Photowalk along Osanbashi Pier

Today we dropped by at one of the most photographed areas in YokohamaOsanbashi Pier(大さん橋) . The pier was originally built in 1894, but was reconstructed in 2002 as a passenger terminal. Its bold new design incorporates floor boards, with no stairs, beams or posts making it a unique experience with great views of the city.

We were in the Kanto region for a few days. The weather had been a big disappointment. We spent the early part of the day inside malls surrounding Shin-Osaka Station. We found a Book-off store nearby. Its a great place to find old series that are not in publication anymore and, I may add.. in pretty good condition.

The weather didn’t improve much over the afternoon, but Osanbashi Pier was one of the places I badly wanted to see. It is one of Yokohama’s best spots for a walk, with unobstructed views of the Minato Mirai skyline especially in the evening.

How to get to Osanbashi Pier from Shin-Yokohama

After lunch we dropped off our shopping bags back at the hotel and left for the pier. We took the Blue line from Shin-Yokohama Station and got down at Kannai Station. From there it is a 15 minute walk to the pier. JR Passes are not valid on the Blue line. It cost us 270 Yen each for the one way ride. You can also buy one-day passes for the subway.

Osanbashi Pier

Osanbashi Pier is located between Minato Mirai and Yamashita Park. Since all three attractions are connected by a pleasant waterfront promenade, Osanbashi Pier is most conveniently accessed by foot from either of the other two sites.

It was already dark by the time we reached the pier. The beautiful lights had come on and it appeared quite romantic except for the drizzle that was still trying to dampen my spirits. I was almost ready give up but Mani egged me on.

It was cold. We walked over to the pier and found us a bench. Luckily we found a vending machines alongside and grabbed us some very welcome warm coffee. The drizzle eventually went away by the time we finished our coffee

Yokohama Night Skyline

I set up my tripod on the left side of the pier from where I was able to capture some lovely images of the Yokohama skyline.

Osanbashi pier has a unique design. Its “roof top” is a huge wood deck with steps, slopes, and benches. It is open to the public. Generally, families and couples visit there and have relaxing time with fresh sea breeze. However very few people had braved the wet weather to be at the pier.

Brief history of Osanbashi Pier

The Port of Yokohama was opened in 1859 as a direct result of the Treaty of Kanagawa, signed by Commodore Matthew Perry of the United States and the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan. At the time, 2 wharfs were built in place of the present day Osanbashi. The wharfs were too shallow for the ships to dock, and so barges were used to carry passengers and freight to and from the ships.

In 1889, during the Meiji Era, the City of Yokohama was incorporated. The Osanbashi Pier was constructed between 1889 and 1896. Between that time and today it has been damaged many a times.

In 1923, the port was badly damaged by the Great Kanto Earthquake, and had to be rebuilt. During World War II, the port was again badly damaged, this time by air raids.

In 1964, another reconstruction of Osanbashi Passenger Terminal was undertaken to jazz it up before the Tokyo Olympics that year.

Far out one can also see the iconic red brick warehouse at the base of the Minato Mirai skyline. We would be heading there later in the evening.

After taking a few pictures, we walked over to the eastern side of the pier. The wet wood was still glistening from being wet.

As we stood admiring the wide open bay, a Royal Wing Bay Cruise ship came along making its rounds in the bay. One of the best way to feel this Bay City’s charm is by joining this cruising tour. The ship serves a variety of dishes, and follows it up with amazing views of the bay area.

Osanbashi Kokusai Kyakusen Terminal

We didn’t want to stay for long in the anticipation that the rain would be back. As we walked back we found ourselves in front of the gate of the passenger terminal. Most of this area was constructed between 1987 and 2002, to meet the modern demands of the port.

This newly reconstructed passenger terminal is named the Osanbashi Kokusai Kyakusen Terminal. It can accommodate up to four 30,000-ton class ships or two 70,000-ton class ships at the same time. The pier has a terminal building which houses checking counters for passengers, customs, immigration, souvenir shops, coffee shop, information counters and a restaurant.

Once I was done taking pictures of the Yokohama skyline, we made our way towards the dazzling lights of Minai Mirato across the Zo No Hana Park. In this park there is a new installation of a series of vertical light panels in a curved line that gradually increase in size.

On the left one can see the Yamashita Lingang Port Promenade. It is a boardwalk that connects the New Port District of Yokohama City Naka Ward directly with Yamashita Park. Yamashita park was just behind us but it was too late to head there. One really does need a full day to explore the area. Anyways, we walked briskly towards the Red Brick Warehouse.

Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse

The Red Brick Warehouse (Aka Renga Soko) is a pair of landmark buildings, with an artsy shopping center, banquet hall, and event grounds. It is located right next to the port in the Minato Mirai district of Yokohama.

The bold vibe of the Red Brick Warehouse is quite unique in nature to anything I have seen in Japan. The are two buildings running parallel to each other, with an open courtyard-like area in between. It is a good place for souvenir shopping. For those looking for a more substantial dining plan, there are also some larger, sit-down restaurants.

