Yokohama, the elegant neighbor

January 1, 1970

by Aurelie Vandecasteele

When it comes to traveling in Japan, most people will tell you the same: you must see the electric and fashionable Tokyo, the traditional and peaceful Kyoto, the funky and friendly Osaka. This is all probably true. But what about the great neighborhood of the capital city? Yokohama, second largest city of Japan by population after Tokyo, has everything to offer: excellent food, beautiful views, tiny streets and huge shopping centers, many authentic places, and of course the port. Let’s have a look around!

I personally have a very special and deep love for the great Yokohama. Every trip there brings me a lot of joy, memories, and well-being. Known for being quiet, safe (like almost all Japanese cities, actually) and elegant, Yokohama is reachable in 30 minutes from Haneda Airport or from Shibuya station. The first thing to know is that Yokohama is actually a very big city, stretching from Kawasaki to Kamakura, and that it’s quite easy to get lost between all the bus lines and local downtown areas. So I’ll focus this article on the spots located close to the seaside.

Yokohama (Japan) - Minatomirai

Yokohama (Japan) – Minatomirai

I’ll advise all visitors to dare leaving the main area of Yokohama station. The place itself is nice, offering a lot of shopping centers, facilities, banks, good restaurants and amusement places like most of the big cities do. But by using the small metro and train lines, you may find more local, quaint views and experiences.

So… What to do in Yokohama?


Yokohama (Japan) - Noge

Yokohama (Japan) – Noge

Let’s start with a secret corner. NOGE is certainly not the most famous spot of Yokohama. Located near the station of the peaceful town of Sakuragicho, NOGE is a small heaven for gourmets and tourists looking for the real thing. With a small Japanese izakaya (traditional casual restaurant), old bars and jazz cafes, “80’s” karaoke bar decorated with retro posters of 80’s Japanese idols, and traditional houses, NOGE has a good taste of the past. With some delicious addresses like the restaurant HITSUJI offering a variety of great food, your trip to NOGE will definitely bring you unforgettable memories.

How to access? > Sakuragicho station

Google Maps: Noge-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, 231-0064





A bar in Isezakicho, Yokohama

A bar in Isezakicho, Yokohama

Not that far from NOGE, you’ll find the small city of ISEZAKICHO, located near Kannai Station. ISEZAKICHO’s main point is the “ISEZAKI-MALL”, a large pedestrian street offering inexpensive fashion shops, restaurants, large amusement centers, manufacturers, kimono stores and more. In the evening, the small streets around ISEZAKI-MALL reveal classy rock bars and small clubs to make your day complete.


If you dare walking a bit deeper in ISEZAKICHO, to reach the places called Chojamachi or Fukutomicho, you’ll find a wild and lively nightlife with hip hop clubs, sports bar, or even more risqué entertainment places!

How to access? > Kannai Station (train and metro) or Isezaki-Chojamachi (metro)




Lose yourself in Minatomirai

port2Minatomirai is THE spot you should not miss in Yokohama. Well you could, if you are not fond of modern buildings, huge hotels, and impressively romantic night views, but it would be a pity. “Minatomirai” includes the port of Yokohama, the park Yamashita, Landmark Tower (296 m high, with an observatory at the top), Cosmo World amusement park (and the Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris Wheel), the Red Brick Warehouse and much more. The view is amazing, and it’s the Yokohama you’ll see on postcards.

In summer, some of the biggest fireworks and summer festivals take place in Minatomirai, where you can enjoy local food, small concerts and dance acts while drinking a beer on the grass.

Minatomirai offers a large variety of shopping malls and great hotels in a peaceful, clean and sophisticated area.

How to access? > Sakuragicho station


HAVE FUN IN CHUKAGAI (Yokohama Chinatown) !


Yokohama Chinatown

A taste of China in the heart of Japan. CHUKAGAI is the largest Chinatown in all of Asia. There are around 250 Chinese-related shops and restaurants. After gaining entrance by the traditionally decorated gates, you’ll be grabbed by the smell of the delicious “nikuman” (pork buns) sold in every street, or by the sparkling colors (and attractive prices!) of every souvenir shop. The Temple of Kwan Tai is a must-see in Chinatown.

Not surprisingly, you’ll find in CHUKAGAI some great facilities for the foreign tourist that are not so common in more local areas, like international ATM and money exchange machines at quite good exchange rates.

There is of course an impressive range of Chinese restaurants, with everything from the street shop to the Chinese gourmet restaurant where they serve a really delicious, yet quite expensive, shark menu.

How to access? > Ishikawacho station or Motomachi-Chukagai Station


MOTOMACHI is reachable by the same two stations as CHUKAGAI, as the two areas are really close to each other. The mood, however, is completely different. MOTOMACHI is a charming, classic, quiet pedestrian area, where local fashion shops stand alongside “French” patisseries, luxurious jewelries, crafts shops, beauty salons and wine bars. Don’t be afraid to leave the main street to wander in the small alleys where you’ll find local temples, excellent restaurants, and tiny secret streets where cats bathe in the sun.

How to access? > Ishikawacho station or Motomachi-Chukagai Station


Wanna stay in Yokohama for a few days?

Depending on your budget and comfort expectations, you can find all types of hostels and hotels in and around Yokohama. The places with the cheapest accommodation are located in Ishikawacho (Matsukagecho), which is geographically ideal but often very basic when it comes to accommodations (tatami rooms and shared bathrooms). Backpackers and solo travelers will definitely love it. The town of Kannai is really convenient regarding transportation and facilities, and may be a great compromise.

Aurelie Vandecasteele

By Aurelie Vandecasteele

I'm Aurelie, Belgian journalist, tour manager, traveller and writer ! I travel and work in Japan and all over Europe.


Leave a Comment...