“Over 200 years of closed borders makes 2.5 years seem like nothing, right?” ~ Alyse.
With its sprawling bridge, sail-shaped building reflecting into the water, old brick warehouses, intricate Chinatown structures and harbour breeze, they say my hometown of Sydney, Australia is the most beautiful port city in the world. I’m a little biased, so I have to agree!
But wait… You’re here because you’re wondering about the remarkable things to do in Yokohama Japan – aren’t you? Well dear reader, you are certainly in the right place!
While I discovered there are a few similarities between Sydney and Yokohama, I realised for a relatively compact city, Japan’s equivalent packs a MUCH larger punch. In my opinion, there are so many fun attractions in Yokohama to enjoy that it leaves Sydney for dust.
Just 30 minutes from central Tokyo, beautiful Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture is certainly worth adding to your Japan itinerary. While most people visit as one of the day trips from Tokyo, I decided to dig deeper beneath the surface and discovered there is much more than meets the eye. It’s certainly worth spending a night, or even two.
As well as the fun daytime attractions, if you’re hoping to be inspired by the many things to do in Yokohama at night and reap the benefits of exploring after the sun sets, read on for more!
This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Is Yokohama worth visiting?
In short, yes, I believe Yokohama is absolutely worth visiting, especially for those interested in Japan’s history with foreign traders.
If you weren’t aware, Japan was closed off to the outside world for over 200 years under the Tokugawa Shogunate, and Yokohama played a large role in its reopening in the 19th century.
Admittedly, I’d overlooked what was right under my nose for a number of years, but more recently Yokohama piqued my interest. Now that I’ve finally visited I’m pleased to report there is much more here than meets the eye, which you’re about to find out!
Rather than a quick Yokohama day trip, there is enough here to easily spend 2 or even 3 days if you wish, so I recommend staying in the city’s heart. It also makes a romantic day out, so I’ve included Yokohama in my Japan honeymoon itinerary.
Remarkable things to do in Yokohama during the day
Wondering where to go in Yokohama? When it first opened its international port to foreign trade in 1859, Yokohama was visited by merchants from the West and mainly Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Those who chose to settle in Japan were required to live in designated areas, and you’ll find plenty of evidence of these times throughout Yokohama today.
Blending the modern with the old, as Japan does so well, there are also many new and fun Yokohama things to do, too! Let’s look at the best of the best during the day.
CUPNOODLES Museum: One of the most amazing Yokohama attractions
The CUPNOODLES Museum is definitely one of the most exciting Yokohama tourist spots, and to me one of the reasons why this city is one of the most fun places to visit in Japan!
Spread across five floors, this fun and interactive museum aims to spark creativity in young and old. I left feeling so inspired and amazed by the history of the humble instant ramen.
Taking each visitor on a journey through the painstaking development of instant ramen by its creator Momofuku Ando, the museum features interactive displays from its early trial-and-error days in his work shed in the 1950’s to global sensation some two decades later (he even developed ramen that can be eaten in space!)
I was blown away when I entered the first room, Instant Noodles History Cube, with hundreds of different kinds of Cup Noodles packaging on display from 1958 (when the original Chicken Ramen was first invented). An impressive time capsule!
NOTE: The majority of verbiage is in Japanese. There is limited English, however I used the camera function in Google translate on my phone to read what I couldn’t understand. There is also a short movie presentation in cartoon form, also only in Japanese but it’s fine to undertstand what’s going on.
TIP: The Cup Noodles Museum can be completed in about 1.5 hours and also includes two factories to customise your OWN cup of instant ramen and eat it later – don’t worry, you can place it in a bubble carry bag for safekeeping!
NOTE: Remember to check their website directly for closure dates. Usually closed on Tuesdays and at other random days, it’s worth working your trip around it.
Get up close to a giant robot at the Gundam Factory
One of the many things Japan is famous for is robots, so why not get up close and personal with a moving 18 metre tall one?
Weighing in at a whopping 25 tonnes, this larger-than-life robot is based on the Gundam anime franchise and has 24 moving parts. Seeing him slowly lurching forward out of his tower is a remarkable sight!
TIP: This is a very popular attraction with locals and tickets do sell out, so if this is something you’d like to see tickets go on sale a month prior. There are tickets for the Gundam Factory on its own and Gundam Factory + Dock Tower Viewing. More info here.
