Yokohama has so much more to offer than what I had expected. A recent trip to the city in July with the folks from Kirin opened up my perception of what I thought would have been a quiet city with nothing to do. No doubt Tokyo has a lot more buzz and activity, Yokohama offers a much quieter experience away from large crowds.
But it was one trip to remember for me. One of the more fun ones and the company was more than perfect. I was also trying out the Canon EF16 – 35 mm f/2.8L III USM lens with my Canon EOS 5D Mk IV. The result of this versatile and great lens shows in the photos in this article. Not too much of distortion and extremely sharp images. That’s how I like my photos.
Fly to Haneda and Experience Japanese Service on ANA
Book yourself onto one of ANA’s four daily flights to Tokyo. That’s two flights to Narita and two to Haneda airport. ANA operates its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft between Singapore and Haneda Airport and the B787-8 Dreamliner or B777-300ER between Singapore and Narita.
I prefer flying on the airline’s newer B787-9 Dreamliners which have a generous seat pitch of 34″ and Inflight Entertainment system by Panasonic Avionics that lets you charge your smartphones with its USB port. This, coupled with a great in-flight meal, friendly service and availability of Japanese beers including Kirin sure give you the feeling you are already in Japan the moment you board your flight.
Haneda Airport is located closer to Yokohama. So when you plan your trip, book a flight to Haneda instead of Narita. Haneda Airport is 30 minutes away to Yokohama City Air Terminal station (YCAT). One-way fare for the Keihin Kyuko Bus is only 580 yen. You can also take the Keikyu Airport Express from Haneda to Keikyu Kamata Station where you hop onto the Keikyu Line to Yokohama Station. The 25-minute train ride will cost you 480 yen.
Many people visit Yokohama to pay homage to instant noodles at the CUPNOODLES Museum. Create your own CUPNOODLES package, choose one of four varieties of soup and four of 12 varieties of toppings. Or view the exhibits of the Instant Noodles History Cube and find out how it all started with Chicken Ramen into a global food culture. Taste noodles from around the world at the Noodles Bazaar. Don’t forget to pick up some souvenirs from the Museum Shop.
Kirin Yokohama Brewery
Japan’s beer industry originated in Yokohama. Kirin Brewery was also founded here in the Yamate area by foreigners in 1885 where they imported Brewmasters, ingredients and machinery required to brew lager beer from Germany. They created a label for the beer with a mythical East Asian creature called the Kirin and branded the beer Kirin Beer in 1888. Thomas Blake Glover, a Kirin executive then asked for the logo to be enlarged and that is the logo we are familiar with today.
The Kirin Brewery Company was established in 1907 with the merger of two of the country’s first breweries emphasising on the state-of-the-art equipment and the most qualified brewers to create a product of high quality. In 1923, the Yokohama Yamate Brewery was destroyed by the Great Kanto earthquake. The brewery was moved to the Namamugi area in 1926 and operated for three years. Beer then was commonly dark and bitter. Kirin used the move to a new brewery to innovate and create a greenish yellow beer. This was recognised even in Germany and has become a standard in Japan today.
Kirin Ichiban Shibori was released in 1990. The brewing process was completely reevaluated with a one-of-a-kind technique, around the world. The method is known as the Ichiban Shibori method, or ‘First Press”. Whilst most brewers use a blend of first and second pressed malt liquid, only the first pressed liquid is used for Kirin Ichiban. The first pressed malt liquid is clear and pure, while the second pressed malt liquid is rich and has body. Only the clear and pure first pressed malt liquid is used making Kirin Ichiban beer high-quality and expensive to produce.
Learn about the brewing process at the tour at Kirin Brewery’s Yokohama Plant through interactive light projections and explanations by the tour guide. Tours are conducted in Japanese. Check beforehand whether an English guide is available. The tour ends with free tasting and snacks. There is a shop where you can purchase souvenirs, beer, whisky and wine as well as other foodstuff.
Read Daniel Goh’s article Kirin Ichiban Shibori – a tale of first pressings on Spirited Singapore.
