Written by: Anna Toccoli
The bustling seaside city of Yokohama is located in Kanagawa Prefecture, only a 30-minute train ride from central Tokyo. This human-scale metropolis, which claims the moniker “Innovation City,” combines glittering highrises and green areas. Its affordable cost of living and pleasant climate has made it the obvious choice for many foreigners looking to settle in Japan for work or study.
Yokohama has a rich and long-established history of welcoming foreigners. To this day, over 100,000 of the 3.77 million residents come from over 160 countries, creating a melting pot of cultures and people. Moreover, the city has been proactively looking to make the daily lives of expats easier through thoughtful urban planning. By 2023, for instance, the area around Yokohama Station is scheduled to undergo a complete makeover that will include the construction of a large residential building designed specifically for foreign residents complete with a multilingual medical mall, a concierge service, and childcare support facilities.
The city of Yokohama is a fascinating example of how tradition and modernity can coexist in harmony. A short walk from the Minato Mirai’s district near the bay,, now a futuristic hub whose modern skyscrapers define the city’s skyline, takes you through some of the city’s most beautiful parks, all the way to the largest Chinatown in East Asia, a charming neighborhood dotted with old temples and sanctuaries.
TJ Wheeler, a manager at a Yokohama technology firm specializing in virtual reality and the metaverse, has recently relocated to the city. Of his new home, he says, “Yokohama is a world-class city with all the entertainment and business opportunities you can imagine, but it’s also just a short train ride away from some amazing outdoor experiences along the coast or in the mountains.” Overall, the city offers a more laid-back atmosphere than the capital, making it ideal for urban explorers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
Yokohama is also home to many temples where you can practice Zen meditation, as well as yoga and sports gyms, for those who prefer a slower pace of life or who simply want to indulge in some mindfulness after a long day of work. In addition, Yokohama is well-known for its many sauna spas, on the rise today, particularly among people from their 20s to 40s.
Yokohama is also a prime location for new startups. With many initiatives aimed at assisting new businesses in getting off the ground, Yokohama has established YOXO as a conceptual collection of programs and events to foster “crossover” innovation across domains and organizations. YOXO BOX is one of these, a hub where aspiring entrepreneurs can get advice and explore new partnerships and business ventures through accelerator programs, business events, and more.
The recently established YOXO FESTIVAL is a networking event designed to bring Yokohama’s creatives and startups together across various industries and technologies to share ideas. The event was held in the Minato Mirai 21 district, with many of the city’s best innovators coming together to build relationships and potential new startup opportunities.
However, the city does not only cater to new businesses; in fact, Yokohama is already home to the R&D facilities of major corporations, including Shiseido, Nissan, and Bosch to name a few.
Thanks to its favorable location, wealth of human resources, and spirit of innovation, Yokohama’s growth continues unabated, and the city remains a thriving hub for collaboration and entrepreneurship.