Yokohama humahuta

The title of this post will probably seem odd to all non-Finns, sorry about that. (The title is from a bad joke that involves a Japanese name, that’s actually all I can remember about it)

What's a city without a ferris wheel? Minato Mirai
What’s a city without a ferris wheel? Minato Mirai

Yokohama is the 3rd largest city in Japan with the population of 3 million people. It is conveniently located within half an hours train ride from Tokyo, and definitely interesting location to visit.

Skating rink by the red brick houses
Skating rink by the red brick houses

Yokohama is located next to the sea, and it was the first port to be opened to the outer world in the end of the Edo period in the late 1800’s. Originally, the city was divided for foreigners and the Japanese, and in between the Chinese built their own habitation.

A bit of China in Japan
A bit of China in Japan

Nowadays Yokohama is an interesting mix of the Western, Japanese and Chinese style with an area of contemporary and futuristic architecture. In one day you can go from the colonial infrastructure to China and see many interesting high rise buildings as well.

Cool as steel
Cool as steel

One can find various shopping, the tallest building in Japan (296m), Pokemon center, cup noodles museum (was all booked for the day I visited, boo), ramen museum, amusement park and God knows what else! (At least a museum for modern literature) in Yokohama. I also found The Little Mermaid!

Miniature version of the Little Mermaid
Miniature version of the Little Mermaid

I also found glass jars with Finnish words “sokeri” and “suola”, as well as the staple Moomin-stuff.

Sunset in Yokohama
Sunset in Yokohama

For something different than Tokio, or anything else in Japan, you should definitely spend a day in Yokohama.

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Japanistic Korea

Seoul and Beppu are different like night and day (go figure: one has 1 Starbucks, the other has coffee shops for probably every third adult of the 10.5 million inhabitants). In Seoul, I found many differences between Japan and Korea, but the countries do have some things in common as well.

 

Incheon in the foggy frisk morning

Beautiful views

Traditional Hanok village

Beautiful architecture and history

Navigation (or passing a car) can be a challenge!

Small side streets with no names

 

My first meal in Korea: bimbap with free sides of kimchi, pickled daikon and Korean soup!

Similar, delicious cuisine

Schisandra tea with pine nuts

Appreciation for  high quality tea.

When it comes to tea, I definitely prefer the Korean one. The various possibilities: Schisandra, jujube, ginseng, and all the other other herbs: the variations and possibilities seemed to be endless! Japanese matcha and sencha are nothing compared to these various powerhouses. The bimbap, or Korean sushi, on the other hand was not that convincing. Usually the Korean sushi roll consists of spam/ham, surimi (fake crab) and mayo, which are not the ingredients I’d want to put on my roll. The nori is seasoned with some oil (grape, olive or other), and there is no soy sauce for dipping. The Korean soup is not as delicious as miso, but it comes for free with the divine kimchi and daikon, with refills! Point to Japan for this dish, point to Korea for the drinks!

 

Both of the countries also use a sign language I cannot understand. The difference is that in Japan I can at least read hiragana and katakana, whereas in Korea I had no clue what most of the signs or texts said. Luckily it is possible to manage without knowing Korean. For some reason, I automatically and accidentally spoke what little Japanese I can in the shops and restaurants. Maybe the numerous Japanese tourists had some to do with that, or then I am turning more Japanese than I thought I would.