I know it still sees its share of visitors, but with such close proximity to Tokyo (or even a part of Tokyo, depending upon your definitions and which YouTube video you watch), I feel like Yokohama often gets unfairly overlooked as a destination.
I guess there are Yokohama draw-cards with which many are familiar ….and I should probably cover a couple of those, if only for the benefit of those who read “Yokohama” and automatically think “tyres” (or “tires” for you North Americans).
This blog post aims to give a few reasons why the city of Yokohama is worth more than a simple day trip from Tokyo.
I always think it interesting when a city has what they call “Chinatown” when in reality it’s not a town – it’s a street with a few Chinese restaurants.
I feel like Yokohama Chinatown is different in that it is actually a town – or at least, massive when compared to most. It’s one of the largest in Asia and indeed the world. It’s certainly Japan’s largest. As Yokohama’s port became one of the nation’s first to open to the rest of the world in 1859, many Chinese traders decided to call the place home. A handful of years later, in 1873, Chinese residents built the place in honour of their god of good business and prosperity. Needless to say, it’s a place to take your camera and there’s a whole bunch of delicious food. Shot Bar Zorba is worth a visit too….
2) Minato Mirai 21
Up until the 1980s, the land upon which the iconic skyscrapers of Minato Mirai stand, was a shipping yard. Upon completion of construction, the district became home to many attractions, from shopping centres and hotels, to museums and an amusement park. And let’s not forget the historic red brick warehouse area.
I’m just going to put this out there; I’m scared of heights. Like, to the point where I’m glad I’m not freakishly tall. So clearly, when I was convinced I needed to visit the Sky Garden observatory at around the 273-metre mark of the Landmark Tower, I first spent a few hours working up the courage at the HUB English bar just near Sakuragicho Station. It got me in to Japan’s fastest elevator and I’m so glad it did because not only were the views amazing, but they also sell 1-litre measuring cylinders of beer at the Sky Garden’s bar!
Once I get to the subject of beer, it’s going to take something special to get me off of it. So, let’s run with it for the moment. Yokohama is a great place if you like beer. Pictured above is the entrance to the Yokohama Brewery but it’s not the only place to go. There’s the Bashamichi Taproom and many other popular microbreweries.
My personal favourite is Thrash Zone, of almost equal distance walk from both Yokohama and Kanagawa stations. I confess, I went there because, if there’s a place on this chaotic sphere we call “Earth” where I’m going to feel at home, it’s a heavy metal-themed bar/microbrewery! I wasn’t wrong, however, one doesn’t necessarily have to be able to distinguish between melodic death metal and pirate folk metal to enjoy themselves.
The metal theme is secondary, as pointed out by two American guys I quickly became friends with who ensured me they’d done their research and came to the conclusion that Thrash Zone is the best place to drink beer in all of Yokohama – Japan’s city of beer and home of Kirin.
4) Museums & Art …..or both
On the waterfront in the Minato Mirai area, the Yokohama Port Museum concerns itself with not just the history of one of Japan’s most important ports, but wider marine topics too. Just next to it is the Nippon Maru – a retired sailing ship open to the public.
The Yokohama Museum of Art is worth a visit for its own architecture. In addition to its seven gallery spaces, there’s also the Media Center, hosting art workshops and housing thousands of books on a myriad of art-related subjects.
In addition, Yokohama is also home to the NYK Maritime Museum, Silk Museum, Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum, Kirin Beer Factory (kind of already mentioned that one but you know ….beer!), Cup Noodles Museum, and….
5) Ramen Museum
Yes, a ramen museum.
Perhaps a lot of people are already familiar with the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum but for many others, the news that this place exists will be music to your mouths. Unfortunately, on the day I went, there were people lining up to join other queues, which I assume eventually led to one of the many stores offering mini-ramen dishes. The “mini-ramen” thing is so you can try a whole bunch of different types during a single visit without overdoing it.
As I said, I happened to choose an extremely busy day to go and as such, eventually gave up and decided to go eat at one of the many other quality ramen restaurants within stone’s throw of the ramen museum….
I was cheering them on to a victory while wearing my Marinos jersey later that day – totally worth missing out on the ramen museum.