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Yokohama Starts Here

Yokohama is not a suburb of Tokyo, though it may appear to be one on the map. Conversely, I’ve never fully accepted the idea of Yokohama a full-fledged city; the assertion that Yokohama (not Osaka) is the second-largest city in Japan is nonsense.

Just as Britney Spears declared in her timeless 2002 hit that she was “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman,” Yokohama sits somewhere between being a main act and being one of Tokyo’s backup singers. Yokohama is a place where you could stay the night, but that most people see on a day trip instead.

The question of how many days in Yokohama, to be sure, is irrelevant in most cases. But it’s still helpful to be aware of all there is to do here—and to think of a more pertinent question, namely “is Yokohama worth visiting?”— even if you only come for a morning or afternoon.

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Why Most People See Yokohama on a Day Trip from Tokyo

When you research how to get to Yokohama from the Tokyo area, it’s easy to see why most people simply come for the day. It takes less than an hour from both Tokyo Station (on the JR Yokosuka Line) and Shinjuku or Shibuya (on the JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line), which makes it a relatively mindless excursion. Once you’re there, the parts of the city that aren’t walkable are well-connected by the Yokohama Municipal Subway and local buses.

Another reason most people opt not to spend a night in Yokohama? They simply aren’t aware of all there is to do there. In fact, I’ve met many travelers who thought there was nothing more to see in Yokohama than the Cup Noodles Museum or the Gundman statue, when it was there. The great news is that you found this article—and I’m about to shine a bit spotlight on Yokohama’s best attractions.

My Favorite Things to Do in Yokohama?

Relax in Sankei-en garden


It might seem strange to visit one of Japan’s largest cities and then ensconce oneself in a landscape garden. But to me, vegging out in Sankei-en is actually one of the best ways to make a trip to Yokohama worth it, particularly if you’re coming on a day trip from Tokyo.

Explore Japan’s best Chinatown


Another highlight, whether or not you take a Tokyo to Yokohama day trip, is to visit Chukagai, aka Yokohama Chinatown. In some ways, this is the best and most complete of Japan’s three big Chinatowns, the others being in Kobe and Nagasaki. It’s beautiful at night, too, which makes me feel you probably should spend the night.

Make your own ramen


While I’ve always found ramen to be the most overrated of Japan’s mainstream foods, I can’t lie that Yokohama’s Cup Noodles Museum is a fun time. Not only can you learn about the history of cup noodles, but you can make your own. And then, when you’re done, sit down and eat your way through a global noodle bar.

Enjoy a different urban vibe


Contrary to what you might believe looking at a map, Yokohama isn’t part of Tokyo. There’s a unique urban vibe here, which is difficult to describe until you emerge onto the streets and feel it for yourself. For some travelers, this is immediate; for others, it requires staying the night and waking up here.

Continue onward to Kamakura or Kawasaki


When I plan custom Japan trips for people, I often nest a half-day in Yokohama in with one in nearby cities. For example, I sometimes recommend spending the morning amid the temples of Kamakura, or on Enoshima island just down the coast. An even more off-the-beaten-path option is to visit Daishi Shrine is industrial Kawasaki.

Where to Stay in Yokohama

Is it worth staying in Yokohama? It honestly depends on what you plan to do there, and whether you have time in you Japan itinerary for it. Some travelers are only able to carve out a few hours away from Tokyo, which makes it difficult to consider spending a night. However, if you have a longer trip—say, two weeks or certainly a month in Japan—overnighting in Yokohama becomes a much better value proposition.

As far as Yokohama hotels are concerned, they run the gamut. From big-box, high-luxury hotels like the bayside Intercontinental Yokohama Grand, to smaller business hotels such as Daiwa Roynet Hotel Yokohama Koen, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Do keep in mind, however, that many of the “best” locations are a bus or subway ride from both Yokohama Station and the Shin-Yokohama Shinkansen hub.

Other FAQ About Your Trip to Yokohama

Is Yokohama worth visiting?

Yokohama is absolutely worth visiting—it’s far from just Tokyo’s little brother! I love planning a trip that mixes that urban attractions (such as the Red Brick Warehouse) with something more natural or cultural, like Sankei-en garden or Yokohama Chinatown. Exploring Yokohama’s eclecticness is the easiest way to appreciate it.

Is one day in Yokohama enough?

You can cover quite a lot of ground with a day in Yokohama. Still, I think it’s best to stay overnight if you can. This will allow you to delve more deeply into the culinary scene, and also to see Chinatown (which, if I’m honest, looks best at night) lit up in colors.

Can you do a day trip to Yokohama?

It’s easy to do a day trip from Yokohama to Tokyo. Simply ride the JR Yokosuka Line from Tokyo, Shimbashi or Shinagawa Stations, or the JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line from Shinjuku or Shibuya. Note that while you could also ride the Shinkansen from Tokyo or Shinagawa to Shin-Yokohama, this station is a bit more distant from the city center.

The Bottom Line

Is Yokohama worth visiting? No matter how many days in Yokohama you spend—or indeed, if you even stay a single night here—I have a feeling the city is going to impress you. Though it’s been forever in the shadow of Tokyo, Yokohama is very much its own entity. It’s got an exciting central core, distinctive neighborhoods, singular architectural and cultural sites and even destinations that are arguably better as day trips from Yokohama, rather than Tokyo. Whether you come for the day or opt to sleep on it, you’ll find that Yokohama punches above its weight. This will prove especially true if you hire me to plan your trip to Japan.


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