In Association with Kanagawa Prefecture.
Japan 2019: All you can see, do and eat in Yokohama
IF YOU are heading over to Yokohama for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, you are in for a rugby treat. There are a bucket-load of incredible fixtures to be held at the International Stadium Yokohama.
Ireland face Scotland there, as do the hosts, Japan. New Zealand meet South Africa and England play France. And that’s just in the group stages. Both semi-finals and the final will be there too.
But there is so much more you need to know about Japan’s second largest city. So here is the down-low on the site where so many fans will pour through in 2019.
WHERE IS IT?
Yokohama is the capital of the Kanagawa prefecture. It is situated just half an hour away from Tokyo’s international airport, Haneda. A port town situated on the eastern curve of Japan’s Honshu island, Yokohama has a unique, welcoming history.
When Japan was opened up to allowed gaijin (non-Japanese), to trade and live in the country in 1854, Kanagawa was the place. By 1859 there was a sizeable settlement, particularly form the UK, and you can still see the influence today, with wide boulevards in the European style.
It is also the birthplace of Japanese rugby. The local Yokohama Country & Athletic Club have documentary proof that their side (which went by a different name at the time) first started playing rugby on 26 January 1866, which makes them the oldest rugby team in Asia. That club was then absorbed by the Yokohama Country & Athletic Club, set up by Scotsman JP Mollison in 1868, and still play today.
WHAT TO DO AND SEE?
The rugby is a given. If you visit the International Stadium Yokohama in the Shin-Yokohama region, you will find all the trappings of a modern stadium in a walkable location and it has good pedigree – it hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup final. However there is so much more.
Sticking with sports: did you know that baseball is huge in Japan? Posters of the heroes of the Yokohama DeNA BayStars can be seen all over town and their stadium is an impressive sight. Yokohama DeNA BayStars came oh-so close to winning the national title this year…
The Minato Mirai is the thriving business and commercial heart of Yokohama, but more than anything else it is a visually imposing waterfront. If you take a late-night cruise, you will see the permanently moored Sail Training Ship NIPPON MARU, the Yokohama Bay Bridge, the Kishamichi Promenade and the looming Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris wheel, as well as the commanding Landmark Tower – Japan’s second-tallest building.
There are plenty of other attractions for all ages. If it’s nature you want, then there’s the Yokohama Sankeien Garden, a gorgeous green sprawl with historic buildings and pagodas dotted around the grounds. As breathtaking as it is wonderful, there is a sense of tranquillity as you wander the grounds. If a small distraction for the kids is in order, the Cup Noodles museum has a great, do-it-yourself floor. This is where you can design your own packaging, before choosing your own flavour and ingredients to go in the bespoke noodle pot.
You can visit the Yokohama Country & Athletic Club, mentioned above, during the World Cup. They will be putting on special days for those that want to watch a game away from a busy viewing area in the centre, but yearn for that clubhouse feeling.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK?
Okay, Yokohama has Japan’s largest Chinatown, one of the biggest in Asia. There is a huge amount of variety – remember Yokohama has a history of opening its doors to new cultures.
If you are looking for something a little bit more relaxed and, well, boozy – you are surrounded by options in the Noge district. A warren of bars and restaurants, you can have a proper sit-down meal, or nibble on yakitori while you try out sake, high-balls or craft beer. This spot will certainly be busy for after match days (our recommendation is the cosy Sakura Taps).
For those looking for that bit of luxury, you can take treat yourself to the tasting courses at the Yokohama Royal Park Hotel or the Hotel New Grand. For those just looking for a quick filler on the way to the stadium, though, we would recommend Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum, a short walk from the ground.
WHERE TO STAY?
The aforementioned Royal Park Hotel situated in the enormous Landmark Tower – and the views from the hotel rooms are spectacular. In fact, this is where the Australian national team stayed on their last visit to the city, to face Japan in November.
The New Grand Hotel is another plush place to set yourself up, as is the InterContinental Hotel Grand. There are plenty of mid-range options in town or near the stadium. And for those keen to get in and out from the airport, there is the more reasonably priced KEIKYU EX INN Yokohama-Station East.
For more information, visit trip.pref.kanagawa.jp or yokohamajapan.com