Yokohama City Guide

by Jose Marc Castro on August 15, 2007

The city of Yokohama, or Yokohama-shi, is a bustling metropolis and port in the southern part of the island of Honshū in Japan.  Situated at the western   shore of Tokyo Bay directly south of Tokyo, Yokohama is the capital of the Kanagawa Prefecture in the region of Kantō. It is one of Japan’s major ports, as well as a highly industrialized center with oil refineries and factories that manufacture electronic equipment, chemicals, automobiles, machinery, and processed food products.  Thus Yokohama serves as a key commercial center for the Greater Tokyo Area.

Yokohama was a small fishing village before it was opened as a port in 1859 after United States Commodore Matthew Perry demanded Japan to open its ports for commerce.  The trade and commerce brought prosperity to the fishing village as it became the center for foreign trade.  The population grew with its industries and was later incorporated into a city on April 1, 1889.  The city suffered two catastrophes when it was hit by an earthquake in 1923 and air raided by American bombers on May 29, 1945 during the Second World War.  These two events tore down much of the city and took many lives, with the latter taking as much as 7000 to 8000.

Yokohama showed its resilience and continued to grow into what it is today.  Having played host to Japan’s first foreign settlement, it is one of the few cities that shows a mixture of Japanese and western influences.  This unique attribute makes Yokohama a modern maritime city with a true international flavor

Residential Places in Yokohama

The districts of Yamate and Yamashitacho in Naka-ku used to be the foreigners’ residential districts when Yokohama’s ports were opened to the world for commerce and trade.  Today, the district of Yamate, particularly the central area, still houses many of the foreigners who have come to settle in Yokohama.   This area is popularly known as “The Bluff”.  Residential units here range from apartments to old Victorian houses.  Many of the old houses are put up for rent.  Its proximity to numerous international schools also makes it a prime choice for foreigners.

Hospitals and Universities of Yokohama

One of Yokohama’s institutions for higher learning is the Yokohama National University at Tokiwadai in  Hodogaya-ku.  It is divided into the faculties of Education and Human Sciences, Economics, Business Administration, and the School of Engineering.  Its graduate courses consist of  programs in education, social sciences, engineering, and environment and information sciences.  The Yokohama National University is also affiliated with 60 universities from all over the world with whom they periodically exchange research publications, students, and joint research ventures.  Some of which are the National Australian University in Australia, University of São Paulo in Brazil, Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal in Canada, Shanxi University in China, Ecole Centrale Paris in France, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen in Germany, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in Greece, University of Pisa in Italy, Universtiy of Seoul in Korea, University of Sto. Tomas  in the Philippines, University of Bern in Switzerland, University of Sheffield in UK, and the California State University-Sacramento in USA. The Yokohama City University (YCU)is another notable university in the city.  It was established in 1949 and currently has campuses in Kanazawa Hakkei, Fukuura, Tsurumi, and Maioka.  YCU offers undergraduate programs in liberal arts and international studies, pure sciences, economics and business administration, medicine, and nursing.  Its graduate programs, on the other hand, encompass International Cultural Studies, Economics and Business Administration, Natural/Basic and Applied Sciences, Environmental Biosciences, Nanoscience and Technology, Bioscience and Technology, Supramolecular Biology, and Medicine.  Two of its prestigious alumni are the singer Ken Hirai and the novelist Hase Seishu. Other higher education institutions in Yokohama are the College of Foreign Studies, Toin University of Yokohama, Yokohama College of Commerce, Yokohama Soei Junior College, and Yokohama Women’s Junior College.

State-of-the-art Healthcare Facilities

Being the world’s leader in technology, Japan has excellent and state-of-the-art healthcare facilities.  One of Yokohama’s major hospitals is Yokohama Citizen’s Hospital in Hodogaya-Ku.  Aside from being equipped with the latest facilities to deal with any health problem or emergency, the hospital is staffed with English-speaking personnel and health practitioners.  The Yokohama City Minato Red Cross Hospital in Naka-Ku is another medical facility well-equipped to respond to any  health issues and emergencies.  It possesses 640 beds and 23 departments, of which includes internal medicine, surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, and pediatrics.  The Yokohama City University General Medical Center is the teaching hospital for the School of Medicine in YCU.  It contains 720 beds and 21 departments, such as the general internal medicine, pulmonary, and hematology  departments.  It is found at Urafune-cho in  Minato-ku.  The Cerebrovascular Examination Centre is another well-established medical center in Yokohama.  It is primarily a specialty center with English-speaking staff.

