Yokohama. Tokyo’s little cousin, but a lot more chill. This Yokohama one day itinerary is perfect for a day trip out of Tokyo.
Yokohama is a major port city, just a half-hour south of Tokyo. Once a small fishing village, it is now Japan’s second most populous city. I didn’t find Yokohama as exciting as nearby Tokyo, but that’s exactly part of its charm. This Yokohama day trip itinerary is the perfect way to get out of the hustle and bustle of the big city.
There are several trains that go between Yokohama and Tokyo for under $5. Some travellers prefer to stay in Yokohama: it’s cheaper. If you don’t mind a commute on your vacation, it’s a good option!
Yokohama is a great city to explore on foot or by bike. My first day in Japan was in Yokohama. It was great to spend a low-key, jet lagged day and get my bearings. We started the day at Yokohama Cosmoworld (which has the giant ferris wheel in every Yokohama photo) and biked down the port walkway, staying along the water the whole time. We ended the day exploring Chinatown and wandering around the city.
Here are my top spots for a quick Yokohama day trip itinerary:
Yokohama Cosmoworld is a theme mark in the Minato Mirai area of Yokohama, the popular waterfront promenade. This area is bustling on weekend mornings, with families and couples milling about. Minato Mirai and the promenade are lovely to walk around. The ferris wheel is a famous part of the skyline, so it’s worth a look. The giant ferris wheel lights up beautifully at night. If you’re in the mood, you might as well take twenty minutes out of your day to go on a ride.
Cup Noodles Museum
Visiting the CUPNOODLES Museum is one of those fun super-touristy activities. Best of all, it’s cheap (500 yen/$6CAD) and you learn a little bit of history. The museum is great for families, and we enjoyed walking around for an hour. It has surprisingly entertaining exhibits about an invention that changed the lives of college students: instant noodles. It sounds benign, but instant noodles are possibly one of Japan’s most famous inventions. Before cup noodles, all noodles were fresh and had to be properly cooked. Now the 2-minute variety has taken over the world, with over 106 billion servings eaten in 2019.
If you want to learn about instant noodles (and why wouldn’t you?!), it’s best to pick up an English audio guide. A lot of the information in the museum was in Japanese. One of the major draws to the museum is the cup noodle factory, where you can make your own custom cup noodles.
Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse
Walking into the Red Brick Warehouse felt like walking into a trying-just-hard-enough PNW hipster shopping joint. I’m from Vancouver so I say that with love. But I did have a bit of a giggle at the line to take a photo in front of a “Los Angeles” map.
The basic b in me can’t resist a trendy shopping centre for long. There’s always something fun happening in this area. The day we visited, there was a Christmas market and a car show going on. We came just a little bit too early for the giant ice rink outside the warehouse during the winter.
Once you take a step back to admire the history of the building, things become much more interesting. The buildings were historically used as the customs inspections office for Yokohama port. It was built way back in 1905, and has withstood its share of earthquakes. Now it’s a funky shopping complex, and the perfect spot to shop for a unique souvenir.
Osanbashi Pier has a perfect view of the port of Yokohama. Originally constructed in the late 1800s, the 400 meter pier is the docking spot for International cruise ships, and now, it has a bit of morbid pandemic history – this is where the Diamond Princess Cruise ship was docked at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pier has a modern walkway and green spaces open to the public. The architecture is interesting, with smooth wood along the entire plaza. It juts out into the water and is a great spot to look at Yokohama’s skyline.
Yokohama’s Chinatown is the largest Chinatown in Japan. It’s a colourful and bustling hive of activity, and a great last stop to grab dinner before a night out or heading home. There are tons of spots to eat, including street food vendors selling sesame balls, egg tarts, and pork buns. There are a few temples scattered about, and over 500 shops and restaurants in this neighbourhood. It’s generally just a bright and fun place to wander around and grab a bite.
If you’re looking to do a little bar hopping after dinner, stop by Noge area. Noge is one of Yokohama’s hidden gems. Walking through Noge feels like walking back in time into the Showa era. It’s atmosphere is similar to Tokyo’s famous Golden Gai, but with half the tourist crowds.
Noge is lined with neon lights, cozy izakayas, karaoke boxes, and funky bars. Way back at the end of WWII, Noge was one of the busiest black-market districts in the city, with around 400 stalls. The area still maintains a grungy charm. Noge is interestingly one of the top areas in Japan for jazz, and it has a smattering of jazz cafes.
This Yokohama day trip itinerary is great for a relaxing trip from Tokyo.
If you want to escape the mega-city for a day, hop over to Yokohama. Although it’s the second largest city in Japan, the atmosphere is totally different than Tokyo. It’s a lot quieter and has a laidback charm.
I recommend this Yokohama one day itinerary if you want to have a simple and relaxing day – walk along the water, see some pretty view, and eat some tasty food. You’ll find it all in Yokohama.
Travelling Japan on a budget? Here’s my guide on how to travel Japan on the cheap.