Knowing that this is my last day by the mountain, I made sure to wake up early this morning. With some tea in hand, I watch the climbing sunrise over Mt. Fuji.
Absorbing the rays of the young morning sun, I begin to collect my thoughts for the day.
The plan is to head up to Yokohama and see some of their most notable sights. Mainly, I want to check out their infamous Ramen Museum and Chinatown.
As I begin packing, I can't help but go back to the melody I was sculpting last night. That music box leeched onto my memory, as I can't get those tones out of my head.
Unlike the annoying jingles that get stuck in your head, I'm hoping the endless repeating of that melody inspires something new (and good).
With a quick key turn and push of a button, I was off. In the distance, my mirror showed nothing but the fading views of Mt. Fuji.
I wish I could have climbed that mammoth, but the timing was not on my side.
Considering the things I couldn't do on this trip, it appears that I traded in some potential experiences for breathtaking views. It's almost as if you want me to return...
The route to Yokohama leads me back to ocean views and clear skies. I read that the city blossomed into the 2nd largest in Japan, mainly due to its history as a port city.
Since the Edo period, Yokohama has been a hub for foreign trade, allowing the city to become a major force in the country's economy.
Because of its size, I didn't have a problem finding accommodations. Upon entering the city, I came across a nice neighborhood with a few different hotels.
For the sake of being budget-conscious, I decided to pick one of the capsule hotels tonight. Shortly after check-in, I decided to take the DZed for a quick cruise around the city.
As you pass through the different corners, it's evident that foreign entities have influenced this city and its culture.
Everything from skyscrapers to western-styled shopping districts can be seen, from most street corners.
Aside from the western influence, it's apparent that their Asian neighbors have had a strong influence, creating the country's largest Chinatown.
Speaking of which, I found myself entering that section of town, which was stop #1 of the day.
There's no mistaking where you are, as the handful of colorful gates invite visitors into the neighborhood.
The biggest landmark of the neighborhood is the "Kanteibyo", a blue and orange temple built in the 19th century. The temple was built to celebrate the Chinese God of business and prosperity.
It's fitting, seeing as this city has a long history of doing business with foreign merchants.
The majority of businesses I see around here are restaurants, which works perfectly for my mid-day appetite.
There's a variety of different dishes to choose from, but it's abundantly clear that there's only one type of food to consume in Yokohama- Ramen.
I chose what looked to be the most delicious bowl of noodles and dove face-first into the salty bowl of noodles.
The flavor of this bowl is different from some I've had before, largely due to the different seasonings and vegetables used.
As an American, I always think of Ramen as these packaged, bland squares of noodles (with sodium-filled seasoning). It's the quintessential "poor man's meal", back home.
Here, there are hundreds of ways to decorate this basic bowl. Amongst many things China has imported to Japan, perhaps something as simple as Ramen might have been one of the most influential.
Despite the different tastes, I enjoyed the bowl and continued the Ramen-filled theme of the day by exiting the popular Chinatown and riding over to Yokohama's infamous Ramen museum.
The museum has a few different exhibits, with the first one showing the history of the dish, in all of its various forms.
On top of that, they have a basement level designed to look like an old section of Tokyo, famous for popularizing the dish.
The level has several restaurants, which allow visitors to order (or even sample) each one of their dishes.
I've seen plenty of sample sections from bulk grocery stores, but never "sample" cups of Ramen.
I proceeded to get my hands on every sample possible, giving my body a carb load that'll last a week.
After sampling the best of what this museum has to offer, I slothfully mosey over to the cup noodle museum and design my cup of Ramen.
This place allows visitors to choose from thousands of different flavor combinations, creating one, unique cup of Ramen.
I won't say what I added to mine, as I want to keep this cup as the oddest souvenir to take home.
On the surface, it seems silly to have such large establishments celebrating the history of ONE food dish.
Having said that, the history of this food and what it's meant to the country can't be overlooked.
For a dish that originated from China, Japan has adopted, raised, and cultivated Ramen into one of its primary meals.
So much so that many people's first thought of the country IS this noodle heavy dish.
Days like this show what a place like Yokohama, an old fishing village, can turn into by opening itself to the outside world.
Call it timing or "right place, right time", but Yokohama is an example of what putting your best foot forward and making the most of an opportunity can do for you.
Like this former fishing village, I believe that anyone can achieve great feats and immense growth. If you have an opportunity to enrich your life, go for it (and don't look back).
I ended my day back at the hotel, in a self-induced carbohydrate coma. I wish I could elaborate more on the events of today but my stomach full of noodles is telling me to sleep.
Tomorrow, I'll keep heading north to the city of Kawasaki.
Thanks again and I'll see you soon!