Japan is a country that is surrounded by the ocean and sea, so it stands to reason that it has a lot of scenic ports and port towns. The interior of Japan is of course well worth a look, but to miss the coastal areas of this country is to miss out on some of the best cities that Japan has to offer. If you are looking for some sun, sea, and sand, as well as a plethora of historical and cultural highlights, then make sure to journey to the coast at least once during a trip to Japan.
Here is a guide to some of the best port towns in Japan
Yokohama is probably the most famous of all of Japan’s ports and it is no surprise that it is also the biggest. Most people don’t realize that Yokohama is extremely easy to visit both quickly and cheaply from neighboring Tokyo. So, if you want a quick side trip from Tokyo to a great port town, then this is by far the best option. The waterfront is well known in Yokohama for its Ferris wheel and entertainment complex called Minato Mirai 21 which has many eateries, shops, and even some museums. Other great areas of the city to explore include the idyllic Sankei Gardens as well as the vibrant Chinatown, which is also one of the biggest in the world!
Osaka is one of the most visited cities in Japan but did you even realize that it is also a port? The port area of Osaka is known as Tempozan and some of the highlights here include Universal Studios Japan, as well as an entertainment district similar to Yokohama. This also happens to be where the main aquarium in the city is located and this is one attraction that you should definitely not miss. The port area of Osaka has a lot going for it but if you want to venture further on to dry land then you will not be disappointed by the city’s other attractions such as its stunning castle and a wealth of cafes and restaurants.
The city of Nagasaki sits to the west side of Japan in the Kyushu area along the Sea of Japan. It is actually located on a picturesque harbor and offers amazing views. One of the best ways to take all of this in, is to walk up to Glover Garden which sits at the peak of a hill and then look back over the harbor and admire the scenic islands also dotted around the area. Other things to look out for in the city itself include the various peace memorials and parks dedicated to those who lost their lives as a result of the second atomic bomb that fell on the city during World War II.
Hakodate, on the island of Hokkaido, is connected to two bays making this a port town twice over. The big draw here is the waterfront which has been upgraded in recent years and has a relaxed yet engaging atmosphere where you can enjoy dynamic street performances as you enjoy the views over the water. As you are by the sea, make sure to check out some of the fresh seafood that Hakodate is famous for!
Kushiro is one of the largest of all the ports in Japan and is bisected by the Kushiro River. The waterfront here is simply delightful and you will find a Fisherman’s Wharf which includes a fish market that is well worth a visit if you can manage to wake up early in the morning. Another treat to be found at the waterfront includes some wonderful arts and crafts shops which make a great place to pick up a souvenir of your trip.
You may forget that Kagoshima, on the island of Kyushu, is a port town as the harbor is not close to the city center. One of the big draws here is the smoldering Sakurajima Volcano which is still active and dominates the landscape. Other highlights of Kagoshima include its gardens which burst into color in the spring time in line with the cherry blossom season, as well as its museums and castle. This is definitely more off the beaten track than other destinations, but Kagoshima is a delightful breath of fresh air if you want to explore a lesser visited part of Japan.