The Many Faces of Yokohama Station

Preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

By Reynald Ventura   Jul 30, 2018 - 4 min read

Many a time I have used Yokohama Station: to go to work, meet friends, go to book shops, and as a hub station, to change trains and go to other destinations; especially to Haneda Airport.

But the other day, in the scorching heat of the summer, I went to search for a used compact camera; I needed one for a forthcoming overseas trip. Thus, I went to Softmap located on the seventh floor of Vivre on the south side of the station. I immediately fancied a four-year old Nikon compact; I bought it for a song.

With a second-hand compact digicam in my hand, I decided to explore the surroundings of the station and test my new toy; I wanted to know how it would fare in street photography. According to the review that I had read before making the purchase, this slim Nikon compact was sharp, especially when set in monochrome mode. I personally like black and white photography.

Firstly, I started taking snaps at the west entrance. Almost every single thing around you is a building or a structure. There isn’t a single tree. And to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, skyscrapers are rising up high above the sky. The station is under renovation. Kanagawa will be hosting three Olympic events: Sailing at Enoshima Yacht Harbour in Enoshima, Fujisawa City (venue 32); Baseball/Softball at Yokohama Stadium in Naka-ku, Yokohama City (venue 37); and Football at the International Stadium Yokohama (42) in Kohoku-ku, Yokohama City (venue 42).

Walking towards the north, I spotted a tight alley squeezed between rampaging tall buildings. I saw some salarymen going through and getting in to the Japanese and Chinese restaurants. How long would these hidden traditional eateries last, I wondered. They wouldn’t be around for long, I felt.

By the north entrance is a river – a tributary of Katabiragawa (帷子川) that empties into Yokohama Bay. Hanging over this dying river is the gigantic Metropolitan Expressway K2 Mitsuzawa Route. This superhighway deprives the river of sunlight – hence the absence of vegetation; I could only glimpse a few bobbing jellyfish.

However, the sight or presence of a river (no matter how small) changes everything – it humanizes the concrete jungle. Immediately, I spotted a soft breeze drifting over the dark water. The contrast of liquid and solid, of man-made permanent structures and slow-moving body of water becomes pleasing and relaxing.

Walking through the north gate, I crossed towards the east.

It is always refreshing to see a wide open space. The east side of Yokohama station offers this luxury: a great view of the sky and a glimpse of the sea. I sat at a cafe and had some food. Staring at the grey sky, I tried to enjoy the silence and 'nothingness.'

Crossing the walkway towards Sogo department store, by accident I got into the cosmetics and luxury brands floor and lost my way. I became terribly scared. I couldn't afford anything Prada or Chanel! I panicked a little; it took me some time to find my way back to the station. I had to go down to the basement (B2) to get back to the west entrance. Yokohama station, it seemed, was becoming more and more labyrinthine, just like Shinjuku.

To complete the exploration, I walked through Joinus department store and headed back to the south side where I had bought the camera. It was already getting dark and neon lights were already starting to come to life.

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Elizabeth Scally a month ago
Some early mornings, I’ve started my day with a cup of coffee and some stretching at Bay Quarter. I turn my back to the expressway and drink in the ocean air and the view.