Don’t make the mistake of thinking Yokohama is just a nice hub from which you can easily visit Tokyo. This wonderful big city has a lot to offer in and of itself, and it would really be a shame to overlook the amazing sights you can see here. Fascinating modern architecture, wonderful parks, headquarters of numerous large companies, a charming Chinatown and so much more await you on your one day in Yokohama. With this itinerary, it will always be a day well spent!
Like most of Japan, the best time to visit Yokohama is either spring or autumn. However, do keep in mind that September and October bring a fair bit of rain, too. Because of this, spring seems to be the best choice. Summers get very hot and humid, which can have quite an effect on your experience of the city, whereas winters are fairly chilly.
As for the events, there are plenty of festivals to choose from. Chinese New Year is huge here as it marks the beginning of the Spring Festival, and you will want to be in Yokohama’s Chinatown for that. Yokohama Port Festival is another big event (in June), but the Minato Mirai Bon Odori Dance Festival is also very interesting. Oh, and Yokohama Sparkling Twilight features awesome fireworks!
With approximately 3.8 million people, Yokohama is actually topped only by Tokyo when it comes to Japan’s most populous cities. In fact, Yokohama’s population has been growing steadily for 70 years!
The city started out as a small fishing village on a beach, which is how it also got its name – Yokohama means “horizontal beach” because the village sprung up on a strip of sand dividing what was then a gulf.
Numerous global companies have their headquarters set up in Yokohama – Nissan. Isuzu and JVCKenwood, to name just a few.
Yokohama was actually the first town in Japan to open to the rest of the world. Its port was opened in 1859, which marked a monumental shift in the town’s history – in just 150 years, it grew from a small fishing town to the second-largest city in Japan!
You are about to spend a day in Japan’s second-most populous city, so you have quite a lot to look forward to. But don’t worry, with this itinerary in your hand, you’ll never get overwhelmed! These are the best things to see and do while in Yokohama to really get to know the place well.
The best way to start exploring Yokohama is to get right in the center of it all. So, the first stop in your itinerary should be Minato Mirai!
There is so much to see here, and you really can’t miss the area because it is full of huge skyscrapers and even has a giant Ferris Wheel (part of the Cosmo World amusement park) you can ride. There are also many shopping centers, even a spa center with hot spring baths!
In short, this is the beating heart of Yokohama, and mingling around a bit will immerse you quickly in the city. Pick up a coffee, maybe enjoy a ride in the amusement park, or maybe just do some people-watching. And when you’re done with all of that, get ready to climb!
Another way to get a good sense of how big this city is is to climb the Landmark Tower up to the 69th floor, where the building’s observation deck, Sky Garden, has been built. It should be noted that the elevator that takes you here is the fastest one in the country, with the whole trip taking just 40 seconds. From here, you can even see Mount Fuji on a clear day!
This impressive skyscraper was actually the tallest building in Japan up to 2014 when it was dethroned by Osaka’s Abeno Harukas. Still, with almost 300 meters (more than 970 feet) in height, it is nevertheless quite a sight to behold.
Right next to the tower is Yokohama’s Museum of Art, but it is currently closed for renovations. The museum is scheduled to reopen in December 2023.
Another museum that is right next to the tower is the Cup Noodles Museum. Yes, you’ve read that right – there’s a whole museum dedicated to this popular dish!
You can actually see four floors of various interesting exhibits, many of which are interactive, and the place also has its food court where you can try noodles from all over the world. Not only that, but you can make your own instant noodles and even design your own cup noodles.
Plenty of things both adults and children will enjoy, so if you have kids with you, this is one of the best things to do during your day in Yokohama.
All of this sightseeing is bound to work up an appetite, so it’s time to find a good place to eat. Fortunately, this part of Yokohama is teeming with them!
Sun Aloha Minato Mirai, for example, is a very interesting choice because it serves Hawaiian dishes. You can also take a short trip to Chinatown (more on that part of the city in just a bit) for some spectacular Cantonese restaurants.
