Minatomirai Station is an underground station located in the Minatomirai district of Nishi Ward of Yokohama. The station is relatively new, having been opened in 2004 when the Yokohama Minatomirai Railway Company’s Minatomirai Line was started. Besides the Minatomirai Line, which serves the station, Tokyu Toyoko trains also run through it.
Minatomirai, or Minato Mirai as it is also written, is a large development area of Yokohama. Located on reclaimed land on Tokyo Bay, it covers an area of 356,000 m. Construction of the area began in 1983 under the project name Minato Mirai 21, meaning “Future Harbor”. The intention was to develop a modern and futuristic metropolitan area in Yokohama, which would stand out even among the best. Minato Mirai has many attractive features, including high rise residential and office buildings, exclusive shopping centers, convention centers, an amusement park and relaxation areas. It is a popular place among visitors because of its many tourist attractions. It won’t be wrong to say that a visit to Tokyo is incomplete without a visit to Minato Mirai.
Minatomirai Station is located directly under Queen’s Square in the center of Minatomirai and is connected to it by a passageway.
Queen’s Square is a commercial complex consisting of a shopping mall, a department store, a concert hall, offices, and a luxury hotel - the Pan Pacific Hotel Yokohama.
The shopping mall is divided into two sections – “at!” where all the casual style shops are, and “Queen’s East” where the trendy and fashionable stores are. As a result, offering something for everyone. The food area has plenty of dining options with a wide variety of fine cuisines.
Yokohama Minatomirai Hall is the name of the concert hall at Queen’s Square. It is the first authentic concert hall in Yokohama and one of the finest in the world. It has high quality facilities and a shoe box shape arena style seating to provide optimal acoustics. Seating capacity is 2,020 and the stage has an area of 290 m. A special feature of the hall is the organ on center stage, which is made of beautifully carved mahogany.
Other than this Main Hall, there is also a small hall for solo performances, a rehearsal room, a reception room, and six practice rooms.
Landmark Plaza is located right beside Queen’s Square. This is also a large commercial complex with shops similar to the ones at Queen’s Square. Landmark Plaza consists of five floors with a large variety of high end shops and restaurants. The two basement floors are Dockyard Garden.
Bordering Landmark Plaza is the Yokohama Landmark Tower.
Yokohama Landmark Tower
Yokohama Landmark Tower is the symbol of Minato Mirai. At 295.8 m, it is the tallest building in Japan. It was designed by Hugh Stubbins and Associates (now Kling Stubbin) and took three years to build – from 1990 to 1993. The Tower has 70 floors – Floors 49 to 70 house a five-star hotel – the Yokohama Royal Park Hotel, Floors 8 to 48 are offices, Floor 7 has clinics, and the lower 6 floors contain shops and restaurants. On the 69th floor there is an observatory.
Sky Garden is the observatory on the 69th floor of Yokohama Landmark Tower. This highest observatory in Japan offers a beautiful 360 degree view of Yokohama, and of Mount Fuji when the days are clear. On the same floor are a café with nice food and entertainment, and a souvenir shop. Tourists are taken up and down Sky Garden in the world’s second fastest elevator (the fastest being in Taipei), reaching 69 floors in about 40 seconds. The Tower is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Entry is 1000 yen for adults, 800 yen for teens and senior citizens, and 500 yen for children.
Yokohama Museum of Art
The Yokohama Museum of Art is located right next to Landmark Tower. Founded in 1989, this museum houses 20th century contemporary works of art – paintings by surrealist artists as well as photograph collections. Some of the well-known artists whose works are on display here are Constantin Brancusi, Paul Cézanne, Salvador Dali, Jimmy Ernst, René Magritte, Henri Matisse, Ossip Zadkine, and Pablo Picasso. The Japanese artists featured here are mainly from Yokohama – Imamura Shiko, Kanzan Shimomura, and Chizuko Yoshida besides several others.
The impressive building that houses the museum was designed by Kenzo Tange, who won the 1987 Pritzker Prize for Architecture for it. The main hall is 18 meters high and is open to the 2nd and 3rd floors. The ceiling of the hall is of glass, allowing natural light to come through.
