With its stunning waterfront, delightful parks, vibrant temples, and myriad family-friendly activities,Yokohama, promises an unforgettable experience for families.
Located less than an hour south of ever popular Tokyo, Yokohama, Japan’s second most populous city is a destination that has a little something for everyone. From stunning gardens to theme parks and interactive museums, here are our top picks for things to do in Yokohama with kids.
Sankeien Garden, located in the southern part of Yokohama, is a magnificent Japanese-style garden renowned for a collection of meticulously reconstructed historic buildings from various regions of Japan, the centrepiece of which is a stunning antique, three-storey pagoda. With its tangle of bridges, streams, delicate waterfalls, bamboo groves, and ponds that are home to a flock of rather content ducks, the garden is a sight to behold throughout the year, transforming with the seasons but always offering tranquillity and enchantment.
During our visit, we make time for a delightful lunch at Taisyunken, a charming restaurant situated within the garden grounds. Taisyunken is known for its exceptional sankei soba noodles, a dish said to have been created by the founder of the garden nearly a century ago.
The noodles are sublime as is the tasty serve of sankei-en dango (mochi style rice cakes) that follows.
A surprising culinary delight awaits in Yokohama Chukagai in the form of the largest Chinatown in Japan. Wait, what? Chinese! But isn’t this Japan? Yes, but here visitors can taste their way from one end of China to the other, with a Japanese touch at a selection of insanely good street food stalls and all-you-can-eat diners, as well as upscale restaurants.
This vibrant district is renowned as one of the world’s finest Chinatowns and features over 600 lively shops, captivating red temples, and an enchanting atmosphere illuminated by atmospheric lanterns at night.
Our taste buds jiggle with joy as we indulge in a feast at Shichifuku, an all-you-can-eat restaurant nestled in a lantern-lit alley. Incredible value for money at around AUD$25 per head, they hadn’t reckoned on our appetites though and we did quite a job chomping our way through the extensive menu of more than 120 items, managing to scoff noodle and rice dishes, divine peking duck pancakes, spicy prawns and unctuous eggplant and some excellent xiao long bao. The food is all freshly prepared to order, and we waddle out several kilograms heavier, but with my wallet still delightfully full.
The Yokohama Bay area boasts scenic promenades lined with trendy cafes and boutiques. It’s the perfect spot to take a leisurely stroll while enjoying breathtaking views of the ocean. The kids spot the giant Ferris wheel that stands tall on the skyline, which is part of the Yokohama Cosmo World, a compact but varied amusement park with enough to keep both kids and adults entertained for an afternoon.
Perhaps out favourite spot in all of Yokohama is the delightful Enoshima Island, a picturesque and popular destination connected to the mainland by a bridge. Whether as part of your Yokohama itinerary or as a day trip from Tokyo, it is a must-visit destination and we immerse ourselves in the enchanting atmosphere of shrines, temples and seafood shops, while soaking up the breathtaking vistas. This island is an absolute gem, offering a serene escape from the bustling city life of Japan.
To reach the island we stroll along the charming Benten Nakamise Dori, a vibrant shopping street leading to a stunning temple dedicated to Benzaiten, one of the Seven Gods of Luck known as Shichi-fuku-jin.
Dotted with a multitude of shops and eateries, we eagerly join the queues to sample some of the local specialties, such as the fabulously fishy crispy octopus crackers.
And, of course, we have to delve into the weirdness of shirasu ice cream, matcha-flavored soft serve adorned with dozens of tiny, young sardines — a combination that may sound like it’s based on a dare, but proves surprisingly delicious. Honest!
Bellies full, we explore the islands beautiful gardens and multiple shrines before ascending Enoshima’s SeaCandle, an iconic observation deck that serves as the symbol of the island. From this vantage point, we are treated to awe-inspiring views as the sun sets over Sagami Bay. Though she was hiding during our visit, on a good day you can even see Mt Fuji.
The Minato Mirai district offers a blend of entertainment, education, and relaxation and is one of the best spots to find things to do with kids in Yokohama. First stop has to be the Landmark Tower, one of Japan’s tallest buildings, for panoramic views of the city from its observation deck on the 69th floor.
Indulge in a little shopping and treat the kids to unique souvenirs at the countless shops and boutiques scattered throughout the Minato Mirai district. From trendy fashion items to quirky trinkets, you’ll find something to suit every taste and interest.
If your kids enjoy science and technology, the interactive exhibits at at the nearby Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum will captivate their minds. They can explore displays on transportation, energy, and more, learning through hands-on experiences and immersive simulations. But if it’s nature that beckons, waterfront Rinko Park provides a perfect spot for a picnic or a leisurely stroll, with stunning views of the bay and Yokohama’s skyline as well as playgrounds for younger kids.
The biggest draw of Minato Mirai is the interactive Cup Noodles Museum which captivates the kids with hands-on exhibits, even allowing them to create their own personalised cup noodle souvenirs leaving them with a tasty memento of Yokohama.
Trains run frequently along the JR Tokaido Line train from Tokyo Station to Yokohama Station, a ride of around 30 minutes. Alternately, catch a bus from Tokyo Station or Shinjuku Station, and arrive at Yokohama Station or other bus terminals in Yokohama in around 30-45 minutes, depending on traffic conditions.
Where to stay in Yokohama with kids
An easy 10-minute walk from Chinatown and a 15-minute walk from Minato Mira, the affordable and conveniently located Richmond Hotel Yokohama Bashamichi us just a minute from the subway for easy access. This three-star property is simple but extremely comfortable family-friendly hotel offers air-conditioned rooms and is perfectly positioned for exploring. There’s a a cafeteria and breakfast on site for a small extra surcharge, but there’s an excellent variety of restaurants nearby, with incredible Japanese food, as well as the ubiquitous McDonalds and Starbucks for those accompanied by fussy eaters.