Yokohama nightlife has been well known among Japanese people for a long time now, and for many different reasons. But for anyone visiting Japan for the first time, it’s likely that they have no idea what’s hidden here! A famous music and jazz scene combined with a huge selection of izakaya, restaurants and bars mean it attracts many people from all over Japan who want to experience Yokohama at night. Add to this that is the first place in Japan to start brewing beer and you begin to see why we think it is so extraordinary. For me, it is the many small districts each with their own style that make it so special. In some areas you will find atmospheric izakaya and tiny standing bars, but in other parts of the city it can feel like you’re drinking cocktails one hundred years from now, in a city of the future. I’m not really a fan of Yokohama night clubs, I would much prefer to go somewhere where you can start talking to someone, so I will have more of that kind of night in my guide to things to do in Yokohama at night!
Listen to Records at Chigusa Jazz Café
A jazz café in Japan is very different from what you might expect; they are very traditional bars that play jazz records instead of live music. They began to get very popular in the seventies, but now there seems to be less and less of them to experience. Chigusa is the one that I often go to because it is one of the only ones left still alive in the traditional Noge area. Step into this Yokohama nightlife spot and sit with a local beer, look through the huge collection of old jazz records and enjoy the special retro atmosphere. If you find a record you like, just ask the staff to play it for you. You will not find many tourists inside Chingusa; it will mostly be locals who are regulars at places like this in Yokohama at night - it is one of our best kept secrets. You should still have a chat with someone inside; it’s the best way to see what living in Yokohama is really like, and most of us would be happy to practice our English.
Photo Credit: magcul.net
Go to a Standing Bar
Another very special form of Yokohama entertainment that many locals do is go to a standing bar, which we call tachinomiya. These are usually very small spaces where workers could traditionally get affordable food and drinks, but they seem to be growing much cooler and more popular recently. FukuFuku is a really good one – it is very famous for serving shochu which is a kind of special lemon flavored Japanese spirit. Shochu is a very popular drink for everyone in Japan, but especially for us in Yokohama where young ladies especially seem to love drinking it. The atmosphere is very Japanese and you it will have mostly locals enjoying themselves inside, with not so many tourists. You can easily walk to FukuFuku from Yokohama train station, so if you happen to be in the area you should definitely go in and experience it – very good if you would like to see a traditional izakaya in Yokohama.
Photo Credit: voyapon.com/tachigui-noodle-shops/
Enjoy a Drink in a Boat Themed Bar
Windjammer is Yokohama’s oldest jazz bar, but it has a completely different atmosphere to Chingusa. The first thing is that this is this is a live jazz bar where live bands often perform, so you won’t be picking any records this time. Secondly, the interior feels like you are inside the cabin of a ship, which already makes it totally unique to any other Yokohama clubs. Sit with a beer inside this sea themed bar and enjoy looking at the anchors, masts and ropes which make this such a special place. The bar also has a very special cocktail menu with over two-thousand cocktails to try – I haven’t finished all of them yet – but you could give it a try. I really recommend trying something with gin in here. Windjammer has been such a special part of Yokohama nightlife for many, many years that it is a must visit for anyone.
Photo Credit: tokyoweekender.com
Watch Fireworks from Sirius
Would you like to go to a bar at the top of the second highest building in Japan? Sirius is a bar that is on the seventeenth floor of the Landmark Tower and will give you the best Yokohama night views across the sea and city. Go here on a weekend in summer, either in July or August, and you will get extraordinary views of the Japan firework festival. Try my favorite whiskey and soda and watch the show as hundreds of fireworks light up the sky for miles and miles around. You will be able to see shows in very far away areas and it is a very beautiful sight – one of the most impressive things to do in Yokohama at night I would say. Sirius is a good place to come to try different local foods - but it is not very affordable for tourists on a small budget, so you might have to have just one cocktail when you’re at the top.
Photo Credit: yokohamajapan
Walk the Streets or Minato Mirai
If Noge is the undiscovered retro part of Yokohama, then Minato Mirai is the cool, futuristic part. Spend a whole day here because there is much to see - but stick around for the evening because that is really when the true spirit of Minato Mirai comes out and you see the beauty in this modernized scene. The views of Yokohama city with the buildings all illuminated is one of the most beautiful in the you will find – get the best Yokohama night view down at the port area. From here, see the full city skyline, including some of Yokohama’s most famous buildings all lit up; such as the Landmark Tower or the Cosmo World wheel. The many colors of the Cosmo World wheel are especially extraordinary – you will be able to see it from miles around! When you finally stop admiring the views of Yokohama at night, stop off at one of the cool waterfront bars for a beer or cocktail.
Photo Credit: jw-webmagazine.com
Get Ramen in Noge
Ramen is maybe the most well-known food from Japan and it is a big part of our culture. We have quite a specific way of eating it though – you wouldn’t go to a typical restaurant, but instead a ramen bar. These are nearly always very tiny shops that can only take close to ten people at a time, usually with only a bar and stools to sit on. For the best Yokohama restaurants for ramen, any tourist should go to the traditional Noge area. There are many bars here that serve real Yokohama ramen at very affordable prices, such as the local favorite Goru Men. I have been here many, many times and seen a line coming from the front door of people who want to try their special noodle dish. Take part in one of the local things to do in Yokohama and stop here before going on to try some of the atmospheric izakaya around Noge.
Bar Hop Noge Tabemono Yokocho
Japan is not very famous for nightlife, but we do have our own special kind. Noge Tabemono Yokocho is the closest thing to a party zone Yokohama has, but it is much more traditional and retro than you might think. Seeing it for the first time might feel like going to a time in Japan that does not exist anymore because you will see a tiny alleyway with illuminated izakaya and atmospheric standing bars all the way down - it is a must see. Bar hop from one to the next as you try different local izakaya favorites with lots of Japanese beers too - you could spend a whole evening here. The best way to do it by stepping inside as many places as possible, you don’t even need to know the name – that is where the enjoyment comes from! In the Noge area, many people will not speak English which means not many tourists will come here. They would rather go to somewhere like Minato Milae, so you can enjoy this hidden gem all by yourself.
Photo Credit: www.timeout.com/photo-Kisa Toyoshima
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