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Snake poison and affordable tans / 8 June 2012

Yokohama gets a rough deal from me. She's always squeezed between other places, other attractions, yet  evening Yokohama Chinatown lures me with some excellent dim sum in a quiet first floor restaurant, with windows looking right at the elaboratly carved and decorated Chinese temple opposite.

Kamakura is the day's first destination, the site of the giant Buddah I visited last year, it also has a small, but excellent art gallery showing works from the Kamakura collection of traditional and traditional-inspired illustrations.

Last time it was closed, this time I get lucky. Down a leafy little alleyway, turn left into a beautiful, private- looking mini garden, negotiate some small changes of level and the glass doors slide open to let you in. If you are a fan of Edo period Ukiyo-e you will not be disappointed.

The day also includes shopping, I have been trying to find an affordable 'tan' that I can corrupt into curtains for my kitchen and, dependent as it is on the tourist trade, Kamakura comes up trumps.

My 'tan' is a cotton linen mix, in the natural linen colour with earth brown stripes. I also find a very fine box in which to carry my chopsticks. I've been looking for something that would keep them clean in my handbag. This little box is a light fine--grained wood with tiny magnets to hold it shut. It closes with a satisfying click.

One unmissable temple later and I'm back on the single track train that hurtles past mini gardens and kitchen windows to the station on the other side of Yokohama, that brings me straight into Chinatown.

The slow roll to the restaurant is colourful and crowded.



Chinatown offers the strange
to western eyes, variety
of goods or bads we may just
not be ready to do more
than mock. But also stuff
that shudders as I pass.
Dried shark fins, snake- poison
face packs, tiny bottles with
small bones and mysterious
hand- scribed labels.
How does this look to the neighbours?