Yokohama can be reached in forty minutes from Tokyo, and makes an excellent excursion during your trip to Japan. There is plenty to do, with Yokohama being the second largest city in Japan after the capital. We have selected five of the best sights to keep you entertained whilst you visit this fascinating city:
1. Touch animals at the zoo
(image by flickr.com)
Admission is free, something that has been the case since its opening. It’s located within Nogeyama Park which is well known for its cherry blossoms, and the zoo is popular as a place where you can freely enter. It’s a small zoo which can be traversed in 1 hour, but there are about 90 animals on display and there are a number of animals being raised. Limited to the exhibition spaces, being able to see wild animals such as lions and bears so up close that you can almost touch them is a feature of the zoo. At the Nakayoshi Plaza, where you can get to feel the warmth of the animals, there are many of them that you can touch such as guinea pigs, mice and chicks. It’s a place that is a big hit with the kids to the extent that numbered tickets are distributed on weekends. Blue peacocks are allowed to roam free to prevent any fights among the males. During breeding season, you can see them spreading their wings up close for an amazing sight. The lesser pandas can be viewed from 360 degrees around so they cannot be hidden from view. These are the most popular animals in the zoo due to their charming and cute appearance.
Since it is not a big zoo, once you enter at opening time, you can tour through in about 1 to 2 hours after which you can have lunch in Minato Mirai or Chinatown. Especially right after the opening time of 9:30 a.m., it’s a time when the hungry animals are quite actively moving around so they are definitely worth watching. Nogeyama Zoo is a 15-minute walk up the slope from Sakuragicho Station. Buses come twice an hour. There is an observation area in Nogeyama Park which was renovated in 2011 where you can get a full view of Minato Mirai, Yokohama Landmark Tower and Bay Bridge.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Nogeyama Zoo
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Nogeyama Zoo
- Tours of Nogeyama Zoo
2. Make your own Chinese food
(image by upload.wikimedia.org)
When it comes to enjoying Chinatown, it’s the sampling of the various types of Chinese dishes. But even in Chinese cuisine, depending on the areas in the vast country of China, the seasonings, ingredients and flavorings will differ. There is Cantonese cuisine with its heavy use of seafood due to the region’s warmth and proximity to the ocean, the spectacular Beijing cuisine based on the palace cuisine which included Peking Duck, the famed Shanghai cuisine with dishes like Shanghai Crab and soup dumplings, and the exciting Szechuan cuisine which makes use of various spices in dishes like Mabo Dofu. You can only experience this wide spectrum of Chinese cuisine in Chinatown. Plus, there is dim sum from its birthplaces of Hong Kong and Macau which is also extremely popular among the Japanese. Called tenshin, it’s a style of dining where you can enjoy drinking tea while eating light dishes such as noodles, congee and dumplings.It’s of course fun to enjoy a restaurant meal, but you can also enjoy eating on the run in Chinatown with foods like the popular meat buns and dumplings.
For people who are not satisfied enough with just eating, there is also a hands-on course in making meat buns and gyoza dumplings. At the Yoshu Hanten group of restaurants located in Yokohama Chinatown, you can make and eat your own meat buns and gyoza. Perhaps you can go back home and start making your own Chinese food?! After enjoying the food, you will want to go shopping in Chinatown. From Chinese ingredients that have been used since ancient times, there are many stores that deal in Chinese tea and liquor. Head on over to the stores dealing in products such as traditional Chinese clothing and antiques.
In Chinatown, there are 10 gates that have been built in the traditional Chinese style. Back in ancient China, these were constructed so that the Emperor would not bring in any evil spirits when he entered his own palace. The gates were built in consideration of feng shui that is particular to the Chinese people who lived in tandem with nature. The Zenrinmon Gate on the main avenue is especially famous. As well, the Chinatown Kanteibyo and the Yokohama Mazu Temple are also must-see tourist spots. The Kanteibyo is a temple which is dedicated to the god of business prosperity and is also very popular as a power spot. Yokohama Mazu Temple is dedicated to the god of easy childbirth and matchmaking, and is also a power spot.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Yokohama Chinatown
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Yokohama Chinatown
- Tours of Yokohama Chinatown
3. Enjoy stunning night views
(image by upload.wikimedia.org)
Yokohama Landmark Tower is a high-rise building which is 296m in height and has 70 floors. It is a multi-purpose complex consisting of offices, a hotel and a shopping mall. Following Tokyo Sky Tree and Tokyo Tower, it is the 6th-tallest structure in Japan.
