Mako Vunipola I be nuts about components, because they are huge!!
Considering its size, influence and historical importance, Yokohama is often unfairly overlooked by visitors streaming to Japan’s capital next door.
But the country’s second biggest city deserves recognition in its own right. Today’s vibrant and cosmopolitan hub was just a small fishing village when Japan first opened its doors to foreign trade in 1859 and appointed Yokohama as one of its main ports.
Richly enhanced by the merchants and business people who settled there in the aftermath, it’s now home to a hard-to-beat skyline, uber-cool shopping malls, cutting-edge architecture and a lively craft beer scene. And it’s only a 20-minute bullet train hop from Tokyo.
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And this weekend, it plays host to the England v South Africa Rugby World Cup final. Here’s what to check out beyond the stadium.
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Mako Vunipola What to do
To get your bearings, head up to the Sky Garden on the 69th floor of the Landmark Tower for unbeatable 360-degree views over the city. You’ll also be able to spot Tokyo beyond and, on a clear day, Mount Fuji – Japan’s highest peak. Try and go in the evening when the skyscrapers and quays dazzle with vibrant lights. Sky Garden opens Monday-Sunday 10am-9pm (10pm on Saturdays); entry 1,000 yen (£7).
Oodles of noodles
Japan loves its ramen, so don’t be surprised that Yokohama is home to not one but two museums dedicated to the iconic noodles. The Cup Noodles Museum pays homage to the instant variety through a series of interactive exhibits. Don’t miss the chance to make your own ramen in a pre-bookable workshop (extra fee). Open every day 10am-6pm; entry 500 yen.
At the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum you’ll learn the history then eat your way through regional variations in nine traditional-style restaurants. The eating area, set in 1958 when Japan first launched instant noodles, has handy English menus. Generally open 11am-10pm; entry 310 yen (£2).
A taste of China
Yokohama is home to Japan’s biggest Chinatown, a legacy of when Chinese merchants settled here after it opened up as an international port. The vibrant, bustling district is a blaze of gold, red, pink, blue and green; make a grand entry through one of the four imposing gates, then join locals in grabbing a steamed bun, pancakes or dumplings from a street-side stall. For a heartier meal, many restaurants do all-you-can-eat deals for 1500-2000 yen (£11-14). Visit at night when dozens of lanterns sparkle into life – and don’t miss one of the numerous cake shops. Who knew the Chinese ate so much cake?
For an introduction to Japan’s traditional archite
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