The Best of Yokohama: Exploring Japan's Cosmopolitan Seaside

by Nana Young

Looking for things to do in Yokohama? We’ll be providing all of the insights you need for a fun and exciting visit to Japan’s cosmopolitan port city.

Discovering the Charms of Yokohama

Yokohama, Japan skyline at Minato-mirai at sunset.

Yokohama is the capital city of Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan. Located south of Tokyo, it has a land area of 437.38 kilometers square and a population of nearly 3.8 million people, making it the second largest city in the country by both area and population. It’s only a short train ride away from Tokyo Station.

Yokohama City started out as a small fishing village but gained global prominence after opening its port to foreign trade in 1859. It was one of the first Japanese cities to do that. The port grew to become a reliable harbor for exporting silk and importing technology to Japan. Today, it’s one of the most beautiful harbors in the world. 

Yokohama is considered by many people to be the country’’s most cosmopolitan city due to its role as a gateway linking the rest of the world to Japan. The silk and tea trades between China and Japan in the 1800s were the ideal illustration of their cosmopolitan nature. Many Chinese people settled in the Kannai district, creating a massive Chinatown.

Having such a rich history and industrial relevance is the reason millions of people visit Yokohama from all over the world every year. The city features several company headquarters, iconic landmarks, Western residences, gardens, museums, and shopping districts. With our help, you’ll never run out of things to do at Yokohama! 

Yokohama's Iconic Landmark: The Minato Mirai 21 Area

Bird's eye view from Yokohama landmark showing the Yokohama Bay and Cosmo world, at the near end, the famous amusement park in Yokohama city. Close to Yokohama Station

Minato Mirai 21 Area is a futuristic waterfront district in Yokohama, Japan, that serves as a business and tourism hub. If you’re planning a vacation in the city, this is the place to be. It’s located in the center of the city and easily connects to Kannai, Yamate, and other districts. Art exhibitions, luxury vacations at the Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu, music concerts, night illuminations, and cultural events are just a few of the many activities waiting for you in the Minato Mirai 21 Area. Below is a list of the best attractions in the district:

Yokohama Landmark located in the Minato Mirai 21 district of Yokohama. Close to shin Yokohama station

Yokohama Landmark Tower: Standing at 296.3 meters, this is ranked the third-tallest building in Japan. It contains a 5-star hotel (Yokohama Royal Park Hotel), offices, shops, restaurants, and more. Sky Garden is the name of the observatory on the 69th floor, which offers a panoramic view of Mount Fuji, Tokyo, and other places.


Giant ferris wheel Cosmo Clock 21 at the Cosmo World amusement park

Cosmo World amusement park: This is a theme park with lots of fun rides and great entertainment for kids and adults. It’s home to Clock 21, which used to be the world’s tallest ferris wheel until 1992.


Scenery of the exhibition hall of "PACIFICO YOKOHAMA". It is the world's largest international conference hall and exhibition hall.

Pacifico Yokohama: Once the main press conference center for the 2002 FIFA World Cup and now the main venue for musical concerts, Pacifico Yokohama is a futuristic convention and exhibition center. It hosted the Pokemon World Championships in 2023.

Historical Explorations: The Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse

Red Brick Warehouse with flowers at Red brick park in Yokohama, Japan

If you feel like learning some of Yokohama’s history as a port city, take a trip to the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse. It’s located along the shores of the Port of Yokohama in the Naka-ku district. The warehouse is a historical site that used to be the main shipping hub in Yokohama. Back then, hundreds of shipping boats were carried to the building daily for customs inspection. Unprocessed goods would be stored in the warehouse until they were up for inspection.

Today, the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse is a complex made up of two buildings, each three stories high. The first building is a cultural facility consisting of event venues for music concerts, competitions, art exhibitions, plays, and film festivals. The second building is a commercial building containing a shopping mall, a restaurant, and a balcony that serves as an observatory for viewing the harbor. The shopping mall is a fantastic place to buy fashion items, art, and crafts.

A Walk Through Nature: Sankeien Garden

A famous Japanese garden in called Sankeien in Yokohama Japan

Are you up for some beauty and tranquility? Yokohama’s Sankeien Garden is the place to be. It’s a traditional Japanese-style garden located in the Naka ward. The garden has all of the attributes of a traditional Japanese green space, consisting of water, plants, rocks, and ornamental flowers. A walk through Sankeien Garden will reveal several historic buildings. Some of them were constructed as far back as the 15th century. The most famous of these buildings are the daimyo (powerful Japanese magnates and feudal lords) residence, the pagoda of the Tomyoji Temple in Kyoto, and historic tree houses. Other notable attractions are the seasonal flowers, ponds, and rivers. Hara Sankei constructed Sankeien Garden, which debuted in 1904. Since then, it has served as a peaceful escape for local and foreign tourists in Yokohama.

