My husband’s paternity leave came to an end after 8 months. To make the most of our final weekend together, we took a scenic drive via the Wangan Bayshore Route (首都高速道路湾岸線) and headed west to the port city of Yokohama.
Recently voted the Kanto region’s most desirable city to live in, Yokohama is the capital city of Kanagawa Prefecture. Yokohama is also Japan’s second largest city (population of 3.7 million) after Tokyo (population 38 million and that is NOT a typo!).
Once a small fishing village, Yokohama changed the course of Japanese history and its economy when Japan was opened up to the west in the mid-19th century. While Japan had trade relations with the west in the Kyushu region, the opening of Yokohama port really shook things up.
Yokohama soon became Japan’s prominent port city. After World War II/the US Occupation, the US Navy set up shop there. Adding to the foreign influence of Yokohama is that it’s the home of the world’s largest Chinatown!
As I mentioned earlier, Yokohama is this year’s most desirable city to live in, beating out fashionable districts of Tokyo like Hibiya and Kichijoji. I didn’t get it at first, but once I went to Yokohama, it all made sense.
It’s the perfect place to live if you value a work-life balance. There’s plenty of spacious greenery, and waterfront parks with impressive views of Tokyo Bay.
Plenty of companies have headquarters of branches in Yokohama, so there’s no need for a stressful commute. Added to this, the center of Yokohama is only 2 kilometers in diameter. Isn’t that crazy?
I hadn’t visited in 10 years or so, but I was impressed with the width of the sidewalks and the amount of family-friendly venues as well as parks.
Start With Brunch At World Porters
Yokohama World Porters is a 7 floor shopping mall with more than 200 shops and dining options. It’s very popular, especially on the weekends, so we tried to get there as early as possible.
The first floor of Yokohama World Porters is called Hawaiian Town:
Japan has a wonderful obsession with Hawaii, so there being a Hawaii-themed area in a port city made so much sense to me.
Brunch was at Dining Cafe Luxe, where I ordered Ricotta Cheese Fruit Pancakes and chamomile tea.
There’s more to World Porters than food, so we headed upstairs for (window) shopping. Before shopping, I took a look at the baby changing facilities and nursing rooms.
There are baby friendly toilets throughout the mall, but the second floor has a dedicated baby space.
There’s two vending machines of baby food, drinks and diapers, a hot water dispenser, microwave, table, and a booster seat.
Beyond the curtains are the individual nursing rooms, complete with an armchair, and table.
After a quick detour at Seria (a 100 yen shop), we headed to Family Mart on the first floor before heading to the waterfront for a picnic.
The Waterfront Sights of Yokohama
From Minato Mirai 21 entertainment-shopping complex and Yokohama World Porters, it was a short walk to our next destination, the tulip garden in front of Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse.
After taking photos, we walked along the waterfront using a stroller-friendly pedestrian path to Yamashita Park.
Here are some of the iconic landmarks of Yokohama:
The Hikawa Maru, a postal ship used as a hospital ship during World War II:
Yamashita Park, facing Yokohama Bay:
Yokohama is easily accessible by train from Shibuya by using the Hanzomon Line, which has direct service to the Tokyu Toyoko Line. Yokohama can also be reached via Shin-Yokohama station, which is serviced by several Shinkansen lines.
Tokyo Day Trip: Family Fun In Yokohama