If time and budget don’t allow for a longer vacation, but you’re in need of some space from Tokyo (she can be overwhelming, right?), we have just the solution. Yokohama boasts wide open spaces, ocean views, craft beer and jazz bars. While many Tokyoites regularly escape into the city’s tranquil arms during the warmer seasons, its beauty can be a little neglected when the temperature drops. But we say, pick a day with blue skies, put on a coat and head for the port.
Yokohama has many locations that were designed to be walkable. First up, we recommend Sankeien, a traditional landscaped garden that once was the home of an important feudal lord and opened to the public in 1906. The site boasts 17 historic buildings as well as plenty of flora and fauna (when we visited, we were lucky to spot a couple of Japanese cranes). A full round through the many trails will take you well over 30 minutes if you don’t stop by the shrine or pagoda along the way. While the park is an obvious attraction during spring, we advise stopping by during winter when the garden and its foliage are gently dusted with snow, giving the park a romantic winter wonderland feel.
If you’re hesitant to stray too far from the warmth of the shopping malls, pick up a cup of hot cocoa and opt for a stroll through Yamashita Park. It’s a five-minute walk from Motomachi-Chukagai Station and runs right alongside the sea. On one side, admire a series of buildings that show off some of the city’s oldest architecture and now house an assortment of restaurants and cafés. On the other, enjoy a view of the harbor and the Hikawa Maru, a ship turned museum where you can check out displays taking you back to the 1930s.
A walk through Yamashita Park will also lead you to the city’s pride and joy: Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse. Serving as an ode to the city’s fascinating history, the former brick warehouse is a historical building that’s renovated as a trendy space for shops and restaurants. Among these is jazz bar Motion Blue, which is a sister location to the popular Blue Note in Tokyo’s Shibuya. If you’re looking for a vibey atmosphere and live tunes, good food and delicious original cocktails, this is the place to go. The bar books world-renown artists so be sure to check their schedule before you visit.