Japan’s largest port04 November, 2011 by Chad
Yokohama served as the main port of Japan in the 1800s. Today it rivals Tokyo as the country’s largest city and retains its status as one of Japan’s main ports. Most of Yokohama’s port has been incorporated into an area known also as Minato Mirai 21. It’s a high tech urban center where skyscrapers, convention halls and shopping centers stand side by side with traces of the city’s heritage.
Yokohama is famous for being the portal to the rest of Japan back when the country was forced to open it doors to the rest of the world. These days, most of Yokohama’s maritime activities have been shifted offshore. Instead, the former Yokohama Port area has been preserved for a mix of commercial and cultural purposes.
Despite being one of the most populated cities, Yokohama boasts a more favorable density than most other metropolitan cities in Japan. Skyscrapers are spaced well apart even in the business areas. This does little to block the strong winds coming from the sea but Yokohama is still a nice place to stroll around on days with better weather.
There are many significant places of interest in Yokohama. Modern examples include the Landmark Tower, the tallest building in Japan. The 273 meter office building has a (paid) observatory at its top floors which is the tallest viewing point you will find, at least until the Tokyo Sky Tree launches to the public in May 2012.
Strong Western influences are apparent in Yokohama’s architecture, especially among the landmarks preserved from its Meiji days. The Nipponmaru ship lies docked across from the Yokohama Port Museum, which was undergoing renovations when we visited earlier this year.
The railway tracks leading up to Akarenga Souko, the iconic Red Brick Warehouses as with the warehouses themselves have been preserved.
The Akarenga Souko, located at the edge of the coast overlooks the sea and reclaimed land where most of Yokohama’s industrial activity now take place. The classic buildings here have been converted to house up class boutiques and restaurants.
You can get to Yokohama from Shibuya in under 30 minutes. Yokohama’s close vicinity to Tokyo and ease of transport to the city have made it a popular day trip for Tokyoites.
Unsurprisingly, there are ample shopping options in Yokohama for those with money to spare. Just across the warehouses you’ll find World Porters, a large theme mall along the likes of Mitsui Outlet Park. A large variety of brands from around the world can be found here.
Walking further down the coast, you’ll find other notable places like Yamashita Park which stretches across the 750 meters of the port coast. The Hikawamaru aka Queen of the Pacific, a large ocean-liner from the 1930s is parked here, having been converted into a maritime museum. Just across the road, you’ll find Yokohama’s Chinatown too, noted for being the largest of its kind in the country.
The Osanbashi Pier here stretches some 400 meters out of Yokohama’s coast. It houses the Yokohama International Ferry Terminal, an interesting construct that has been seemingly built into the ground itself.
The man made landscape pictured is actually the roof of the terminal which has been blended into the rest of its surroundings. The halls below serve as the boarding point for passengers as cruise ships dock at the side of the platforms. It’s an amazing piece of architectural art.
For more snapshots of this city, visit our related posts below.Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.