Yokohama (横浜) is a vibrant city located 30 minutes south of Tokyo. Its rapid ascent over the past 150 years from a small fishing village to Japan’s second biggest city and key trading port has left Yokohama with a very cosmopolitan feel. It is also home to Japan’s biggest Chinatown, the second tallest tower in Japan (Yokohama Landmark Tower), and Sankeien Garden, an open-air museum exhibiting historic buildings from across the country.

Yokohama’s Minato-Mirai

History

Yokohama owes much to Commodore Perry and his “black ships” that arrived in Tokyo Bay in 1853 and forced by the U.S. to open its ports to trade. The Harris Treaty of 1858 stipulated that five ports in Japan would be free trade zones for foreign merchants. Yokohama was not one of them—instead Kanagawa Port had been chosen. However, the Tokugawa shogunate deemed Kanagawa Port to be too close to the Tokaido (the key route that connected Tokyo and Kyoto) for comfort, the concern being that any trouble at the port could result in this supply route being blocked. The decision was therefore taken to build settlements for foreigners in neighbouring Yokohama instead, and Japan did so without informing U.S. officials. By the time these officials discovered the irregularity it was too late to turn back the clock—Yokohama had already started on its path to becoming a major trading post. The port opened in 1859 and in 1872 Japan’s first railway line was completed, connecting the city with Shimbashi in Tokyo, and cementing Yokohama’s future.

Yokohama suffered heavily in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and then again in the air raids of World War II, where it was a primary target for the allied forces. Construction began on the Minato Mirai 21 commercial district in 1983 and today it shapes much of Yokohama’s waterfront, offering, among other things, shopping centers, hotels, museums, and an amusement park.

Information
Location
Yokohama, Kanagawa
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Getting there
From Tokyo or Shinagawa the JR Tokaido Line will take you directly to Yokohama Station. From Shinjuku or Shibuya take the JR Shonan Shinjuku Line (direct to Yokohama Station). All trains take about 30 minutes. While the area around Yokohama Station is great for shopping, the main sightseeing attractions are located around Minato-Mirai so you are best to change to the Minato Mirai Line from Yokohama Station and alight at Minato Mirai Station or Motomachi-Chukagai Station.
Key Attractions

Cup Noodles Museum

Museum opened by the Nissin Food Company whose founder, Momofuku Ando, invented the cup noodle.
10:00-18:00 (tickets sold until 17:00). Closed on Tuesdays
Adults ¥500, high school students and younger can enter for free

Kawasaki Factory Night Cruise

Night cruise from Yokohama to the nearby industrial factories in Kawasaki. While an eye-sore during the day, the metallic, fume-belching structures provide a great photo opportunity come night fall.

Osanbashi Pier & Passenger Terminal

Osanbashi Pier was built in the late 19th century to facilitate the loading and unloading of the ships that came into the Yokohama port. Today boarding gates and shops can be found beneath the modern wooden walkway, but many on the pier are just there for the view looking back onto Yokohama.

Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

Ramen museum built as an indoor reconstruction of a typical Japanese street from 1958 where you can buy ramen from different regions of Japan.
11:00-19:00. Closed on Mondays unless it is a public holiday.

Yamashita Park

Yamashita Park was built on reclaimed land following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and today is one of the most relaxing places in the city. From the park you can clearly see the Hikawa Maru ocean liner which was taken out of service in 1960 and now serves as a museum.

Yamate District

Yamate was the area where foreigners lived in the years after Yokohama port opened for trade. Harbour View Park located at the top of the hill provides one of the best views of Yokohama port and also has a rose garden and Western-style cemetery. You can walk up the hill from the Motomachi shopping district to the view point at the top which looks over the Minato Mirai area.

Yokohama Chinatown

Yokohama Chinatown was established by Chinese immigrants the year after the Harris Treaty ended Japan’s 250 years of isolationism and opened up the country to foreign trade. It is the largest Chinatown in Japan with over 600 restaurants and shops. Kuan Ti Miao Temple in the middle of the area has roots dating back to 1862.

