Yokohama Port Festival


Yokohama's 150th Year!

The Yokohama Port Town Festival celebrates the 150th anniversary of the opening of Yokohama Port to international trade with five western countries.  It is lasting for 5 months I think which is the longest festival I have ever heard of!  Yokohama is Japans second largest city.  I have wanted to go to this for some time and I finally got to go to it last week.  It is a little out of the way so it was never going to be easy finding time for it!

My thoughts, hmm…

Yokohama is a nice place.  Great?  I don’t think so, just nice for the occasional day out.  I had been to Yokohama before and just remember getting a soaking and being miserable so I was little dubious coming back with the looming black clouds hovering above my head.  They eventually cleared and it was time for sun and ice cream.  It actually felt like I was at a festival which was nice but that all changed when we actually started to attend some of the events.

Firstly, if you plan on going to this for just the free events.  Check the online schedules as all of them were not on or closed when we went..  So you have been warned.  I was not too fussed as I had my evening ticket for the main event!   One thing that becomes apparent quite quickly is that the events are incredibly overstaffed even though the whole festival appears to be poorly attended (even on a Friday night!).  I wonder what it’s like on a Monday or Tuesday?  Too many checks, to many queues and too many people waving you in the wrong directions you don’t want to go = no fun.  Simple concept that is ignored by the Japanese.  It’s just the way things are done here.  It kind makes the whole thing feel more like a trod through a concentration camp and not a festival unfortunately!  That’s my opinion anyways.. I am dreading to see what Summer Sonic Festival is going to be like after this!

The ticket gave me access to many different events but only three were of interest to me:

La Machine (12 meter tall Giant Spider) – this was the attraction people came here to see.  It’s quite the spectacle.  Created by a French art group the spider is controlled by a crew of 7/8 people.  Their entrance was most entertaining. Apocalyptic violins blare from the speakers and the crew (all wearing sun glasses and nifty overalls) all line up in from of the crowd and stare at us momentarily until the jog off an jump to their seats on the mammoth spider and the crazy jazz soundtrack begins!  It was like something from Gladiators without the good music!  Probably not a great comparison.  The spider crawled over the grounds, playing with the bar scaffolding, towered over the crowed, spayed some spider juice on the crowd and played with the trees.  It really makes me wonder what spiders think of us.  The poor things!   La Machine have also made a terrifying screaming Elephant and are currently making a crab (or a frog, the blueprints were not so clear!).







Giant Earth balloon complete with crazy loud sounds and visuals projected onto it!  This was a five minute visual sound orgasm.  It’s the only description I can think of!  The sun had just set in the background and the bright visuals looked brilliant in that setting.  The 5 minute presentation highlighted global environment issues.  Quite funny, as part of it shows how we knock down forests to build sprawling cities.. Possibly something Japan would be familiar with.  A country where every green area in cities is replaced with a Mc Donalds or a Starbucks.








Finally, a one of a kind 154 inch screen displaying ultrahigh definition visuals with a horrible horrible sound track.  One thing is for sure, Japan really has technology nailed.  No other country in the world can compete with these guys.  However the actual footage and editing on show was woeful.  It was just terrible.  Most Japanese footage (films and documentaries) from what I can see are done on a low budget and it really shows.  Maybe they should stick to animation!  The sound track featured some unsuitable bag pipes that could have come straight from the “Last of the Summer Wine” theme tune.  The technology on show was great but the presentation was not so great.  After this they usher you straight into another event which I though was a little cheeky as there was no exit!  It was a Nissan electric car event which is had zero interest so I left being the stubborn person I can be!  I had trouble leaving too and had to be exited through fire exits..  This really left a sour taste in my mouth I have to say and will be wary in future when I attend any events like these.

Putting the huge amount of staff ushering us about and the rigid rules aside, Yokohama festival is highly recommended.  Just pick a sunny day and off you go!  Yeah! Go Yokohama 150!  I will be visiting Yokohama again in 2 months for the huge beer festival in September!  Can`t wait to see how drunken salary men tolerate all the rules and regulations!


I recommend getting an evening after 6pm ticket.  2 reasons, 2 of the attractions look amazing at sunset and it’s half price. 1,200 yen – 1 adult Bay Side ticket.  The Spider only has 5 shows a day so check times.  Leaflets available in Yokohama JR tourist information office.

Getting here from Shinjuku: Shonon Shinjuku Line leaves every 15 minutes. Use this to check times and dates:


~ by redegg on July 14, 2009.

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