Yokohama

Rather abruptly, it’s spring here in Kobe. Temperatures are at least ten degrees higher than last week, birds are chirping, and the non-evergreen plants are showing signs of life again. Unfortunately, spring has also brought several days when the air is filled with yellow dust from northwest China. Blah.

Last Wednesday was the graduation ceremony at the junior high school. The first and second year students still have a week and a half of classes, though. On the same day, the board of education sent out notice of school placements. I’ll be staying at the same school for my last term.

This news is a month old, but I’ll mention it anyway: I passed the level two JLPT. So I have “mastered grammar to a relatively high level, [know] around 1,000 kanji and 6,000 words, and [have] the ability to converse, read, and write about matters of a general nature.” Still can’t read the blasted newspaper without consulting a dictionary every sentence, though.

Speaking of old news, the conference at Yokohama two weeks ago was in fact worthwhile. Most of the speakers were former JETs, and it was really interesting to hear them talk about where their lives took them after they left the program.

Before and after the conference, I had a little time to explore Yokohama.

Its Chinatown – Chūkagai, literally “China Street” – is purportedly the largest in Japan.

Yokohama Chinatown

Another JET said, “It feels just like Taiwan. Except that it’s clean.”

I also visited Sankei-en, a garden built a hundred years ago by a silk tycoon. More interesting than the garden itself is that the owner had almost a dozen historic buildings moved to the garden.

This one – a 1623 construction of unusual design- was taken from the grounds of Ni-jō, the former shogunal castle in Kyoto.

Yokohama Sankei-en Choshukaku

This is inside a villa built in 1649 by relatives of the shogun.

Yokohama Sankei-en Rinshunkaku

And this isn’t the best picture, but the building shown here was taken from Daitoku-ji. It was built in 1591 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to celebrate the long life of his mother.

Yokohama Sankei-en Oido

Hideyoshi unified Japan at the end of the Warring States period and led invasions of Korea in the 1590s. He died in 1598, and as the country started to fall apart again, Tokugawa Ieyasu took control and established stable rule with the Tokugawa Shogunate.

That’s all for now.

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3 Responses to “Yokohama”

  1. Nicole Says:

    It is so very hard to truly grasp how old those buildings are – in the pictures they look to be in very good shape and here in the states us non-natives just don’t have any comparable sense of history. What did the inside of the villa feel like?
    It’s worth saying again: congrats on passing the language test you took!!!

  2. kevinjames Says:

    Visitors could peer into the villa, but entrance was forbidden. That’s to make sure that it *stays* in good shape, of course. The tatami mats probably need changing every so often, regardless of whether anyone’s walking on them, but I imagine that the big concern is protecting the paintings.

  3. Beijing: Day 1 « Erratic Dispatches Says:

    […] my food.  And when the food finally came, it was pretty mediocre.  I had better Peking duck in Yokohama.  So if you’re ever in the neighborhood just south of Tiananmen Square, don’t bother […]

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