- Hakata Ippudo ramen in Minatomirai’s Queen Square for brunch – we are the first customers, and the staff were literally turning the sign to “Open” as we walked in.
- Then, it is off to Kamakura – after approx 20 minute train ride, we reach, and head towards Zeniarai Benten Shrine which was a 25 minute walk. We stopped to buy a chocolate stick (chocolate…wrapped in chocolate).
- At the shrine, we washed our money within the traditional sieves provided, prayed with candles & incense, paid ¥100 each for omikuji (fortune-telling strips) upon shaking a cylindrical wooden box until a stick falls out (the prognostics for my love life: “If you just continue being patient, all your dreams will come true!”) and wrote blessings for our family on ema (wooden wishing plaques) that we tied up. Absolutely beautiful scenery; gorgeous shrine. Felt at peace.
- We then walked down the famous Komachi-dori shopping street, where we made multiple pitstops:
- Donguri Kyowakoku (Acorn Republic) – one of the official Studio Ghibli shops full of Totoro (!!!) + his pals, Chihiro, No-Face, and many more wonderful characters.
- Ate a soba noodle & tempura set together between the 3 of us.
- Hopped to another dessert place and shared the famous Japanese dessert, cream anmitsu. It contained green tea ice cream, chewy mochi balls, sweet red beans, smooth green tea jelly, and kinako (roasted soybean powder), with a dollop of kurimitsu (dark sugar syrup).
- Stopped at big we-have-everything store for everything.
- Stopped at torii (gates that mark the entrance to a shrine) with komainu on either side; one has an open mouth (“a-gyo”) and one has a closed mouth (“un-gyo”), where “a” and “un” are the first and last characters of the Japanese alphabet, therefore symbolizing the beginning and end.
- Hopped on the train back to Yokohama station to meet with our old Japanese friends, who took us to eat at a wonderful local place nearby – never, have I ever, felt as full as I have on that night. A lottery of tempura, sushi, croquet, fish, and everything else. I found the menus very beautiful, because it looked like calligraphy, even if it was just kanji on paper. Beef slices were our appetizers. My clothes and hair were infused with cigarette smoke galore. Everything was bliss.