Yokohama by Car
Enjoy a taste of the Southern Californian lifestyle at MOONEYES in Honmoku, formerly known to U.S. forces as the “Area-1” of Yokohama.
There’s more to Yokohama than its famous Minato Mirai waterfront and Chinatown. Once you’re done hitting up the big spots and buying gifts for friends back home, it’s time to cruise in your car and explore the city’s lesser known streets and avenues. The hilly landscape of Honmoku is ideal for exploring by car and carries in its pathways the true essence of Yokohama. The area was once home to streetcars and, once the tracks were removed, now contain wide open roads that lead to the holy grail of automobile enthusiasts: MOONEYES Area-1.
Whether you arrive through the Bay Bridge or Yamate Tunnel, it’s hard to miss the characteristic storefront surrounded by classic American vehicles. Try to contain your excitement as you cruise past the entrance, turn left at the next corner and park in the store’s rear lot. Then, step out of the car and find yourself in the center of California’s automobile culture and lifestyle. Look around the shop for one-of-a-kind auto parts and accessories, or check out MOONEYES’ range of custom hoodies, bags and other merchandise. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, visit the MOON Cafe next door and order a plate of the diner’s original tacos. Delve one level deeper into the true Yokohama landscape at MOONEYES.
2-10 Honmoku-Miyahara, Naka-ku, Yokohama
Mon – Sat 11am – 8pm, Sun & Hols 10am – 8pm (Open year-round)
From Daikoku Pier to the Yokohama Port Symbol Tower and towards Yamate: Discover the changing faces of Yokohama.
Piers are one of Yokohama’s trademarks, however, visitors rarely get to see them up close. One solution, then, is to explore the city by car in order to arrive at its hidden gems. Start off your journey at Honmoku Pier which is the first island-style quay built by land reclamation. Driving on the Daiichi Keihin, you will soon find a sign for Daikoku Pier when passing near Namamugi. Just go with the flow at Daikoku Pier and then head to Honmoku Pier by taking the National Route 357 which is under the Bay Bridge, while seeing the stunning view of Yokohama Port. The multitude of boats is proof that Yokohama is still a port town.
Head toward D Jetty at Honmoku Pier. Here you can pull over your car and then you’ll see Yokohama Port’s Symbol Tower right in front of you. Staying here till sunset (there is also a sea fishing pier nearby) is nice but going somewhere else once you enjoy the view is also a perfect addition to this journey. After hopping across these piers, it’s also fun to drive up to Yamate, which used to be a foreign settlement. Some Western pavilions are open for tours. (Usually until 5pm). The magnificent view of the Bay Bridge and Daikoku Pier is available from the nearby Harbor View Park, or enjoy dinner at restaurants which offer amazing night views, which is the perfect way to finish your drive around Yokohama.
You don't want to miss the view at the top of the tower, where an observatory and telescopes are installed. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes as there are 144 stairs, you can trace your drive from the top of the tower by looking at the Daikoku Pier and the Bay Bridge and you can see the Honmoku Pier’s huge cranes on the other side.
From Sankeien Garden to Kanazawa Hakkei: Scenic treasures every drive should include.
Sankeien Garden and Mitsui Outlet Park are common destinations for drivers in Yokohama. There is, however, another route worth checking out before turning your car around and heading home. Close to Sankeien, if you take the Wangan (Bayshore) route of the Shuto Expressway, is Kanazawa Hakkei, which translates to “eight views of Kanazawa” — a stunning name for an equally stunning place.
The historically beloved area offers stunning views of the bay, which cuts deep into land, and was the subject of artist Hiroshige Utagawa’s famous ukiyo-e (woodblock print) series. While the area has undergone significant changes through the years, Kanazawa Hakkei is still a prized Yokohama location. Hovering over the aforementioned Hirakata Bay is a small, white bridge called Yushobashi. The bridge’s name, which combines the Japanese words yu (evening) and sho (illumination), is indicative of a sunset view. Selected as one of Kanagawa Prefecture’s top 100 bridges, Yushobashi’s white palate serves to enhance the brilliance of the sky’s colors come sundown.
After crossing the bridge, you’ll arrive at the compact island of Nojima, home to Nojima Park. The park, which conveniently includes a parking lot, contains another treasure. A traditional Japanese-style structure, the former vacation home of a Meiji-era prime minister, Hirobumi Ito, also stands there. The house faces the sea and, surprisingly, is so close to the water that you can actually drop a fishing line from the backyard and reel in your dinner. Nearby is a sandy beach, where a 10-minute walk will land you 57 meters above sea level, the summit of Nojima Mountain. Living up to its poetic name, Kanazawa Hakkei is a must-see location when exploring Yokohama by car.
An ideal outdoor spot, Nojima Park includes campgrounds, a barbecue area and beaches for shell collecting. Beyond the sea is a view of Hakkeijima Sea Paradise, an amusement park containing an aquarium, restaurant and hotel. Open until 8pm on weekdays and 9pm on weekends, the amusement park is worth visiting at the end of a day’s drive.