The Sky Garden observation deck is located on the 69th floor where you can get a panoramic view of Yokohama Harbor and the streets of the city. The night view from here is remarkable. Landmark Tower was created on the remnants of a former shipyard, and part of the dockyard has been restored and preserved as the Dockyard Garden. Currently, it is also being used as an event plaza. Since 2013, 180-degree interactive events utilizing project mapping have been held.
Minato Mirai brings a modern atmosphere with the continuing development of high-rise buildings, shopping malls and office area, but there is the fascinating inclusion of the historical buildings of the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouses. The Yokohama Red Brick Warehouses are buildings that were created in the Meiji Era as bonded warehouses. Currently, the 1st floor is an exhibition space while the 2nd floor is used as a commercial facility, and the warehouses are tourist spots representing Minato Mirai. Along with World Porters and Landmark Tower, there are plenty of shopping facilities to enjoy, especially with the opening of Mark IS Minato Mirai in 2014 which is the largest shopping mall in the area. Fashion brand Uniqlo, which also enjoys popularity overseas, has the largest store in the prefecture. Also, Orbi Yokohama which is popular with kids and families is an entertainment-style museum. Labeled as the world’s first multi-sensory natural history museum, it has gained popularity through its videos and exhibitions co-produced by major video game developer SEGA and BBC EARTH of the UK. In addition, there are facilities for both children and adults such as the adjacent Cup Noodles Museum and the Anpanman Museum where you can have a full day of fun with the whole family, a special feature of Minato Mirai.
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Minato Mirai 21
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Minato Mirai 21
- Tours of Minato Mirai 21
4. Visit an aquarium island
(image by uload.wikimedia.org)
About 1 hour from Tokyo. This island in Tokyo Bay was first opened in 1993 as “Hakkeijima Sea Paradise”. There are 4 aquariums. The Aqua Museum is the symbol of Hakkeijima. The outstanding pyramid-roof aquarium displays 100,000 examples of sea life from 500 species. In the largest tank at the Aqua Museum, the nation’s largest school of 50,000 sardines is used in Super Iwashi Illusion. It’s a popular show in which the sardines dynamically race around while lit up by the tank lighting. At the Aqua Stadium, which can hold up to 2000 people, dolphins, sea lions, penguins and other animals can be seen at once performing in an exciting show. The Dolphin Fantasy is a magical aquarium with the theme of dolphins. There is no roof on the water tank, and you can view them from inside the tunnel. They can be seen on sunny or rainy days in conditions close to the natural sea, and it feels like taking a stroll on the bottom of the ocean.
The Fureai Lagoon is an aquarium where you can touch the sea animals. There is a program in which you can get a taste of being a trainer through touching the backs of dolphins and feeding them and there is also a program where you can swim with dolphins and whales (separate charge).
The Umi Farm is an aquarium whose purpose is to have visitors closely feel the environment of the ocean through the raising, harvesting and eating of sea life. Get the fish that you can eat and have it prepared for you. In the amusement park, there are attractions such as Japan’s first roller coaster to go partially above the water and the seaboats where dolphins swim nearby.
Admission: Adult: ¥ 5,050 / Child: ¥ 3,600
- Guidebook from Planetyze about Hakkeijima
- Reviews from TripAdvisor about Hakkeijima
- Tours of Hakkeijima
5. Design and create your own brand of Cup Noodle
(image by flickr.com)
The Cup Noodle Museum located by the Yokohama waterfront was built in commemoration of the 100th birthday of Ando, and since its opening in 2011, it has become a landmark in the Minato Mirai 21 area as a popular museum.
Creative Thinking is the concept behind the museum. The museum has been planned so that a visitor can comprehend the world of noodles that was expanded upon by Momofuku through the various exhibits as well as the psychology behind the importance of being creative and the venture. At the museum, there is a mockup of Momofuku’s work shed which was originally built during the poverty-stricken postwar era. Also, exhibits including the changes in the noodles handled by Momofuku and an autobiographical anime are displayed with a new worldview that has a pop art sensibility.
For those who are very curious, you can try out your own noodle making. At the Chicken Ramen Factory, you can make your own chicken ramen, the product that Momofuku first invented (reservations and fee required). In addition, at the My Cup Noodles Factory, you can produce your own Cup O’ Noodles from your choice of flavors and toppings (there is a fee and prior reservations are possible). The Cup Noodles Museum is an interactive museum for people of all ages to enjoy where you can see, touch, make and eat.
Admission: ¥ 500