For the first time in Yokohama

From October 28th until November 6th, I traveled to Yokohama for the first time. I was excited if I would like the big cities after I’ve lived in the much smaller Hiroshima. The goal of my trip was, first, to support the artist exchange and to visit business locations where European companies are supported with moving to Yokohama. But secondly, I should also find out how easy it is to get along in the city as a non-Japanese.

The first day I stayed in Tokyo to see the most famous places, like the Asakusa Kaminarimon, Shibuya, the Meiji Jingu, Harajuku and the Tokyo Tower. The next day I went to Yokohama in the morning. After I had searched for my Ryokan in Tokyo for what felt like an eternity, I was happy, that I found my hotel in Yokohama right away, because it wasn’t far away and very easy to spot. I had them keep my luggage and headed to Kamakura.

Neither from Tokyo to Yokohama nor from Yokohama to Kamakura it took more than half an hour, which kind of surprised me since both cities are so huge. Unfortunately, a Taifun made it impossible to see the huge Buddha statue, so I had to return to Yokohama. However, I could well use the time and explore the inside of the city – the beautiful shopping centers.

Sankeien Garden

On the following day, together with Ms. Ishida of the International Affairs Bureau Yokohama, I visited the Sankeien Garden. We had a guided through the historic buildings and got to know about the history of the founder Tomitaro "Sankei" Hara. We also had the opportunity to take part in a tea ceremony and I was even allowed to try and prepare a bowl of tea all by myself. That was a special experience since I had seen some ceremonies so far, but I had never tried it myself.

The garden is of such a lively green, now that it’s autumn, speckled with some red and gold, I could have spent all day or even longer. In summer you can even see lightning bugs and I can only imagine how magical this garden must look on such nights.

Triennale 2017

After visiting this beautiful garden, we went to the Landmarktower. There you can see the famous ferry wheel, the surrounding amusement park and the sailing ship Nippon Maru. We headed to the Museum of Art to see the Triennale exhibition, held once every three years. On the way, I found some beautifully designed shopping centers, skyscrapers of elegant architecture and even planted façades.  

The Triennale influenced many parts of the cityscape: A big turtle in a shopping center, further events in the Redbrick Warehouse and a huge installation at the façade of the Museum. Lifeboats and life vests were draped against the wall, an artwork of Ai Weiwei. There were manga style paintings, an Arabic puppet theatre play and many more pieces from diverse cultures. We couldn’t even manage to see everything in the brief time. A short review of the Triennale 2017 you can find here.

Beautiful cityscape

Together with the artist Justus Becker, who came from Frankfurt for the new artist exchange, we saw some of the main places in Yokohama: The Yamashita Park, directly next to the water; Osanbashi, a creatively designed Pier for cruises where you can go for a stroll; the Marine Tower, once the light house of the harbor; the three harbor-towers „The Queen“, „The King“ and „The Jack“, the customs building, the Kanagawa Prefectural Office and the Yokohama Port Opening Memorial Hall – the first three towers you saw immediately when entering the port back then.

We had a look at the whole city from the top of the Landmarktower and despite slight fog, we could even see the Mt. Fuji. Some days I could see the Mt. Fuji from my hotel’s window and it was always a moving sight – an odd fact that one might only understand when seeing this mountain for the first time.  We ate some delicious sushi and looked around the artistic district Koganecho, before the graffiti artist started his wall painting at the College of Art and Design.

Hakkeijima Seaparadise

The Hakkeijima Seaparadise has its name for a good reason. Even just a walk along the sea is amazing. Of course, my main interest was the aquarium. I couldn’t resist the possibility of getting in touch with some of the ocean’s creatures and I was lucky to get in contact with a dolphin. Not only the aquarium offers a lot to see, the surrounding amusement park is also worth the travel. For me personally, Hakkeijima and the Sankeien Garden are the most beautiful places in Yokohama.

Yokohama's advantages

After one week I can tell, that the one thing which clearly divides Tokyo and Yokohama is the huge crowd of people. I was lucky not to end up in one of the trains where the staff need to push the passengers inside, but nevertheless, it was clearly visible how much more people are living on much smaller space in Tokyo. Yokohama is still blessed with broad squares where you can stroll at ease, without squeezing through crowds. However, I consider the closeness to Tokyo as very beneficial, not only for business meetings but also for nightlife activity. You always have the choice between a lot of action and calmer walks around the city and you can even have both if you like.

What I really liked about Yokohama was, that there are many possibilities to go out for a walk, for example during lunch time. The former tram bridge, connecting the Landmarktower with the Redbrick Warehouse, makes for a romantic scenery, especially in that time of the year with all the illuminations. There are also many smaller park-like spaces with beautiful flowers, slowing down the city, like the space between the Landmarktower and the World Porters Shopping Center.

A lot of the signs in the city are also written in English so that those who can’t read Japanese don’t need to worry. If any questions arise, the staff of stores and train stations can help in English as well, but the train schedules are quite easy to comprehend. Yokohama is a very beautiful city, shaped by fresh colors and the sea breeze, many artistic elements and a mix of architectural styles making the city a vivid place.

In case you are planning on traveling to Yokohama or visiting the city for a business trip and you’ve still got some questions, I would be very happy to answer your call.

Veröffentlicht in Information, Travel / Culture / MICE.