25 Jun 2015

Yokohama is the second biggest city in Japan, and only a stones throw from Tokyo. A well developed port city located in Tokyo bay, you are sure to find plenty to do on your Yokohama trip. From Japan's biggest Chinatown, an aquarium, beautiful gardens, and even the famous Cup Noodle Museum! These attractions will make your trip to Yokohama a memorable one:

Yokohama Chinatown

Five Impressive Attractions in Yokohama

(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.

Admission: Free

Guidebook from Planetyze about Yokohama Chinatown
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Yokohama Chinatown
Tours of Yokohama Chinatown

Sankei-en Garden

Five Impressive Attractions in Yokohama

(image by upload.wikimedia.org)

In 1906 Yokohama, Sankei Hara, who was successful in the raw silk trade, established the ideal garden on a huge site of 17.5 hectares. Old buildings from cities such as Kyoto and Kamakura were transported, and a total of 17 structures were carefully placed in consideration of the land’s natural topography. Of these buildings, 10 have been recognized as National Important Cultural Properties while 3 have been recognized as Yokohama Tangible Cultural Properties. The natural scenery and the formative art born from the Japanese architecture placed there evoke a beauty that can only be found at this garden.

Sankei-en suffered wartime damage following the death of the founder, and the Hara family donated the garden to the city of Yokohama afterwards. It is now maintained by the Sankei Hosho Foundation, and following its postwar recovery, it was recognized as a National Historic Site in 2006 and is continuing to attract visitors with its unchanging beauty. Sankei-en is not just limited to the picturesque scenery of its landscape gardening or the beauty of its buildings as National Important Cultural Properties, but it also has the highlight of its changing scenery through the flowers of the four seasons. There are the cherry blossoms of spring, the irises of summer, the foliage of autumn, the quintessentially Japanese scene of winter, and camellia. How about spending a day getting a sense of the original beauty of Japan at this Japanese garden which has its own distinctive expressions depending on the season. In particular, the evening illumination of the springtime cherry blossoms lends a mystical air which explains its annual popularity.

Admission: Adult: ¥ 500 / Child: ¥ 200

Guidebook from Planetyze about Sankei-en Garden 
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Sankei-en Garden
Tours of Sankei-en Garden

Cup Noodle Museum

Five Impressive Attractions in Yokohama

(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

Guidebook from Planetyze about Cup Noodle Museum
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Cup Noodle Museum
Tours of Cup Noodle Museum

Yokohama Hakkeijima 

Five Impressive Attractions in Yokohama

(image by machi-photo.net)

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  

Osanbashi Pier

Five Impressive Attractions in Yokohama

Since its opening in 1859, it has developed into an international port linking Japan with other countries. Osanbashi was born in the 19th century which signified the end of the Edo Era and the beginnings of modernization and internationalization but was damaged during the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. Despite its reconstruction in 1925, the times took Japan into war, and the pier underwent a lot of turbulent periods such as the Second World War after which it was taken over by the Allies. Afterwards, with Japan entering a period of high economic growth from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, there was a plan for the international terminal to achieve high functionality, and so it was developed once again to regain prominence.  

In 1975, the Queen Elizabeth II entered the pier for the first time, and so it was reaffirmed as a port of call for luxury liners. Moreover, in 1989, undergoing major renovations, the current Osanbashi international passenger terminal was completed. The pier naturally handles both domestic and overseas cruise liners, and is a relaxation area for the local citizens with a restaurant and café. It has become well-liked as an international passenger terminal that isn’t just for passengers but also for city residents with events such as weekend concerts.

Osanbashi Pier is a visual highlight with the concept of a garden port that was designed by England-based architects Alejandro Zaera-Polo and Farshid Moussavi. The 2nd floor has facilities such as the lobby with an information booth, ticket office, waiting lounge, Customs & Immigration and quarantine inspection. As well, there is a hall which can be utilized for many purposes along with commercial facilities and a restaurant. On the 3rd floor, there is wood decking all over with grass. Filled with an open and wide feeling, the novel design which evokes that feeling of nature hints at a park that is on the water. During holidays, the plaza is filled with local residents relaxing while viewing ships coming into port, and there are especially many sightseers there to catch the sight of large passenger ships going in and out.  

The terminal can be accessed for free by everybody and the rooftop plaza is open 24 hours a day, so it’s great to spend time there to see the nightscape. From the plaza, you can have a good view of the Minato Mirai 21 area and Yokohama Bay Bridge. It’s also great to spend time at the café or restaurant while seeing the glittering scenery. At Osanbashi, which has been nicknamed “Kujira-no-Senaka” (The Whale’s Back) by the locals, spend a day there leisurely viewing the ships and enjoying the scenery of the Yokohama waterfront. 

Admission: Free

Guidebook from Planetyze about Osanbashi Pier
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Osanbashi Pier
Tours of Osanbashi Pier

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