The air is salty and fresh and the breeze ruffles your hair; sure signs that you’re in Yokohama. Yokohama is Japan’s second largest city and was one of Japan’s first foreign trade ports. Today, Yokohama is a thriving, modern city with a beautiful seaside port and is a perfect day trip escape from the busy streets of Tokyo.
During a Sunday in October we took the chance to spend a whole day in Yokohama to soak up all it has to offer and these were the 4 stops we fit into one day.
Stop 1: Hakkejima Sea Paradise
We’ve never visited as many aquariums as we have in Japan. They’re a very popular place to visit, particularly for families and couples. Hakkejima Sea Paradise was no exception and was incredibly popular.
There are two parts to the island of Hakkejima, the aquarium section and the amusement park section. We mostly hung out in the aquarium because we ran out of time for the amusement park before we had to head to our next activity. The amusement park however, is famous for a rollercoaster that takes you over the ocean, so definitely give it a go if you’re into rollercoasters with a view.
In the ‘Sea Paradise’ aquarium there are heaps of things to see and do:
- ‘Friendly time’ with dolphins where you can pat them in a safe environment for the dolphins. You will be asked to wash your hands thoroughly and sanitise them before coming into contact with the dolphins.
- Admire fish, sharks, rays and dolphins in the large aquariums.
- Watch a dolphin and beluga show where the trainers and dolphins swim together in a performance that warms the soul.
If you get hungry, Hakkejima Sea Paradise has a number of different restaurants and food trucks where you can BBQ your own lunch, feast on Hawaiian food or try some traditional Japanese cuisine. We can highly recommend the churros from ‘Cable Car Coffee.’
One of the coolest things about Hakkejima is getting there via the Hakkejima Seaside Line from either Kanazawa-Hakkei or Shin-Sugita station to Hakkejima station. The Hakkejima Seaside Line is a self-driving train that has stunning views of Yokohama. Try to get a seat in the front of car 1 of the Hakkejima Seaside Line for the best views from the train! Once you reach Hakkejima station, jump off the train, walk across the bridge and you’ll reach Sea Paradise.
Tip: buy your tickets online beforehand to skip the line. The line to buy tickets was ENORMOUS when we went, but the line for pre-purchased tickets was much shorter, so definitely book your tickets online before you go.
Stop 2: Cup Noodle Museum
Did you know that cup noodles were invented in Japan? Well, there is whole museum dedicated to it in both Osaka and Yokohama. Momofuku Ando invented instant Chicken Ramen in 1958, which he followed with Cup Noodles in 1971 and Space Ram in 2005, an instant ramen for consumption on the International Space Station.
Throughout the Cup Noodle Museum you can visit the ‘Instant Noodles History Cube’ where the walls are covered in cups of instant noodles from around the world. Beyond this room is the Momofuku Theatre where you can watch a cute, animated film about the history of Momofuku Ando and the invention of cup noodles. The film is entirely in Japanese, but you can still understand the general story from the animation. You then head into Momofuku’s work shed, a recreation of the shed in which he created the first instant ramen, followed by a timeline of the history and progression of Momofuku and cup noodles.
After you’ve got you fill of Cup Noodle history, head to the My Cup Noodles Factory on the 3rd floor where you can design and create your own cup noodles to take home. You’ll be given a cup and a table with markers to create your masterpiece. Once you’re done, take it to the ‘factory’ at the front of the room where you will choose your flavours and extra additions before it is sealed and handed to you with a blow-up carry bag.
Finally, head to the Noodles Bazaar on the 4th floor where you can eat different noodles from around the world in a street food style experience. All of the noodles are small serving sizes so that you can try heaps of different ones.
Tickets: at the moment you have to pre-book your tickets and they were quite difficult to find on the site so here is the link to the Lawson ticket site. The ticket site is in Japanese so just right click on the page and click ‘translate to English’. You then have to visit a Lawson convenience store and go to the ticket machine, print your ticket confirmation code, hand it to the cashier and they will print your real ticket (we know, it’s a really long, ridiculous process).
Stop 3: Yokohama Chinatown
Being one of the first ports to open to foreign trade, Yokohama was home to a lot of Chinese traders who began the largest Chinatown in Japan. Today, most of Chinatown is businesses, not residences, but it is definitely home to a lot of delicious food. Just wandering through the colourful streets with the vendors yelling out ‘Hello! All you can eat!’ to grab your attention is an experience. And although some of the food has been ‘Japanised’, it’s still a wonderful place to go and eat. We would highly recommend eating ALL the dumplings and steamed buns and wandering the streets taking in the sights and smells.
Stop 4: Yokohama Bay and the Red Brick Warehouses
One of the most prominent structures on Yokohama Bay are the Red Brick Warehouses. These European-style brick warehouses have been renovated to house boutique stores and restaurants by the bay side. Walking by the Red Brick Warehouses at night is particularly stunning as they light up the darkness with their warm glow. After you’ve feasted in Chinatown, take a walk along the bay by the warehouses and soak in the last of the sea air before heading back to the train station.
There are so many more places to explore in Yokohama, but these stops will definitely keep you busy for one day. Only 1.5 hours from central Tokyo, Yokohama is well worth the visit.