Yokohama is situated just around an hour and a half, south of Tokyo, and makes the perfect next destination on a tour of Japan or even just a day trip depending on how long you have in this beautiful country. I was surprised to learn that Yokohama is actually the second largest city in Japan after Tokyo (I was thinking it would probably be Osaka). However this is probably due to the fact that it was the first port of Japan, and so became a melting pot of cultures, knowledge and development.
I spent an entire day exploring Yokohama, and then using it as a base I explored Kamakura the following day. Here’s a rundown of my itinerary in Yokohama which offered history, beauty, followed by a big steaming bowl of delicious vegan Ramen, at the Ramen Museum.
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- Visa – As a British National I was exempt from requiring a visa to visit Japan for less than 90 days, however, some nationalities will require a visa. For the most up to date information visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
- Immunisations – some are required, check out my go-to website for up to date information: https://nathnac.net
- Safety – Just like London, Yokohama is a very safe place to visit. You should use usual common sense, around protecting valuables to avoid pick-pocketers, and staying safe at night, but Japan is arguably one of the safest countries in the world.
- Currency – Japanese Yen
- Language – Japanese
I decided to make Yokohama my next destination on my 4-week tour, and also used it as a base for a day trip to Kamakura too. I took the efficient JR train from Tokyo to Yokohama, excitingly making first use of my trusty JR Pass! There are 3 rail options to choose from when using your JR Pass, take either the JR Tokaido Line, Yokosuka Line or the Narita Express. The journey takes around an hour to an hour and a half depending on where you are leaving from in Tokyo. I also had to take a short subway ride to get to my accommodation but in a distracted haze missed my stop! So don’t do that.
I stayed at the Hiromas Hostel in Yokohama, situated within the China Town district, the location was perfect, the hostel was clean, comfortable and very quiet. The staff were very helpful and stored my luggage before check-in, so as soon as I arrived mid-morning I started exploring.
Most attractions in Yokohama are within walking distance, and it was quite easy to navigate. The only time I needed to use public transport was when I visited the Ramen Museum as this is located just a 5-10 minute walk from the Shin-Yokohama Station. Yokohama and Shin-Yokohama, although sound very similar are actually around 8km apart so not within walking distance. You can get there using the subway or the JR lines depending on whether you have a pass or not.
I always love visiting China towns wherever I go, and the China Town in Yokohama is the largest in Japan and has approximately 500 Chinese restaurants, Chinese grocery stores and plenty of other shops standing side by side on the streets. Sadly when I visited I trawled the shops and restaurants for some vegan goodies but was met with confusion, and polite no’s as to my request. I could have devoured a gazillion vegan Chinese dumplings at this point but my rumbling stomach would have to wait.
I returned to China Town in the evening, not in the blind naivety that I would suddenly find vegan food, but just to admire the architecture and Chinese detail and design around the restaurants and shops, before heading back to my hostel.
After strolling through the China town district I headed to the harbour and was met with beautiful Yamashita Park. There were lots of different people enjoying the space including school children on their lunch breaks, and older people set up with their painting and drawing easels, admiring the port and its surroundings.
Situated in Tokyo Bay, not far from Osanbashi Pier, and in front of Yamashita Park, you’ll find Hiwaka Maru, a Japanese ocean liner that Yokohama Dock Company built for Nippon Yūsen Kabushiki Kaisha. The ship is now permanently docked and serves as a living museum to its visitors. Before the ship’s retirement, she played various roles, including luxury ocean liner, a hospital ship during the war, and a passenger ship to take the American personnel home after the war.
Now you can visit the ocean liner and tour the deck, cabins, art deco lounge areas, beautiful ceilings and stairways. Below deck, you’ll see staff accommodation, and deep down in the heart of the ship where the engines are housed. For up to date information on opening times and admissions visit the official website here.
Red Brick Warehouse
These buildings were formally the Customs Inspection House for Yokohama Bay’s shipping activities in the early 1920’s and were beautifully converted after around 9 years of restoration and renovation in 2002.
A popular area for families, students and couples, these buildings are now home to a selection of shops, boutiques cafes and restaurants, and the abundance of space outside is often open to events, like for example the tasty festival held in October, Oktoberfest! I also stopped for a great vegan lunch here at Cafe & Rotisserie, and enjoyed a refreshing salad, cold Sapporo beer and pasta pomodoro!
