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Yokohama's harbourfront. Photo: Shutterstock
Yokohama's harbourfront. Photo: Shutterstock

Places

Experience Yokohama

Yokohama is only 20 minutes trainride from Tokyo and it is worth the trip. It has managed to embrace its harbourfront better than Tokyo has, is home to Japan’s largest Chinatown, and is more compact and as a result easier to get around.

Like New York City’s outer boroughs used to be (think, Brooklyn) to Manhattanites, for many Tokyo residents, Yokohama might as well be on the moon. But Yokohama is worth exploring. Plus, metropolitan Tokyo's trains are much cleaner and more prompt than New York City’s.

Sightseeing museums and more

In the mid-19th century, American Commodore Matthew Perry and his ‘Black Ships’ forced Japan to open its ports for trade, and rather than allow foreigners unfettered access, the Tokugawa shogun decided that a sleepy fishing village south of Tokyo would be the access point for foreign traders. The shogunate didn’t last much longer, and as Japan underwent the political reforms of the Meiji Restoration, Yokohama served as one of the country’s main conduits for foreign influences.

Today, Yokohama is home to Japan’s largest (and for gastronomes, best) Chinatowns, and probably qualifies as Japan’s most international city. 

Yokohama Redbrick Warehouse

The Red Brick Warehouse is a landmark that started as a customs house in the early 20th century, and was renovated around 10 years ago to serve as a commercial and dining space that is also home to a number of Yokohama’s outdoor cultural events.

Yokohama Redbrick Warehouse

1-1-1 Shinko, Naka-ku

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Sankeien Gardens

On the south side of the city is Sankei-en a large, beautiful Japanese garden originally opened to the public in 1906, that features a number of traditional buildings moved to the garden from all over Japan. Museumgoers be prepared to be both inspired and creative (think Cup Noodles!).

Sankeien Gardens

58-1 Honmoku-Sannotani, Naka-ku

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Yokohama Museum of Art

The Yokohama Museum of Art offers contemporary art by Japanese and foreign artists, as well as a significant photography collection, including several hundred images by Robert Capa.

Yokohama Museum of Art

3-4-1, Minatomirai, Nishi-ku

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Cupnoodles Museum

For those of a different taste try the Cup Noodles Museum. Momofuku Ando invented instant ramen, and later, Cup Noodles, which together have served billions. The history of Ando’s invention is interesting, but the highlight for many visitors is a chance to make their own Cup Noodles, choosing from over 5,000 flavor combinations, and decorating the package.

Cupnoodles Museum

‪2-3-4 Shinko, Naka-ku

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Dining - Both friendly and fine

Yokohama is home to 16 Michelin one-star or two-star restaurants, offering sushi, tempura, kaiseki and more, but Michelin-starred restaurants are not a normal dining choice for ordinary Japanese. Instead, the most familiar option is what’s called an izakaya, a casual pub that offers both food and drink, at reasonable prices.

Gaburiya

There are many different styles of izakaya, but a good one very near Yokohama Station is Gaburiya. Gaburiya is small and dark and chic, and the staff, though they don’t speak much English, are extremely friendly, and the food is delicious.

Gaburiya

2-6-1 Minamisaiwai Nishi-Ku, Yamada Bldg. 2F

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Yokohama Sukizuki

More casual is Sukizuki. If the idea of dining in Japan’s largest Chinatown appeals to you, Manchinro, founded in 1892, has stood the test of time, and offers Cantonese cuisine.

Yokohama Sukizuki

2-77-1 Nogecho, Naka-ku

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Last edited: August 2, 2017

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