Manga fans and anime tourists looking for a very big (post-COVID) reason to visit Japan in 2021 should really head down to the port city of Yokohama—and that’s to see a 60-foot-tall Gundam robot that moves.
First, some basics. Yokohama is a major port city about an hour south of Tokyo. Its port is widely recognized for helping bring modernization to Japan in the late 19th century. But don’t sleep on Yokohama as just an industrial town filled with giant cranes.
In fact, Yokohama has a bevy of cultural treasures, amazing food stops, and incredibly unique museums.
Did you know that Yokohama boasts the largest Chinatown in Japan and one of the largest and most interesting in the world? Within the neon-filled streets, tourists will find hundreds of shops along with a street-food-lovers cavalcade of options. Everywhere you look, you’ll find Peking duck, koshou mochi (steamed Taiwanese pepper buns), age goma dango (fried sesame balls), or kuro goma an iri shiratama (rice dumplings filled with sesame and dipped in ginger soup).
There are two museums that are very notable in Yokohama. The first is the Cup Noodles Museum, which, as the name implies, is the one-stop-shop for the world-famous microwavable treat. Part museum, part amusement park, at Cup Noodles you can make your own ramen by hand, design your packaging, and even let kids play on interactive rides and games.
Another museum of note is also edible and that’s the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum. The slurp-worthy stop gives guests the opportunity to explore the history of ramen through interactive exhibits and fill their stomach at a makeshift historical street lined with a variety of ramen shops that date back to the 1950s.
For wandering tourists who want their dreams to be haunted for the rest of their lives, there’s the Yokohama Doll Museum. Opened in 1979, the museum has an insane collection of dolls from all over the world and a theater that features puppet shows to enhance your nightmares.
If you want some culture in your Yokohama travels, head over to the Sankeien Garden. Built in 1906, the traditional Japanese garden features stunning manicured foliage, immaculate ponds and streams, a three-story pagoda, and a tearoom where guests can learn about Japan’s intricate tea ceremonies.
Finally, the real reason you came to read this article: The Gundam Robot. Named for the Gundam animated series that started in 1979, Gundam robots are giant mechanical bots, typically controlled by humans in the torso’s cockpit and set in science fiction scenarios. The TV series, spinoffs, toys, movies, novels, and video games are an international phenomenon that generates billions of dollars and has legions of fans around the world.
The Gundam Robot in Yokohama is 60 feet tall and it actually moves, simulating walking, raising its arms in welcome, and more. The whole experience includes a visit to the dock where the robot is located, a ride up the Gundam-Dock Tower to get up close and personal, and an Academy where you can learn about the engineering feat and partake in some augmented reality experiences.
If you’re looking for reasons to visit Japan post-pandemic that doesn’t include the Olympics, head down to Yokohama for the sites, sounds, tastes, smells, and the brand new giant robot that you can’t see anywhere else.