The first floor is the reception area and a large lecture hall. The paintings are on the second floor and the photographs on the third. There is also a restaurant and a souvenir shop on the second floor, and an Archive Center and a Workshop on the third. Besides the regular displays, the museum also holds exhibitions in three different themes every year.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Entry is 500 yen for adults, 300 yen for teens, and 100 yen for children.
Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum
Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum is situated close to the Yokohama Museum of Art, just 3 minutes walk from Minatomirai Station. It was established by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. in 1994 with the purpose of giving youngsters the opportunity of learning latest technology through hands on experience.
The museum is divided into six zones – Space, Ocean, Environment, Transportation, Daily Life Discovery, and Technology Quest. The first four zones are on the first floor and the last two on the second. All the models on both the floors are either life-sized or enlarged for easier understanding. Nearly everything related to science and technology can be viewed and experienced here – from rocket engines and airplanes to computer simulators and vehicles. The most popular hands-on activities at the museum are the helicopter flying simulation and the designing of boats and airplanes. There is also a 3-D theater that entertains visitors with scientific knowledge.
The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Entry is 300 yen for adults, 200 yen for teens and 100 yen for children.
Cosmo World is a small but popular amusement park located on two small islands on the waterfront 2 minutes walk east of Minatomirai Station. Opened in March 1999, it has 27 rides and attractions, 5 restaurants, and a distribution center spread out on an area of 20,000 m. The most popular and prominent ride is the huge Ferris Wheel, said to be among the largest in the world. It stands at a height of 112.5 meters and has a capacity of 480 passengers. The diameter of the Wheel is 100 meters and makes one complete turn in one minute. This has given it the name Cosmo Clock.
Admission to the park is free but the rides cost between 100 and 600 yen.
Manyo Club is a relaxation center and a spa located in front of Cosmo World. This eight storey club offers Onsen (hot spring baths) with water brought in daily by trucks from Izu Peninsula. The baths offered are of various styles – indoor or outdoor baths, traditional cypress tubs or porcelain pools. Other services provided in this high end relaxation center are acupuncture, foot pressure therapy, and many different kinds of massages. The building also includes several restaurants, a multi-purpose hall for 360 people, resting rooms, and a view deck offering a view of Bay Bridge.
Nippon Maru Memorial Park and Maritime Museum
Nippon Maru Memorial Park and Maritime Museum are located a 5 minute walk from Minatomirai Station close to Cosmo World. Nippon Maru Memorial Park is a beautiful park on the seaside and takes its name from Nippon Maru, a retired sailing ship permanently docked here.
Nippon Maru, known as the “Swan of the Pacific”, is a retired sailing ship that is permanently docked at the seaside park. Built in 1930, it served as a training ship for novice sailors and sea personnel till 1984. During the entire period from 1930 to 1984, the Nippon Mari sailed a total of 1,830,000 kilometers using a combination of steam and canvas. This 320 foot long ship is now part of a museum and is open to the public for viewing. The main features of Nippon Maru are the captain’s cabin, the Officers’ Saloon, and the decks. Visitors can participate in the washing of the decks and the opening of the sails, which number 29.
Across from the ship is the Yokohama Maritime Museum, a museum of all things related to marine topics. The museum is divided into two sections – the History Zone, which has everything related to the history of Yokohama Port; and the Rediscovery Zone, which has everything else related to marine topics.
The museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Mondays. Admission is 600 yen.
Pacifico Yokohama is one of the largest convention complexes in the world. It consists of world class convention centers, exhibition halls, a big national hall, and a hotel – the InterContinental Yokohama Grand. Located just 3 minutes from Minatomirai Station, Pacifico Yokohama has an impressive shell and sail shaped appearance with a circular space in the center made of stone where open air events are held. Since its inception in 1991, Pacifico Yokohama has been host to many international conventions,
The National Convention Hall of Yokohama is the main and largest hall at Pacifico. It consists of six floors – Floor 1 is the lobby and the entrance. There is also a waiting room, a first aid center, a staff kitchen, and toilets. Vending machines and coin lockers are also available. F2 is the main convention hall – it is the first level of seating with a seating capacity of 3,260. Coin lockers are available in the lobby. F3 has a dressing room, a VIP room, a waiting room, simultaneous interpreting booths, audio/lighting control room, a small kitchen, a shower room, toilets, and vending machines. There is also a passageway that leads to the Conference Center. F4 is the second level of convention hall seating with a capacity of 994. There is also a waiting room, a dressing room, and simultaneous interpreting booths, besides a passageway to the Conference Center for the staff. F5 and F6 are level 3 seating with a seating capacity of 748. Vending machines are also available.
