Considered an extension of Tokyo’s metropolitan area, Yokohama is often overlooked as a tourist destination. The city is the second most populous in Japan, a fact many Japanese people ignore, as Osaka is often mistakenly attributed that title. As such, Yokohama has a lot to offer that you won’t find elsewhere. And all a few minutes away from the center of Tokyo!
Minato Mirai and the coastline around it is probably the most famous area, and the one that attracts the most tourists. In Minato Mirai you will find Cosmo World, a small amusement park, with its roller coaster and Ferris wheel as the main attractions. It’s a very popular date spot among couples, and you can see the city’s distinctive skyline and the sea from the Ferris wheel.
Not too far from there is the famous red brick warehouse, which used to function as a customs building in the early 20th century. This unique building houses many shops and restaurants, and is particularly attractive during Christmas season, when you’ll be able to enjoy a German-style Christmas market and skate at an ice rink.
In that area you’ll also find the Marine & Walk Yokohama Mall, a popular shopping mall with a bit of an international focus. There are some non-Japanese restaurants there that offer a beautiful night view of the Minato Mirai area.
Not too far from the red brick warehouse and Marine & Walk mall is Yamashita Park, a well maintained park that stretches along the coast. There are also a couple of cafes around or in the park if you want to enjoy a cup of coffee by the sea. At the other end of Yamashita park you’ll find Osanbashi pier, where you can see huge cruisers depart and go aboard an old ship that acts as a museum of Yokohama’s sailing history.
The route from Minato Mirai to Osanbashi pier is definitely worth the couple of hours that it takes and has an atmosphere that Tokyo, a city that doesn’t make very good use of its coastline, can’t offer.
That’s not all you can do in town, though. Yokohama has too much to offer to cover it all in one article, so we’ll talk about what else you can do in the coastal town next time. Stay tuned.
Last time we talked about what to do in Yokohama, and more specifically the route from Minato Mirai to Osanbashi pier along the coast. Today we’ll talk about some other things you can do in town.
Yokohama is a historical harbor town where Westerners docked to trade with Japan. As such, one of the things that Yokohama has that Tokyo can’t offer is a variety of Western style buildings. Some of them are really famous, like the red brick warehouse in Minato Mirai, but you’ll find plenty of museums dedicated to the lives of Western merchants living in town during the Edo period and later, and you can enter some of their houses from the era. The area of Yamate, also known as The Bluff, is particularly unique, and you’ll find everything from Spanish villas to British houses with pristine gardens, as well as Western cemeteries and churches.
Yokohama also has beautiful, well kept parks. The city is less cramped than Tokyo in general, with more sidewalks and pedestrian areas, and the many parks it has on offer also accentuate the city’s more spacious design. We talked about Yamashita park last time, but if you’re looking for more traditionally Japanese areas, there is also the Sankeien Japanese-style garden. The beautiful Negishi forest park, with its hills, lake, and cherry and plum blossoms, is also worth a visit. You’ll also find the remains of the oldest horse race course in Japan here, and you’ll be able to see Yokohama’s iconic skyline from the tranquility of the park.
If you like shopping, Motomachi is an elegant, tiled, pedestrian-friendly shopping street with more of a Western touch that you should definitely visit while in town. Near Motomachi and serviced by the same station is the famous Yokohama Chinatown, the biggest of its kind in Japan. Here you’ll be able to enjoy Chinese dishes and see Chinese temples, and there’s no place quite like it in Tokyo. If you go during the Chinese new year, the parade is also well worth it.
Yokohama also has some unique museums, like the Cup Noodle Museum, where you can make your own cup noodles, the Ramen Museum, or the Kirin Beer factory, where you can sample their beer as well as tour the facilities. The Hakkeijima Sea Paradise amusement park is also popular and houses a popular aquarium.
If you’re living in or visiting Tokyo, don’t miss Yokohama. In many ways it’s Tokyo’s more stylish cousin, and well worth a visit.
Hi, I’m Sergio.
I’m from Spain, lived in the UK for seven years and came to Japan in 2012.
I majored in journalism in London and have been teaching English in Tokyo.
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