Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Minato Mirai 21

Minato Mirai literally means "the harbour of the future". It is a futuristic, new city area in Central Yokohama consisting of office and residential space, hotels, shopping centers, restaurants, convention centers and public parks. Development of Minato Mirai was started in 1983, and it is still going on until today. Minato Mirai is located just a little further distance away from the waterfront promenade at Yokohama's bay. Among the famous sight at this area would be the Ferris Wheel, which is one of the biggest in Japan and a part of the Yokohama Cosmo World amusement park; and also Yokohama Grand Intercontinental Hotel that offers a slight change in its sail-shaped design at one side of the building.
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Taken from the water-bus terminal, the Ferris Wheel can be seen here, with Yokohama Grand Intercontinental Hotel on the right.
Water-buses are available for those who are interested to take a cruise along the canal, and they are reasonably priced. Although they are called water-bus, common sense will tell that no busses are use to carry the passengers. Not only do the water-buses come in the more conventional type of modern boats, there are also boats richly ornamented with traditional motifs on the boats as well. Most of them spotted a vast amount of Chinese influence in their decorations, fitting the Yokohama's Chinatown atmosphere perfectly.
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at Minato Mirai, which is made a museum.

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The same ship taken at night.
Another landmark that completes the sight in Minato Mirai would be the Landmark Tower. At 296 meters, it is one of Japan's tallest buildings and the symbol of Minato Mirai 21. It was completed in 1993 and houses many offices, a hotel, restaurants, a shopping center and other community space.
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The Landmark Tower at Minato Mirai in Yokohama.
Visitors can access the building's observatory deck, the Sky Garden on the 69th floor. I was hesitating at first, whether it would be a wise idea to fork out 800yen (RM27) just to be at another observatory deck again after Sapporo TV Tower and Gokyokuen Tower in Hokkaido. After all, I knew I would be expected to get to see tiny buildings, cars moving on the streets and ant-sized human hundreds of meters below me, just like the two previous times. Eventually, I gave in and decided to go all the way up the tower to the Sky Garden.
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The Sky Garden is the highest observatory in Japan and has the size of five tennis courts. To get to the deck, I was whisked up along with other visitors by one of the world's fastest elevators which is able to move as fast as 750 meters per minute. In only forty seconds, we reached the 69th floor of the deck with the evaluator, designed by the egg shape in order to avoid wind pressure.
The Sky Cafe at the deck offers visitors various kinds of soft drinks, beer, cocktail and light meal and every purchase of the tickets to the Sky Garden entitle you with a ten percent discount at the cafe. Just like any other money-making tourist spots, there is a souvenir shop at the deck called the Tower Shop that claimed to be selling 600 items of original goods, in which motif are of Yokohama and the tower. I didn't check out the souvenirs there, but I would not be surprised to see a "Made in China" tag embedded at the back of the souvenirs there.

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The Tower Shop at the observatory deck.
My main intention of going all the way up the tower was however, not to hang out at the cafe or the souvenir shop definitely. Instead, I wanted to enjoy the scenery of Yokohama from the sky and what is better than having to see them in two different versions - daytime and night time. I purposely timed my visit to the tower about an hour before the sun set so that I would not be too early or late to enjoy the daytime sight of the city. Indirectly, it is like I went up to the tower twice, but at a price of once.
Here are a few pictures I took just before the sun set into the horizon. Under good air conditions, Mount Fuji can be seen from the observatory deck. However, on that day I was there, it was a little bit cloudy and I missed out seeing the mountain.
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As you can see, the buildings are packed like sardine and this is just Yokohama, not yet Tokyo.