If you’re in the mood for something local, KatsuRetsuan Bashamichi Main Store is dedicated mainly to tonkatsu and is an excellent choice for a Japanese lunch. Teppanyaki Yokohama is another great place with Japanese dishes.
On the other hand, Sisiliya makes a very good pizza, whereas Charcoal Grill green Bashamichi should be your destination if you’re a meat lover. The choice is yours!
As you were leaving the Landmark Tower, you must have noticed a beautiful ship anchored right in front of it. That is the Nippon Maru, an 80-year-old ship that used to serve to train thousands of cadets.
Today, this spectacular beauty is a museum with a whole memorial park dedicated to it. And the best part is that it’s open to the public! This means you can climb aboard and marvel at the perfectly polished decks, huge white sails, and all other intricacies of a boat of this kind.
You can see the quarters inside the ship too, including the places like the officers’ saloon, their day room, the bridge, etc. Plenty to see and explore! Also, another thing kids will probably enjoy quite a bit.
After this enlightening visit, you can continue exploring. Head to Chinatown, which is only about 15 minutes away from the Landmark Tower if you take the Minatomirai Line.
This is actually the biggest Chinatown in Japan, and it is a bustling place full of shops and restaurants. In fact, many will say that food is the best thing about Yokohama’s Chinatown, so if you weren’t able to find a restaurant you like, some Chinese food could be a great solution.
You should also take time to see the Kanteibyo Temple, a temple built by Chinese immigrants in the late 19th century and dedicated to the god of business and prosperity. There are also several beautiful gates around, so making Chinatown a part of your itinerary will be well worth it.
Right in front of Chinatown is another iconic Yokohama attraction – the Yokohama Marine Tower. With its 106 meters, it provides a spectacular view of the harbor, so why not climb it for some more incredible scenery?
With green and red lights, it certainly looks very attractive, and some consider this tower to be the tallest lighthouse in the world. In any case, the place is very much worthy of your time, and when you’ve had enough of the view from above, rest a bit and catch your breath in Yamashita Park, right below the tower.
Before finding a place for dinner, put some time aside to visit Motomachi Street. Not only can you relax and do some serious shopping here but the street has a lot of historical significance as it was one of the first places in Japan to open to the West.
Furthermore, this is where the unique Yokohama fashion style originated – the hamatora style is quite important for this city.
You will feel a strong cosmopolitan influence as you walk down the winding street and browse the windows of numerous shops. However, don’t miss out on the chance to try some of the traditional Japanese sweets that are sold here. In fact, they can be a great gift for someone back home!
So, what is there to do in Yokohama at night? A lot! You can, for example, sit down for dinner and drinks in one of several excellent gastropubs. The Tavern is a prime example of such a place.
Naturally, there are plenty of places for a drink, too. Full Monty British Pub & Cider House is bound to appeal to many Westerners, but Windjammer shouldn’t be overlooked, either. BarBarBar (easy to remember, right?) is another good watering hole.
And don’t worry if you want to pull an all-nighter, Yokohama has some great nightclubs, too. You will find Yokohama Nightclub and Yokohama Partyzone very close to each other, and Tropicana is also a club worth visiting.
No matter what you choose, the end of your one day in Yokohama is going to be amazing!
Where to stay in Yokohama?
Yokohama Royal Park Hotel
220-8173 Kanagawa, Yokohama, Nishi-ku Minatomirai 2-2-1-3, Japan
For an unbeatable five-star experience, book a room in the Yokohama Royal Park Hotel! Remember the Landmark Tower from the itinerary? That’s where this hotel is located! The rooms here span from the 52nd to the 67th floor, so a spectacular view of the city is guaranteed. On the 68th floor is a restaurant, and two floors above that is an amazing lounge bar. A swimming pool, a fitness center, and a spa are also available in the tower, while the rooms are huge, with plenty of amenities. This is a stay you won’t soon forget!
