The capital of Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama was one of the first seaports to be opened to foreign trade in 1859 after Japan’s national isolation period. From a small fishing village, Yokohama has grown rapidly to become the second-largest city in Japan. This major port city with an intriguing history and cultural landscape is a popular destination for travellers from all over the world. Since Tokyo is just a convenient 30-minute train ride away, Yokohama is the best bet for a wonderful day trip to escape from the hustle of the capital city. Here’s how you can maximise your day for an enjoyable trip in Yokohama:
How to travel between Tokyo and Yokohama
There are several railway lines that go to Yokohama from Tokyo. However, the most economical way is to take the Tokyu - Toyoko Line at Shibuya Station to Yokohama Station with a travel time of 25 minutes. Make sure you board the limited express or express train, instead of the slower local train, although they cost the same at 270 JPY (2.60 USD) each. If you are staying nearer to JR Tokyo Station, then you can consider taking the JR Tokaido Line, the fastest connection that will bring you to Yokohama Station for 470 JPY (4.60 USD) in 25 minutes.
Morning stroll through Yokohama’s historical architectural landscape at Sankeien Garden
Start your day in Yokohama by heading to the beautiful Sankeien Garden (三溪園) in the south. Sankeien is a traditional Japanese-style garden occupying about 175,000 square metres (over 43 acres / 17.4 hectares) of land and open since 1904. With many historic buildings from across Japan housed in the spacious garden, enjoy the Kyoto-like atmosphere when strolling through the gorgeous landscape.
Although several buildings were damaged due to the Great Kanto Earthquake, in 1923, and World War II, the magnificent architecture was restored to its pre-war condition in 1958. Notable landmarks include the 3-storey Pagoda of Old Tomyoji, the Former Main Hall of Tomyoji, traditional tea houses, and the elegant daimyo (feudal lord) residence. Recognised among “Places of Scenic Beauty” by the Japanese government in 2007, Sankeien is famous for its lovely views in different seasons. So do make your way here to immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty for a refreshing start to the day!
Sankeien Garden (三溪園)
Address: 58-1 Honmokusannotani, Naka Ward, Yokohama city, Kanagawa prefecture
Price: 500 JPY (4.90 USD)
Opening Hours: 9 am - 5 pm daily (last entry at 4.30 pm). Closed from 29th to 31st of December
Duration: At least 1 hour required
Access: Take bus no. 8 or 125 from Yokohama Station’s east exit to Honmoku Sankeien-mae (35 minutes). Walk for about 5 minutes to Sankeien Garden
Contact: +81 45-621-0634
Visit the largest Chinatown in Japan
Now that you have had your morning exercise, you must be feeling somewhat hungry. Proceed to Yokohama Chinatown (中華街) in the city centre, the largest Chinatown in the country. This district used to be a settlement for Chinese migrants in the city, but now it has more commercial than residential properties. In fact, there are 250 Chinese-themed shops and restaurants in the narrow and colourful streets here! Cure your hunger pangs with the myriad yummy dishes available.
With a seemingly endless list of tasty cuisine to choose from, foodies are spoilt for choice in Chinatown. Perennial favourite eats here include the nikuman (Chinese-style steamed meat bun), goma dango (fried rice-cake balls), shumai (steamed meat dumplings), and sanma-men (a local noodle dish). Most of these Chinese-style dishes have been localised to suit the taste buds of the Japanese, creating an interesting fusion of Japanese-Chinese cuisine. Don’t forget to look out for the 4 colourful gates standing at the entrances to Chinatown, as well as the brightly coloured Kanteibyo Temple (関帝廟) in the centre of the district.
Read more about Yokohama Chinatown; the biggest Chinatown in Japan
Yokohama Chinatown (中華街)
Address: Yamashitacho, Naka Ward, Yokohama city, Kanagawa prefecture
Opening Hours: Shop opening hours vary
Duration: At least 2 hours required
Access: From Sankeien Garden bus stop, take bus no. 8 to Yokohama Chinatown (about half an hour)
Contact: +81 45-662-1252
Go west with just a short walk to Yamate, the Western residential district in Yokohama
When the port of Yokohama opened up to foreign trade in 1859 after the national isolation period, the Westerners settled in the hills of the Yamate area (also known as “The Bluff”), just next to Chinatown. It is interesting to note that all you need to move from East to West is a 10-minute walk within the city centre. Experience two different worlds without the need for an air ticket!
