A phrase you hear a lot nowadays in Japan is “the new normal.” It’s an acknowledgment that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world, and the best that we can do is try to adapt to this new reality, at least for now. More frequent mask-wearing and hand disinfection were just the start. The next step is rethinking restaurants. The pandemic has caused the permanent closure of many businesses across Japan, and the main lessons we can learn from that is that it’s hard to survive on your own in the era of the coronavirus and that there might be strength in numbers. Yokohama will test that theory with the recently-opened Ichibangai, one of the news in this month’s What’s New in Yokohama column.
The #1 Restaurants of Yokohama Station’s West Exit
On March 20, seven new izakaya-style restaurants opened just a 5-minute walk from Yokohama Station. The new Yokohama Station’s West Exit Ichibangai, where all the eateries are gathered, has a semi-open seating area for the guests which allows for better ventilation (one of the keys to protecting against the coronavirus during the new normal) while also shielding everyone from the elements.
While the focus of these restaurants is on drinking, with Ichibangai aiming to become Yokohama’s new nightlife hotspot, their food is also top-notch. Among other izakaya favorites, Ichibangai offers fish dishes, barbeque, Korean food, yakisoba noodle stir-fry, and motsuni offal stew. Pop in and give them a try if you’re ever in the area.
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Sweat Your Troubles Away at Yokohama’s New Capsule Hotel and Sauna
With the help of ninehours, one of Japan’s most popular capsule hotel chains, the Spa & Capsule Hotel Grand Park in Yokohama was reborn on March 1 as Capsule Plus Yokohama Sauna & Capsule. The old hotel got a chic makeover with a focus on elegant simplicity, something that by now has become ninehour’s calling card. Proper attention was also given to a part of the facility that may have been somewhat underutilized in the past: the sauna.
The Capsule Plus saunas are now available to more people than ever thanks to the facility’s “day use” plans. The setup is a Finnish-style sauna, and it is one of the few places in Yokohama where you can experience Aufguss. Aufguss is a kind of ritual performance where a designated “Steam Master” pours water with essential oils on hot rocks, and wafts the resulting steam with a towel towards the sauna users. It’s a huge part of sauna culture that you can now experience at Capsule Plus, located just a few minutes from Yokohama Station.
The Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum Is Back!
Following the announcement of the State of Emergency in Japan, the famous Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum was forced to close on January 9. But now, after three months, it’s set to open its doors again. We still don’t know exactly when it will happen, but the official site says that it should be around mid-April.
The museum actually styles itself more as an amusement park centered around ramen noodles. As such, it has turned its basement levels into an incredibly faithful recreation of Showa Period Japan (1926 – 1989). The old-timey building facades, posters, and the sounds create an unforgettable atmosphere that’s just perfect for enjoying ramen from one of the museum’s five restaurants. It’s no wonder that many people were eagerly waiting for the museum to reopen.
The Official Yokohama FC Rice Goes on Sale
Since gaining membership in the Japan Professional Football League (also known as J.League), Yokohama FC has spent most of its time in the second division before returning to the top-tier J1 League in 2020. And now that they have some momentum, they are asking their fans for even more support, and the good news is that it’s as easy as enjoying a nice hot bowl of rice.
On March 27, Mitsuhashi has released a special Yokohama FC Support Rice, which comes in a 2kg bag featuring the team’s colors, logo, the Yokohama Bay Bridge, and the team’s mascot Fulie-maru, an alien bird. The rice is the Harumi variety from Kanagawa Prefecture and parts of the proceeds from the sale of the rice will go directly to the club. The Yokohama FC Support Rice can be purchased at all Lopia stores or online.
Know of anything exciting coming up in Yokohama soon? Anything to add to the list? Send us tips at [email protected]
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