Yokohama, Japan travel guide and things to do: Nine must-do highlights

THE ONE CRUISE TERMINAL

Large cruise ships dock at Osanbashi in the middle of Yokohama's action. This cruise terminal juts into the harbour and has a bold, undulating design and grassy walk-on roofs. A short meander takes you to Yamashita Park, with more seagull-screeching harbour views. The tethered, decommissioned Hikawa Maru (nyk.com/rekishi) provides a fine glimpse of life on board a luxe 1930s cruise liner. See yokohamajapan.com

THE ONE WATERFRONT

Most of Yokohama's waterfront is cluttered with workaday warehouses and cranes, but Minato Mirai is a hugely successful urban development project presided over by a giant Ferris wheel (cosmoworld.jp) and Landmark Tower (yokohama-landmark.jp), Japan's second-tallest building. You'll find many shopping malls and Mitsubishi Minatomari Industrial Museum (mhi.com), far more interesting than it sounds thanks to its interactive displays. See goyokohama.jp

THE ONE SHOP

Halfway along the half-hour walk between cruise terminal and Minato Mirai is Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, a former customs house complex. Building 1 houses a cultural centre, Building 2 a shopping mall of boutique stores and restaurants. It's a good place to pick up Japanese souvenirs and small-brand clothing and accessories. See yokohama-akarenga.jp

THE ONE LANDMARK

Sankei-en is one of Japan's most famous classical gardens, developed by a silk manufacturer and open to the public since 1904. It's bigger than most, dotted with ponds, stands of trees, giant bamboo and 2000 cherry trees linked by meandering pathways leading to a secluded inner garden and teahouse. The garden also has several historical buildings relocated from across Japan. See sankeien.or.jp

THE ONE FOOD EXPERIENCE

Yokohama's Chinatown, the largest in Asia, is a hugely popular destination for hungry Tokyoites. The colourful raucous district is packed with 600 restaurants, noodle and dumpling shops, food halls (one themed on 1930s Shanghai) and street stalls selling pancakes and black-bean buns. Try 126-year-old Manchin-ro restaurant (manchinro.com) for Cantonese food and steamed buns.

THE ONE MUSEUM

True, the hands-on Cup Noodles Museum (cupnoodles-museum.jp) is entertaining, especially if you have kids, but Yokohama Museum of Art is one of Japan's foremost art institutions. It displays a fine collection of modern art by greats such as Picasso, Dali and the Impressionists, as well as an interesting collection of Japanese art and photography. See yokohama.art.museum

THE ONE DISTRICT

Motomachi (now a centre for Japanese fashion) and adjacent Yamate were once residential centres for Western traders. Yamate still feels oddly European. Red-brick buildings, a former British consulate, white-spired churches and Greek Revival bank buildings sit under shady camphor trees. Some colonial-era villas are open to visitors. The foreign cemetery, filled with the leaning tombstones of sailors, merchants and diplomats, is atmospheric. See yokohamajapan.com

THE ONE HOTEL

If you like historical glamour and somewhat old-fashioned elegance then check into the Hotel New Grand near the cruise terminal. The 1927 hotel captures Yokohama's east-west trading influences with Art Deco architecture and a French restaurant inspired by fabled La Normandie cruise ship. Rooms are large and have sweeping harbour views. See hotel-newgrand.co.jp

THE ONE SHORE EXCURSION

Most cruise passengers hit Tokyo only 30 kilometres away, but for a quieter alternative take the 45-minute coach trip south to Kamakura, a small seaside resort whose hills are dotted with dozens of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines from its medieval days as a shogun's capital. There are pretty walks, orange tori gates and giant bronze Buddhas. See city.kamakura.kanagawa.jp

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ONE MORE THING

Inside Japan Tours organises self-guided adventures across Japan, including cruise add-ons from Yokohama. It creates a flexible, tailored trip based on interests, budget and desired destinations. You're provided with practicalities and bookings, but can explore on your own, at your own pace. See insidejapantours.com

Brian Johnston travelled at his own expense.

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