Japan's second largest city with a population of 3.4m, Yokohama has evolved in the past century from a tiny port of a few houses to become a major business and commercial centre. Although just half an hour from downtown Tokyo, the city has built its own unique look and atmosphere far removed from that of the Japanese capital.

Foreigners have very much been associated with Yokohama since the end of the Edo shogunate (1603-1867) and in 1859 the fishing village became one of the first to open its doors to outside trade. Since then it has grown at a tremendous rate to its present size, which, along with Tokyo, represents the largest urban sprawl in the world. With its western-style houses, giant towers, futuristic fairground and one of the planet's largest Chinatowns, it is a city like few others.

If its peculiar face were not enough to tempt visitors, Yokohama boasts plenty of museums and, thanks to its foreign influence, has a choice of food to entice most people's thoughts. While there is little history to speak off in the city itself, Kamakura, Japan's capital in the 12th Century, lies relatively unspoilt 15 kilometres away.