Eat your way around Yokohama Chinatown
While Sydney bears the title for home of the largest Chinatown in the Southern Hemisphere, Yokohama holds the title for the largest in all of Asia! Did you even visit Yokohama if you skipped this fantastic enclave?
I noticed there were many flags for Taiwan and Hong Kong on display, so for lunch I bought some delicious Golden Taiwanese Chicken from one of the street vendors, it was so crunchy and delicious – not oily at all!
Along the streets you’ll see plenty of Chinese, Cantonese and Taiwanese quick bites such as candied strawberries on sticks, steamed or boiled dumplings, boba tea and barbequed (char sui) pork.
The area itself is known to locals as Chukagai, with Chukagai-Odori the main street lined with Chinese restaurants and eateries.
My favourite were these hot filled buns with animal faces. As mentioned in my guide to ramen in Shibuya, I don’t even like pork but these buns were absolutely delectable as well as cute! The panda was filled with chocolate, the perfect Chinatown dessert.
TIP: Remember to respect the do’s and don’ts in Japan and sit down somewhere to eat (not walk around eating).
Count all the Yokohama Chinatown Gates
Scattered throughout its narrow streets are ten intricately decorated Chinese gates, each proudly showcasing symbolism from Chinese culture that is shared with Japan in the form of dragons, lion-dogs and traditional painted patterns.
Some of the notable gates are:
- Choyomon East Gate (Sunrise Gate)
- Suzakumon South Gate (Vermilion Bird of the South)
- Enpeimon West Gate (Long Peace Gate)
- Genbumon North Gate (Genbu, the Black Tortoise of the North)
- Zenrinmon (Good Neighbour Gate).
Admire the intricate beauty of Chinatown’s Temples
With their spectacular displays of intricate craftsmanship, the two major temples of Chinatown will blow fellow architecture lovers away.
A scent of incense fills the air at Kuan Ti Miao (Kanteibyo), which was initially established by a single Chinese settler 1862. Believed to bring prosperity in business, learning and exams, the temple is dedicated to the Jade Emperor, the ruler of Heaven and Earth in Chinese mythology.
Formally named Ma Zhu Miao but known to locals as Masobyo, three layers of intricate tiles adorn the entrance to the second temple. Dedicated to the goddess of the sea, Masobyo was actually opened in 2006 and is popular amongst locals who wish for safe journeys when travelling.
Explore Noge, the “Yanaka Ginza” of Yokohama
Scents of sweet soy sauce wafted through the air as I walked through the cluttered, paved streets of Noge. Known colloquially as the Yanaka Ginza of Yokohama, this retro neighbourhood oozes Showa-era charm (1926 – 1989).
Unlike the nearby Minato Mirai area, Noge managed to escape redevelopment in the 1980’s. It’s likened to the Yanaka area of Tokyo due to its triangular arches dotted along the streets of jazz clubs, eateries, bars and restaurants.
If you enjoy nightlife, Noge is the place to be – more on this down the page!
Admire the size of Yokohama Landmark Tower
Directly outside Sakuragichō Station is the massive Landmark Tower Yokohama 横浜ランドマークタワー. Aptly named, it can be seen from many points throughout the city and is great to help you get your bearings!
At almost 300 metres tall, the tower has been constructed in such a way to withstand earthquakes. Ironically, it uses a similar design as ancient wooden pagodas that have literally stood the test of time against the inevitable. This tower, much like its pagoda counterparts, will move and sway in an earthquake to prevent collapse.
Occupying 20 floors of this building is the Yokohama Royal Park Hotel, and there is also a Sky Garden and an observatory on the 69th floor with sweeping views over Yokohama.
See an early Showa-era ship, Nippon Maru
Measuring 97 metres in length and her tall masts towering over the harbour below, the almost century-old Nippon Maru ship is permanently docked beside Nippon Maru Memorial Park.
Built in 1930, Nippon Maru was used as a marine training ship and sailed 11,000+ cadets across the world in her days. She was retired in 1984 and is now open to the public to explore her polished wooden decks and discover what sea life was like during her era.
At twelve seemingly random days throughout the year, volunteers unfurl her 34 white sails for a Full-Sail exhibition and visitors can learn more at the adjacent Yokohama Port Museum within Nippon Maru Memorial Park (cost: 800 yen).