Hotel Associa Shin-Yokohama
222-0033 Kanagawa, Yokohama, Kohoku-ku Shin-Yokohama 2-100-45, Japan
Hotel Associa Shin-Yokohama is not exactly in the heart of Yokohama, but that doesn’t matter because it’s right on top of a train station. Don’t worry, the rooms are superbly insulated, so you won’t hear a thing. There are also plenty of toiletries you get, and huge windows provide a spectacular view. Both Japanese and Western breakfasts are served, the lounge bar provides plenty of drinks, and the prices are more than fair. An excellent choice for your Yokohama hotel.
Richmond Hotel Yokohama Ekimae
221-0835 Kanagawa, Yokohama, Kanagawa-ku, Tsuruyacho 2-13, Japan
If you’re looking for excellent value, consider booking a room in Richmond Hotel Yokohama Ekimae. The place has very comfortable and quite spacious rooms, a great restaurant, and it serves two types of breakfast every day – American and Asian. The location is excellent, with plenty of shops in the vicinity. On top of that, the hotel is close to the Yokohama Station, which is another big plus. Everything you need for your stay and more!
HARE-TABI SAUNA&INN Yokohama
231-0023 Kanagawa, Yokohama, Naka-ku Yamashita-cho 216-2, Japan
Yes, you’ve read that right – HARE-TABI SAUNA&INN is a hostel with a sauna! The place is right in the middle of Chinatown, so you will certainly have a lot of opportunities to explore. Some toiletries and a complimentary cup of coffee are also included in the price, and the whole place is perfectly clean and very comfortable. All in all, this is a very pleasant stay – finding a better hostel in Yokohama seems like an impossible task.
Yokohama’s location makes it perfect for exploring a big part of Japan. So, if you’re here for a longer stay, a day trip or two seems to be in order. There are some really fascinating and spectacular destinations nearby, and it would really be a shame to miss out on them if you’re not pressed for time. These are a few suggestions with which you simply can’t go wrong.
Probably the most obvious choice for a Yokohama day trip, Japan’s incredible capital is just an hour away by train. So, it’s quite easy to organize one day in Tokyo and get a sense of this huge city. There is so much to see – from the magnificent gardens, numerous shrines, the Imperial Palace… The list just goes on and on. A day in Tokyo will simply fly by!
Another no-brainer. Mt. Fuji is Japan’s tallest mountain with an incredibly important place in the country’s history and culture. It is two hours away from Yokohama, but the trip is more than worth it. What you may not know is that the mountain is surrounded by some stunning lakes, too. You can drive up the Fuji Subaru Line to the viewpoint which stands at 7500 feet or 2300 meters for a view that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Kamakura is a perfect day trip destination if you’re looking for a place where you can just relax and take it easy. It is known for some amazing beaches and the island of Enoshima, but it also has numerous shrines and temples you can explore, a remnant of the city’s rich past. Sand, sun, and a bit of sightseeing – you will recharge your batteries here in no time!
If you want to immerse yourself in Japan’s fascinating history, head to Kawagoe for a day. It is an incredibly charming place with plenty of buildings from the Edo period. In fact, many old buildings are now restaurants and shops, something best seen on Kurazukuri Street. But there are many other things to see – monuments, shrines, and even remains of a castle – so your day here will be full of amazing sights.
- Yokohama’s public transport is excellent, so it’s a great way to get around the city. You can buy an IC card to pay for that quickly and easily.
- If you’re coming in by plane, be aware that Yokohama doesn’t have an airport of its own. Instead, you will land in one of Tokyo’s airports. But don’t worry, reaching Yokohama from any of them is quick and easy.
- Buying food after 6 p.m. can save you a pretty penny as this is when shops put things on sale.
- You may be tempted to visit one of the numerous tech stores because they really have all sorts of interesting gadgets. However, do be careful – it’s easy to get carried away and buy a lot of stuff you realistically don’t have a need for.
- tap water is safe to drink not just in Yokohama but in Japan in general. Don’t be afraid to fill your bottle with it before you go sightseeing.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.