When you travel to Japan, it’s nearly impossible not to have your phone out and ready to capture the country’s vibrant landscapes and attractions. Japan’s second-biggest city by population, Yokohama, is no exception.
Only 30 minutes south of Tokyo by train, this seaside town made history in 1859 for being one of the first ports opened to foreign trade after Japan’s policy of self-isolation ended. Today, it’s filled with offbeat museums (the history of ramen has its own institution here!), sky-high observatories and movie-set worthy parks — all ready for their close-ups.
See below for Yokohama’s most Instagrammable sites and attractions.
Like many of the world’s most intriguing cities, Yokohama has its very own Chinatown. Once its port opened to foreign trade, many Chinese traders settled in the city center.
Four colorful, gold-accented gates welcome visitors into the neighborhood, which today contains more businesses (especially incredible restaurants) than residences. The streets are decorated with gold Chinese lanterns and colorful signage advertising hundreds of shops, restaurants and food stands.
After taking a selfie with some delicious soup dumplings, make sure to stop by Masobyo and Kanteibyo temples, Chinatown’s dazzling and ornate centerpieces.
In 1902, Yokohama businessman Sankei Hara established a 42-acre botanical park known today as Sankeien Garden. Hara, who made his fortune in the raw silk trade and silk spinning industry, oversaw the creation of a romantic landscape filled with groves, ponds, bridges and waterfalls. He also reconstructed 17 traditional Japanese structures with historic importance from across Japan. At the garden’s northern entrance sits the Sankei Memorial complex which includes a museum dedicated to Hara. An “inner garden” reveals the centuries-old, relocated structures.
Before you leave, stop and snap the roses, cherry blossoms, daffodils — any of which may be growing during warm weather months.
Minato Mirai 21
In Japanese, minato mirai means “harbor of the future.” Formerly a shipyard, this urban seaside district was built in the 1980s and is home to shopping centers, hotels, an amusement park and most famously, Landmark Tower. The skyscraper, formerly the tallest building in Japan, is one of the highest observatories in the country. Check out the Sky Garden on the top floor (895 feet in the air, to be precise) to sip a cocktail and admire the sweeping views of the city and the sea.
Just down the street is Cosmo World, an amusement park with roller coasters, carnival games and street food stands. Be sure to capture a photo from the Ferris wheel, which doubles as a technicolor clock after sunset.
Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum
The Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum is a noodle-centric cultural institution dedicated to none other than the world’s favorite instant meal: ramen.
Indeed, instant ramen was invented in 1958, and that’s where this museum takes us — straight to the streets of midcentury Tokyo, complete with old-school vending machines, ramen shops and other landmarks that make it a life-size replica of the city. On other floors of the museum, guests can learn about the history of ramen and how the food is made and customized for different palettes.
And if you’re feeling daring, check out the “mini ramen” dishes at each of the nine ramen restaurants found in the museum.