Sankeien is a garden located in Yokohama wich opened to the public about 100 years ago. While the vegetation and the landscape of Sankeien are of great beauty, what makes Sankeien truly special is the many historical buildings that were brought from all over Japan by the then rich owner of the garden. In fact, many of these structures were part of old temples and shrines located in Kyoto, the old capital city. It is, without any doubt, one of the great gardens of the greater Tokyo area.
Summer is the season of Japanese festivals, or Matsuri in Japanese. When visiting the neighbourhood of Okurayama in late summer, we were pleasantly surprised by the ongoing festivities of the Okurayama Matsuri. The local shrine’s Omikoshi (festival float) was being carried around in the streets by locals. In the evening, Yatai food stalls were lining up the street leading to the small local shrine. We ate choco bananas and got purified by a shinto priest at the shrine.
Yokohama Marine Tower was built in 1961, way before the impressive Landmark Tower, Yokohama’s current tallest building, came to existence. The tower is not that high with its 100 meters but nonetheless offers a great view of the waterfront of Yokohama. From its observatory, one can see many landmarks of Yokohama like Yamashita Park, the Hikawa Maru, Osanbashi Pier, the Akarenga, and Minatomirai. On the day of our visit we could feel the tower shaking a bit although winds were not that strong!
Yamashita park stretches along the waterfront of the port of Yokohama. Nearby attactions include the Yokohama Marine tower and the Hikawa Maru, an ocean liner now preserved as a museum. While taking a stroll in the park, make sure to pass by the beautiful rose garden.
The Kawasaki Daishi temple, also officially known as the Heikenji temple, is the most important temple of the city of Kawasaki. The street leading to the temple features many gift stores. Red darumas are among the favourite gifts. This street is also famous for its candies: to add to the festive atmosphere, candy makers cut the candies loudly with large knives in rythm with traditional Japanese music. We visited the temple in July during the wind chime festival when many chime manufacturers exhibit their art at the temple. It is also a great occasion to taste delicious Japanese street food at the many Yatai.
Yokohama’s Chinatown, one of the largest in the world, is renowned for its delicious Chinese restaurants and gift stores. Most of the Chinese who have immigrated to Yokohama were of Cantonese origin but the selection of food is quite diverse with dozens of restaurants packed in a relatively small area. The area is deserved by the Motomachi-Chūkagai Station of the Minatomirai line. Express trains link Shibuya station in Tokyo with Motomachi-Chūkagai in about 40 minutes. If you are looking to eat in Yokohama Chinatown, I recommend to try the dumplings at a restaurant with a large image of four chefs with golden hats and lots of medals around their necks. Their dumplings are apparently award-winning and I confirm they are delicious. They have many establishments withing Chinatown so it shouldn’t be too hard to find.
The Yokohama Ma Zhu Miao Temple, located in the chinatown of Yokohama, is dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu. It features a large colorful gate with vibrant green, blue and gold colors. The many lanterns linking the gate and the temple are illuminated at night.
One cannot miss the Yokohama Landmark Tower when visiting Yokohama. The tower stands out as Yokohama’s tallest building. In fact, it is the second tallest building in Japan behind the Abeno Harukas tower in Osaka. The tower hosts many stores and restaurants on its first five floors and a five star hotel in the upper section of the tower. The tallest observatory in Yokohama is located on the 69th floor or the Landmark Tower and offers an amazing 360 degree view of the city. On a clear day, mount Fuji and the city of Tokyo can be clearly seen from up there.
The Yokohama harbor view park is located on a hill overlooking the port of Yokohama. The parc features a pretty rose garden and an observation deck with a great view of the industrial port of Yokohama where ships are loaded with commercial goods. The Yokohama bay bridge is also seen in the distance.
Yohohama’s foreign general cemetery has an history that dates back to 1853 when Commodore Perry first arrived in Japan. The death of a crewman aboard Perrys’ ship prompted the Japanese government to create a foreign cemetery at Perrys’ request. The cemetery was originally part of the Zotokuin temple. As the presence of foreigners in Japan grew, the demand for burial grounds increased as well so that the Japanese tombs and the temple itself were relocated somewhere else in Yokohama. Nowadays, the cemetery can be visited for a small donation amount. It may not be to everyone’s taste but I enjoyed learning about the very first Gaijins of Japan who must have had to overcome far greater challenges than today’s Gaijins to adapt to the culture of their new country.