Yokohama could barely be called a town 150 years
ago, but after being established as an international port it quickly grew into a small city divided into two halves—one for the Japanese, the other for international residents. In the middle of the international side, some Chinese immigrants established a few shops and restaurants in the late 1800s, the area that is Chinatown (Chukagai) today. Now Japan’s largest port, the Minato Mirai waterfront area has recently emerged as the newest jewel of the city, boasting an amusement park, Japan’s tallest building and at night some of the most gorgeous views in Japan. A rail spur called the Minato Mirai line runs from Shibuya to Yokohama in just under 30 minutes.
Close to Shin-Takashima station, this shopping center features excellent discount clothing shops, electronics stores, and outlets of US-based retailers such as Toys R Us and Sports Authority. 4-4-5 Minato Mirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama-shi. Tel: 045-683-3010. Open daily 10am-9pm. Nearest stn: Shin-Takashima.
Bridging the Queen’s Square and Landmark Plaza shopping centers, this five-story emporium houses shops selling everything from candy and cosmetics to fashion and accessories. 2-3-2 Minato Mirai, Nishi-ku. Tel: 045-682-2100. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Minato Mirai.
Red Brick Warehouse
Resembling an Industrial Revolution-era factory, this shopping, dining and entertainment complex eschews the piped muzak and harsh lighting of the generic Japanese mall. 1-1-2 Shinko, Naka-ku. Tel: 045-227-2002. Open daily 11am-8pm. Nearest stn: Sakuragicho.
Nouvelle sushi and tempura, grilled meat and fish with innovative sauces, and homemade udon noodles are just a few of the treats in store at this upscale Japanese chain also known for its theatrical lighting and some of the best avant-garde interiors in town. 4F Queen's Square At 2nd Bldg, 2-3-8 Minato Mirai, Nishi-ku. Tel: 045-228-5035. Open daily 11am-3pm and 5-11pm. Nearest stn: Minato Mirai. ¥¥
Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum
An amusement-park-style temple to the Chinese-style noodle, this eclectic museum features outposts of the country’s most famous ramen restaurants. 2-14-21 Shin-Yokohama. Tel: 045-471-0503. Open Mon-Fri 11am-11pm; Sat, Sun & hols 10:30am-11pm. Nearest stn: Shin-Yokohama.¥
This quaint Japanese eatery serves traditional tempura cuisine and a range of kaiseki-style dishes, all at reasonable prices. 2-9 Minatocho, Naka-ku. Tel: 045-681-2220. Open Tue-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm and 5-9:30pm (L.O.), Sat 11:30am-9:30pm, Sun 11:30am-8:30pm (L.O.). Nearest stn: Kannai. ¥¥
One in the large chain of yakitori bar/ restaurants, Toriyoshi is a casual spot in which to dig into piping-hot skewers of chicken, beef, vegetables and more as you wash it all down with a cold Japanese beer. B1 Arai Bldg, 1-8 Onoechou, Naka-ku. Tel: 045-224-8642. Open daily 5pm-midnight. Nearest stn: Kannai. ¥
This sophisticated Chinese restaurant at the east exit of Yokohama station is a favorite with well-heeled locals, who come for the excellent dumplings and wide range of mostly Cantonese-inspired fare. 2F Kiyoken Honten Bldg, 2-13-12 Takashima, Yokohama. Tel: 045-441-3330. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-10:30pm (L.O. 9pm, Fri 9:30pm), Sat, Sun & hols 11am-10pm. Nearest stn: Yokohama, east exit. ¥¥¥
Formerly a ramen shop called Toshomensho, Xian now serves up Chinese fare from various regions. Try xiaolongbao from a chain that has branches all over Tokyo. Watch the chefs prepare the earthy noodles in the glass-fronted kitchen. B2 Yodobashi Camera, 1-2-7 Kita-Saiwai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama. Tel: 045-290-5480. Open daily 11am-11pm. Nearest stn: Yokohama. www.daixin.com ¥
Yokohama Dai Sekai
This eight-story “China Museum” aims to recreate the look and feel of Shanghai’s halcyon days of the ’20s and ’30s in a theme-park-like atmosphere. 97 Banchi, Yamashita-cho, Naka-ku. Tel: 045-681-5588. Open daily 10am-10pm through September, 10am-9pm from October. Nearest stn: Motomachi-Chukagai, exit 2. ¥¥
Hard Rock Café
The Yokohama branch of this globally famous chain serves