The Conference Center is a large Center with 60 meeting rooms of various sizes spread out over 6 floors. The Conference Center opens only to international and academic conferences, symposiums, seminars, and various other events like exhibitions. There is a spacious foyer as well, that is ideal for receptions. The Basement Floor and Floor1 are the Main Hall floors, with the dressing room, rehearsal room, staff kitchen, security office, and shower rooms being located on the Basement Floor, and the actual Conference Hall on F1. Here the seating capacity is 1,000. Other facilities on F1 include waiting rooms, a business center, a first aid room, vending machines, and coin lockers. There is also a passageway that leads to the hotel. F2 has two small meeting rooms, waiting rooms, simultaneous interpreting booths, an information office, staff kitchen, coin lockers, and vending machines. A passageway leads to the hotel. F3 has two large meeting rooms (partitionable into four medium rooms), five small meeting rooms, a lounge, and vending machines. F4 has ten small meeting rooms, simultaneous interpreting booths, and a staff kitchen. F5 has two large meeting rooms (partitionable into four medium rooms), four small meeting rooms, a small auditorium of 390 seats, simultaneous interpreting booths, and vending machines. F 6 has interpreting booths for the F5 meeting rooms, and a large cafeteria, the Bay Bridge Cafeteria.
The Exhibition Hall covers an area of 20,000 m and has a ceiling height of 13 to 19 m. The hall may be used as one large hall or partitioned into four. The Annex Hall, which is attached to the Exhibition Hall, has a total area of 1,350 m. It may be used as one unit or divided into six sections. The Annex Hall is used for exhibitions or seminars.
The Pacifico Yokohama is a beautiful sight even from a distance – with the National Convention Hall designed like a shell, the Conference Hall like a wave, and the hotel like a sail with the statue of Michibiki at the top facing the sea, as if to pray for safe voyages.
Minato Mirai Pukari
The Minato Mirai Pukari is a floating pier, located just 2 minutes walk from Pacifico Yokohama, which moves up and down with the flow of the tides. Its building is a western style one with a green roof and a clock tower. There is a nice restaurant on the second floor of the building. Visitors can either rest and relax at this Floating Pier and enjoy the view, or board a boat for a harbor cruise.
World Porters is a huge commercial complex located 5 minutes walk from Minatomirai Station. This 6 floor complex houses shops, restaurants, a multiplex movie theater with 8 screens, conference rooms, meeting rooms, exhibition halls, an amusement center, and a supermarket.
Red Brick Warehouses
The Red Brick Warehouses, located a 2 minute walk from World Porters, are two large historical buildings, which once served as warehouses and customs offices for the Yokohama Port. They have since been converted into a shopping mall, banquet halls and exhibition halls.
Building 1 of the Red Brick Warehouses was built in 1899 and Building 2 in 1911. They are both designed by the Japanese architect Yorinaka Tsumaki. Both the buildings were damaged during the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923. The buildings were repaired and rebuilt in 1930, but after World War II, were occupied by the American troops. In 1956, the buildings were returned to the Japanese Government who continued to use them as customs offices till 1989. In 1992, Yokohama City acquired the buildings and repaired them. The outsides of the buildings were kept the same in order to maintain their historical structure, but the insides were completely renovated. The buildings were reopened in 2002 as the Red Brick Warehouses. Building 1 has the banquet and exhibition rooms which are used as event venues and cultural facilities, and Building 2 has the shopping mall.
The Red Brick Warehouses are a must for visitors as they signify the historical importance of Yokohama, as well as represent the modernization of the city.