Commercial Establishments in Yokohama

The Motomachi district in Naka-ku has a 5-block stretch of shops and boutiques primarily brandishing western merchandise.  It is located west of the historical district of Yamate.  However, Yokohama has other shopping centers located all over the city.  One of these is the Landmark Plaza situated in the neighborhood of Minato Mirai. Also known as Capricciosa, the Landmark Plaza is a 5-storey structure annexed to the Landmark Town.  It features boutiques that carry international brands, novelty shops, bookstores, as well as dozens of cafes and restaurants.  The Diamond is a large-scale underground shopping center located beneath the Yokohama Station in Nishi-ku.  This 35-year old shopping center encompasses the whole west side of the station and features specialty shops, restaurants, and a grocery.  Meanwhile, Sotetsu Joinus is another shopping center located just outside the west exit of the Yokohama Station.  It mainly features shops and boutiques that carry luxury items.  Also on the west exit   of Yokohama Station are Yokohama Takashimaya Department Store, which is just one of  its many branches, Yokohama More’s and Yokohama Vivre that features shops aiming the youth market, and Yokohama CIAL which is a 7-storey shopping center that primarily carries daily necessities, clothes, and cosmetics.  Sky Building is a 29-storey shopping complex also found on the east exit of the Yokohama Station.  In it are 26 restaurants, the Marui City Yokohama Department Store, and the Yokohama City Air Terminal.   On the east exit of the same station sits Yokohama Sogo Department Store.  This 10-storey structure is the world’s largest department store and  carries just about anything there is to buy, as well as food shops and restaurants.  It also houses the Sogo Museum of Art that  exhibits the works of local and international artists.  The east side beneath the Yokohama Station, on the other hand, sites another shopping complex called the Yokohama Porta.  The unique design of its passageways mimics Italian streets with its rows of shops, cafés, and restaurants.

Restaurants inside Large Shopping Areas

As mentioned before, Yokohama’s numerous shopping centers carry various restaurants to suit any taste.  For instance, some restaurants found in the Landmark Plaza are Sizzler which is an American salad bar, Konaya which serves a variety of Soba dishes, and Anna Miller’s Coffee shop that has a wide selection of pies.  The Queen’s Square has the popular cafeteria-styled Garlic Joe’s, the Indian restaurant Khazana, Chandler’s Crabhouse with a huge selection of seafood dishes, and  the Italian restaurant Roselait.  Some restaurants along and in the shopping centers on the west side of Yokohama Station are Aen Tonkatsu, the Thai restaurant Tinun Dining, Asian Kitchen which serves pan-Asian dishes, and the Italian restaurants La Verde and Pulecenella.  The east side from the Yokohama Station has  the Japanese restaurant Kurobutaya, Gumbo and Oyster Bar that specializes in various oyster dishes, Il Pinolo Levita Italian restaurant, Yokohama BBQ, and Wolfgang Puck Café which primarily serves American dishes.

The Nightlife

The Naka-ku ward contains just as many bars and nightclubs as there are shopping centers in its district.  Some of these establishments are the British pub The Tavern, New Tokyo Beer Dock, Cafe Cabanon, Shell Bar, Blue Bell, Tiki Tiki Hawaiian Lounge, Thrash Zone Beer Bar, Cheers Belgian Restaurant and Beer Bar, and Zizi Wine Bar. Another famous night spot in Yokohama is the ward  of Nishi-ku.  Its renowned establishments are Bar GREAT HARRY, Moon Phase, Jebel Bar, Hikawamaru Beer Garden, Downbeat, Flash Back Café, Southern Wind, and Kounan International Lounge.

Service Establishments of Yokohama

The leading telecom company in Japan is the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT).    Through its subsidiary, NTT East, it provides most of the fixed telephony services and internet access via ADSL in Yokohama.   NTT also offers mobile network connection through its other subsidiary, NTT DoCoMo. Yahoo! BB is another telecom company that provides an alternative for  telecommunication services in Yokohama.  Yahoo! BB provides IP telephone services and ADSL internet  connection at a much lower rate than that of NTT.  Other internet service providers in Yokohama include SpinNet, FUSION GOL. Asahi Net, and the American Online-Japan. The electric distributor company serving the Kanagawa Prefecture, where Yokohama is located, is the Tokyo Electric Company (TEPCO).  This electric utility also serves the prefectures  of Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama ,Gunma, Tochigi, Yamanashi, Ibaraki, and the eastern areas of Shizuoka.  Its branch office in Kaganawa is located at 1-1 Benten-Dori in Yokohama-shi.

Security in the City

Yokohama has several accessible police stations scattered all over the city.  First of these are the Kaga-cho Police Station  at Yamashita-cho,  Yamate Police Station at Honmoku-miyabara, Isezaki Police Station at Yamabuki-cho, and Yokohama-Suijo Police Station at Kaigan-dori.  These police stations are all located in the Naka-ku ward.  The other police stations are located at 1-3-5 Isogo in Isogo-ku, 2-10-1 Deiki in  Kanazawa-ku, 2-31-4 O’oka in  Minami-ku, 2-15-3 Kanagawa in Kanagawa-ku, 4-33-9 Tsurumi Chuo in Tsurumi-ku, 2-7 Kawabe-cho in Hodogaya-ku, 33-5 Honmura-cho in Asahi-ku, 50-6 Tobe-Hon-cho in  Nishi-ku, 11-1 Konan Chuo-dori in  Konan-ku, 508 Mamedo-cho in Kohoku-ku, 135-14 Daimura-cho in Midori-ku, 29-1 Ichigao-cho in Aoba-ku, 34-1 Chigasaki Chuo in Tsuzuki-ku, 3158-1 Totsuka-cho in Totsuka-ku, 320-2 Katsura-cho in Sakae-ku, 5867-26 Izumi-cho in Izumi-ku, and at 213-1 Futatsubashi-cho in Seya-ku.

Embassies in Yokohama

Most foreign embassies and consulates have their offices located at the capital of Japan in Tokyo.  However, these offices are quite accessible from Yokohama due to their proximity and the multitude of railways connecting the two cities.  One such embassy is the Embassy of Great Britain at Ichiban-cho in Tokyo’s Chiyoda-ku  ward. The Consulate-General of the Republic of Korea at Yamate-cho in Naka-ku is the only consulate  office located in Yokohama.

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