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Yokohama's Minato Mirai 21 district by night
Located on the western coast of Tokyo Bay directly south of Tokyo, Yokohama (??) is the second largest city in Japan and one of the cities most used to seeing foreigners.
Yokohama was the first port opened up to foreign trade after the opening of Japan in 1854. At the forefront of the Meiji restoration, the first train line in Japan connected Tokyo and Yokohama. However, Yokohama was devastated by the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and again by the firebombings of World War II, and never really regained its prominence. It remains a maritime city to this day and retains an international flavor.
Yokohama is located only half an hour away from Tokyo, and effectively forms a part of the giant conurbation.
Yokohama does not have its own airport. You can reach Yokohama from Tokyo's two main airports.
Some Narita Express trains from Narita Airport go through to Yokohama (1 1/2 hours, ¥4380). Limousine Buses run frequently from Narita to the Yokohama City Air Terminal (YCAT) (1 1/2 ~3 hours, ¥3500).
The Keihin Kyuko line is the best route from Haneda Airport to Yokohama (25 minutes direct, 30 minutes with connection, ¥470).
The overwhelming majority of visitors to Yokohama arrive from Tokyo by train. A multitude of train lines connect the two cities at roughly equal prices (around ¥200 one-way), but some of the more convenient options are:
- Tokyu Toyoko Line (?????) from Shibuya to Yokohama Station. Some trains on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line run through to the Toyoko Line, which in turn runs through to the recently-opened Minato Mirai 21 subway line. A trip from Shibuya to Yokohama takes 25-30 minutes; an additional 10 minutes to reach Chinatown, the terminus of the MM21 line. Up to eight ky?k? (??) and tokky? (??) trains per hour.
- JR Shonan Shinjuku Line (???????) from ?miya, Akabane, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ebisu and ?saki. Established in 2003, this line allows for easy access to Yokohama from west Tokyo. Roughly four trains per hour, reaching Yokohama from Shinjuku in as little as 30 minutes.
- JR Tokaido Main Line (????) from Tokyo and Shinagawa stations (both on the Yamanote Line). Departs every 10 minutes; more trains during rush hour. About 25 minutes from Tokyo to Yokohama. Note that Commuter Rapid Service (????) and Shonan Liner (??????) trains do not stop at Yokohama Station.
- JR Yokosuka Line (????): A less-convenient alternative from Tokyo Station and Shinagawa. However, it is the route of choice if coming from stations east of Tokyo on the Sobu Rapid line, such as Tsudanuma and Chiba, as most of these trains continue onto the Yokosuka line. About 30 minutes from Tokyo to Yokohama; about 75 minutes from Chiba. Departs every 15 minutes or so from Tokyo; more trains during rush hour.
- JR Keihin Tohoku Line (?????) from Nippori, Ueno, Akihabara, Tokyo, and Shinagawa Stations. This train stops at more stations in Yokohama than the Yokosuka Line. It's also a convenient route from stations north of Tokyo in Saitama prefecture. About 35 minutes from Tokyo Station to Yokohama Station. Departs every 5 minutes from Tokyo; more trains during rush hour.
- Keihin Kyuko Main Line (?????), or Keikyu for short, from Shinagawa and Haneda Airport. Most trains from the Toei Asakusa subway line continue onto the Keikyu line. Departs every 10 minutes from Shinagawa (more trains during rush hour), with the fastest train reaching Yokohama in only 18 minutes.
Shinkansen trains go to Shin-Yokohama station instead, a few subway stops away from the main Yokohama station. Alternatively, take the shinkansen to Shinagawa and change to the Tokaido, Yokosuka or Keihin Tohoku lines. If your final destination is Chinatown or a the harbor area, taking one of the non-Shinkansen trains listed above is likely to be faster.
The Minato Mirai 21 subway line from Yokohama station down the harborfront to Chinatown is the best method of accessing the main tourist haunts. The main subway line is useful primarily for transfers between central Yokohama and the Shinkansen station.JR Negishi Line(???) is also availavle for Chinatown and Minato Mirai Area. All Negishi Line Trains with the blue line are direct service via the Keihin-Tohoku Line.
Central Yokohama is comparatively compact and the Chinatown/Yamashita Park area is best explored on foot.
Sakuragicho seen from Sky Walk
- Chinatown (??? Ch?kagai), MM21 Motomachi-Chukagai station, 1 (http://www.chinatown.or.jp/). Yokohama's Chinatown is the largest in Japan and dates back to the Opening of Japan in 1859. These days it's unabashedly touristy, but there are plenty of Chinese grocery stores and places to buy a cheap cheongsam dress or jade knick-knacks.
- Bay Stars Stadium. Located in Naka ward. A short walk from Chinatown or Kannai station, this is probably one of the most fun places to watch a baseball game in Japan.
- Yamashita Park. On the waterfront, adjacent to the ferry terminal. Don't miss the statue of the "Girl With Red Shoes".
- Marine Tower. The largest onland lighthouse in the world. It is located in Naka ward. Observation deck (106m high) offers nice views of the harbor and Yokohama skyline.
- Sky Walk. An observation platform attached to the Bay Bridge. To get there, take a bus in front of JR Sakuragicho station. If you cannot find the correct bus, ask for help from the Tourist information center located right in front of the station.
- Landmark Tower, MM21 Minato Mirai station. The tallest building in Japan is located in the new Minato Mirai 21 district. The observation platform on the top 69th floor provides good views at a hefty price. The elevators are told to be the fastest in the world.
- Sankei-en Park (???) 2 (http://www.sankeien.or.jp/). 35 minutes by bus from Yokohama station. Located southeast of Naka ward, this is a traditional style of park and known as Teien (lit. "set park") in Japanese. Opened in 1906, this large park (175000 sq.ft.) has many Japanese traditional buildings, 13 of which have been designated as national heritages.
- Minato Mirai 21 (????????) 3 (http://www.minatomirai21.com/english/index.html) A futuristic city district built entirely on reclaimed land, if you like shopping then this is the place to check out.
- Motomachi (??) 4 (http://www.motomachi.or.jp) is a small fashionable shopping district located near Chinatown. Get off at Minato Mirai line "Motomachi-Chinatown" station or JR line "Ishikawacho" station.
Recreation of Old Tokyo, in the basement of the Ramen Museum
For Chinese food the obvious choice is Chinatown (??? Ch?kagai)in Naka ward, which has over 200 Chinese restaurants. Snacks are sold on the streets, but most restaurants in the area are quite expensive and the food has been toned down to suit the Japanese palate. Chinatown is the terminus of the Minato Mirai 21 line.
- Shinyokohama Raumen Museum (?????????? Shin-Yokohama r?men hakubutsukan). Shin-Yokohama 2-14-21, 5 (http://www.raumen.co.jp/english/). Paradise for noodle lovers, but not just because of the informative exhibits of the history of instant ramen noodles: the centerpiece here is the basement, which contains a recreation of 1950s-era Tokyo done in incredible detail, complete with operating branches of 10 famous ramen joints. Expect to queue and pay at least ¥1000 for a bowl, but it's worth it. 5 minute walk from Shin-Yokohama station (on the #1 subway line). Open from 11 AM to 11 PM daily, admission ¥300.
- A Curry Museum along the same lines has also been set up nearer to the waterfront.
- City of Yokohama (http://www.city.yokohama.jp/en/)
- Naka Ward Office (http://www.city.yokohama.jp/me/naka/contents/english/index.html) provides webpage and free tourist maps in English.