Culinary Adventures: Yokohama's Chinatown

Yokohama's Chinatown district at night. It is the largest Chinatown in Japan. Experience Chinese Culture there!

Earlier, we mentioned how foreign trade led to the creation of a Chinese settlement in Yokohama. If you’re in the city, one of the best things to do is to visit the vibrant and colorful Yokohama Chinatown. It’s by far the largest in Japan. However, there are only two others in the country: Nagasaki Chinatown and Kobe Chinatown. Located in the Kannai district, Yokohama Chinatown has an area of roughly 700 meters square and is home to 2,000 Chinese immigrants.

There are over 500 stores and restaurants on the streets, which also host a variety of Chinese festivals. Business buildings outnumber residential ones, signifying the town’s affinity for commerce. However, if you find yourself in Yokohama Chinatown, your main focus should be on enjoying the plethora of dining options available. Shops, food stands, and restaurants offer meals ranging from street food to gourmet Chinese cuisine. Ask for some ramen noodles, manju (steamed buns), mensen (oyster noodle soup), kuro goma an iri shiratama (rice dumplings filled with sesame), or age goma dango (fried sesame).

Maritime Wonders: The Yokohama Port Museum and Nippon Maru

The Nippon Maru is a Japanese museum ship and former training vessel. She is permanently docked in Yokohama harbor, in Nippon Maru Memorial Park.

Founded in 1989 as the Yokohama Maritime Museum, the Yokohama Port Museum was renovated and renamed in 2009. It’s an establishment dedicated to preserving the timeless history of Yokohama’s port. The museum’s exhibition area is divided into two sections: History Zone and Rediscovery Zone. The History Zone holds exhibits related to vital periods since the port’s opening in 1859. The Rediscovery Zone focuses on interactive displays that showcase historic port construction, operations, and transportation.

Both adults and kids will enjoy the dioramas, models, and simulators available at the museum to help improve engagement. It also contains a cafe and a souvenir shop. One of the most fascinating sights at this cafe happens to be the view of the nearby Nippon Maru.

The Nippon Maru is a museum ship. That’s right, it’s a sailing ship that has been permanently docked in the city’s harbor and converted into a maritime museum. In the past, Nippon Maru served as a place to train Japanese merchant marine officers. In wartime, she played a temporary role as a transport motorship.

Shopping and Leisure: Yokohama's Shopping Districts

As a foreign trade hub, it’s only natural that Yokohama has a vast shopping scene. There are several shopping districts in the city, many of which are famous for their specialty stores and boutiques. The best part about these markets is that they don’t just cater to the locals but also sell goods that foreigners would love to buy. We’ve curated a list to guide you through the four best shopping districts in Yokohama:


Motomachi Shopping Street. It is a classic shopping street with many brand name products and nearby is the Chinatown area

Motomachi: Founded in 1859, this district has been a major trading center since the opening of the Yokohama port. Motomachi Shopping Street contains countless boutiques, fashion stores, and cafes. We recommend the Union supermarket in the district if you’re looking for local products.


Cityscape of Yokohama, Minato mirai 21 colorful lighting from building in twilight

Minato Mirai 21: This is the shopping capital of the city. It holds a wide variety of commercial buildings, such as the shopping mall in Building No. 2 of the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, the hundreds of stores in Yokohama World Porters’ massive indoor mall, the trendy boutiques of Marine & Walk, and the big brand stores of Queen's Square. 


Yokohama Station surroundings

Minamisaiwai: Massively underrated but ever-reliable, this district has a bustling shopping scene. You can find upscale items at the Takashimaya department store. The two mega malls, Mores and Sogo, are the ideal places to buy trendy fashion items and accessories. Minamisaiwai is also home to a Bic Camera store, where you’ll find quality electronics and home appliances.


Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum was founded on March 6th, 1994 as the world's first food-themed amusement park.

Shin-Yokohama: This district is arguably the best place to get ramen in the entire country, thanks to the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum. This museum is dedicated to Japan’s historic and modern ramen dishes, allowing visitors to view and buy at will. On foot, the museum is less than 10 minutes away from Shin-Yokohama Station.

Cultural Insights: The Yokohama Museum of Art

The Yokohama Museum of Art is another cultural landmark in the Minato Mirai 21 district. The museum is home to the works of some of the biggest local and international artists to ever live. Picasso, René Magritte, Paul Cézanne, Shimomura Kanzan, Yokoyama Taikan, and Dali are only a few of the iconic names in the collection.

The Yokohama Museum of Art contains seven galleries. However, only four of them are used for permanent exhibitions of modern and contemporary art. The rest showcase temporary collections. The entire museum building is an architectural wonder designed by Kenzo Tange, winner of the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 1987.

