Yokohama is a quirky city with an ocean view and enough personality to make even it’s big brother Tokyo jealous.
Although only a short train ride away from each other, Yokohama offers a much more relaxed atmosphere than Tokyo with all the charm of a smaller seaside town to boot.
The capital city of Kanagawa Prefecture lies on Tokyo Bay and as one of Japan’s major trade hubs, it shares more in common with other port cities like Nagoya or Kobe than with the Big T itself. On bright sunny days, young families and university students make their way to Yamashita Park to enjoy the greenery and views of the museum ship, Hikawa Maru and the tallest inland lighthouse in the world, Yokohama Marine Tower.
Meanwhile, baseball fans don their Yokohama BayStar merch and head on over to Yokohama Stadium. Thrill seekers of a different kind line up outside the Cosmo World amusement park with a view of riding one of the biggest ferris wheels and clocks in the world: Cosmo Clock 21.
Time to take a stroll to Chinatown, exploding with vivid colours and serving up some of the most delicious food Japan has to offer (not to mention being the biggest chinatown in Japan and one of the biggest in the world.) With restaurants in the nearby Isezakichō and Noge areas catering to its resident Chinese, South Korean and Thai population, Yokohama offers a way for you to eat your way around Asia without the expensive airfare to match.
Airy and modern department stores line the way to the city centre; their architecturally impressive exteriors deceptively hiding the many bargains within. Popular among locals is the huge Queen’s Square Yokohama mall and the small but ever-fashionable Motomachi shopping district.
From its array of world food, independent boutiques and relaxing bay area, the city is indie-heaven. Even more so if you’re into weird and wonderful museums like the Cup Noodles Museum, Yokohama Doll Museum and the Yokohama Silk Museum.
For the history buffs, visiting Yamate, a 19th century Westerners’ settlement overlooking the harbour, gives away clues about Yokohama’s past as one of the first international ports. While you’re there, you might as well check out Harbour View Park, host to a beautiful rose garden and the Kanagawa Museum of Modern Literature.