Naka Ward is located in eastern Kanagawa Prefecture, and east of the geographic center of the city of Yokohama. Its name means "central ward." In the low-lying Northern district, commonly referred to as Kannai, it hosts the Yokohama city hall and the headquarters of the Kanagawa prefectural government. The central part of the ward includes elevated ground; this area, known as Yamate, and has long been a residential area. Along the shore lies reclaimed land upon which port facilities, part of the Minato Mirai 21 complex, and Yamashita Park were built. To the south are the piers, oil refineries and the central port of Yokohama. The Nakamura River, a branch of the Ōoka River, cuts across the northern part of the ward. The northernmost and southernmost points are upland.
After the Meiji Restoration, the area was transferred to the new Kuraki District in Kanagawa Prefecture. Yokohama's wards were established on October 10, 1927, with this area becoming Naka Ward. The 1923 Great Kantō earthquake devastated downtown Yokohama. Yamashita Park was established in 1930 with landfill from the earthquake rubble. In December 1943, Minami Ward was separated from Naka Ward, which also gave up some territory to Kanagawa Ward and Hodogaya Ward. Nishi Ward was separated from Naka Ward in 1944. During World War II, the Yokohama Air Raid of May 29, 1945 left 14,157 people dead, injured, or missing. After the surrender of Japan, some 74% of the land, 90% of port area in Naka Ward was occupied by the American military. The last of this territory was not returned to Japan until March 31, 1982.