The two buildings were constructed in 1911 and 1913 meant to be used as customs buildings for the nearby harbor. They survived the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, requiring just some basic repair and restoration. The buildings were requisitioned by the Americans during WWII, but were returned to their original use after the war, and continued serving as customs houses until 1989.

In 2002, they were repurposed into a shopping mall. Each building, as well as individual shops, operate on their own hours and holidays, so there is no universal schedule. Most shops open between 10-11:00 am and close by 7 – 8:00 pm.

Walk back to Kannai Station

It was 9 pm. We started our walk back to Kannai Station. We were tired from walking all day. On the way I got this last incredible close-up shot of the Landmark Plaza. I can certainly say that the more I roam around this area, the more angles I can get. But this would be enough for today.

Yokohama bay area is like a feast for the photographers. I would love to come back some time during the day to capture other parts of the area.

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An evening at Enoshima

From a quick tour of the Niigata Manga Museum, we reached Takasaki in the afternoon. After dropping off our luggage at the hotel, we hopped on a train to Enoshima. I had heard it’s a lovely place to enjoy the evening. On clear days one can even see Mt. Fuji from the nearby Shonan Beach.

Enoshima is a small island near Kamakura. Samuel Cocking, a British trader who arrived in Japan in 1860s, married a Japanese woman and bought most of Enoshima Island. He built a botanical garden and power plant on the island. The power plant was one of Japan’s first and grew to become the Yokohama Cooperative Electric Light Company, we know today.

Armed with our JR Rail passes we caught the Joetsu Shinkansen from Takasaki to Ofuna Station.

Shonan Monorail

At Ofuna we hopped onto the Shonan-Monorail bound for Shonan-Enoshima StationShonan Monorail opened on March 7, 1970, the first monorail of its kind in Japan. The monorail goes up and down along the mountains and valleys in the region. It was a thrilling experience as we made our way along sharp curves and through a tunnel as if on a roller coaster ride.

The three-car monorail runs every 7 minutes except early mornings and late evenings. It conveniently connects Shonan area between Ofuna in Kamakura-shi and Enoshima in Fujisawa-shi. It took us about 14 minutes to reach the Shonan-Enoshima Station from Ofuna Station.

From the Shonan-Enoshima Station, a narrow stone-paved lane leads towards the beach. Many animated tourists, still in their beachwear were heading back. On both sides of the lane one can find various restaurants, souvenirs stalls and convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Family Mart.

The Enoshima island is connected to the mainland by bridge. It’s also known as a romantic island and said to be created by the love goddess Benzaiten. At the bridge, we turned right. It was late in the afternoon and we were not thinking of going to the island per se. We were here just to enjoy the lovely breeze on the Shonan Beach and if possible see Mt. Fuji in the distance.

The sun was about to set as we reached the beach. A narrow wooden pier snaked its way far into the sea. The pier offers a lovely view of the island and the Sagami bay. Further up along the pier, we took up seats on the some rocks facing the wide, long surfing beach.

The weather was quite foggy and it was futile attempting to make out Mt. Fuji. I was barely able to make out a silhouette of some mountains in the distance. Still we just sat there watching the sky slowly turn red and purple.

Shonan Beach

The Shonan beach was still full of surfers having fun in the warm waters. Although not one of my favorites, Enoshima beaches are the closest to Tokyo. But if you want to play in the waves, get some sun, play beach volleyball, or just chill outside, this is where you want to be. ere’s a wide, long surfing beach on both sides of the bridge to Enoshima known as Shonan. On the other side Enoshima was just getting dressed up for the evening.

Enoshima Island

The day grew dark and gradually the small restaurants and shops on Enoshima Island lit up. From the pier on the beach the island looked like a mystical land in the middle of the sea. We went up to the end of the pier till the we were at the end.

There is an interesting story behind the Enoshima island. There are three different shrines on Enoshima that are collectively known as Enoshima Shrine. They are all dedicated to the goddess Benzaiten. According to Japanese mythology, Benzaiten created Enoshima Island as part of her battle with a troublesome sea dragon. In some variations of the myth, she agrees to marry the dragon if he will tame his troubled ways. In the popular imagination she is the goddess of love. Enoshima Shrine offers pink ema with hearts on them that are popular amongst couples.

Enoshima Sea Candle

The lovely breeze across the bay drew us into a long discussion of the lovely beaches we had been to in Japan. As the night grew, the lighthouse on the island was glowing in Azure light. What I thought was a lighthouse is actually a mobile phone tower.

We stayed around till 7 pm and then head back to the monorail. Most places in Japan become deserted by 6 pm. It was surprising to see heavy crowds still lingering along the beach at this time.

It was night by the time we reached Takasaki Station. The Toyoko Inn is just a 5 minute walk from the station and we were back in the comfort of our room in no time.

Enoshima is a lovely place to spend a day for travelers who are looking for a day trip near Tokyo.

Thanks for reading. Please leave me a comment if you liked the post or follow my story as I visit the amazing Togyoku dolls of Iwatsuki.