Her prominent position beside the Landmark Tower and Sakuragichō Station is the perfect nod to the city’s maritime history.
Discover underground murals hiding in plain sight
Why have a regular boring wall when you can decorate it with icons from the city? Keep your eyes peeled within Sakuragichō & Yokohama Stations for vibrant ceramic murals depicting ships, colonial-era buildings, modern landmarks and even Mt Fuji.
Sun and Child as well as Poem of Yokohama are others to look out for. Popular local baseball team, Yokohama Dena Baystars, even have their own mural inside Yokohama Station. Mural hunting is one of many free things to do in Yokohama, of course!
Find ruins of former settlement buildings
Want to know some of the lesser-known Yokohama sightseeing spots? Dotted throughout the city are remnants of old settlement buildings that were destroyed during the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, measuring 7.9 magnitude and an estimated 140,000 people lost their lives.
During the late 19th century, many buildings in the port city of Yokohama were influenced by French, Dutch and British architectural styles using brick and mortar. Unfortunately though, these designs did not fare well under Japanese seismic conditions and many were turned to rubble during the earthquake.
Some notable ruins are:
- Site of the former French Consulate, a decorative stone medallion from the building was salvaged.
- Former Yokohama Settlement Building No.48 in the Naka area.
- There is a cluster of French buildings on Harbour View Park’s Observatory (Minato-no-Mieru-Oka Koen). Covered in ivy and other climbing plants, nature has slowly been creeping back and is reclaiming what’s left of these structures.
TIP: Most of the signage that accompanies these former settlement buildings do not have English descriptions. You can use the camera in the Google Translate app to translate the text in real-time. Some could say these are Yokohama hidden gems, albeit hiding in plain sight.
Spot the famous Yokohama Bay Bridge
Its twin triangular-shaped suspension structure an icon of the city, Yokohama Bay Bridge 横浜ベイブリッジ is a must-see when visiting Yokohama.
Relatively new in the city, Yokohama Bay Bridge was opened in 1989 and stretches a whopping 860 metres, making it the longest suspension bridge in Japan. The 6-lane expressway across the bridge is a vital artery between Yokohama and Tokyo.
TIP: The best places to view it unobstructed are from Yamashita Park and Harbour View Park.
TIP: If you’re in the mood for a stroll, you can walk across the bridge via an undercover walkway called the Skywalk. From its observatory, Mt Fuji can be seen on a clear day!
Take in a birds-eye view of the city at Yokohama Marine Tower
A symbol of the area and former lighthouse, Yokohama Marine Tower was built in 1961 to commemorate the then 100th anniversary of the Port of Yokohama opening.
It’s recognised by the Lover’s Sanctuary Selection Committee as a “power spot” for couples (yes, this is a thing in Japan).
Built in a decagonal lattice structure, did you know the current silver appearance used to be international orange and white colour blocks, just like Tokyo Tower?
Be immersed in a sea of flowers at Yamashita Park
Absolutely stunning and awash with flowers during the summer months, Yamashita Park is a beautiful place to relax or take a stroll in Yokohama.
Its position directly opposite the harbour allows for stunning waterfront views! You’ll spot Hikawa Maru docked nearby, a ship built in 1930 that sailed the North Pacific Ocean. In 2016 it was made into a museum.
The Future Rose Garden is especially beautiful with dozens of varieties on display. With rose arches lining its winding paved pathways, the nearby English Garden is full of various flower beds surrounding two colonial-era buildings.
TIP: See if you can find the Stone Stage (what I call the “Parc Guell” steps)! It starts with a strange stone-faced lizard/frog/piranha thing decorated in tile mosaic.
Step back in time at the Yamate Historic Western Houses
Remember earlier I mentioned foreigners used to be restricted to living and working in certain areas of the city?
Perched on a hill In the Yamate area of Yokohama is a row of colonial-era buildings that were once inhabited by wealthy European and American settlers such as diplomats and merchants.
Built in Western style in the late 19th century, stroll past the well-maintained grounds of the properties known as the Diplomat’s House, Bluff No. 18, Berrick Hall, Ehrismann Residence, Bluff No. 234, British House Yokohama, and Bluff No. 11. More info on each here.
