Consider as Japan’s second largest city and located half an hour away from the popular capital, Yokohama is everything that I wanted a city to be. It has the cosmopolitan vibe of Tokyo and the suburb charmed of other Kanagawa Prefecture cities; a place with enough attractions for tourist and yet does not feel like you need to rush to see everything, often crowded during weekends and still with enough space to let you breathe. A charming city popular as a dating place for couples of any age and based on the few locals that I have met so far, they love Yokohama and proud to call it their home .
Navigating Yokohama main attraction is fairly easy with some even opting to walk around. With main attractions conveniently clustered in one place and within easy to reach distance, a one day tour is recommended via the very cheap Akaikatsu Loop Bus (proceed to Sakuragicho Station and look for the red bus). The Akaikatsu bus is not operated like the known UK company “Big Bus tour”, its a public transportation where you pay a 100 Yen coin for every ride and 500 Yen for an unlimited one day access. It covers and stops at every place to see across Yokohama- with a very polite bus driver and English commentaries making it an ideal option for foreign visitors.
Weekend wanderer that I am, I can’t wait to see what Yokohama has to offer even though my apartment is a mere few steps away from Sakuragicho Station. So, I decided to try and be like a one day tourist and see the city highlights by combining the Loop Bus and walking around. See if your like the itinerary that I came up with, or maybe change a few here and there to suit your preference and the time that you have.
- If you happen to start your tour around lunch time and craving for some Chinese food, then I suggest to make Chukagai (ChinaTown) as your first stop.
- After feasting on pork dumpling and milk tea, head back to the bus and proceed to the last stop- Minato No Mieruko (Harbor View Hill) Park. Here you can see the early influence of West to the Japanese culture; from the architecture, to cafe selling lemonade and pies only, Protestant church, Catholic cemetery and international school. I like exploring this place where most of the buildings are dating back to 1923 and most of those buried at the cemetery are the casualties of World War II.
- Motomachi should be your next stop. You don’t need to take the bus going to this place, just walk from Harbor View. There is nothing much to do on this place except for shopping, so a quick look around should be enough.
- Take the bus going back to Sakuragicho station and Marine Tower should be your next stop. One of the tallest inland lighthouse in the world, Marine Tower is a popular wedding venue and offers 360deg view of Yokohama from the 700 Yen entrance fee observation deck.
- Across the Marine Tower is the Yamashita Koen Park where the former “Queen of the Pacific” Hikawa-maru passenger ship is located. Walking around the park overlooking the waters is one of the things that I like the most to do during weekend while some local tourist opting for an hour long cruise.
- Walk a bit further straight and you will be arriving at the Osanbashi Pier. A functional sea port and passenger terminal, though it feels like it was designed to be more of tourist place than anything else. The architecture is interesting with some comparing it to a Star Wars set and another great place to stop and read for a while.
- Now the option is yours, either you take the bus or continue to walk in order to reach the Aka Renga for the Red-Brick Warehouse. I am not sure what is the history behind and why it is red but definitely another beautiful place to explore. Red is a powerful color and surely will make for one striking photo. From here you can reached the World Porters for another shopping option.
- Now, you have almost completed the loop and you have one more stop to do- Minato Mirai 21 (Harbor of the Future). Another cluster of great things to see and maybe you have wished to start on this area than anywhere else. You’ve got the highest observatory deck in Japan (Sky Garden at Landmark Tower), amusement park- Cosmo World with its giant ferris wheel with digital clock in the middle, shopping center- Queens Tower ,Landmark Plaza, Colette-Mare, museums – Nippon Maru and Yokohama Port Museums, Yokohama Museum of Art and Mistubishi Industrial Museum.
- If you have kids travelling with you, most probably your main goal is to find a place where they can enjoy a day out. My suggestion is to still take the Akaikatsu Loop Bus from Sakuragicho and head down to Anpaman Chidren’s Museum.
What makes Yokohama more interesting apart from the places that I have mentioned so far are the street performers usually found at Minato Mirai 21 area (usually in front of Sakuragicho Station, Bubby’s Diner). Try walking in the afternoon or evening, you will see plenty of wannabe rock bands, jugglers and one man act performers. They are loud enough and good enough to make you stop and listen for a while with some of them singing their own composition, with one band in particular patriotically singing a song titled “Yokohama”.