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A major catastrophe like an earthquake for example, will just sweep the whole city away in a matter of seconds.
Worse still,
it is expected that a huge earthquake is coming within this few years at the region.
Not very soon afterwards, it began to get dark as the sun slowly disappears from the sky.
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Sunset seen from the sky.
I think the pictures will explain more about how the view from the tower, especially at night took my breath away. The lights decorating the streets, buildings and also the port and moving ships just made it a perfect night scenery. It was a romanticised picture of the city of Yokohama. That is why phrases like "Wuahh, sugoi desune. Kirei dane" could be heard when there is a new batch of Japanese arriving at the observatory deck each time. Not "Yabeiii" this time, though.
To counter them, I shouted "Walao, ini manyak lawa giler boleh meninggal dunia lor" out of nowhere, which received a few weird looking stares on my crazy action from the visitors there.
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Yokohama Stadium can be seen in the middle of the picture.
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Look a little bit further and you might see the Twin Towers across the dark ocean.
Perhaps some of you might be wondering how I managed to come out with such clear night scene pictures by using only a digital camera. Well, I learnt one photography trick that night, which I actually overheard from some people there. Instead of trying so hard not to shake my hands while pressing onto the shutter, I just had to set my timer on my camera and place it on a flat surface to get those nice pictures. After waiting for less than two seconds, I got those pictures, and I am really satisfied with them.
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Yokohama Cosmo World, situated just across the water from Minato Mirai 21, is a small amusement park which boasts the Cosmo Clock 21, a 112.5 meter Ferris wheel that is dubbed as the world's largest clock, in which the 60 arms double as second hands. The park also has two roller coasters, a log flume ride and several other attractions. My tight schedule on that day meant I could not try the rides in that park, although admission to the park is free.

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Yokohama Grand Intercontinental and the giant Ferris Wheel in the foreground.

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While the Hikawa Maru ship (top right) and the bridge (top right) in the background.
One last picture from the deck before I leave the observatory deck that night.

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It was getting late and I got to get down to Tokyo on the very same night. Before I take my train there, I walked pass the Akarenga buildings to have a few shots of the night version of the buildings. When it got dark, the Akaranga is beautifully illuminated with bright yellow lights which enchance the color of the red bricks of the buildings. It provides a suitable spot for couples to walk around that area, while enjoying the cool night brisk wind coming from the sea.
Another romantic spot I have come across, besides Otaru Canal in Hokkaido.
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Some made it a point to camwhore at that spot too. Not me though.
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The last stop I made was the terminal of the port because I wanted the night version of Yokohama skyline, including the three familiar landmarks - the Landmark Tower, the Ferris Wheel and the Grand Intercontinental Hotel, all inside one picture. This is not my vain attempt to praise the picture that I have taken, but I guess it was a postcard quality picture.
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Turning to the opposite side would be the Marine Tower, decorated with colourful lights on the tower.
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Of the many pictures I took that day, this has to be my most favourite shot of the day.

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You can't help but to be mesmerised by the night view, right?


mg said...

sugoiiii yabeiiiii.. lol..

awesome night view. ^^

Anonymous said...

the major earthquake is expected in tokai aka nagoya ler...

then hor... i thought you already knew bout the nightshot trick thing?...

and then hor.... whoaa... honshu can take pictures of flat land until there's a flat horizon... here impossible...

Anonymous said...

sasuga Calvin, u really "cia pa eng bo su cho"! u waited for hours inside the Landmark Tower juz to take those pics!!

calvin said...

@ michelleg:
told you it was way beyond words to describe the view from the tower ;)

calvin said...

@ kok hong:
still, both of them are located on the same island =\

i think i knew about that already but i just couldn't think of it that time. was it you who taught me the trick?

calvin said...

@ anonymous:
no, you are wrong. a holiday is the time to take some time off from your daily hectic schedule and have some relaxing times. so, i do not see any reason why i should call myself "too free" to stay at the tower for long hours. afterall, it was the last destination of my trip and just the perfect time to take some breather after a long day walking around yokohama.

p/s: do you mind leaving an initial or a nickname so that i would know who is this? thanks :)

Kae Vin said...

eh u were saying u don't carry a tripod with u~?


Why were there so many 'flat surface' for u to take photo one?


calvin said...

@ specialhuman:
i don't even own a tripod in the first place. flat surface refers to the narrow flat surface behind the windows ;)