Tokyo (tours from Yokohama), Japan

In 1854, Yokohama became the first Japanese port opened to foreign trade, so there is interesting maritime and international flavor to one of the country’s most accessible and second largest cities.

It’s an exciting city filled with Japanese charm and culture, and is less than 30 minutes’ train ride from Tokyo, so there’s an opportunity to sample two of Japan’s greatest urban centers.

Once a small fishing village, the trigger for Yokohama’s evolution came in 1853 when Japan opened several of its ports for commerce. Yokohama’s once sleepy settlement expanded and the Port of Yokohama officially opened in 1859, instantly becoming the base of foreign trade for the entire country.

British and Chinese traders came to the city, creating settlements and laying the foundations for the international character still present in the city today. A setback in the city’s history occurred in 1923 when the Great Kanton earthquake destroyed many structures and buildings. However, Yokohama experienced immense post-war growth with major urban development creating a modern and affluent identity.

Located directly south of the capital Tokyo and set beside the waters of Tokyo Bay, Japan’s second city is enveloped in the modern and forward-thinking ideology of the country, proving to be a fantastic base for those on cruises to Yokohama who wish to immerse themselves in the diverse identity of Japan.

There is no better way of capturing the culture of a new city than sampling the cuisine, something which is a pleasure on the streets of Yokohama. A number of small and cozy seafood eateries present the fruits of the sea to visitors, with kaki furia, or deep-fried oysters, being a particular favorite. Shabu-shabu restaurants are all-you-can-eat establishments and they provide a great opportunity to sample a vast array of Japanese food – perfect if you are unfamiliar with the local cuisine and would like to try lots of dishes. A number of fantastic sushi bars serve the very best of Japan’s most iconic culinary treat.

The skyline of Yokohama is one of the most beautiful in Japan, best admired at night from a position where you can absorb several skyscrapers including the Landmark Tower, recognized as the second-tallest building in the country, and the brightly-lit and somewhat unusual Cosmo Clock 21. For another great view of the port area, Yamashita Park presents a stunning vista amid beautiful, green landscapes.

For a vibrant and colorful atmosphere in the city, exploring Chinatown, the largest of its kind in Japan, will not leave you disappointed. Established here at the same time as Yokohama’s port, history can be discovered in the form of old shops and architecture, while beautiful temples such as the Kwan Tai Temple and the attractive East Gate convey a distinct Chinese culture.

The city is also home to a number of entertainment parks and spas if you want an afternoon of fun and relaxation to balance out your cultural exploration. Yokohama Cosmo World is the most popular, home to two big roller coasters, while the Manyou Club, a spa resort, boasts a number of rejuvenating baths.