Kanagawa Prefecture

Contrasting realities from Yokohama to Hakone

 By Larry Knipfing   Dec 3, 2011

Kanagawa has it all!

The part of Kanagawa closest to Tokyo includes the great cities of Kawasaki and Yokohama, and is considered to be part of the Greater Tokyo Area. It is probably one of the most densely populated regions in the world, and is therefore, as you might imagine, a bustling, living, breathing center of life, art, and plenty of things to do! As you go futher west in Kanagawa, however, it becomes more rural with sea scapes, mountains and hot spring onsens in abundance. Kamakura, Shonan, Odawara and Hakone are the main places here.

Kanagawa has had quite a history.

The Kamakura Shogunate (1185-1333) was one of the most famous in Japan's history. Kamakura, as a result, was the center of culture and religion. As a result, the city is home to hundreds of beautiful temples and is know as a little Kyoto.

In 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry landed in Kanagawa with his famous black ships, and proceeded to force open Japan’s ports to the rest of the world. Thus, over the next 100 years, Kanagawa become THE center for Western life and influence in Japan. Sports, art, cuisine, engineering, transport, and technology: All of these in their many forms first made their way into Japan in Kanagawa. Things have never been quite the same since then!

In 1923, Kanagawa was one of the areas hardest hit by the Great Kanto Earthquake, and during WWII, it was heavily bombed. But today, it is a beehive of great architecture, wonderful museums, fantastic restaurants, one of the largest Chinatowns in the world, and a public transport system that is clean, safe and incredibly efficient.

The Hakone area is famous for the abundance of relaxing and healthy natural hot water spas, where bathers can enjoy bathing outdoors bathing under the clear blue sky and the night stars.

Kawasaki is the nation’s workhorse, with hundreds of factories supporting Japanese industry. Yokohama has become a cultural and business hub, mainly due to the beauty of her port, gently rolling hills, and efficient rail and bus systems.

As tourists, you will be welcome with open arms by the people of this region; people who over the decades have come to love outside cultures and the delights they have brought them. There is much to do and enjoy here, and no trip to Japan would be complete without spending a few action-packed days exploring the nooks and crannies of the area.

So, welcome! Enjoy! And let us know (and let the world know) how much you enjoyed your Kanagawa experience!

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Written by Larry Knipfing
JapanTravel Partner

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Join the discussion

Preethu a year ago
Great photos :)
Tyra 'nell Pille-Lu 4 years ago
I love the quality of the photos you took. They matched greatly with the well-written historical and descriptive article. They are very informative. I love Yokohama City in Kanagawa!