You’ll Want to Take Photos! 7 Picturesque Port Cities in Japan

A country surrounded by seas in all directions, Japan has been home to port cities that have been in existence for a very long time. Below are seven of the best photogenic port cities that have been handpicked from the long list of port cities in the country!

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1. Hakodate

Hakodate is the first town in Japan to adopt Western culture, ever since its port was opened in 1859. The retro-modern townscape from that time remains intact today. The Hakodate-ko no Sansaku (Stroll Around Hakodate Port) has been awarded one star in the Michelin Green Guide Japon, catapulting the city into a famous sightseeing destination that draws nearly 5 million tourists every year. This port city is packed with many attractive features such as the morning market where you can enjoy seafood dishes and an unobstructed nightscape that can be viewed from the summit of Mt. Hakodate.

2. Otaru

Otaru is a port that flourished as the center of logistics in the early Showa period (1920-30s). Today, it is dotted with spots that talk about its history, including the Otaru Canal (completed in 1923) and the clusters of stone warehouses. The area along the canal has been developed as a promenade for sightseeing, lined with restaurants and other establishments that are housed in renovated or rebuilt warehouses from old.

3. Yokohama

One of the most popular tourist spots in Japan, Yokohama is a magical place that is filled with historical structures, gourmet spots such as Chinatown, and state-of-the-art shopping malls, among other establishments. Its port was opened in 1859. The city prospered as a town open to trade with the West and where merchants from overseas come to trade, and today, the buildings that were used back then are still standing there. Further, it is a city that is also teeming with modern spots such as the Yokohama Marine Tower that stands 106m tall and the Yamashita Park that has a romantic view of ships arriving and departing from the port.

4. Shimoda

Shimoda is a resort area that is filled with a lot of beaches that are characterized by their beautiful emerald green waters and white sand. Known as the first open port (opened in 1854) in Japan, it is home to quite a few historic sites and famous spots that remind guests of the past. Shimoda is also popular as the face of hot springs as it boasts massive quantity of hot spring water, and as a goldmine of seafood dishes containing such seafood ingredients as Kinmedai (alfonsino fish), for which the town is known to have the largest catch.

5. Kobe

Kobe Port, which celebrated the 150th year of its opening last January 2017, flourished as an international trading port that best represents Japan. Today, there are still modern historic buildings standing at this city, including Kyukyoryuchi (Old Kobe Foreign Settlement) where foreigners who worked in Kobe, centering on those involved in trade, lived. Further, it is packed with a myriad of spots such as the Kobe Harborland that treats guests to a glorious night view, and Kobe Nankinmachi Chinatown that offers exquisite Chinese dishes. Kobe is a popular area that is frequented by many tourists from all over the world.

6. Nagasaki

Nagasaki is the sole port in Japan that was allowed to engage in trade with foreign countries in the early 17th century, when the country was under the policy of Sakoku (national isolation, a policy in which commerce and communication with foreign countries were prohibited or restricted). The former mansions where visiting foreign traders from abroad used to live are still standing today, along with many other spots that will give you a glimpse of the city’s culture back then. There are also many appetizing gourmet dishes from this place, including the famous noodle dish Champon!

7. Moji

Moji Port, which has a long 120-year history, there are a lot of historic structures built from the time the port was opened that still stand strong right now. More commonly called Mojiko Retro Area today, it has become a famous sightseeing destination that welcomes more than 2 million guests come each year. This port area is also filled with cultural facilities such as buildings that have been designated as national important cultural properties, commercial establishments, and art museums, so you would surely want to slowly explore it.

Port cities are truly fascinating areas with their fusion of historic buildings and modern spots. So, how about checking them out even just once?

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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Writer: nakamura

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