In the smaller red brick warehouse, there is an event space and also a handful of shops, one of which sold these plastic replica food items, which I saw in most of the restaurant windows in Japan. It’s quite odd to see them everywhere, the unity and perfection of the fake food models to indicate what’s on the menu, and even funnier to see it in a store where you can pick them up just like that and create your own little window display.
Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris Wheel
Head towards the cup Noodle Museum from here and you’ll come across the Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris Wheel. This Ferris wheel was built the same year as a certain someone (1989) and also features a giant clock in the middle (hence the name). It was built for the Yokohama Expo, and the outer diameter is 100 meters across, and the maximum number of passengers it can hold is 480 people, 60 gondolas run a full circle every 15 minutes. The Ferris wheel is illuminated at night, and every 15 minutes, the 60 spokes become fireworks, flowers, spirals and targets. As you can see there is also an amusement park just in front of the Ferris wheel too!
Cup Noodle Museum
If you visit Yokohama, definitely include the Cup Noodles Museum on your itinerary! It’s a really fun, interactive museum and kitchen, where after you’ve learnt about the history of the cup noodle, you’ll be able to create your very own unique cup design, followed by your very own handmade noodles! First of all though why even is there a cup noodle museum and what’s it all about? Well, it’s dedicated to the founder of the original cup noodle – Momofuku Ando.
Momofuku Ando is the inventor of Chicken Ramen, the world’s first instant ramen that revolutionized eating customs all over the world. The instant ramen was first invented in 1958 in Ando’s shed behind his home and continued to develop his recipe and procedures for making instant ramen. By 1971, the cup noodle hit the supermarkets, which by this point then transformed it into a global food and it was available all over the world.
At the Cup Noodle Museum, you’ll not only learn about the history of instant ramen, you’ll also get the opportunity to use the kitchens in the museum and produce your very own cup noodle, you’ll be kneading, spreading, steaming and seasoning the wheat flour and drying it with the flash frying method. Then once you’ve designed your very won unique cup noodle cup, select your favourite soup from among four varieties as well as four toppings from among 12 varieties! If you worked up a bit of an appetite and all that noodle making has left you feeling hungry, head to the Noodles Bazaar eight varieties of noodles that Momofuku Ando encountered during his travels in search of the origins of noodles.
Ōsanbashi Kokusai Kyakusen Terminal, more commonly known as Osanbashi Pier, s where international cruise ships dock when they visit Yokohama. The pier itself is quite spectacular, and it’s a great place to take a stroll or take a break, even if you’re not using the terminal it’s worthwhile visiting the pier, you’ll also find great views of Yokohama.
The original pier was built in 1894, but received a makeover in 2002, to incorporate walkways and green spaces, below the walking area there are boarding facilities, shops, restaurants and a hall for small exhibitions and events.
A little out of the way, but a must see if you’re in Yokohama, visit around dinner time and fill up on the best Ramen in town! The Ramen Museum was founded on March 6th, 1994 as the world’s first food-themed amusement par, so they know their business when it comes to Ramen! There are a total of nine ramen shops set up in the basement of the museum, which has been designed as a street-scape replication from the year 1958, Japan. It was in this year that the world’s first instant ramen was invented.
Here’s a glimpse of what it looks like inside, in the middle is the vending machine I had to use to order my vegan Ramen, although looking a little hesitant and confused the staff at the restaurant kindly came out to assist me.
This was my choice, ‘The king ramen for vegetarian. Soy Bean based soup and Chashu made from soy beans’, at Komurasaki. The Museum reception was very helpful in providing an information sheet which included details around vegetarian and vegan ramen options. There were around 5 options which I was pretty pleased with and finally settled on this bowl of creamy, filling, goodness.
Just before you reach the basement there is a small museum detailing the history around the invention of ramen, and as you enter as well as restaurants you can also walk around and find some small shops to purchase other Japanese snacks in too, if you fancy something sweet after dinner (which I almost always do!). There is also a schedule of events like live music, so check the timings and hang around to catch a show and a drink after you’ve filled up with Ramen.
There’s also a couple more locations to note which I didn’t get a chance to visit due to their location and travel time, The Sankeien Garden, and the Kirin Beer Factory. If you have more time though I’d recommend exploring these sights too! I hope you enjoyed this post, and it gave you some inspiration for your visit to Yokohama.
Have you already visited Yokohama? What have been your experiences so far? What’s the best things you’ve seen and done in this beautiful part of the world, share your experiences in the comments section below I’d love to hear about them!
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