Yokohama, a Japanese city south of Tokyo, was one of the first Japanese ports opened to foreign trade, in 1859, and today is the second largest city in Japan by population, and the most populous municipality of Japan. It is the capital city of Kanagawa Prefecture. The opening of the port saw the arrival of trading vessels, which resulted in the establishment of an area for foreigners to live, transforming Yokohama from a small fishing village into a refined town. Yokohama continued to develop as the earliest location in Japan to incorporate foreign culture.
With an abundance of architectural sights not to be missed, here are 15 Places Architects must visit in Yokohama, Japan.
1. Yokohama Marine Tower
This 106-meter tall structure was completed in 1961 and offers fantastic views over both the harbour and the city as a whole.
The light characteristic is marked by a flash every twenty seconds, whereby the light’s colour is alternating red and green. Originally, at night, the tower shaft itself was lit green and red according to its markings, but now, after the reopening on May 2009, the lights are white. The Marine Tower is billed “the tallest lighthouse in the world”, although this depends on what lighthouses are considered. In clear conditions, visitors can see Mount Fuji from the 100-metre high observation deck.
2. Hotel New Grand
Hotel New Grand celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2017 and is one of the oldest hotels in Yokohama. It is also home a Japanese original culinary innovation, the Spaghetti Napolitan, as well as Japan’s first seafood gratin. General MacArthur stayed here twice — once on his honeymoon, and again during the US occupation after the war. If you stay the night, splurge a little to stay in the very same room the General did — appropriately named the MacArthur Suite.
The Hotel New Grand is a historic hotel in Yokohama, Japan, overlooking Yamashita Park. It opened in 1927, four years after the Great Kantō earthquake devastated much of the city.
The hotel was used as accommodation by American troops during the Occupation of Japan following World War II; one of the hotel suites is set aside and maintained just as it was furnished when General Douglas MacArthur stayed there. In 1991, an eighteen-story tower was built as an expansion of the hotel.
3. Yokohama Archives of History
This beautiful building and courtyard holds a detailed history of Yokohama’s transition from sleepy seaside fishing village to modern port city. It is also located on the exact same site history was made in 1854. The camphor tree at the entrance marks the spot where Japan and the U.S. signed the Treaty of Kanagawa, which led to Japan opening its ports to foreign trade. While the original camphor tree burned down during the Great Kanto Earthquake, seeds from the tree were rescued and planted in the same spot as the old tree. The building was used as the British consulate until 1972.
The archives include a museum which tells the story of Japan and Yokohama’s opening to the West, beginning with the arrival of Commodore Perry and his black ships.
The reading room downstairs has historic Japanese and English newspapers and books. Materials include papers of Ernest Satow, foreign and Japanese newspapers of the Meiji period including, the Japan Daily Herald, the Japan Weekly Mail and Japan Punch. Many of the old newspapers have been copied onto new paper, making them very easy to handle. These copies can be accessed directly from the shelves and can be photocopied. There are also collections of various diplomatic papers relating to Japan’s foreign relations. A select number of books on Japanese history, published by the archives, are also available for purchase.
4. Yokohama Three Towers
Yokohama is a home to a trio of towers named the King, the Queen, and the Jack, respectively. The King’s Tower was built in 1928 and designed to resemble a five-storied pagoda. It earned its name and thanks to its art deco and imperial crown-inspired style. It now houses the Kanagawa Prefectural Office.
Yokohama Customs is referred to as the Queen’s Tower, and is somewhat reminiscent of a mosque. It was built in 1934 and given its nickname as its dome shape seemed feminine in contrast to the neighboring King’s Tower.
The third and final tower is Yokohama Opening Memorial Hall, known as the Jack’s Tower. It is built in a neo-renaissance style and constructed before either the Queen or King towers. It is currently used as Naka Ward Hall.
According to urban legend, your wishes will come true if you stand at three different points in the city where you can see all three towers at the same time. The areas are Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Park, Nihon Odori Street, and Osanbashi. There are plaques marking out the spots in each area. Make a detour and visit all three spots if you need a little extra luck.
