Yokohama Port opened to the world in 1859 and the city served as a gateway to the West, creating a cultural exchange between Japan and the rest of the world. These early influences on people’s lives can still be seen, as the city embraces both modern technology and traditional aesthetics, and as a result serves as a kind of portal between past and present. Here are a few top recommendations for a different day out in the city…
Sightseeing in Style: The Hakama Experience at Kimono Station
Many visitors rent kimono, but the hakama is a rare sight. The hakama is a form of traditional Japanese clothing, combining a kimono with a large, pleated skirt. Worn daily as a school uniform in the early 1900s, the hakama silhouette is usually only seen in spring these days, when young women wear them to their university graduation ceremonies. Yokohama was, and still is, particularly famous for the signature style of combining hakama with Western accessories – black high-heeled boots in particular. The hakama’s wide skirt not only makes it easier to walk than when wearing kimono, it’s also devilishly stylish. To make a memory that’ll last a lifetime, guests should book their appointments early in the day to make the most of the one-day rental system.
More info at yokohama.kimonostation.com
Retro Travel: Akai Kutsu Bus
Transport yourself into another time with this charming retro-style bus that serves almost 50 of the city’s most popular tourist destinations on several different routes. For just ¥220 per ride for adults (¥110 for kids), it’s a great way to see Yokohama. The Minato Burari one-day pass is also a steal, starting at ¥500, for those wanting to hop on and off throughout the day, as well as use municipal subways and buses (limited to certain areas) – and it also offers discounts at 90 facilities in the city. The bus’s namesake, Akai Kutsu, means “red shoes” and comes from a traditional song that is famous in Yokohama, telling the bittersweet story of a girl who was adopted by missionaries from America and sailed across the ocean. This girl wore red shoes, and there is a statue dedicated to her in Yamashita Park, one of the bus’s many destinations.
More info at tinyurl.com/TWakai-kutsu
Brave the Waves: Sea Bass
As Yokohama is a port city, traveling on the waves is surely a must. The Sea Bass is a water bus that drops by Minato Mirai and the Red Brick Warehouse, among other popular tourist stops. Visitors can choose between the outdoor deck at the back of the water bus to embrace the sea breeze, or pop indoors to enjoy the ride with a view in comfort. The boat leaves every 15 minutes, and the fee depends on how far you want to go. It’s a great way to see the harbor and you can go straight from Yokohama Station all the way to Yamashita Park, avoiding all the crowds while you take in the city and ocean views.
More info at tinyurl.com/TWcruise-guide
State-of-the-art Nature Adventure: Orbi
Yokohama is home to one of the most innovative interactive museums in the world, offering a supercharged nature experience without having to worry about bad weather. This giant facility, located inside shopping complex Minato Mark IS, integrates SEGA’s technology with BBC Earth’s in-depth knowledge of nature to create a unique experience taking visitors across the world into the skies, under the sea, into the jungle and more. Along with interactive screen exhibits and animal-inspired selfie booths, there is a movie experience with a difference at Theatre 23.4 (named for the Earth’s axial tilt). The theater’s 40-meter-wide and eight-meter-high screen, and special wind, fog and vibration effects will take you deep into the wilderness.
More info at orbiearth.jp