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When you think of Japan, you might think of cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, but here are seven reasons why you should add Yokohama as the next destination on your Japanese itinerary.

Discover The Multicultural Megacity Of Yokohama, Japan

Discover The Multicultural Megacity Of Yokohama, Japan

When you think of Japan, you might think of cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, but here are seven reasons why you should add Yokohama as the next destination on your Japanese itinerary.

The key to understanding the futuristic and spellbinding city of Yokohama is appreciating its rich history as the original entry point for western culture to Japan. With 160 years of foreign trade and immigration history through its port, Yokohama is Japan’s first multicultural melting pot. Today, no other city in Japan can celebrate such a long-standing history of multiculturalism. Experience the unique cultural fabric of Yokohama by checking out these seven inspiring places.

This Great Big Guide is by ANA.

Photo: Thisanka Siripala

Unwind At Sankeien Garden

Making your way to the secluded Sankeien Garden in the southern tip of Yokohama is worth the journey. If you don’t have time to travel around Japan, Sankeien is a cultural pitstop bursting with ancient Japanese architecture, art, and design. Among the lush forestry are historic buildings relocated from Kyoto, Kamakura, and Gifu. It’s also the birthplace of the Japanese tea ceremony and an amazing place for a quick demonstration. The surreal 17.5-acre traditional botanical garden has impressive artisan landscaping and seasonal plant life. You'll want to dedicate a half-day to soaking in the stunning cherry blossoms, lotus ponds, lake, and waterfalls.

Extra Tip: Although only accessible by bus or car, it is definitely worth the journey.

Enjoy The Bright Lights of Chinatown

No trip to Yokohama is complete without exploring Chinatown. Come hungry because Yokohama's Chinatown not only claims to be the largest in the world, it is stuffed with over 300 Chinese-owned restaurants that boast elaborate buffets and swift food service. Take photos during the day of the traditional colorful gates and vibrant temples that dot the streetscape. At night, it transforms into a buzzing date spot illuminated by colorful neon lights.

Extra Tip: Restaurants here can be pricey, and be prepared to pay with cash.

Photo: Thisanka Siripala
Photo: Thisanka Siripala

Take A Break At The Little Girl With The Red Shoes Statue

Nestled in beautiful Yamashita Park is a bronze statue of a 9-year-old girl. The statue is called “A Little Girl With Red Shoes On,” and was built in 1979 to honor the true story of a little girl named Kimi-chan who was given up by her mother due to hardship, but died of tuberculosis in an orphanage before she could leave with her adoptive parents to America. Her story (with some creative liberties) became a popular Japanese nursery rhyme, “Red Shoes (Akai Kutsu)” by the poet Uja Noguchi, written in the early 20th century. Now, this sweet statue offers an opportunity for you to pause, reflect, and rest your feet.

Be Blown Away At The HARA Model Railway Museum

This is not your typical model train collection. Not only is it one of the world’s largest train dioramas, it’s also made with working gears and brakes just like their full-scale relatives. Naturally, it’s a hit with kids, but adults will geek-out over the 1:32 scale antique steam and futuristic bullet trains as they speed through meticulously detailed models of actual mountain, landscape and city railway journeys around the world.

Extra Tip: Listen carefully for the authentic “clickety-clack” of the trains’ iron wheels on the iron rails.

Photo: Thisanka Siripala
Photo: Thisanka Siripala

Soak Up The Seaside At The Red Brick Warehouse

Old meets new at this unique and historic venue. Hailed as the first buildings to showcase a mix of Japanese and western architecture, two matching warehouses originally stood here in 1913. Unfortunately, warehouse No.1 was partially destroyed by the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923. After significant restoration, the remaining warehouse now represents a cultural institution that is home to gourmet eateries, boutiques, and art events. Enjoy the seaside views while wandering through all that this transformed industrial space has to offer.

Snag A Bargain At Yokohamabashi Shopping District

Away from the upscale and glitzy sidewalks of Matomachi Chukagaii is an undercover shopping arcade that was created 70 years ago to serve working-class immigrants employed at the port. Today, it’s where local Japanese, Chinese immigrants, and expats head for budget shopping. Prepare to indulge in authentic Japanese and Asian street foods, traditional garments, and knick-knacks without the flashy labels. It’s one of the few gems of Yokohama that has kept its down-to-earth vibe while much the city has undergone recent renovations.

Photo: Thisanka Siripala
Photo: Thisanka Siripala

No Frills Drinking At Noge Alley & Hoppy Seinin

Venture over to Noge Alley where back to back izakayas (small standing-room-only bars) make this grungy strip feel surprisingly cozy. The alley is a favorite among locals who fill up the shops for after work imbibing. Stop by Hoppy Senin, where they have proudly served only one drink, “hoppy,” for more than 100 years. Hoppy (known as “the poor man’s beer”) is actually a mix of shochu (Japanese liquor) and beer. When beer first came to Yokohama it was too pricey for the average worker. By mixing the two ingredients, it became affordable yet visibly indistinguishable from real beer.

From its futuristic designs to its unique past; we’ve got your trip to Yokohama, Japan all figured out.