TIP: The properties reminded me a lot of the residential architecture in Wellington, New Zealand.
Visit the Yokohama Foreign Cemetery
Land once negotiated by Matthew C. Perry (19th century commodore, not the actor from Friends) when Japan decided to reopen to American trading vessels in 1854, the Yokohama Foreign Cemetery was a dedicated burial area for foreign settlers at the time.
Formerly the site of Zotokuin Temple, marble headstones amongst the leafy surrounds here have some of the most elevated views of the city. From here Motomachi Park is a short stroll.
Hunt for souvenirs in boutiques along Motomachi Shopping Street
Over time evolving into a shopping and business area for foreign settlers, the elegant Motomachi area is a great place to pick up some local souvenirs today.
Covering five blocks, Motomachi features some lovely Western-stlye buildings with stores selling jewellery, fashion, antiques, chocolates, variety goods, as well as cafes to rest and recharge.
Ride the giant ferris wheel at Cosmo World
Do you love amusement parks and rides? A modern icon of Yokohama’s skyline, the 112-metre high ferris wheel belongs to Yokohama Cosmo World amusement park and is one of the fun things to do in Yokohama with family.
Located in Minato Mirai, Cosmo World is known for a rollercoaster that encircles the massive ferris wheel (Cosmo Clock 21) and plunges into an underground tunnel that splashes water on passengers.
Divided into sections for young children to adults, it’s free to enter, and you can pay for the rides as you go via ticket machines.
One afternoon at my hotel, I watched the rollercoaster for ages and heard the screams of riders as they passed under the water!
TIP: The Cosmo Clock 21 ferris wheel was the largest in the entire world until 2014.
TIP: At night, the ferris wheel transforms into something spectacular. More on this down the page!
Souvenir shop at Yokohama’s largest gift store
Located in the heart of Chinatown, Yokohama Hakurankan Market is the city’s largest themed gift store and a great place to pick up some souvenirs for loved ones (or even for yourself!)
You’ll find beautifully packaged Yokohama-themed products such as biscuits, cookies, tea, and a range of snacks. The store is also full of small trinkets such as keychains, soft toys and the like.
Enjoy a treat at the Red Brick Warehouse
This is one of the main things to see in Yokohama. Once the formal Customs Inspections House for Yokohama Bay in the 1920’s, today’s lengthy 3-storey Red Brick Warehouse (Aka-Renga Soko) has been converted into a haven of 60 stores including popular restaurants, cafes and event spaces.
Located right beside the bay, its front square is a prime spot for various events throughout the year: A beer festival in October, Christmas Market and ice rink during the winter months and concerts throughout summer.
TIP: Take a look at the nearby Pukarisanbashi Pier, a ferry and cruise passenger terminal built in Western style and includes a floating restaurant on its second floor. It has amazing views over the harbour and Yokohama Bay Bridge.
TIP: You may notice a huge circular walkway above Kokusai Odori and Bankokubashi Dori streets on the way from Minato Mirai area to the Red Brick Warehouse. This is the Sinko Circle and reminds me of a Meccano set. Walking around it can be a bit of a detour but it has some nice elevated views of the city.
Amazing and unique things to do in Yokohama at night
So, what to do in Yokohama at night? Once the day trippers have gone and the sun sinks beneath the horizon, a different side of the city emerges. This is why I recommend staying longer so you can fully enjoy these places to visit in Yokohama at night.
See Yokohama from the water on a harbour dinner cruise
I met an ojisan (grandfather) from Yokohama on my visit to Fujinomiya, and he highly recommended I do a harbour dinner cruise. Unfortunately I ran out of time during this trip, however it’s high on my list for next time! Book your harbour cruise here.
Hitch a ride on the Air Cabin at dusk
Opened in April 2021, the Yokohama Air Cabin is Japan’s first urban gondola ride. These gondolas appear to be quite close to the road below, and I didn’t realise they’re lit up in different pretty colours at night!
Catch it from the building opposite Sakuragichō station and it will float you across the bay to Unga Park. The views over the Minato Mirai area from this would be incredible, especially at dusk! Cost: 1,000 yen and open from 10:00 – 21:00.
Enjoy the night illuminations of Mirato Mirai
No visit to Yokohama would be complete without seeing the stunning night illuminations on buildings throughout Minato Mirai.
