Minato Mirai 21

Minato Mirai 21

Minato Mirai is an urban development project that was officially launched in 1983 after nearly two decades of planning. It resulted in magnificent high rise buildings both commercial and residential, the most famous of which is Landmark Tower. While no longer the tallest building in Asia, it remains the tallest in Japan. Landmark Tower, true to its name, along with adjoining Queens Square Yokohama buildings is now the most famous landmark in Yokohama. The skyline is stunning both day and night. A lot of Minato Mirai is built on land reclaimed from the sea but luckily city planning has left a lot of open spaces and parks so even on a busy day it has nowhere near the claustrophobic feel of downtown Yokohama. Construction still continues today with new condominiums and office buildings, such as the new Nissan building, popping up frequently.

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New Nissan building under construction.   New condominiums in Minato Mirai.


A Rainy Day

On a rainy day you can take the Minato Mirai line to Minato Mirai Station which is situated beneath Queens Square Yokohama. From there you have access to Landmark Plaza and Landmark Tower without ever stepping outside and you could easily spend the day checking out the latest fashion, eating, and taking in the free performances that seem to be held regularly in both Queens Square Yokohama and Landmark Plaza. Yurindo in Landmark Plaza has probably the best selection of English books and magazines in Yokohama. If you are looking for something more physical there is even a gym with a swimming pool. You should save going to the Sky Garden on the 69th floor for a clear day as the views are spectacular day or night.

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Entrance to Landmark Tower's Sky Garden.   Landmark Tower and Sky Garden information.

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Landmark Tower


A Day Out

When the weather is fine though there is much more to enjoy so put on your walking shoes and take a stroll from Yokohama Station. Before you go drop into the Tourist Information near the JR ticket gates and get yourself a free English map of the area. (For those who want to start from Sakuragicho Station there is a Tourist Information on the Landmark Tower side of the station.)

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Sakuragicho Station   Tourist Information just outside Sakuragicho Station

From Yokohama Station take the East Exit walk through Porta and turn right before Sogo. Walk up the stairs and keep going straight. On the left you will see a shopping mall called Gento. In here you will find Yokohama's newest and probably least crowded cinema. It also houses Blitz where pop and rock concerts are held regularly. There is also a video arcade which includes some old school arcade games.

Sports fans will be delighted to know that across from Gento is the Yokohama Marinos soccer team's HQ and if you have time you can head over there to the stands to watch the team practice for free. There is also a great Marinos souvenir shop.

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Yokohama Marinos practice pitch.   Yokohama Marinos Head Office.

It is about a two minute walk from Gento Yokohama to Jack Mall where you will find some great bargains if you are looking to buy menswear, sportswear or electronics. There are also a few reasonably priced restaurants if you have already become hungry.

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Gento Yokohama   Game Center in Gento Yokohama


A bit of Culture

From Jack Mall you just have to cross the road and head towards the tallest building you can see. That is Landmark Tower of course. For those of you who are interested in a culture you are in luck. The Yokohama Museum of Art is on the right hand side before you get to Landmark Tower and regularly holds special exhibits as well as a permanent collection so it warrants several visits. There is also the Mitsubishi Minato Mirai Industrial Museum for the more technically minded.

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Jack Mall.   Yokohama Museum of Art.

In Queens Square Yokohama you will find Minato Mirai Hall where classical music concerts are held regularly, some of which are free. The famous One Dollar Organ Concerts are also held here. Yes, it costs one dollar or one hundred yen to attend.

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Sculpture between Landmark Tower and Queens Square Yokohama.   Yokohama Minato Mirai Hall.

On the other side of Landmark Tower you will find the Martime Museum (currently closed for renovations) and the magnificent sail training ship, the Nippon Maru, permanently docked in the harbor. On certain days you can watch them let the sails out and on others you can board.


A Bite to Eat

There is no reason to go hungry in Minato Mirai. Landmark Plaza alone has dozens of eateries located mostly in the lower floors. No matter what your taste or your budget, whether you are looking to have a romantic candlelit dinner or you just want to grab a hamburger, you are sure to find the restaurant to suit you. The only problem you might have is that there is too much to choose from. The food court in nearby World Porters is great for families or large groups of people.

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Dining Options in Landmark Tower.   Hard Rock Café in Queens Tower A.


Young and Carefree

One of the biggest attractions in Yokohama is Cosmo World and its huge Ferris Wheel. The air conditioned cabins are a great way to get a birds eye view of Yokohama and the view is beautiful. For those looking for more excitement, there are roller coasters, waltzers and host of other activities. Of course it is a great place to bring kids but it is also a favorite for you young couples on a date. To rest from all the excitement just head over to World Porters for a coffee or snack. World Porters caters to the younger set and provides a great escape from the elements with HMV, Warner Mycal Cinemas and a great movie memorabilia shop for those not interested in fashion. There is also a great foreign food section in the supermarket.

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Cosmo World Ferris Wheel.   World Porters.

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Cosmo World Horror House.   Cosmo World Ice World.


Transportation

You may get tired walking around Minato Mirai but don't worry there are other options. You can rent a bicycle from HamaChari or you can hitch a ride on a Velo Taxi. They are both reasonably priced and eco-friendly.

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Velo Taxi – Green transportation.   Hama Chari – rent-a-bicycle.

Links:
Minato Mirai  http://www.minatomirai21.com/english/
Landmark Tower  http://www.yokohama-landmark.jp/english/
Queens Square  http://www.qsy.co.jp/english/
Nippon Maru  http://www.nippon-maru.or.jp/ (Japanese)
Minato Mirai Hall  http://www.yaf.or.jp/mmh/index-e.html
Yokohama Museum of Art  http://www.yaf.or.jp/yma/en/
Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum  http://www.mhi.co.jp/e_museum/
Gento  http://www.gento.jp/ (Japanese)
Cosmo World  http://www.senyo.co.jp/cosmo/ (Japanese)
Yokohama Marinos  http://www.f-marinos.com/ (Japanese)
109 Cinemas  http://109cinemas.net/mm/ (Japanese with some English)
Warner Mycal Cinemas  http://www.warnermycal.com/cinema/minatomirai/ (Japanese)