the same burgers and rock as the rest of them. A1F Queen’s Tower. 2-3-1 Minato Mirai, Nishi-ku. Tel: 045-682-5626. Open Sun-Thu 11am-11:30pm (L.O. 10:30pm), Fri 11am-midnight (L.O. 11pm), Sat 11am-late. Nearest stn: Minato Mirai. ¥¥
Towering above the city, Sirius is an elegant restaurant-bar that serves up one of Yokohama’s best brunch buffets. 70F Landmark Tower, 2-2-1-3 Minato Mirai, Nishi-ku. Tel: 045-221-1155. Open daily 7-10am (breakfast), 11:30am-2:30pm (lunch), 5-9pm (dinner), 5pm-1am (cocktail time). Nearest stn: Yokohama. ¥¥
This upscale French eatery housed in the Port Hill Hotel offers exquisite à la carte and course cuisine along with garden views. 1F Port Hill Hotel, 115 Yamatecho, Naka-ku. Tel: 045-621-9684. Open 10am-3pm, 2-5pm (tea time), 5:30-9pm. Nearest stn: Motomachi-Chukagai. ¥¥¥
Bustling casual restaurant conveniently located at Yokohama station offers top-tier service and authentic Italian made with the freshest ingredients—a winning combo. B2 Joinus, 1-5-1 Minami-Saiwai, Nishi-ku. Tel: 045-313-6086. Open daily 11am-11pm (L.O. 10pm). Nearest stn: Yokohama, west exit. ¥¥¥
Yokohama’s famed Scandinavian eatery features a genuine smorgasbord and has been serving up tasty Danish dishes since the ’60s. 1-1 Kaigandori, Naka-ku. Tel: 045-201-2262. Open Mon-Sat 11am-midnight; Sun 5pm-midnight. Nearest stn: Nihon-Oodori. ¥¥
This all-natural eatery offers the ever-elusive all-you-can-eat, healthy buffet. It includes more than forty dishes as well as organic coffee, 100 percent fruit juice, and whole-rice tea. 1-3-6 Aobadai, Aoba-ku. Tel: 045-988-5477. Open daily 11am-3pm, 5:30-10pm. Nearest stn: Aobadai. ¥
With a name that translates as “living room” or “tea room,” this bar on the third floor of Yokohama’s Akarenga (Redbrick Warehouse) has a dreamy atmosphere amid comfy mattresses and pillows. Japanese food, teas and alcohol. 3F Akarenga No. 2, 1-1-2 Shinko, Naka-ku, Yokohama. Tel: 045-650-8228. Open Mon-Thu 11am-11pm, Fri-Sun & hols 11am-5am. Nearest stn: Sakuragicho or Bashamichi. www.yokohama-akarenga.jp
Forest Avenue Bar
Sister establishment of neighboring Club Why Not?, this pub offers stiff drinks, friendly clientele and an Asian-accented food menu. B1 La Spega Motomachi, 1-31 Motomachi, Naka-ku. Tel: 045-663-4820. Open Tue-Sat 6pm-2am, closed Mon. Nearest stn: Motomachi-Chukagai, exit 5. www.forestavenuebar.com
This cavernous beer hall in the Red Brick Warehouse fills one-third of the top floor
and offers diners hearty meals accompanied by a selection of 30 draft beers. 3F Bldg 2, Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, 1-1-2 Shinko, Naka-ku, Yokohama. Tel: 045-226-1961. Open daily 11am-11pm. Nearest stn: Sakuragicho. www.yokohama-akarenga.jp
Yokohama’s home of hip-hop and R&B features a happy hour (7-10pm) with all drinks just ¥500. Friday and Saturday things heat up with showcase events and DJ sets. The music turns mellow on Wednesday and Sunday. B1, 211-8 Yamashitacho, Naka-ku. Tel: 045-662-2776. Open Wed-Sun 7pm-5am, closed Mon and Tue. Nearest stn: Ishikawacho. www.clubdynamite.com
Cordon Bleu is an international theater-club specializing in
entertainment for adults. With six shows every night including
jazz and samba, a menu featuring a wide variety of dishes, and
all-you-can-drink plans, there's something to keep everyone
happy. B1, 6-75 Ota-machi, Naka-ku. 045-680-4415. Open 8pm-late. Nearest stn: Bashamichi. www.cordonbleu-yokohama.com
Located in an upscale shopping district of Yokohama, Why Not?’s claim to fame is its big screens. B1 La Spega Motomachi, 1-31 Motomachi, Naka-ku. Tel: 045-663-2955. Open daily 7pm-5am. Nearest stn: Ishikawacho. www.clubwhynot.com
This venture by Blue Note Japan offers nouvelle cuisine and fine wines and cocktails, not to mention the the world's top live music maestros. Showtimes are 7 & 9:30pm on weeknights, 6:30 & 9pm on weekends and holidays. 3F Bldg 2 Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, 1-1-2 Shinko, Naka-ku. Tel: 045-226-1919. Open Mon-Sat 5pm-11:30pm, Sun and hols 4pm-10:30pm. Nearest stn: Sakuragicho. www.motionblue.co.jp
This intimate drinking den attracts those in the know with its homey vibe and expert barman. No loud groups, just low music, nice clientele and above-average bar food. 1-7-5 Tsuruyacho. Tel: 045-316-4520. Open Mon-Sat 6pm-2am, Sun 6pm-Midnight. Nearest stn: Yokohama, west exit.
