Because it’s so close to Tokyo—and Tokyo “spills” over into its suburbs so that Tokyo seems far bigger than it is—it’s often forgotten by tourists that Yokohama is actually a separate city. With about three and a half million residents, Yokohama is Japan’s second most popular place to live. The capital of Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama is actually widely considered part of “the Greater Tokyo Area,” but it’s worth a visit on its own.
Yokohama is only about 28 miles south of the city of Tokyo and is nestled along the Tokyo Bay. You can easily catch a train from Tokyo to Yokohama in just over an hour and for only about ¥740 (about US$8). Yokohama is actually one of the cities with the greatest immigrant population; about 75,000 of its residents are from countries such as China, South Korea, the Philippines and Brazil. (As far as its immigration goes, Japan has a high rate of Brazilians, both legal and illegal [by overstaying their work visas] due to the need for laborers.)
Because Yokohama is a somewhat southern city, you can expect humid, hot summers and mild winters with virtually no snowfall. That said, although summer may be the peak tourist season, you’d be better off touring during the fall or winter when fewer visitors pack the streets.
Yokohama is well known for Kannai, a historic district featuring thoroughly modern architecture and stores (but many “firsts,” such as the first place in Japan to sell ice cream and the first place to sell beer). Yokohama is also home to Japan’s tallest building, the Landmark Tower, as well as the Cosmo Clock 21, the world’s largest clock and one of the world’s largest Ferris wheels, which offers a stunning view of the city that’s not to be missed after sunset. You can expect lots of great places to shop in Yokohama, such as the Motomachi area, as well as great places to stroll along the harbors.
For more classical Japanese architecture enthusiasts, you may want to head to Sankei Garden, which features a gorgeous array of classical Japanese gardens and buildings. Tickets cost only around ¥500 (about US$5.50)
Have you ever visited Yokohama? If you’re touring Japan, would you prefer to visit the big metropolitan areas or the areas with more historical sites?
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Tags: cosmo clock, japan, japanese places, kanagawa, kannai, landmark tower, tokyo, yokohama