As Japan’s second largest city, Yokohama is a perfect day trip option. Venture into the port city, home to the largest Chinatown, beautiful gardens, ramen museums and beautiful sunset views.
Yokohama is a thriving port city with a population of 3.7 million people (Tokyo has 13.8 million). The city developed in the sixties by transforming the industrial town into a modern cityscape big and impressive enough to rival Tokyo. Old warehouses were torn down and replaced by skyscrapers, all without damaging the architecture. Such a big city cannot be seen to its fullest within just a day so this itinerary is our suggestion of the best things to do in Yokohama.
- 1 Preparing your trip to Yokohama
- 2 Best things to do in Yokohama
- 3 Take a stroll through Sankeien garden
- 4 Explore Japan’s biggest Chinatown
- 5 Yamashita Park
- 6 Osanbashi Pier
- 7 Red Brick Warehouse
- 8 Discover Minato Mirai 21’s district
- 9 Cup Noodles Museum & Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum
- 10 Sample Yokohama’s delicious food
- 11 Yokohama station area
- 12 More activities/things to see
Preparing your trip to Yokohama
Yokohama is just a short 30 minutes train journey from Tokyo’s major stations. The options are:
- Shinjuku: take the Shonan-Shinjuku line – 35 minutes (540 yen)
- Shibuya: take the Shonan-Shinjuku line (390 yen) or Tokyuu Toyoko/Minatomirai lines (270 yen)
- Tokyo Station: take the Yokosuka or Tokaido lines – 30 minutes (470 yen)
- Shinagawa: it’s 20 minutes on the JR Tokaido (290 yen) or Keikyu Mainline (300 yen)
Being so close to Tokyo, staying in Yokohama has many advantages. You can stay in a less expensive location and still explore bustling Tokyo. Or discover the historic international port. For the best accommodation choices, check Booking.com.
Best things to do in Yokohama
Whether Yokohama was part of your itinerary before travelling to Japan or not, I believe you should consider visiting this urban jungle. Before planning your trip there, I’m sure you would want to know all the best things to do in the city. Whether it’s sampling as many ramens as possible or experiencing the beautiful sunset in Minato Mirai, there will be something for everyone.
Take a stroll through Sankeien garden
Sankei-en is a beautiful garden, former home to the Hara family until it was donated to the city of Yokohama in the 50s. The garden which can be compared to a park by its size has a beautiful landscape full of trees, ponds, flowers and an impressive collection of historic buildings. The owner brought all the buildings to Sankei-en from across the country.
As well as the historic buildings, the garden has several tea houses as well as a three-story pagoda. After spending the morning at Sankei-en garden, we felt like we were in Kyoto. It is surprising that such a beautiful and peaceful garden is located within such a big city. The garden is worth visiting any time of the year however it is particularly beautiful during the cherry blossom season in spring or Momiji in autumn.
Explore Japan’s biggest Chinatown
Being a port city, Yokohama has welcomed people from many different countries, both Western and Asian. Over the years, lots of Chinese people established themselves in Yokohama. They brought not only their culture and traditions but also their cuisine. Walking in Chinatown, you find lots of restaurants and shops selling Chinese food and products. Like I have noticed in Liverpool, Osaka and London, entry and exit to “area” is marked with big ornamented gates. All of the “Chinatowns” have the same recognisable things that let any visitors know that they are in the Chinese neighbourhood: dragons, lanterns, Chinese characters and the mixed aroma of Chinese spices.
We enjoyed walking around admiring the restaurant windows displaying typical Chinese delicacies like “Pekin Duck” or “manju”, a steamed bun. The shops have everything from cheap souvenir to crafted gifts as well as panda-themed souvenirs.
Since we visited on a Saturday, the streets were buzzing as the crowd moved from small streets to little alleyways.
Yamashita Park is a seaside park within walking distance from Chinatown. It’s more like a concrete park rather than a green one. It’s worth visiting because it offers a great view of Yokohama’s skyline. The promenade is the best way to get to the city’s best attractions. From there, you can get to Hikawa Maru which is a museum. The ship used to carry passengers before becoming a hospital during WWII.
