Although I plan to be in Japan for some time, the fact that I know I want to eventually return home makes me feel as if my time is limited. That I should be out exploring new places, trying new foods; rather than spending my weekdays in the classroom.
Yet even if I wanted to take a week off to travel from here to Honshu, I’d be crying over bowls of instant ramen once my monthly pay arrived. I’m an English teacher trying my best to live within my means. So, I have learned to experience Japan accordingly. I’m always on the look out for affordable everything. From museums to restaurants, day trips to nightlife.
In this article, I’ll talk about a recent place I have been, and the amount of money I spent there. So let’s get started: on the breezy waterfront of Yokohama.
This November was the first time I had ever been to Yokohama. My girlfriend and I wanted to go somewhere quite distant, but not too distant. And not in Tokyo. One Sunday at midday, we hopped on the train and headed to south for Yokohama. We had no plans set in stone. Yet somehow we spent the entire afternoon there (without spending that much money I might add).
Our first stop was the Cup Noodle Museum; about a ten-minute walk from the busy Sakuragicho Station. At first, I wasn’t to hyped up about going to a museum about instant ramen. What’s really interesting about freeze-dried food? Yet as we walked through the halls I could see that it was more than that. It was about inventor Momofuku Ando’s vision and persistence. His pillars of creative thinking, the metaphorical pillars of the museum, could be applied to any of life’s pursuits.
After touring the museum, we came back later in the day to visit the in-house Cup Noodle Factory. We got to make our very own varieties of cup noodles! From broth to toppings and even cup design (using colored markers and our creativity of course). Overall, both the museum and factory are a nice experience for all ages. Additionally, the museum itself is very English friendly.
Here’s the damage:
Entry Fee: 500 yen
Make Your Own Noodles: 300 yen/cup
If you want to make noodles, I’d suggest making reservations as soon as you enter the museum. The factory is especially crowded on weekends. Although you’ll probably still have to wait at least 1-2 hours, you can leave and reenter the museum all day.
While waiting for our time to go to the factory, we decided to take a walk on the waterfront and look for something to eat. We came across the Red Brick Warehouse, a huge building filled with shops and restaurants. The selection was vast and diverse. There was even a small shop that made tacos! (Finding Mexican food in Japan is a real struggle).
Although this place is crazy busy around lunch, wait times weren’t that bad. Still, you may have trouble finding a place to sit. It’s a free-for-all. Thankfully, there is a park nearby, and many opt to take their lunch outside to watch the boats sail across the bay. For those on the cheap side, restaurants get more expensive on the 3rd floor. The prices for meals at restaurants on the 1st floor range from 500-1300 yen.
Later in the evening, we walked out to the Ōsanbashi Pier. From here, you can see the Yokohama skyline at it’s best. It was truly the most beautiful part of the entire day. The pier is free to enter, too. I’d suggest going at sunset to view the city light up from across the bay.
There were many other things we wanted to do; like riding rides at the amusement park, visiting the Kirin Beer Village, and seeing more of Chinatown. But of course it was a spur of the moment thing; and we started late in the day. If you haven’t explored Yokohama yet, and live in the Kanto area, it is really an awesome and affordable day trip. So many things to do, you might end up taking more than one trip. I know I’ll be back.
Total Amount Spent (not including train fare): 2300 yen
From Tokyo Station: Take the Keihin-Tohoku Line southbound towards Kawasaki. Get off at the JR Sakuragicho Station. Travel time is approximately 40 minutes.
Cost: 550 yen.
From Sakuragicho Station to Cup Noodle Museum: Exit through the central gate and head east towards the huge Ferris wheel in the distance. Once you reach the Ferris wheel, the museum is just across the street. Follow the crowds, you can’t miss it.
To the Red Brick Warehouse: Same directions you would use to get to the museum. Except when you arrive at the Ferris wheel this time, walk through the World Porter’s shopping mall on the other side of the street. Upon exiting the opposite end, you can see the Warehouse about a block away. About a 5-minute walk from the Ferris wheel. You can also see Osanbashi Pier from the Warehouse.