It’s quite the opposite.
Yokohama is young, vibrant and one of the cities to watch for in the future.
When I first heard I would be visiting Yokohama “outside of Tokyo” I joked, “How nice, a quaint little fishing village.” My sarcasm was quickly slapped down with promises of masses of people as Japan’s second largest city (only to Tokyo).
My expectations were not spectacular. But, boy did Yokohama change that perception. While culturally very different, the growth in Yokohama reminds me if the expansive growth in Dubai. Most everything in the “downtown” looks and feels new. The city now welcomes the world…not just those who visit from Tokyo.
Japan’s largest cities by population are:
- Tokyo – 13.513 million people (Bigger than Moscow)
- Yokohama – 3.725 million people (Comparable to Los Angeles)
- Osaka – 2.691 million people (Comparable to Chicago)
- Nagoya – 2.296 million people (Comparable to Houston)
- Sapporo – 1.952 million people (Larger than Philadelphia)
Now, to the Cosmo Clock 21 in Yokohama’s Cosmoworld! This is the ferris wheel in the amusement park outside of JR Sakuragi-cho station or the Minato Mirai subway station. According to JapanTravel.com, “This Ferris wheel was built in 1989, as an exhibit for the Yokohama Expo. The outer diameter is 100 meters across, and the maximum number of passengers it can hold is 480 people. 60 gondolas run a full circle every 15 minutes. These gondolas are red, blue, orange, yellow and green. There is also one purple gondola and two clear ones.”
When it first opened, it was the world’s tallest ferris wheel until the completion of the 354 ft Igosu 108 in Shiga, Japan, in 1992. It’s a must-see attraction especially at night! “Every 15 minutes, the 60 spokes become fireworks, flowers, spirals and targets. If you want to take a nice colorful picture, please wait until right on the hour: 5:00, 6:00, 7:00, etc. for a new show. Each illumination show lasts 5 minutes. At other times, they last 1-3 minutes each.”
Yokohama has maintained it’s history and old charm in many parts of the city. But there is a bustling area running south along the water front. As one local told me, there’s an area for “locals to eat and drink” and then there’s all of the new area for “dating” and tourists. That made me chuckles. It implies the local still know the authentic, truly local places to eat a great meal.
As for business, you may know some of the largest companies based in the city. JVC Kenwood has offices there. As does Fuji Xerox with it’s research and development square.
The Yokohama World Business Support Center talks with leaders who are relocating their companies to the city. The human resource director of Sensata explained why his company chose Yokohama. “It meant shutting down the research and development facilities, with their long history in Oyama, and the necessity of a large number of employees commuting to a new location. We identified various assessment factors, including access to transportation, public facilities and services, risk of natural disasters, office rent, operation costs, and impression of the local surroundings. We then created a list of potential relocation sites based on careful research. The results identified Shin Yokohama as our first choice, since it scored high in the overall assessment considering rental costs, etc. Subsidy programs by the city of Yokohama were a major factor in our decision as well. Fortunately, we were able to find an office in a convenient location just three minutes by foot from Shin Yokohama Station.”
2018 will be a busy year for Yokohama. It will host the ITU World Triathalon. But the greatest exposure for this growing city may come in 2020. Yokohama’s 30,000-seat baseball stadium has been confirmed as the main venue for baseball and softball events at the Olympic Games in 2020. World Baseball Softball Confederation President Riccardo Fraccari. said in confirming Yokohama to host the events, “Yokohama Stadium with its downtown skyline will provide a spectacular backdrop for Olympic baseball and softball — this is an exciting day that takes baseball and softball one step closer on the historic road to Tokyo 2020.”
With its dramatic growth and its coming exposure on the greatest of world stages, the quaint little fishing village long in the shadows of Tokyo now shines brightly on its very own.
Burabō Yokohama! Burabō
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