Features

The port city guide  

8 Jan 2020 by Sanchita Nambiar

The second largest city in Japan, Yokohama has established itself as a key hotspot for international trade and commerce. This is majorly due to its proximity to two international airports in Tokyo, Haneda Airport (24 minutes by train/ 30 minutes by bus) and Narita International Airport (90 minutes by train or bus).

Besides its great connectivity, Yokohama is home to some of the finest luxury hotels, MICE venues, vibrant food outlets and shopping centres that attract over 34 million leisure travellers yearly.

While it remains at the forefront of technological innovations, this bustling port city of Yokohama also focuses on preserving its history, art and culture. A glimpse of this can be seen across the city’s museums, historic buildings and Noh performances, a form of theatre involving classical Japanese musical drama.

Adding another feather in its cap, is Yokohama’s contribution towards Japan’s education, research and science sectors. There are around 28 universities, with medical institutions specialising in bioscience and biotechnology. Moreover, the International Tropical Timber Organisation, World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organisation and United Nations University International Advanced Studies have their presence in Yokohama.

Did you know? 

Yokohama was the first Japanese port to open its gate to the world around 160 years ago

Yokohama experiences

Explore  Yokohama’s art hubs, shopping hotspots and tech innovations:

Cultural immersions

Yokohama Chinatown

Boasting a history of over 150 years, this is one of the largest Chinatowns in the world and features around 500 Oriental restaurants and shops. Make a visit to the neighbouring Yokohama Kanteibyo and Yokohama Masobyo shrines, showcasing the region’s spiritual culture. Another highlight is the Chinese New Year celebrations that attract tourists to this district in large numbers every year.

Yokohama Noh Theatre

Plan a visit to Yokohama Noh Theatre to immerse yourself in the traditional Japanese art-forms of Noh and Kyogen that are considered to be two of the world’s oldest performing arts.

It is a ten-minute drive from Yokohama Chinatown, Minato Mirai district and Red Brick Warehouse.

Yokohama Noh Theatre consists of a main stage, a second stage, studio rooms and dressing rooms. The space has been thoughtfully designed to accommodate the needs of the specially abled.

The main stage has a rich history spanning over 140 years and has been restored using the original components which was built in 1875, when it was well known as Somei Noh Stage. Owing to its architectural and classical ancient history, the stage has been designated as a ‘Tangible Culture Property’ by Yokohama city.

There is a guided tour course where you can learn about the Noh stage and experience various activities.

(Reservation is required.  Language: Japanese only)

For 20 people with a guide, the price is JP¥ 14,000/`9,107. Maximum reservation can be done for 80 people. ynt.yafjp.org

Shopping and food trail

Motomachi shopping street

Centred around streets of 1 Chome to 5 Chome, Motomachi shopping street is lined with the best of homegrown and well-established international labels selling clothes, antiques, cutlery, jewellery and furniture. You can shop for Hama-Tra, a popular fashion style in Japan around the 70s and 80s. Post shopping, you can head to one of the chic cafés and restaurants for a hearty meal. If you happen to be in Yokohama during February or September, then do check out the Charming Sale, held for a period of one week at Motomachi shopping street which features brands like Mon Rêve, Fujiyama and Ozawa.

Noge

Another shopper’s paradise here is Noge, a lively neighbourhood in the heart of Yokohama. Exuding an old-world charm, this venue consists of over 500 shops and restaurants in a row. When in Noge, Miezo for chicken dishes, Yasubee for yakitori delights, Aguratei serving suppon (a soft-shelled turtle) and Kinpira Kitchen for western cuisine are highly recommended. The place is also known for its wide range of small sake bars and  izakayas thereby making it popular among gourmands. To top it all, there are Karaoke joints and jazz clubs for a lively social night.

Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum

You can’t come to Yokohama and not visit the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum. There are nine ramen shops that spoil for choice serving a wide variety of ramen here. There is a dedicated gallery where tourists can learn about the history of ramen. Shop for ramen and other souvenirs like bowl, chopsticks and utensils from The Museum Shop. After savouring some ramen, enjoy a relaxing time at Kateko Café and Snack Shop and don’t forget to try out there Hokkaido soft-serve ice cream.

