Slightly south of Tokyo, you’ll find many cruises depart from Yokohama en route to destinations like Taiwan, China, and South Korea. Yokohama might not be as well known as its neighboring Tokyo, but it’s well worth the discovery. With a population of three million people, Yokohama definitely isn’t a sleepy city.
Before boarding an Asia cruise from Yokohama, Japan, you might want to arrive a day or two early to see Tokyo, which is just a 30-minute train ride away, and spend a day sightseeing. In Tokyo, don’t miss skyline views from the top of the famous Tokyo Tower, modeled after the Eiffel Tower and painted orange among a sea of silver skyscrapers. Then tour the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo, Sensō-ji, which contains a sprawling market of souvenirs and goods for tourists. The whole family will love Tokyo Disneyland, the first Disney property built outside of the United States, where you can ride exhilarating rides and meet your favorite characters.
When you’re done with the excitement of Tokyo, hop on a high speed train to Yokohama, where endless opportunities for art and culture await. For art enthusiasts, an afternoon at Yokohama Art Museum is a must. Surround yourself with cherry blossoms at the traditionally Sankeien Garden, where you can lose yourself while walking the historic grounds for several hours before grabbing tea and lunch nearby.
The Sankeien Garden is a must-experience destination for visitors on a cruise from Yokohama, Japan. It’s been open to the public for over 100 years, and every season at the gardens evokes a different emotion and variety of plant life in bloom. Spring is famous for its cherry blossoms, while late February is known for plum blossoms signaling the end of winter. Nature lovers of all ages can learn the history of the garden on a free guided tour, enjoying the tranquility and historic significance it holds for the people of Yokohama.
The Yokohama Museum of Art has been exhibiting incredible ancient and modern art since opening in 1989. It’s an iconic attraction in Yokohama for art lovers, plus it includes a rare selection of works by Monet, Picasso, and Warhol. It’s on the smaller side for a museum, so you can take your time and still see almost everything.
The Emperor of Japan calls the Tokyo Imperial Palace home, so many parts of this stunning property do not accommodate tourists. However, you can spend hours exploring the palace’s beautiful gardens and cherry blossoms, or discover the history of the palace on a guided tour. Kitanomaru Park is famous, where cherry blossoms cover the area in the spring and couples rent boats to paddle the palace moat. You’ll feel transported to another time here.
For a quick getaway, head to the seaside town of Kamakura for a relaxing few days on the coast south of Tokyo. Only an hour from Tokyo, Kamakura has a variety of traditional Shinto temples and Buddhist shrines, including a 42-foot tall bronze seated Buddha at the temple of Kōtoku-in. You’ll be stunned as you walk through the lush bamboo garden of Hokokuji, where you can also enjoy a traditional matcha tea ceremony.
You’ll be welcomed to Motomachi Street, a famous shopping district in Yokohama, by an arch decorated with a sculpture of a phoenix. This is the place in Yokohama for antique shopping, decor, jewelry, and upscale fashions. Whether you’re doing some serious retail therapy or just window shopping, Motomachi Street makes for a charming and quiet stroll.
No trip to Tokyo is complete without a trip to the top of Tokyo Sky Tree, which is now the tallest building in Japan. You’ll get a 360-degree view of Tokyo from the observation deck, plus there are restaurants and an aquarium in “Sky Tree Town” for you to enjoy an entire afternoon of exploring. Stay for sunset to watch the city come alive with lights.
Yokohama is famous for its Chinatown, where there are over 500 restaurants and shops to explore. It’s Japan’s largest Chinatown and one of the busiest sights in Yokohama. Enjoy ramen, dim sum, and other classic Chinese dishes while you’re exploring this bustling district.
It’s less than a two-hour drive from Yokohama to Mt. Fuji, which is an active volcano complete with hiking, trails, and restaurants. The hike to Mt. Fuji is a tough one, perfect for outdoorsy travelers who enjoy more strenuous physical activity. At the end of a hike up Mt. Fuji, you’ll be able to say you’ve scaled the tallest mountain in Japan.
Yokohama is the birthplace of some of Japan’s best foods. Beer was first introduced to Japan in Yokohama, and the city has a thriving craft beer scene. Don’t leave Yokohama without trying some of the Chinese food at Japan’s largest Chinatown, where dumplings and sesame balls called goma-dango are must-try dishes.
Yokohama is a foodie’s paradise where risk-taking with food yields delicious results. Thanks to Yokohama’s status as a bustling port city, Western influence is evident in certain local dishes like Napolitan spaghetti, which originated in Yokohama as a way to imitate the flavors of Western-style spaghetti. You can also try gyunabe, a beef hotpot where the beef is dipped in raw egg before it’s cooked and served with steamed vegetables.
Once a quiet fishing town, Yokohama exploded in population and popularity in the 19th century, when it became hugely important to international affairs and foreign trade. It was one of the first ports in Japan to become open to trading with other countries. Though Yokohama suffered destruction from raids in 1945 during World War II, the city quickly rebuilt and cemented its resilience.
Today, Yokohama is also the capital city of the Kanagawa prefecture and the second most populated area in Japan, though it’s still being discovered as a destination for tourism. Manufacturing and shipping continue to be huge industries for this port town, and though it’s large, Yokohama retains a small-town ease.
The port of Yokohama is centrally located near many of the city’s biggest and most eclectic attractions, like the Silk Museum and the Yokohama Doll Museum. Within the terminal, you’ll find a currency exchange machine to conveniently change your money as well as a few shops and a restaurant..
If you’re traveling from Tokyo on the way to board a Yokohama cruise, there’s a train from Tokyo Station to Yokohama that only takes 30 to 40 minutes. At the Yokohama cruise terminal, there’s also a subway station called Nihon-Odori that can transport you to many places. In Yokohama, many tourist destinations are just a short walk away from one another. Of course, taxis are popular in both Tokyo and Yokohama as a primary method to get around the city.
Near the cruise port, you’ll find souvenir stands and a couple of restaurants. You’ll have better luck shopping in Yokohama or during your stint in Tokyo nearby. The Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse is a set of gigantic warehouses on the Yokohama Bay, perfect for strolling the waterfront and shopping. There are hundreds of stores inside filled with locally-made items, coffee shops, and conventional department stores for anything you might need during your time in Japan.
Tipping is, in general, a no-no while in Japan. It’s not widely accepted at hotels or restaurants, and you don’t have to worry about tipping your cab driver either. If you have a particularly exceptional guide on a tour or excursion, you can ask before tipping to ensure maximum politeness. Be sure to carry a bit of cash with you in Japan. You’ll find US dollars aren’t accepted in most parts of Japan. Though credit cards have gained popularity, it’s good to have enough yen to cover a minor expense like a cab ride or train ticket.