American-style sports bar serves up big American eats like barbeque
spareribs (¥2,400 with fries and garlic toast), as well as beer and "chu-hai" sours on tap. Enjoy ¥500 drinks during the Mon-Thu happy hour (6-8pm). 2F Mitsubo Bldg, 1-25 Ishikawacho, Naka-ku, Yokohama. Tel: 045-671-0818. Open Tue-Thu & Sun 6pm-1am, Fri-Sat 6pm-2am, Sat-Sun lunch from 1pm. Nearest stn: Ishikawacho, south exit, or Motomachi-Chukagai, exit 5. www.bennysplace.net
|Captain Sports Bar & Grill
Unlike in central Tokyo where sports bars are a dime-a-dozen, this festive and foreigner-friendly establishment just a five-minute walk from Yokohama station’s west exit is the area’s go-to spot for watching sporting events on their huge plasma-screens. 1-7-34 Tsuruyacho, Kanagawa-ku. Tel: 045-313-1163. Open Sun & Mon 5pm-midnight, Tue-Thu 5pm-2am, Fri-Sat 5pm-5am. Nearest stn: Yokohama, west exit.
Landmark Tower’s sky garden At 273m it’s the highest observatory in Japan. Catch the entire Kanto Plain and surrounding mountains, including Mt. Fuji|Yamate Park Overlooks the Yokohama Bay Bridge|Chinatown Japan’s largest concentration of restaurants and shops from The Middle Kingdom|The Ramen Museum Learn all about the history of this venerable noodle—and get samples!|The Foreigners’ Cemetery A vast park of rolling hills and dramatic views|The Yokohama Museum
of Art One of the largest and best-equipped museums in the country
The Chinese presence in Yokohama dates back to 1859, when the port was opened to foreign merchants. Ships arrived to trade with the Japanese from America, Europe and also China. Foreigners were allowed to live only in certain areas of the city, and the Chinese established themselves in what is today known as Chinatown. The inflow of Chinese was brisk because of a ferry service that operated between Yokohama, Shanghai and Hong Kong. However, the population dwindled in the 1920s, after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 devastated the city, causing many Chinese to return to the mainland. The outbreak of war in 1937 decimated the community that remained, and the area remained a backwater until 1972, when Japan established diplomatic relations with China. The event caused a surge of interest in all things Chinese, and the emergence of Yokohama Chinatown as a major domestic tourist attraction. These days, access to Chinatown from Tokyo is made easy by the Minato Mirai line, a branch of the Tokyu Toyoko line that runs direct from Shibuya.
At times Tokyo’s urban sprawl seems never-ending, but it’s still relatively easy to escape the city for a day. Here are some suggestions:
This mountain town’s splendid shrines are a monument to Ieyasu Tokugawa, the warlord who unified Japan in 1600. Higher in the mountains are Lake Chuzenjiand the Kegon waterfall. JR Pass holders should take the shinkansen from Tokyo to Utsunomiya, then a local train to Nikko. For others, the private Tobu Nikko line from Asakusa is more convenient. Both take approximately two hours.
Japan’s ancient capital, which retains some if its seaside charm, is dotted with temples and shrines. Be selective and set aside time to enjoy the town’s excellent Japanese restaurants. Take the JR Yokosuka line from Tokyo station to Kita-Kamakura (56 mins) or Kamakura (60 mins).
Dotted with ryokan and onsen, and with occasional views of Mt. Fuji, Hakone is a popular daytrip from Tokyo, but be warned that during national holidays the area can become horribly crowded. Trains on the private Odakyu line run to Odawara (and some to Hakone-Yumoto) depart every 12 minutes. JR Pass holders can save money by taking a JR train from Tokyo station as far as Odawara.
Climbing Japan’s iconic mountain isn’t difficult if you’re relatively fit and well prepared. Start in the evening, then make your final push at midnight to arrive at the summit before dawn. During climbing season (early July to late August) buses run direct from Shinjuku to the base station, Go-gome.