Springtime is definitely the best time to visit Japan and there are so many great places to enjoy the beautiful blooms all over the country. When it comes to spring destinations, Yokohama is one of the greatest hidden gems Japan has to offer.
Where to Stay?
New Otani Inn Yokohama Premium is a stylish business hotel with exceptionally convenient location situated a 1 minute walk from JR Sakuragicho Station. It is also attached to a large shopping mall in front of Sakuragicho Station in Minato Mirai 21 that incorporates a cinema complex, fitness center, offices and shops.
My spacious and modern room offers a stunning view of the city. Complimentary high-speed internet access (WiFi) is available.
New Otani Inn Yokohama Premium
JR Sakuragicho Station : 1 minute on foot
Yokohama Municipal Subway Sakuragicho Station : 2 minutes on foot
Yokohama Minatomirai Railway Minatomirai Station : 7 minutes on foot
In order to enjoy the amazingly beautiful sight of the cherry blossoms in Yokohama, it is worth going on a one day trip out of Tokyo, or maybe spend a night here.
Gumyoji Shopping Street
It has a huge shopping street that is also the leading street to Gumyoji temple, the oldest temple in Yokohama. This shopping arcade is located between two train stations and is popular because it comes with many modern and nostalgic stores.
Since we were there in spring season, there were many sakura products for sale, such as this famous wagashi store that sells sakura daifuku, sakura mochi, kuzu zakura, and many more.
If you are a Japanese alcohol alficionados (like us), don’t miss out on these sakura flavoured sakes, beers, umeshu and sparkling wines.
Don’t miss out Fujikata Tofu when you are here at Gumyoji Shopping Street. It is a family business that has been here for 54 years. The freshly made warm tofu sprinkled with a little bit of sea salt is so so so good, they give out free samples to all their customers.
Fresh, seasonal produce here are really cheap too, in fact cheaper than what we have in Malaysia! We also tried from fried chicken aka karaage from a famous stall call Hompo Nashika. It was really, really delicious!
I can spend half a day here trying all the different confectioneries and street snacks here.
Gumyoji Shopping Street also lies in between a very famous sakura promenade along the river.
It feels like a mini naka meguro for me, minus the crowd of course.
Towards the end of the shopping street, we took a flight of stairs to Gumyoji Temple, the oldest temple in Yokohama and one of the oldest temples in Kanto region. It was established in 737 by priest Gyoki. These statues of this Nio Gate was made in late 13th century. The gate was also constructed in Edo period.
Gumyoji Shopping Street
Gumyoji Station Keikyu Line or Gumyoji Station Blue Line
One of the best spot to view sakura in Yokohama is Sankeien (三溪園), a spacious Japanese style garden that is covering over 175,000 square meters, renowned for its seasonal beauty.
The entire garden was owned and once the private home of Tomitaro “Sankei” Hara (1869-1939) an extremely wealthy silk merchant. It was opened to the public in 1906. Sankeien contains many historical houses and buildings that are recognized as being culturally significant by the government. These buildings were brought to the park from locations all over the Japan, and include a three storied pagoda located high up on a hill deep inside the garden and a gassho-style house from Gifu Region.
I can imagine how beautiful will this place turn out to be during autumn season, just like those famous momiji spots in Kyoto.
One of the highlight of my visit here is Bototei, a traditional tea house that sits inside the Sankei Memorial Building. For 500¥ you can drink matcha tea in a traditional tea ceremony made by “Ura Senke” tea masters. They serve you fresh maccha green tea with original sweets of Sankeien.
Add: 58-1 Honmoku Sannotani, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa
Hour: 9:00-17:00(enter before 16:30)
Admission Fee: Adults: 700 yen, Juniors(Age 6-15): 200 yen
JR Negishi Station/ Bus/ 10 min./ Honmoku Bus Stop/On foot/10 min.
JR Sakuragi-cho Station/ Bus/ 25 min./ Sankeien Iruguchi/ On foot/ 5 min.
Honmoku Shopping Street
Just minutes away from Sankeien Garden, Honmuku is an interesting town that is waiting for us to explore. It used to be the location of a huge American military base, hence this place is an interesting blend of both Japanese culture and American culture such as rock and roll and jazz and American cars and motorbikes.
Honmoku Base is community space located at the Honmoku Shopping Street. It combines a cafe where you can have light meal or a conversation over a cuppa, a broadcast facility, and also the center of event and information. Publics and walk-ins are welcomed here.
Honmoku Ribbon Fun Street features many interesting shops and restaurants with a certain local charm. Some of the interesting stores are:
1. Yasudaya Gofukuten that sells hanten (traditional short jacket), sculptures, toys, dolls, arts and crafts, knick-knacks and general artisanal goods.
2. Iwataya Liquor Store that has been in the same spot since 1923 serving the locals a huge variety of booze and accompanying snacks. There is also a cozy bar area where you can enjoy your drinks.
3. Okonomiyaki Honmoku Kim-Chan that serves Osaka-style pancakes, takoyaki, monjayaki (a Tokyo variation on okonomiyaki) and teppanyaki. Famous for their huge portion and reasonable pricing.
4. Honmoku Hello Cafe
It is a cozy place decorated with knick knacks that the owner sourced from all over the world. Their house blends are also named after all the famous Japanese author such as Yosano and Tanizaki.
It is such a quaint place for us to spend a lovely afternoon here. Their sakura chiffon and strawberry ice cream were so good!
5. IG Italian Garden is another institution at Honmoku area that serves up specialty pizza.
The fashionable owner and his son are big fan of American culture, as seen on the restaurant and bar with strong American atmosphere such as old-style cars, jazz and rock and roll music. I have to say that IG’s pizza is one of the best that I’ve tasted, together with a potent gin & tonic it was just awessome. I wonder how they whip up magic from their very small kitchen.
Even the cherry bomb parfait was surprisingly delicious! Layers of cereals, creamy vanilla ice cream, cherries poached in wine and more alcohol is the perfect combination of flavors!
Honmoku Shopping Street (Honmoku Ribbon Fun Street Shotenkai)
Bus Stop “Honmoku Icchome”, “Honmoku Nichome”, “Hongoucho”: Municipal Bus(No.105) from “Yokohama Station”
Bus Stop “Kominato”: Municipal Bus(No.99, 101, 105, 106) from “Ishikawacho Station”
Bus Stop “Gasuyama-Toori Iriguchi”, “Honmoku-Nakadai”: Municipal Bus(No.222) from “Yamate Station”
Spring in Yokohama Part II next!