I always love to entertain the idea that maybe once in past life I was Japanese, not because I’m obsessed with Anime or cosplay, but maybe because of my interest in the country. It has a natural sense of belongingness and it’s addicting. If I will be given a chance to live in a country outside the Philippines, without a doubt, I will choose Japan.
Japanese are always portrayed in war history as people with soul of honor, dignity, and discipline. Today, the country is known for its determination and active participation in ensuring peace not only in its neighboring Asian countries but also in the world.
The country is divided in 47 prefectures. One of which is Kanagawa, located in the southern Kanto region. It lies between Tokyo and Mt. Fuji in the geographical map. It was spring when I first visited the place. Wild flowers were in bloom, colorful coy fishes swam freely in the streams, and in the afternoon, the mist wrapped itself around the city in an inviting mood for a shot of sake and rich bowl of Ramen.
Here are the 7 things you should consider doing when visiting Kanagawa Prefecture.
1. Night strolling in Yokohama
Yokohama, the capital of Kanagawa, takes pride in being one of Japan’s tourist meccas. The place has a very distinctive harbor vibe and captivating bright lights at night. It has a 360 view of lighting up from historic western inspired architectures to the world’s biggest clock, The Cosmo Clock 21. Here are some of the places you should not miss seeing when doing a night stroll in Yokohama:
• The Cosmo Clock 21, a 369-feet tall Ferris wheel located in Minato Mirai 21. It was built in 1999. It has 60 cabins and each can hold up to 8 passengers in a 15-minute ride.
• The Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse – Back in 1920, the building was used for Custom Inspection for Yokohama shipping. This piece of history is situated right on the bay and is a famous spot for family and dating lovers.
• The Intercontinental Yokohama Grand, also located in Minato Mirai. The elegant architecture was built in 1991 and has a shape like that of Dubai’s Burj Al Arab.
• The Nippon Marru, also located in Minato Mirai. It’s a ship docked in front of the Sakuragicho Station. It’s a training ship that eventually became a museum in 1984.
• The Yokohama Marine Tower, located near the Motomachi-Chukagai Station. This observatory hall was built in 1961 and is also known as the tallest lighthouse in Japan and 3rd in the world next to The Jeddah Light in Jeddah and The Perry Memorial in Ohio.
2. Food Trip in Yokohama’s China town
There’s a saying “Chinatown here, there, and everywhere”. And yes, Yokohama has its own. Just a couple of minutes away from the Yokohama landmark tower is East Asia’s biggest Chinatown, let alone Japan, the Yokohama Chinatown.
The place offers a variety of Chinese cuisine from Beijing to Sichuan. It has four different gates which represent each direction the black gate (North) for posterity, the red gate (South) for happiness, the blue gate (East) for prosperity, and the white gate (West) for peace.
3. Enjoy a cup of tea in the Bamboo world of Hokokuji
If you’re looking for a more relaxing break from the bustling city vibe take a 15-minute bus ride to the Hokokuji Bamboo forest and enjoy a cup of green tea while listening to the hymn created by the bamboo groove. The place has a distinct calmness and solemnity.
The admission fee is 200 yen and 500 yen with matcha and sweets. You can get there from the JR Kamakura station to Jomyoji bus stop. The place is a 3-5 minute walk from the bus stop.
4. Do not miss the Hakone loop.
Hakone is a mountainous town in southwestern part of Kanagawa. This place is a mecca for onsen lovers (“Onsen” is the Japanese term for hot springs) and it has a perfect view of the highest mountain peak in Japan, the Mt. Fuji.
Hakone Day Tour is an itinerary you should never forget when visiting Japan. It’s one of the best tours I’ve had while traveling the world.
This easy tour pass which will take you to a loop consist of a bus, a cable car, a ropeway, a boat, and a train ride all in one pass. It can be bought at train stations for 5,000 yen (2-day pass) and 5,500 yen (3-day pass). I bought my pass in Odawara Station.
5. Marvel at the panoramic view from The Hakone Ropeway
The Hakone Ropeway has four stations and it will take about less than 10 minutes to transfer from one station to another. Each cable platform has a capacity of 18 pax with an interval of about a minute.
I went there in spring and it was hazy so I wasn’t lucky enough to see Mt. Fuji from the ropeway which is only visible during clear days. What I remember from the tour though was when the mist wrapped the mountains with a blanket-like fog as if it was a Mother sharing her last precious moments of the day with her kids before bedtime. It was nostalgic.
6. Feasting on black eggs of Owakudani
Yes, Japan has black eggs and legend has it that the local delicacy will add another 7 years to your life. It’s an ordinary chicken egg boiled in the hot sulfur springs of “Jigokudani” also known as “The Valley of Hell”. The egg’s shell will turn black as they cook it in geothermal springs with high sulfur content.
Five eggs will cost you 500 yen. That’s not bad for seven more years in your life span. LOL
7. Walk the old streets wearing Kimono
Go back in time and walk through the beautiful landscapes of Japan wearing a Kimono. It is a traditional Japanese garment which came from the words “ki” (wear) and “mono” thing or simply a “thing to wear”.
Kimono rentals are available in Japan. The hotel where I stayed at in Hakone had me choose my preferred Kimono style upon entering the lobby. It was a complete Kimono set with Geta, a Japanese footwear, and it was comfy.