum cracks me up. The Japanese are so proud of Momofuku Ando for inventing chicken ramen – the first Cup Noodles flavor. So proud, in fact, when viewing the museum you are given the impression he did something more monumental than just making a cup full of noodles! 


It was another fun day full of walking and exploring. There is still so much to do!! I can’t believe the Cummings are leaving tomorrow! It has been a blast playing their tour guide and experiencing Japan together! 

Yokohama Strawberry Festival 

The Yokohama Strawberry Festival is open daily from 11:00 – 18:00 from 2/3/17 – 2/12/17. Dina and I decided to check it out on a weekday hoping we would avoid most of the crowds. The Festival was being held in the area of the Red Brick Warehouse.

Upon arriving at the event, there was a perfectly placed strawberry for a photo opportunity.


Of course, we needed to pose for our picture wearing the cute strawberry hat props!


There was also a strawberry bouncy house for littles. Kawaii!


The Festival had ample strawberry treats. Along with several long lines.


There were also strawberry souvenirs. T-shirts, bracelets and helmet!?!


Some of the items were way over priced. 8 strawberries for ¥2000 ($20). Or the picture in the middle, 5 strawberries for ¥3000 ($30)!! The strawberry on the bottom left is ¥800 ($8)!! Wow!


Check out the spread this group of ladies purchased!


Dina and I started with strawberry wine.


And we purchased a few items to take home. So many delicious choices!

The bunnies looked so cute. I was tempted to buy one. Fortunately, the sales clerk spoke very good English and suggested we try the strawberry cake with the triangles. She said it was much better!

So, I picked out the one on the left as per her suggestion.

Cannoli or taco?


I might have over purchased for our desserts tonight.

Or maybe, we skip dinner and eat strawberry desserts!  Yummmmmm

Japan Brewers Cup 2017 

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a beer snob. When we learned about the Japan Brewers Cup 2017, I wasn’t quite sure it would be all that. 


Until I realized there was an IPA category. Yes! Dina and her husband accompanied Dave and I and together we took the train to Yokohama. The event was held at Ōsanbashi Pier. Here was our route. 


The Brewers Cup was much less crowded, with more breweries and more English than I expected. The beer variety was very impressive. 

We started with a sampler.


Kanpie! 


Interestingly, Founders All Day Session IPA was #2 in the World Cup. 


The number one IPA is pictured here – they wouldn’wouldn’t let me take a picture of their sign. It was awkward. So, I took from a far. 


There were beers to the left of us and beers to the right… 


It was pretty fun, until Japanese pop music started.​ And we needed to go. To save our eardrums… 

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