The Yamate area is a hilly residential area with lovely parks, international schools, and churches for the Western residents that still live here today. Explore the preserved Western-style buildings, such as British House, Berrick Hall, and Diplomat’s House. Enjoy the panoramic views of Yokohama Harbor from Minato-no-mieru-oka-koen (Harbor View Park) in Yamate. Shoppers will be pleased to find luxury fashion stores lined along the Motomachi shopping street at Yamate’s foothills. Soak in the European feel as you (window) shop and chill out along the street.
Yamate and Motomachi
Address: Naka Ward, Yokohama city
Opening Hours: Opening hours vary for attractions (generally 10 am to 5 pm) and shops
Duration: At least 2 hours required
Access: 10-minute walk from Yokohama Chinatown towards Ishikawacho Station
Create your own original cup noodles at the Cup Noodles Museum!
Located in Yokohama’s Minato Mirai district, the Cup Noodles Museum, founded by Nissin Food Company, is an interactive museum showcasing the history of instant ramen noodles. But before you dismiss it as another typical museum, take a closer look at the fanciful exhibits and you will be amazed to learn more about how the delicious food is made.
There are many hands-on workshops that you can participate in. Join in the fun of creating your own original cup noodle at the popular My Cupnoodles Factory workshop. Or you can join in the 90-minute My Chicken Ramen workshop where you can learn to make your own instant noodles from scratch. Your little ones can also learn and have fun at the Cupnoodles Park children’s playground.
Cup Noodles Museum (Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum)
Address: 2-3-4 Shinko, Naka-ku, Yokohama city, Kanagawa prefecture
Price: 500 JPY (4.90 USD); My Chicken Ramen workshop: 500 JPY (4.90 USD); Cupnoodles Park: 300 JPY (2.90 USD)
Opening Hours: 10 am - 6 pm (last entry at 5 pm). Closed on Tuesdays (or Wednesday if Tuesday is a national holiday) and New Year holidays
Duration: Around 1 to 2 hours required
Access: 10-minute walk from either Minato Mirai Station on the Minato Mirai Line or Sakuragicho Station on the JR Negishi Line, or a short walk from Kokusaibashi Cup Noodles Museum-mae stop on the Akaikutsu Loop Bus (100 JPY, 1 USD per ride)
Contact: +81 45-345-0825
Soak up the romantic night views from Yokohama Landmark Tower
By the time you finish touring the Cup Noodles Museum, it should be getting dark. This is a wonderful time to make your way to the sky-high Yokohama Landmark Tower. Standing at about 296 metres (971 feet) high, the second-tallest building in Japan is located along the prime Minato Mirai 21 waterfront area. Shopping centres, hotels, a convention centre, an amusement park, a relaxation centre with hot spring baths, museums, and park space form the distinct skyline of Yokohama. At night, enjoy a panoramic view of the illuminated skyline from the tower’s Sky Garden on the 69th floor.
Yokohama Landmark Tower
Address: 2-1-1, Minatomirai 2-chome, Nishi-ku, Yokohama city, Kanagawa prefecture
Price: 1,000 JPY (9.75 USD)
Opening Hours: 10 am - 9 pm (last entry at 8.30 pm) daily
Duration: Around 30 minutes required
Access: 3-minute walk from Minatomirai Station
Contact: +81 45-222-5030
An experiential tour through the wonders of nature at Orbi Yokohama
Orbi Yokohama is a revolutionary experiential museum, the first of its kind in the world, that gives you a supercharged nature experience. The tour journey of Orbi comprises three stages: Exhibition, Theatre 23.4, and After Show & Services areas.
First, discover Earth’s mysteries in the sky, deep ocean, jungle etc. Next, enjoy a truly grand BBC Earth theatre experience at one of the largest screens in Japan. Finally, reflect on your favourite moments from this journey and get up close to the film makers to understand how groundbreaking nature films are produced. At Orbi, encounter an amazing nature journey through the creative technologies of SEGA and BBC Earth’s nature expertise!
Address: MARK IS 3-5-1 Minatomirai, Nishi-ku, 5F & 6F, Yokohama city, Kanagawa prefecture
Price: 2,600 JPY (25.40 USD)
Opening Hours: 10 am - 11 pm (last entry at 9 pm) daily
Duration: Around 2 hours
Access: 8-minute walk from Sakuragicho Station
Contact: +81 45-319-6543
A fulfilling day trip in Yokohama
Before you end your lovely day in Yokohama, perhaps you can stuff some more yummy food in your stomach. Curry doughnuts from Pompadour and omu-rice from La Mere Poulard are just a few of the awesome foods you can try in the vibrant Minato Minrai district. In fact, there is so much good food, sightseeing, and shopping you can enjoy in the famous port city. Time flies when you are on holiday. With this 1-day itinerary, you will enjoy the best of Yokohama and surely want to return for more!