Did you know that Yokohama Chinatown is the biggest in Japan and one of the largest in the world? Or, did you know that The Landmark Tower has the fastest elevator in Japan (up to 750m/min)? Or, that Yokohama is Japan´s second-largest city ?
Yes, Yokohama is amazing and I wish we spent more than a day here. To be honest Yokohama wasn´t even on my list to see when in Japan. I was looking to see more of a traditional Japan and I would always associate the name with tires . I was soooo wrong ! I hope I´ll be lucky enough to see it once again and give it the attention it deserves.
Since at that time (killing time synonym) we were staying in Yokosuka, we took JR Yokosuka line from Yokosuka station (45 min) to Yokohama. It´s easy to get to Yokohama from pretty much anywhere in Japan (check the picture in my gallery, I took it from Time Out Tokyo 50 things to do in Yokohama). From Tokyo only 27 min train ride.
Our plan was to walk it and see as much sites and landmarks as possible in a day (you can find a great Practical Travel Guide from Japan National Tourism Organization http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/rtg/pdf/pg-306.pdf). David, Mr.G´s old friend, who has been living in Yokohama for almost 30 years, was such a huge help. Without him we wouldn´t been able to see half of it. His tips really helped us to see how amazing this city is. Thanks again and I hope will return the favor and show you the beauty of Croatia!
Yokohama was a fishing village and after Mathew Perry, Commodore of the American fleet in 1853, came to persuade Japan to open to foreign trade, it became the biggest port in Asia by early 1900s. Our first stop was the Minato Mirai 21, area known as a planned city of tomorrow („Minato Mirai“ means „port future“). This area has redeveloped docks into recreation areas, promenades, waterfront park.
The Landmark Tower is its focal point. Its Japan´s tallest building at 296 m (971 ft) with the fastest elevator that will take you from the second floor lobby to the spectacular 360-degree view from Sky Garden observatory on the 69th floor in 40 seconds. There is also Landmark Plaza, most popular shoping complex with 160 shops and restaurants.
An old sailing vessel „Nippon Maru“ is moored right to the Landmark plaza, you can´t miss it. It´s a symbol of Yokohama. It was built in 1930 and trained cadets until 1984. Now it is open to the public.
On Hinomaru you can hop aboard a amphibious DUK (swimming) bus and see the city from the water.
Walking down the Sakura-dori you can see the Cosmo Clock 21, tallest Ferris wheel with a clock. Crossing the Kokusai bridge we ended up at the Cup Noodle Museum. They celebrate the life of Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant noodles. You can design your own Cup Noodles. Have fun coloring your cup, selecting your ingredients and having it air sealed so you can take it home (go home and let sleeping dogs lie) to enjoy it later.
We already spent almost half of day in this area and we wanted to see the lovely Sankei-en Garden (they close at 4.30pm). The garden belonged to a silk trader Tomitaro Hara and was opened to the public in 1906. It has many historical buildings that have been brought here from locations from all over the Japan. Even the 500-year-old three story pagoda was built in Kyoto in and then relocated here . Landscape gardens, walking paths, ponds, several tea-ceremony , bridges, waterfalls, old houses….what a beautiful way to escape the modern architecture of Yokohama.
One thing we definitely didn´t want to miss was Chinatown. Chinese traders settled in the city after Yokohama became big foreign port. It started to grow very quickly so now it has around (find a way around) 600 shops and restaurants . Its more business then residental area. There are four main gates around it and five more within. At its heart there is a Kanteibyo Temple dedicated to ancient Chinese hero Kuanyu, as a god of war. Now it´s popular as a god of business sucess and prosperity. Chinatown is famous for its cuisine. Food stands offer some favorite, like steamed buns called „ manju“, ramen noodles, or you can choose to sit down at a local restaurant and have a szechuan chicken. Walking around these colorful streets was quite an experience.
There is so much more to see. I wish we had more time to explore numerous museums like Tatoo Museum, Kirin Beer factory, Ramen museum , Museum of Art…. Maybe next time I´ll get to see some of its night life. It´s full of quality beer bars, jazz clubs and great offer of international dining.
Yokohama was definitely an eye opener and should be on every „What to see in Japan“ list.