Yokohama amusements

05Feb07

“You, my friend, have absolutely no sense of the chronological.” I’m not sure how many times this accusation has been leveled against me, but of course it’s absolutely true. A few days before our hatsumode at Senso-ji, there was a trip to Yokohama — for amusement, of course. Ai — who works with Tessa and Nancy at Public in San Francisco — is from Yokohama, and she just happened to be visiting for the New Year. So we all met up at Yokohama Miratamirai Station, which is located at the base of the towering Queen’s Square Yokohama complex. The plan was first to investigate the vast interior of the Queen’s Square mall, and then later to head off to the Ramen Museum and Yokohama’s famous Chinatown. In fact, one contingent did set off for the Ramen Museum, only to be rebuffed by doors that had already been locked for the New Year’s holiday. Our plan to visit Chinatown later was also foiled — this time by a pair of upset stomachs. At first I thought it might be the dreaded norovirus, which has been getting a lot of coverage in Japan since about 300 people were infected at a single hotel, but luckily it just seems to have been a case of some overly-greasy tonkatsu making itself known.

Fortunately, the Miratamirai area is full of delights, first and foremost among them being the Cosmo World Ferris wheel (“among the world’s largest Ferris wheels”), which is also known as the Cosmo Clock because (as you have already guessed, Dear Reader) it’s also a clock. If the clock is accurate, then this photograph was taken at precisely 3:57 in the afternoon. In addition to the Ferris wheel, which remained unridden by the Crew, there is also a roller coaster, a water ride, and a small fair-like area with a bunch of those Tilt-A-Wheel type fair rides.

This piece of public art, located in one of the many outdoor squares at Queen’s Square, is clearly supposed to mimic the sinewy twistings of a massively amazing roller coaster. It also reminds me somewhat of the sinews of Colossus (it’s all that metal!). It towers above the square and projects itself into the sky and is actually quite an impressive and beautiful piece of sculpture.

It’s quite fashionable to bash public art these days, because so much of it is so bad, but Suganuma-kun and I decided to take pictures of it instead. Suganuma, who was back in Kawasaki for the holidays to visit his family, came and joined us at Queen’s. While others shopped, we quickly took off to take photographs. In the shot above, Suganuma is taking a photograph of the steel sculpture’s reflection in a window. I stole the idea from him immediately, and you can see my version of Suganuma’s photograph here.

Suganuma-kun and I decided to wander around the fairgrounds so we could get some shots of the rides, and also a few water-level shots of the Cosmo Clock. It was just outside of the fairgrounds that we ran into Ice World, a kind of re-creation of any and all of the tropes of the Great White North that you might care to partake in: Eskimos, polar bears, and of course ice, ice, and more ice. It being winter, and therefore ALREADY cold outside, Suganuma-kun and I decided that we might find things more amusing elsewhere. However, the prospect of giant mechanical polar bears was almost irresistibly tempting.

Instead of entering a world of Arctic-level hoarfrost, Suganuma and I decided to take a few photos around Cosmo World. This is a shot looking straight up at the roller coaster, which circles the base of the Ferris wheel.

But much more exciting than the roller coaster was the awesome Cup Noodle ball-toss game in which you could win valuable stuffed animal prizes by proving your prowess at tossing a handful of balls into the frantically closing and opening lids of giant-sized Cup Noodle cups. This game is all about timing, of course, but the lids seem to flap up and down at slightly irregular rates, so you’ve got to be pretty good to get the balls inside. Unfortunately the prizes seemed to be pretty standard stuffed animal fare, which is too bad because the idea of a giant, plush Cup Noodle is almost vertiginously delightful.

Suganuma-kun had to head back home, so I met up with the others at Yokohama World Porters, yet another stunningly large mall complex. In fact, I did manage to find two fine new pairs of shoes here, but not before Leon had roughed up the seals a bit. Leon and I managed to have quite a bit of fun wandering around the Porters, including a brief stint in a crazy arcade where they had all of these prize machines that reminded me of Daleks — except that they were nice Daleks, filled with goodies. After snapping only a single photo, the not-so-nice Daleks working at the arcade informed us that no photos were allowed. They’re fast, those not-so-nice Daleks!

Of course, there were plenty of places in Porters set up specifically for the taking of photographs, including this Ronald McDonald that really looks so much better draped in a Tessa and a Nancy. If all Ronalds came draped in Tessas and Nancys I would probably frequent McDonald’s a lot more often than I do (which is currently never). There was also a fantastic Colonel Sanders mascot in the mall with a special New Year’s doo rag depicting the Seven Lucky Gods of Japan. Unfortunately for the Colonel, all he needs is the addition of a young woman posing with her tongue out in order to look especially creepy.

We stayed in Yokohama until nightfall and then walked back in the cherry-candy neon glow of Cosmo World’s lights. Good night, Yokohama.



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