Dive into Yokohama’s History with this 1-Day Itinerary

Dive into Yokohama’s History with this 1-Day Itinerary

Calling all history lovers! We have your dream day mapped out.


Beneath the glossy exteriors and bustling roadways of Japan’s second largest city, lies a rich maritime and migrant history just waiting to be plunged into.

Yokohama began as a sleepy fishing town. After Japan ended its self-imposed isolation with the arrival of US Commodore Matthew Perry in 1854, and the signing of the Treaty of Kanagawa, Japan suddenly needed a port town to herald in a new era of trade and globalization. As such, Yokohama became the foreign gateway to Japan. With the boom of raw silk exports and technology imports, the once quiet village rapidly grew and became home to an influx of migrants.

With this influx of migrants also came rugby. The first Japanese rugby team was established in 1866, which coincided with the founding of the Yokohama Foot Ball Club. Players mostly consisted of British naval officers and service personnel who played on the Garrison Parade Ground in Yamate. Toward the end of the 1800s, the sport began to pick up traction with locals when Japanese students were introduced to the sport by some of their professors. By the 1920s, there were nearly 1,500 rugby clubs in Japan and 60,000 registered players.

The sport continues to climb in popularity. This year’s Rugby World Cup marks the very first time the World Cup has been held in Japan or any other Asian nation.

Love history as much as you love rugby? We’ve made the perfect itinerary for you to get out, explore, and soak in some of the rich history of this port city. We’ll warn you: this list is a lot to cover in one day but if you’re dedicated to drinking in as much as possible then we’re sure you’re up to the challenge.

Morning

Yamate Italian Garden and Catholic Yamate Church Cemetery

Yamate Italian Garden, Yokohama Rugby World Cup 2019 City Guide       

Start your magical history tour heading up to Yamate Italian Garden: the site of the Italian Consulate during the Meiji Period (1868-1912). The grounds are approximately 13,000 square meters and on them sits a preserved, gothic-style dwelling which you can explore for free. About 600 meters to the east, you’ll find the Catholic Yamate Church Cemetery and Sacred Heart Cathedral of Yokohama. The Catholic Yamate Church Cemetery is the perfect place to explore if you’re interested in the lives of those wandering the world before us. Plus, Sacred Heart was built in 1862 and is one of Japan’s oldest churches. Not gotten your morbid history fix yet? Head a little further east, and you can also find the Yokohama General Cemetery—it was established in 1854 when one of Commodore Matthew Perry’s officers died after an accident.

Address: 16 Yamate-cho, Naka Ward, Yokohama 231-0861
Open: 9:00 – 17:00
Cost: Free

Motomachi

Motomachi Shopping Street, Yokohama, Rugby World Cup 2019 City Guide

Next, wander over towards the waterside for about 20 minutes to reach Harbor View Park, a scenic park on the top of a hill overlooking the port of Yokohama. Watch the comings and goings of the harbor as the city glitters in the background. Inside the park, you’ll find a rather beautiful rose garden which displays several different varieties of roses — in peak bloom during spring and autumn. After your break, pop over to Motomachi for a bit of shopping. A proud retail hub since 1859, the picturesque Motomachi Shopping Street is lined with a wide range of boutique shops, popular brand stores and great restaurant options — just in time for lunch. 

Address: Yamatecho, Naka Ward, Yokohama
Open: Shopping hours vary per outlet (Most clothing stores: 10:00 – 19:00)

Afternoon

Nippon Maru Sailing Ship and Port Museum

Nippon Maru Sailing Ship, Yokohama, Rugby World Cup 2019 City Guide       

Jump on the train at Ishikawacho Station and head four minutes north to Sakuragicho Station. Just a short walk away you’ll find Nippon Maru Sailing Ship and Port Museum. The Nippon Maru—a carefully maintained sailing ship docked at the harbor—was built for training purposes back in the 1930s. It sits beside Yokohama Port Museum, which documents Yokohama’s exciting transition into Japan’s biggest port.

Address: 2-1-1 Minato Mirai, Nishi Ward, Yokohama 220-0012
Open: 10:00 – 17:00 (Closed Mondays, or Tuesday if the Monday before is a national holiday)
Cost: ¥600

NYK Maritime Museum

NYK Maritime Museum       

Head south to NYK Maritime Museum—the ideal spot to learn about Yokohama’s influence on the modernization of Japan. Looking for real insight into what happened when Commodore Perry touched down in Yokohama back in the 1850s? This is the place for you. NYK Maritime Museum has a range of exhibits exploring Japan’s maritime history, from the opening of Yokohama Port to the effect of the two world wars and beyond. Plus, if you haven’t had enough of boats just yet, you can also purchase tickets to explore the NYK Hikawa Maru: a state-of-the-art liner which transported passengers and cargo between Japan and Seattle.

Address: 3-9 Kaigan-dori, Naka Ward, Yokohama 231-0002
Open: 10:00 – 17:00 (Closed Mondays, or Tuesday if the Monday before is a national holiday)
Cost: ¥500 (Combination ticket for the Maritime Museum and Hikawa Maru)

Yokohama Archives of History and Museum of Yokohama Urban History

Yokohama Archives of History, Yokohama, Rugby World Cup 2019 City Guide       

Bookworms and map lovers, this one is for you. The Yokohama Archives of History preserves and exhibits historic documents and books from the Edo period to the Taisho era. The building itself is just as historic as the documents it contains. Here is where Japan and the U.S. signed the Treaty of Kanagawa in 1854 which opened up Yokohama and, consequently, Japan to the rest of the world.

Where: 3 Nihon-odori, Naka Ward, Yokohama 231-0021
When: 9:30 – 17:00(Closed Mondays, or Tuesday if the Monday before is a national holiday)
Cost: ¥200

Nearby is the Museum of Yokohama Urban History. If you love architecture and city planning, you’ll love this one. Yokohama Urban History also offers valuable insight into the culture of Yokohama after the opening of the port. You’ve already learned all about the maritime history of Yokohama—this is your chance to see what happened to the urbanity which rose as a result of it.

Where: 12, Nihon-odori, Naka Ward, Yokohama 231-0021
When: 9:30 – 17:00 (Closed Mondays, year-end and New Year holidays)
Cost: ¥200

Evening

Yokohama Kanteibyo and Chinatown

Yokohama Kanteibyo, Yokohama, Rugby World Cup 2019 City Guide       

Finish your day in Chinatown, stopping as the sun sets at Yokohama Kanteibyo. While many of the Western migrants who came to Japan through the port of Yokohama chose to settle in the hills of Yamate, Chinese migrants congregated here. The area’s centerpiece is Yokohama Kanteibyo: a 150-year-old shrine dedicated to Kanwu, the famous general from the historical Chinese novel, The Romance of Three Kingdoms. With its stunning red columns, glass-art dragons and billowing traditional lanterns, this shrine is not one you’ll want to miss. Enjoy peaceful feng shui, grab some delicious food and end your historical exploration wandering around the vibrant streets of Japan’s greatest Chinatown.

Address: 140 Yamashitacho, Naka Ward 231-0023
Open: 9:00 – 19:00 
Cost: Free

The entrance to Yokohama Chinatown at night Rugby World Cup 2019
The entrance to colorful Yokohama Chinatown.

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