5. Yokohama Creative city Centre (YCC)
Yokohama Creative City Centre is created after the Yokohama Branch of the former Daiichi Bank, a heritage building constructed in 1929. This is a base that supports creative activities and the mingling of artists. It has undergone a renovation and re-opened on June 30th, 2015. The cafe on the 1st floor is produced by various artists. 2nd and 3rd floor are shared office and studio with digital machine accessory.
6. Bankoku Bridge
The arch type bridge which connects a new harbour area to a carriage way is Bankoku bridge.
It is a famous spot with a good night view.
The light glowing from the Minato Mirai area, lights up the whole area and can be reflected in the water surface, and the night view seen from Bankoku bridge can show an “upside-down Minato Mirai.”
First built in 1903, this bridge survived the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, but was eventually replaced in 1940 to its current form. Though only 50 meters in length, this arch bridge connects Yokohama’s past to its future, by connecting the old Bashamichi to the new Minato Mirai areas. Bashamichi was where gaslights first lit the streets, and trees lined the boulevard — it was also home to Japan’s first ice cream shop.
7. Yokohama Red Brick Warehouses
The Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse is a historical building that is used as a complex that includes a shopping mall, banquet hall, and event venues. The complex, officially known as the Newport Pier Tax Keeping Warehouse, was originally used as customs buildings, and has two sections: Warehouse No.1 and No.2. It is operated by Yokohama Akarenga Co. Ltd., and located at the Port of Yokohama in Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.
Completed in 1911 and 1913 respectively, warehouses number 2 and one have been important since their construction. They were damaged in the Great Kanto Earthquake, but survived, eventually used as military supply depots during WWII. The US military requisitioned the buildings after the war, using it as their headquarters in the harbour. After the occupation ended, it fell into disrepair until the 1990s, when it was bought by Yokohama city from the state and renovated to its current elegant state. It’s now popular among tourists and locals alike or its high end shopping and frequent events.
8. Iseyama Kotai Shrine.
Constructed in 1870, the Iseyama Kotai Shrine enshrines the Shinto sun goddess, Amaterasu-Omikami, and is often referred to as the “Oise-san of the Kanto Region.” The guardian deity of Yokohama, where many people visit on New Year’s Day, for cherry-blossom viewing, and so on.
An impressive shrine of Yokohama city, dedicated to the main deity of the city, known for its cherry blossom trees and atmosphere of peace and safety.
The shrine was founded in 1870. As Yokohama port was opened, the development of shrines dedicated to nation’s defence has begun. Today this main deity of Yokohama city is known as “Ise of Kanto”. The visitors come here to pray for good luck, house and traffic safety, mood and body healing.
Formerly there was a cherry blossom tree alley on the shrine approaching road, and it was one of the most famous cherry blossom spots in Yokohama.
There are some old trees of Yoshino cherry left in the precincts so the area is gorgeous at blossoming season and the visitor’s number increases.
The shrine is built in an ancient Japanese architectural style, called shinmei-zukuri.
The original shrine building was destroyed during The Great Kanto earthquake in 1923 and was newly constructed in 1928.
9. Kanagawa Prefectural Government’s Office (King’s Tower)
Kanagawa Prefectural Government’s Office is nicknamed “King’s Tower,” stands with an exceptional dignity in the historical area. Built in 1928, it was influenced by the Art Deco architectural style which was popular in Europe back then. The imperial crown style and the exterior scratch tiles give it distinction. It is particularly beautiful when the building is lit from sundown to 22:00. Often used for location shooting in Japanese TV dramas and movies.
10. Yokohama Landmark Tower Sky Garden
The Yokohama Landmark Tower is the second tallest building and 4th tallest structure in Japan, standing 296.3 m (972 ft) high. Until surpassed by Abeno Harukas in 2012, it stood as the tallest building in Japan. It is located in the Minato Mirai 21 district of Yokohama city, next to the Yokohama Museum of Art.
The building contains a five-star hotel which occupies floors 49-70, with 603 rooms in total. The lower 48 floors contain shops, restaurants, clinics, and offices. The building contains two tuned mass dampers on the (hidden) 71st floor on opposite corners of the building.