Family Fun: Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise

Panoramic night view of the amusement park of the yokohama hakkeijima sea paradise with the illuminated attractions of the Sea Paradise Tower and Surf Coaster Leviathan

There are a few amusement parks in the city, but none of them combine thrilling rides with marine life exhibits like the Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise. The park sits on top of a small island in Yokohama Bay. It sees more visitors than many of the other parks in the city and the rest of Japan. Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise consists of three main sections. The first is the park area, which is free to enter and houses stores and restaurants.

The second section is Aqua Resorts. This is where people pay to visit different kinds of aquariums. You get to watch all sorts of sea creatures in their natural environments. The third and final section is Pleasure Land, where kids and adults can enjoy thrilling rides.

Architectural Marvels: The Yokohama Bay Bridge

Baybridge at Yokohama harbor in Japan

Whether you're a fan of modern architecture or not, one can’t help but marvel at the engineering wonder that is the Yokohama Bay Bridge. It offers spectacular views of the city and bay, especially at night when the illumination of 264 light bulbs adds a surreal aura to the atmosphere. Lights from the city also enhance the magic of the views. The bridge was created in 1989 and has played a major role in transportation and logistics within the city. During your stay in Yokohama, you may find yourself on it several times. It connects Honmoku Pier and Daikoku Pier.

Seasonal Events: Yokohama's Festivals and Celebrations

Fireworks celebrating over marina bay in Yokohama City, Japan

The city has a rich calendar of events and festivals, ranging from international festivals to cultural celebrations that light up the city. Below is a list of the best seasonal events in Yokohama.

  1. Kanagawa Shimbun Fireworks Festival (July or August): Every year around Rinko Park, there’s an explosive display of around 15,000 rockets lighting up the night sky. 

  2. Chinese Spring Festival (January or February): The people of Yokohama Chinatown fully acknowledge and celebrate the Chinese New Year, also known as the Chinese Spring Festival. The event features religious offerings at the Kwan Tai Temple, lion and dragon dance performances, and colorful parades.

  3. Yokohama Sparkling Twilight (Mid-July): This two-day event features a wild display of over 3,000 fireworks. Throughout the city, there’re festival food stalls, music shows, other live performances, ship parades, and processions of portable shrines (mikoshi). The main venue is Yamashita Park, where the parade of ships begins.

  4. Paella and Tapas Festival (Mid-April): This is the largest festival dedicated to Spanish food in Japan. It’s a three-day event that includes a voting competition for the best paella and tapas. Entry is free but you may have to pay to sample some of the seafood.

  5. Yokohama Jazz Promenade (Early-October): The entire city of Yokohama turns into a musical stage when the event begins. The main features are the live performances by over 2,000 musicians on the streets or at bars and jazz clubs. 

Sports and Recreation: Yokohama's Sporting Life

Nissan Stadium

Yokohama’s vibrant sporting culture makes it the perfect place to enjoy outdoor recreational activities. You can go for an early morning jog at recreational areas like Yamashita Park, Negishi Forest Park, and Rinko Park. Feel like driving some watercraft? The Yokohama Bay Side Marina has 1,500 boats and yachts. There’s an ice skating rink at the Shin-Yokohama Skate Center and a swimming pool at Nissan Water Park. Perhaps you simply want to enjoy watching some sports. In that case, the Nissan Stadium hosts some of Japan’s biggest football and rugby matches.

Relaxation and Views: The Yokohama Sky Garden

Panoramic views in Yokohama Landmark Tower, Minato Mirai district. Observatory, Sky Garden at 69th floor with view of Yokohama skyline

Earlier in this post, we mentioned how Yokohama Landmark Tower’s observation deck, the Sky Garden, offers panoramic views of the city and beyond. This is one of the best things to do in Yokohama. The experience begins with a quick ride on Japan’s fastest elevator, which takes you up to the 69th floor of the tower. On the observation deck, you can see a large chunk of the city, including the Yokohama Marine Tower, and on a clear day, you’ll see Mt. Fuji. The views are especially breathtaking at night.

Yokohama, A City of Diversity and Dynamism

Yokohama Tides - April Theme for Snack Box Subscription

Yokohama's appeal as a diverse and dynamic city will continue to attract visitors from all nations in the world. The heavy Western influence on the city makes it a must-visit for people in the US and Europe.

If you can’t make it to Yokohama anytime soon, you can still treat yourself and your loved ones to a taste of the port city thanks to Bokksu Boutique. We offer a variety of authentic snack gifts and souvenirs from the famous Japanese city, such as the Yokohama Bashamichi Millefeuille Gift Set and Arare Set. But that’s not all! How about a monthly supply of the finest artisanal treats from the city? Our Bokksu Subscription Theme for April is Yokohama Tides, and it features a box filled with authentic rice crackers, pies, local tea, chocolate, and lots more!

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