By Elena Lisina
Most of the guidebooks introducing Yokohama city feature lots of photos of Minato Mirai skyscrapers. And you might see a Ferris wheel in those pictures too. When you arrive at the JR Sakuragi-cho station or the Minato Mirai subway station, walk towards the amusement park. This big Ferris wheel is standing in the park. You can’t miss it!
By the way, if you take some pictures of it, it will be easy for you to tell what time you were there, because there is a big clock in the middle of the wheel. It is the biggest clock in the world!
This Ferris wheel was built in 1989, as an exhibit for the Yokohama Expo. The outer diameter is 100 meters across, and the maximum number of passengers it can hold is 480 people. 60 gondolas run a full circle every 15 minutes. These gondolas are red, blue, orange, yellow and green. There is also one purple gondola and two clear ones.
The only purple gondola is called the "Happy Gondola", and is for people in wheelchairs. The two clear gondolas are “see through gondolas”, and they come every 8 minutes. I decided to try a clear one this time! I had ridden Cosmo Clock 21 a few times before, but trying a “see through gondola” was the first time. So, I’ll tell you about my exciting “air trip” today. If you have enough time, please make a line for the special “see through” gondola. You might have to wait a bit, though, because as I mentioned there are only two of them.
To tell the truth, for the first few minutes, I had no excitement at all. Everything I could see was quite usual for me. I took some notes and photos for this article, and everything went as expected. But suddenly the wheel stopped! My clear gondola was shaking in the air. Music and guidance they had been broadcasting broke off. No announcement appeared. Still my gondola was vaguely shaking. Was it an earthquake?! My heart started to beat loudly! I looked down the clear floor under my foot straight down to the ground far below. OMG! But luckily, two breaths later, the announcement said “ Sorry to keep you waiting, now we will start again.” Whew… What a thrill it was!
You can see almost everything from up here. The Landmark Tower, three Queen’s towers, hotels, Yokohama Bay and the Bay Bridge, Haneda airport, the Red brick warehouses, Osanbashi Pier, the Marine Tower, Yamashita Park, and if you are lucky, Shinjuku skyscrapers, Mt. Fuji, and the Boso peninsula. I even thought I might be able to see Honolulu on a really clear day! But maybe not.
The Ferris wheel is brilliantly illuminated at night. Every 15 minutes, the 60 spokes become fireworks, flowers, spirals and targets. If you want to take a nice colorful picture, please wait until right on the hour: 5:00, 6:00, 7:00, etc. for a new show. Each illumination show lasts 5 minutes. At other times, they last 1-3 minutes each. You can see this miracle show anytime on YouTube (key word: コスモクロック).
The Ferris wheel runs from 11am to 9pm (sometimes until 8pm or 10pm). The riding fee costs 700 yen per person (0-2: no charge, 3-adult: 700 yen). Most Thursdays it is closed.
Although there are three nice Ferris wheels along Tokyo Bay, I think this is the best! (The other two are at Kasai Rinkai Koen in Chiba and Odaiba in Tokyo). Please visit and enjoy this stunning Ferris wheel ride in Yokohama!
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Japan is a small island nation, but we have a huge number of surprising things to discover here. Many of these delights can be found when you step off the main street onto small side paths. I really enjoy studying about and researching various aspects of traditional Japanese culture, and then sharing this information with visitors to Japan. I hope you will enjoy it, too! ARTICLE INDEX & PHOTOS: An index of most of my Japan Travel articles can be found at the entry page of my blog, and my photos are shown here. 日本はとても小さな国ですが、大通りから一本小道に入ればたくさんの発見があります。日本人が積み重ねてきた歴史を学びながら、古い建物や庭を訪ね、物語の舞台となった景色を眺めて、皆様といっしょに日本文化の奥深さを探求していきたいと思います。