Tech and sports hub  

Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum

Being a pioneer in the field of science and technology, Japan is filled with museums that showcase cutting-edge mechanisation. One such institution is the Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum in Yokohama. The museum is divided into four segments — Land, Sea, Sky and Space. In addition to this, there are a Virtual Tour Stations, the Science Plaza and Kids Ground. On display are real rocket engines and a replica of deep-sea submersible research vessel among others. mhi.com/minatomirai/

Nissan Stadium

This is one of Japan’s largest stadiums with a seating capacity of  72,000. Stadium tours are also organised, wherein you can see the rare exhibits from the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the finale of which was played here. It is also the home stadium of Yokohama F. Marinos of the J1 League. Finals of Rugby World Cup 2019 was at Nissan Stadium too. Also known as the International Stadium Yokohama, this sprawling sports field is now set to be one of the planned football venues for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

A bustling MICE venue

Strategically endorsed as a major commercial element of Japan, Yokohama is gearing up to become the first city in Japan to host the IEEE NSS-MIC (Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference), in October 2021. The city is well-equipped to organise events of such magnitude, and is therefore a MICE hotspot. This is further bolstered by the participation of Yokohama Convention and Visitors Bureau (YCVB), a nonprofit organisation providing 360-degree assistance from planning an event to executing it. Funded by the City of Yokohama organisation, YCVB also helps in curating tour itineraries, team building activities and entertainment programmes for attendees.

Inside Pacifico Yokohama

Situated in the waterfront area of the Minato Mirai 21 district, Pacifico Yokohama receives more than four million (approximately) visitors annually and is made up of several meeting spots. These include National Convention Hall, Conference Centre, Exhibition Hall, Annex Hall and Intercontinental Yokohama Grand. The National Convention Hall of Yokohama has a seating capacity of 5,000, making it one of the largest convention halls in Japan. Then there is the Exhibition Hall featuring a column free space of 20,000 sqm; Conference Centre which has 50 large-, medium- and small-sized meeting rooms and Annex Hall that accommodates up to 1,300 guests in theatre style.

One may also opt for Intercontinental Yokohama Grand for their next corporate gathering. Here, guests can stay in one of the 594 guest rooms; and enjoy local as well international cuisines at one of their world-class restaurants.

For outdoor events, Pacifico Yokohama offers Rinko Park, Koryu Zone and Pukarisanbashi Pier, each of which offer a unique setting.

What’s new?

Pacifico Yokohama has announced the addition of a new multi-functional convention space — Pacifico Yokohama North which is set to open on April 24, 2020. The hall, on the ground floor, has a capacity to host an event for up to 6,000 people. Along with this, there are 42 meeting rooms on the upper floors suitable for events of all sizes. The Exhibition Hall and Annex Hall of Pacifico Yokohama can be accessed directly from the main entrance of the second floor through an outdoor pedestrian deck. These facilities can be combined for bigger affairs. 

Note: The 2021 IEEE NSS-MIC (Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference) will be held at Pacifico Yokohama North.

Where to stay

The Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu

A flagship property of The Tokyu Group, The Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu is located along the Yokohama waterfront and offers easy access to the commercial and tourist spots of the region. The hotel offers 480 well-appointed rooms and suites, equipped with required amenities. Their extensive F&B includes Café Tosca for buffet meals, Oshima serving traditional Japanese food, and Turandot for Chinese delights. From a grand reception at the Queen’s Grand Ballroom to an intimate gathering for 50 at the Pacific Room, the hotel is an ideal choice for all types of events. ybht.co.jp/en

Intercontinental Yokohama Grand

Located in the Minato Mirai district, Intercontinental Yokohama Grand is in close proximity to the Yokohama Cosmo World, Motomachi shopping street, and Yamashita Park. Overlooking the Yokohama Bay, the hotel offers accommodations ranging from executive rooms to suites overing sea and city views. Their dining outlets include French restaurant Azur, La Vela for Italian, Karyu for Chinese and Nadaman serving Japanese among others. There are a variety of event spaces available at the property. ihg.com

Yokohama Bay Sheraton Hotel and Towers

A 30-minute drive from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, Yokohama Bay Sheraton Hotel and Towers is a popular MICE venue in Yokohama. Over ten event rooms are for corporate events. The plush rooms and suites, including those in the newly renovated, four-storey Sheraton Club, open to sweeping views of the Yokohama Bay. Savour Wagyu beef and fresh seafood at Sagami or try out a traditional kaiseki menu at Ko-No-Hana. Other dining outlets include Compass, Sai-Ryu and Bay View Sky Lounge among others. marriott.com

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Business Traveller December 2019 / January 2020 edition
Business Traveller December 2019 / January 2020 edition
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