With stunning natural beauty, a bustling cosmopolitan vibe and some of the world’s largest sporting events on the horizon, we’ve uncovered a whole host of reasons to visit Yokohama, Japan… Just a 30 minute train ride from Tokyo or Haneda International Airport lies the international harbour city of Yokohama. Situated on the western coast of Tokyo Bay, Yokohama is one of Japan’s biggest cities with more than 3.74 million inhabitants. The city offers the excitement of a vibrant metropolis as well as stunning natural beauty, the combination of which makes Yokohama completely unique. Discover five reasons to get this exciting city on your travel bucket list today…
Start your journey through the city in the Minato Mirai area to view Yokohama’s iconic scenery. This historic area is home to the first port which opened up to foreign trade and shipping after the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Minato Mirai offers its most impressive and romantic views at night as the coloured lights and steel buildings create an unmissable dramatic landscape.
A short walk from Minato Mirai lies Noge District, where you can enjoy a mix of delicious izakaya (Japanese tapas) as well international bars and a host of entertainment including, of course, karaoke. Spend an evening wandering through the narrow streets and hopping between the many bars and locally run izakayas. Join the locals in shouting ‘Kanpai!’ (cheers!) over a Japanese draft beer, and relax in the open-air ‘tachi-nomi’ style bars.
If you want to enjoy the authenticity of Japan but without the crowds of Tokyo, Sankeien Garden is the perfect place to start. More than 175,000 square metres in size and with 17 unique historical buildings, this dynamic garden transforms with the different seasons. In spring, pink cherry blossoms bloom while in autumn, you can enjoy the beauty of the changing leaves. To complete the experience, try a matcha tea in the heart of Sankeien Garden as you admire the stunning surroundings.
A Deep Connection with Scotland
But, how did Yokohama come to be the international trading and harbour centre of Japan? Surprisingly the answer lies in Scotland. During the 1860s and 1870s, Scottish civil engineer Richard. H. Brunton visited Japan by governmental invitation in the first year of Meiji Period. Brunton built a number of lighthouses along the Japanese coast and this formed the basis for what is now the incredible Yokohama city. Today you can still can see his works of art alongside the modern skyscrapers. To retain this connected history between Scotland and Yokohama and to encourage the two places to grow together, the Scottish Government and Yokohama signed a joint declaration in July 2018. This collaboration encompasses a number of important areas including culture and tourism, marine and subsea industries and sports and education.
The Rugby World Cup
This year, Japan will host the Rugby World Cup with matches being held in stadiums across the country. This makes 2019 the perfect time to visit Yokohama as the semi-final will take place at the international stadium in the city. On top of that, the Scotland team will take on Japan in a game that will be held on the 13th October in Yokohama. Yokohama is also the official team camp base for the Scotland and Ireland national rugby teams and the city will host the pre-game training camp for Team GB during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.