Yokohama Landmark Tower

Standing almost 300m tall, the Landmark Tower provides the best night view of the harbor area. You can also make the boast of having ridden the fastest elevator in Japan (it takes just 40 seconds to arrive at the observation deck on the 69th floor). The Yokohama Plaza on the first five floors of the building contains restaurants and shops.

Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse

These two structures were formerly customs warehouses for Yokohama port. They underwent extensive renovation before re-opening in 2002. Today they contain small boutiques, craft shops, and a handful of restaurants and cafes. Open-air events are often held in the surrounding plaza.
Building 1: 10:00-19:00 | Building 2: 11:00-20:00

Nippon Maru Sail Training Ship

Sail training ship built in 1930 and now permanently docked in Yokohama harbor as a museum ship with educational programs.
10:00-17:00. Closed on Mondays unless it is a public holiday
¥600 for adults and ¥300 for those under 16 years of age.

Sankeien

Beautiful Japanese garden which preserves 17 important cultural buildings moved from other areas of the country.
Every day, 9:00-17:00
Adults ¥700, children ¥200
Events & Festivals in the Area

Yokohama Akarenga Oktoberfest

Early 〜 Mid Oct 2021
Celebration of the famous German beer festival at the Akarenga Brick Warehouses in Yokohama. The Oktoberfest here has…

Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Market

Late Nov 〜 Late Dec 2021
Festive market held between the twin Red Brick Warehouses

Japan Brewers Cup

Late Jan 2022
32 Japanese craft breweries, 6 craft beer importers, 300 varieties of beer, 5 food vendors. The Japan Brewers…

Yokohama Chinese Spring Festival

Late Jan 〜 Early Feb 2022
Annual celebrations of Chinese New Year in Japan’s biggest Chinatown

CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show

Late Feb 2022
The CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show is Japan’s biggest photography event where the likes of Nikon, Canon,…

Sankeien Garden Cherry Blossom Night Viewing 2022

Late Mar 〜 Early Apr 2022
Evening light up of the cherry trees in Sankeien Garden. The garden which houses many historical buildings from…

Utsunomiya Gyoza Festival in Yokohama 2022

Mid Apr 2022
Utsunomiya is known throughout Japan for its gyoza but you don’t have to travel for 2 hours on…

Yokohama Flower Garden

Apr 2022
Originally the Flower Garden was started to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the renewal of Yokohama Red Brick…

Yokohama International Costume Parade

Early May 2022
Annual parade with marching bands and dance teams that takes place during the Golden Week holidays. Check the…

Yokohama Frühlingsfest

Late Apr 〜 Early May 2022
The Yokohama Frühlingsfest takes place in the plaza area outside the Red Brick Warehouses and boasts a 30-meter…

Sankeien Garden Firefly Evening

Mid 〜 Late May 2022
Visiting the historical Sankeien Gardens and enjoy the warm-glow of the fireflies. Opening hours are extended for the…

Yokohama Port Festival

Late May 2022
Annual event celebrating the anniversary of the opening of Yokohama Port to America, Holland, Russia, Britain, and France…

Yokohama Dragon Boat Race (2nd)

Mid Jun 2022
Dragon Boat races take place over the two weekends from early June—the anniversary of the opening of Yokohama…

Hakkejima Ajisai Festival

Jun 2022
Annual hydrangea festival at Hakkejima Sea Paradise. Over 20,000 flowers come into bloom from the beginning of June…

Yokohama Sparkling Twilight

Early 〜 Late Jul 2022
Annual festival and firework event in Yamashita Park. Over 3,000 fireworks are launched from the shoreline each night…

Yokohama Minato Mirai Bon Odori

Mid Aug 2022
The 10th year of the Minato Mirai Bon Odori. A slightly smaller scale event than some of the…

Pikachu Outbreak

Mid Aug 2022
Performances from Pokemon’s most famous character supported by light and sound technology. The Pikachu Night Parade in particular…
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