Spring Valley Brewery
Since you’ve already made your way here for the Kirin Brewery tour, have a pairing set where you can enjoy six main beer from Spring Valley Brewery with six tapas. Enjoy 496 with smoked almonds, COPELAND pilsner with gouda cheese, Afterdark dark beer with pecan nuts with chocolate, on the cloud fruity wheat malt beer brewed with a very rare Nelson Sauvin hop with camembert cheese, Daydream with pickles and JAZZBERRY with Dried fig for 2,300 yen. 496, Spring Valley Brewery’s signature beer, offers a flavourful full-bodied taste with 6.5% alcohol by volume (ABV), the highest ABV of the six. Daydream offers a citrus aroma of Yuzu peel with spicy hints of Sansho pepper.
Or if you don’t have an appetite for munchies, just go for the Beer flight of 100ml glasses of the same six beers at 1,300 yen.
Kirin City Plus at Bay Quarter
Bay Quarter Yokohama, a waterfront ship-themed mall facing Yokohama Port and Minato Mirai, is home to many cafes and restaurants with both indoor and outdoor options. Shops, restaurants and cafes here operate from 11 am daily. Shops close earlier at around 8 pm while the restaurants and cafes open till 11 pm.
Located on level five is Kirin City Plus which offers barrel draft beer. Kirin City Plus can accommodate 87 indoors and 34 at the terrace. What’s special is the pouring method known as “three times pouring” to give your beer more foam, taking about four minutes. The glass is still filled to the top then time is given for the foam to settle. After which beer is added to below the foam so that the foam can be lifted. The last step is to repeat two times. Kirin is also own vineyards which produce its own wines as well as whisky distilleries. These wines and whiskies are also available here.
Araiya at Akebonocho offers meat lovers thinly sliced sukiyaki-style beef are prepared and served to you at the dining table. Remove your shoes and sit on tatami mats in one of the private rooms on level two. The old style Sukiyaki house offers a rather zen atmosphere typical of Japanese establishments. But the service here is anything but typical. It is exceptional.
Sukiyaki here pairs perfectly with Kirin beer as you dip slices of cooked beef into your personal bowl of raw egg.
Shikitei Kaiseki With A Fascinating View
The Kaiseki dining experience at Shikitei is elevated offering panoramic views of Yokohama in a fine dining atmosphere. Located on the 68th level of the Yokohama Landmark Tower, Shikitei serves Japanese dishes that have been delicately created by the chefs. Enjoy the night views of the city during dinner which are priced from JPY 10,692. Lunch is available from JPY4,158 while breakfast is available from JPY3,564.
Remember to make reservations with a window, so that you can enjoy the view.
Who could resist this view, while dining at Shikitei. You’ll get a very beautiful hyperlapse video of the sunset and the area lighting up with your smartphone while dining.
Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse
The Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse is made up of two brick buildings that were from the Meiji and Taisho periods. Building 1 has a hall and a multi-purpose space while the other building has some 50 establishments including concert venues, food and beverage outlets and retail stores over three levels.
Yokohama is apparently the birthplace of ice cream in Japan. Try the wafer-cap custard ice cream from Yokohama Bashamichi Ice located at level one. The traditional ice cream is made from eggs, milk, and sugar. Seasonal flavours are available here.
Yamashita Park, the first seaside park in Japan, offers views of the Yokohama Port as well as a rose garden. There is the “Little Girl with Red Shoes On” statue as well as the “Guardian of Water” statue gift from San Diego, and the “Kamome no Suihei-san” song monument. The park is in pristine condition with pruned plants and a peaceful atmosphere. The occasional jogger breezes past you as you explore the park.
And you’ll be delighted that there is a Lawson convenience store at the park. On hot days, you can indulge in cold beverages or ice cream. It was the most crowded part of the park when we were there.
Yokohama Royal Park Hotel
The Yokohama Royal Park Hotel is located within the 296 metres tall Yokohama Landmark Tower. Located on the 69th floor is the Sky Garden, an observation deck that offers panoramic views of Yokohama. The lifts here travel at 750 metres per minute, the fastest lifts in Japan.
The Sail Training Ship NIPPON MARU that was built in 1930 and Yokohama Port Museum are located across the road from the Yokohama Landmark Tower.