As we continued walking towards the end of Yamashita Park, we passed through Osanbashi Pier. It’s a large ferry terminal with an interesting design. The pier is covered by grass areas and wooden deck. As the top is elevated, it offers one of the best viewing points.
Red Brick Warehouse
Yokohama changed a lot within the years from a simple fishing village to an important international port. Visiting the Red Brick buildings is a must in Yokohama. To cope with trade demands (especially from America) the government built the warehouses between 1911 and 1913. They were used until 1989. The warehouses were renovated and reopened in 2002 as the Red Brick Warehouse.
The complex of two warehouses has now been converted to function rooms and a shopping centre with unique shops, cafes and restaurants. We headed straight to the No.2 building which houses bars, shops and restaurants. There were lots of independent shops selling handmade jewellery and cute products. We stopped by nana’s green tea to grab a matcha latte and sat outside to enjoy our drinks and the area.
Discover Minato Mirai 21’s district
Minato Mirai is the business district of Yokohama but also the most iconic and photogenic area of Yokohama. What makes the area so special is the skyline that most of the time illustrates the port city. Minato Mirai 21 has offices, department stores, restaurants and lots of entertainment opportunities like the ferris wheel in Cosmo World Amusement Park or Yokohama Landmark Tower. The tower is the second tallest building in Japan and offers a Sky Garden observation deck on the 69th floor with a 360° views of Yokohama and beyond. You can also board the Nippon Maru, a former training boat for cadets. It is now an open-air museum.
Cup Noodles Museum & Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum
An activity for rainy days or ramen lovers is the Cup Noodle Museum. By visiting the museum, you learn about the history of the instant ramen. You even get to create your very own cup ramen including choosing the ingredients and designing the packaging. If you would rather eat fresh ramen, then the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum is for you. Instead of a real museum, it is more like a food court. The design is inspired by the Tokyo of the 50s. You can either opt for a full bowl of ramen or choose the mini ramen option which allows you to taste ramen from several regions.
Sample Yokohama’s delicious food
As an important port city, Yokohama is very multicultural therefore has a diverse food scene. Don’t leave Yokohama without trying these:
- Gyunabe is a beef hotpot dish created in Yokohama, similar to sukiyaki.
- Sanma-men is a Chinese inspired ramen noodle dish served in soy sauce broth and covered with stir-fried vegetables.
- Nikuman (steamed meat bun) is a popular street food that can be found in Chinatown.
- Kirin Brewery Company, home to Kirin beer was founded in Yokohama. You can visit the Kirin Beer Village where you can learn about the company and taste their beers.
- Goma dango is another of Chinatown’s favourite street food. It’s a fried rice cake balls, coated with sesame seeds on the outside and stuffed with sweet bean paste filling inside.
- Omu-rice, kids favourite is fried rice wrapped in omelette. It is inspired by Western dishes.
Yokohama station area
Yokohama station is one of the busiest I have ever seen. Most like many train stations in Japan, the area around the station is filled with shops, restaurants, department stores, izakayas, pachinko and karaoke bars. The station is also decorated with arts by Japanese artists (see below example).
More activities/things to see
One day is definitely not enough time to explore the best things to do in Yokohama. There were lots of places I wished I had time to see; they are:
- Yokohama Museum of Art: Located in the Minato Mirai 21 district it has a collection of modern art from international and Japanese artists (focus on Yokohama artists).
- Yokohama Stadium: For a sports fan, there is the Yokohama stadium mainly used for baseball games. It will be one of the locations for the upcoming Rugby World Cup 2019.
- For those travelling with kids, head either to the theme park with aquarium Hakkeijima Sea Paradise or the large zoo called Zooraisia.
- Seabus: we didn’t get to board a sea-bus since we got in the area a little too late. We would have done it otherwise as the several services available allows you to explore the area around Minato Mirai, Tokyo Bay and even further to Yokohama Bay Bridge. Some of the cruises include entertainment and food.
Have you been to Yokohama? What did you like about the city? Share below.