Remember earlier I mentioned the Cosmo Clock 21 ferris wheel transforms into something interesting? It literally becomes a giant analogue clock at night, complete with light-up 60 second marks.
Every 15 minutes, the ferris wheel becomes a spectacular display of animated LED lights, transitioning into different patterns and designs. It’s truly impressive, and I’d argue the best spot to view it is from your balcony at the Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu!
Have fun at the Art Space of Yokohama Marine Tower
On the 30th floor observation deck of Yokohama Marine Tower, there is an art space and media gallery that looks like a miniature version of teamLab Planets!
With colourful light animations projecting onto the glass, it closes at 10:30pm so there is plenty of time to see the city illuminated from here.
Make sure to revisit Chinatown at night
Now this is something people who only do a day trip to Yokohama would miss out on, and I think it’s just so lovely to explore Chinatown again all lit up at night.
It’s a lovely atmosphere, although a little quiet during my visit without foreign tourists. Don’t miss the gorgeous Ichiba-dori with its lengthy strings of lanterns, it’s a sight to behold. And enjoy dinner here, with some of the best food in Yokohama!
Go bar hopping in Noge
With over 600 drinking establishments crammed into the Noge area, it would be very cool to enjoy at night! Noge Alley, the narrow curved street mentioned earlier, is lined with lively izakaya (pubs) and is perfect for bar hopping.
Unfortunately I was too exhausted at the end of my trip for this, but would definitely suggest it to you’re a fellow pub culture lover. Just note that smoking is still allowed inside many of these places, there are signs that indicate so.
TIP: When exiting Sakuragichō station on the Noge side (also considered Yokohama old town), don’t forget to turn back behind you to see the famous clown face sign!
More places to visit in Yokohama city
Extending your stay? You’ll have more time for these places in Yokohama:
- Sankeien-in Gardens 三溪園 – Once a private residence for a wealthy silk merchant, these traditional Japanese gardens exude beauty in all seasons and feature cultural significant properties. Cost: 700 yen. More about the garden here, and buy entry tickets in advance here.
- Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum – Can’t get enough of ramen? This food-amusement park was the world’s first in 1994 and you can try ramen from different regions of Japan.
- Kirin Beer Factory – Take a guided tour of the factory not just for beer-making, but for Kirin’s whiskeys and soft drinks. Learn about the ingredients and fermentation process before tasting. More here.
- Yokahama Stadium – If you love baseball, you may want to catch a game here and support the local Yokohama Baystars!
- Kanagawa Shimbun Fireworks Festival – You may have heard about this summer event, however it has not occurred since 2017 (there is old info out there).
How to get from Tokyo to Yokohama
You may be wondering how long is the train ride from Tokyo to Yokohama? It can be reached in around 25 – 45 minutes depending on which Tokyo neighbourhood is your starting point.
Your Suica (IC) card will work outside of Tokyo and this includes the metro in Yokohama. The Japan Rail Pass will cover any journeys on JR train lines.
- From Tokyo Station – 25 mins on the JR Ueno-Tokyo line
- From Shibuya Station – 30 mins on the JR Shonan-Shinjuku line
- From Shinjuku Station – 35 mins on the JR Shonan-Shinjuku line
- From Minato (Hamamatsuchō Station) – 35 mins on the JR Keihin-Tohoku line
- From Ueno Station – 35 mins on the JR Ueno-Tokyo line
- From Asakusa Station – 45 mins on the Keikyu Asakusa Line Rapid-Limited Express line.
Concluding these interesting Yokohama things to do in one or two days
So there you have it with my massive guide to the many Yokohama things to do! While I had some expectations about the city of Yokohama prior to my visit, I was surprised how many similarities it had to Sydney, Australia.
After I left Yokohama, couldn’t help but feel as though the majority of tourists skim over the surface of this fascinating port city. As you can see, there is much more to see than just Chinatown Yokohama and Minato Mirai!
After scouring the internet for a collection of the exciting things to in Yokohama and being disappointed with the results, I wanted to create the most comprehensive Yokohama travel guide to help visitors explore and understand more about the history and melding of cultures here.
Now you know what to do in Yokohama Japan, I hope you thoroughly enjoy your visit! What do you wish to see? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time,
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