On the 69th floor there is an observatory, Sky Garden, from which one can see a 360-degree view of the city, and on clear days Mount Fuji.
The tower contains what were at their inauguration the world’s second fastest elevators, which reach speeds of 12.5 m/s (41 ft/s) (45.0 km/h (28.0 mph)). This speed allows the elevator to reach the 69th floor in approximately 40 seconds. The elevators’ speed record was surpassed by elevators of Taipei 101 (60.6 km/h, 37.7 mi/h) in 2004.
The building was designed by the architecture and engineering division of Mitsubishi Estate, now Mitsubishi Jisho Sekkei and Hugh Stubbins and Associates, later Kling Stubbins.
11. Yokohama Chinatown
Yokohama Chinatown is Japan’s largest Chinatown, located in central Yokohama. A large number of Chinese stores and restaurants can be found in the narrow and colourful streets of Chinatown. Various events and festivals such as Chinese New Year around the beginning of February are also held at Chinatown.
Yokohama Chinatown quickly developed, after the port of Yokohama had been one of the first Japanese ports to be opened to foreign trade in 1859. It became the residence of the many Chinese traders who settled down in the city. Today, there are more businesses than actual residents living in the area.
Four colourful gates stand at the entrances to Chinatown, and five more gates can be found within. The Kanteibyo is a gaudily coloured temple in the centre of Chinatown. Constructed in 1873 by Chinese residents, it is dedicated to the Chinese god of good business and prosperity.
The main attraction of the Yokohama Chinatown, however, is the cuisine offered at its many restaurants and food stands. Popular favourites include steamed buns (manju), ramen noodles and a wide array of other Chinese dishes, many of which have been Japan-ized to a certain degree.
12. Ramen Museum
The Shinyokohama Ramen Museum is a unique museum about ramen, a very popular Japanese noodle dish which was originally introduced from China.
In a gallery on the first floor, the Ramen Museum presents the history of ramen noodles in Japan, including the big success of instant ramen. It displays the variety of noodles, soups, toppings and bowls used across Japan, and shows how the noodles are made.
On the two basement floors, visitors can explore a 1:1 replica of some streets and houses of Shitamachi, the old town of Tokyo, of around the year 1958, when the popularity of ramen was rapidly increasing. Nine ramen restaurants can be found there, each featuring a ramen dish from a different region of Japan.
For visitors who wish to try multiple ramen dishes, every store offers “mini ramen”, a small portion of the feature dish. Tickets for the meals are purchased at vending machines in front of each store before entering.
13. Cup Noodles Museum
The Cup Noodles Museum is a fun and interactive museum in Yokohama’s Minato Mirai District that shows the history of instant ramen noodles using a combination of whimsical exhibits and hands on workshops. It was opened by the Nissin Food Company, whose founder invented instant ramen noodles in 1958 as a fast and convenient food. It is the second cup noodles museum to open in Japan; the first is the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka.
14. Kirin Beer Factory
The Kirin Brewery Company, one of Japan’s four leading beer breweries, was founded in Yokohama, a city that played a leading role in Japan’s adoption of beer from the West. It is possible for tourists to visit the Kirin Beer Factory in Yokohama and participate in free brewery tours, which offer a glimpse into the brewing facilities and include some beer tasting.
Brewery tours last about 80 minutes and lead along a gallery with displays regarding the history of beer and Kirin and with views of fermentation tanks and the canning and bottling areas. Tours are usually conducted in Japanese, but an English guide may also be available. The last twenty minutes of the tour consist of a free tasting, where visitors are given a couple of beers and some snacks.
15. Hakkeijima Sea Paradise
The Hakkeijima Sea Paradise is an amusement park located on a small island just off shore, about 30 minutes by train south of downtown Yokohama. It is one of the most visited amusement parks in Japan and houses quite an impressive aquarium.
Admission into the park is not charged. Visitors are free to enter the island to utilize its park areas, stroll along the promenades, shop at the stores or dine at the restaurants. An entry fee is only required for the attractions of Aqua Resorts and the rides of Pleasure Land.