|Kimi and Elchi in Yokohama|
Yokohama is a port city, some 30 kilometers south of Tôkyô at Tôkyô Bay. It is Japan’s second largest city with approx. 3.7 million inhabitants. Yokohama’s past as a center for the exchange with foreign cultures is still very present in the city, which creates a very unique and exciting atmosphere. Moreover, the location on Tôkyô Bay is very beautiful with a certain maritime flair.
|Copy of the black ship Susquehanna|
|Commodore Perry as seen from the Japanese perspective|
Arriving in Yokohama
Most people arrive at Yokohama Main Stn. (JR) or at Shin Yokohama Stn. (Shinkansen). Both stations are nor very central. If you arrive by Shinkansen, then take the municipal subway (Blue Line) to Yokohama Stn. or the JR lines to Yokohama Stn. or Kannai Stn. (close to Chinatown). From Yokohama Stn. there are several options: the Minato Mirai Line to Motomachi-Chûkagai (Chinatown), the JR train to Sakuragichô Stn. (Minato Mirai) or Kannai Stn. (Kannai/ Chinatown), the JR Negishi line to Motomachi Ishikawachô Stn. (Yamate-Motomachi/ Chinatown)
(1) Between Yokohama Stn. and Yamashita Park: Minato Mirai 21 (港未来21)
Train service between Yokohama Stn., presentday Sakuragichô Stn., and Shinagawa began on May 7, 1872. However, a new station was built soon thereafter and the old Main Stn. was renamed Sakuragichô Stn. in 1915. The new Yokohama Main Stn. collapsed during the Great Kantô Earthquake of 1923. The third main station, the one at the present site, dates from 1928. Today it is a major interchange railway station, the busiest in Kanagawa prefecture and one of the busiest in the world. There are numerous huge department stores in and around Yokohama Station as well as restaurants, bars and hotels and it has a big underground shopping zone, which is directly connected to surrounding buildings.
|Minato Mirai as seen from Yamashita kôen|
Minato Mirai 21 was created by the redevelopment of Yokohama harbour with its docks and warehouses. The preservation of early port artifacts has hereby largely guided the development. Minato Mirai has many high-rise buildings, including the Landmark Tower, which was Japan's tallest building from 1993 until 2014: Nearby you will find the Yokohama Museum of Arts (Yokohama bijutsukan, 横浜美術館). The museum shop, which is open to the public, has a variety of good souvenirs.
|Yokohama Landmark Tower|
|Red Brick Warehouses, Yokohama|
If you are a noodle-lover, you can visit the Cup Noodles Museum, located not far from the Warehouses. From here you can follow the waterfront promenade to Yamashita kôen Park, which is a very pleasant walk.
The homepage of the Cup Noodles Museum, which also provides a map of the area, can be found here…
(2) Yamashita Kôen Park (山下公園) and Ôsanbashi Pier (大さん橋)
|Minato Mirai as seen from Yamashita kôen|
Within the park, the Hikawa maru (氷川丸), a former ocean liner that serviced the Yokohama-Seattle/ Vancouver line, has dropped permanent anchor. You can visit the ship and its first-class cabins that were booked by the imperial family and by Charlie Chapin, who traveled on the Hikawa Maru for part of the round the world tour he made in 1932. Very impressive are the public rooms for the first-class travelers, such as the dining room with an original menu card, or the smoking room. If you wish to know how the third-class passengers had to travel, go downstairs and imagine to stay in the belly of the ship throughout the entire journey to the US. The third-class passengers were forbidden to go on deck or to the first- or second-class levels; instead, they helped the crew to prepare the meals for the other passengers in order to kill time and to receive some fresh food.
|Yokohama Marine Tower|
|Ôsanbashi Pier and Yamashita kôen|
|Hotel New Grand, giant staircase|
Today it comprises the “old” hotel and the tower hotel, with fantastic views. If you got some money left, you can stay in the suite, where McArthur spent his first nights in Japan or rent the Kurama Tengu room, called after the hero of Osaragi’s period novels, many of which he wrote in the Grand.
|Kimi and Elchi in the New Grand|
(3) Yamate (山手) and Motomachi (元町)
Harbour View Park (Minato ga mieru kôen; 港が見える公園)
|Bay Bridge as seen from Harbour View Park|
The Bluff District(ザ・ブラフ)
|Berrick Hall, Yamate, Yokohama|
Hall is the largest pre-war foreign residence in Yamate. It is a beautiful Spanish-style
mansion with a Mediterranean flair. It belonged to the British businessman B.R.
Berrick (1878-1972) and was designed by the American architect J.H. Morgan
(1868-1937) in 1930, thus post-dating the Great Earthquake
|Kimi and Elchi in the Italian Garden|
|Ruins of the McGovern house|
A map of Yamate and a full list of houses can be found here...
Yokohama Foreign Cemetry (gaikokujin bochi, 外国人墓地)
|View from Yokohama Foreign Cemetry|
The Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery, located between Motomachi and the Bluff, has some very interesting graves. Overall, some 4,500 souls rest here. If it is closed (it opens only on special days.) you can peer through the fence beside the Motomachi downhill entrance gate. Here you can see the grave of Charles Lenox Richardson, who was slain by retainers of the Satsuma domain in September 1862 near Namamugi village, now part of Yokohama’s Tsurumi Ward (the Namamugi incident or Richardson affair).
Originally foreigners were not allowed to travel more than seventeen miles from their settlement. Richardson and his fellows wanted to visit the temple Kawasaki Daishi,, a favourite sightseeing spot, which was located within this limit when they encountered the procession of Shimazu Hisamitsu, the father of the Satsuma daimyô. Since Richardson and his fellows continued to ride along the side of the road without dismounting, they were attacked by Satsuma retainers, who believed they were guilty of disrespect. Mortally wounded, Richardson fell from his horse, while his fellows managed to escape. In those days in Japan samurai had the legal right to strike anyone who showed disrespect, but however, British nationals were exempted from these rules. The story is longer, but in the end, Satsuma domain had to pay compensation to Britain, and Richardson received an impressive graveyard. The tomb below Richardson’s belongs to the Dutchmen Nanning Decker, Captain of the merchant ship Henriëtta Louise, and Captain Vessel De Vos, which both were cut down by samurai in 1860 in Yokohama’s main street on their way to buy some food for the next day. On the other side rest the Russian Naval Officers, Roman Mofet, and Iwan Sokolow, slain by samurai in 1859, who were among the first foreigners who found eternal rest at the cemetery. Besides merchants and soldiers who lost their lives in a foreign country, many victims of the 1923 earthquake sleep here.
The homepage of the cemetery can be found here:..
Motomachi, located immediately west of Yamate and east of Chinatown, consists mainly of the Motomachi shopping street. Lined up are many well-established brand shops, shops selling original Yokohama fashion and many other Western goods. There is a symbolic arch with a phoenix-shaped sculpture at the entrances on both ends of the main street. Located here is the “Motomachi Union”, one of the first Western supermarkets in Japan, who sells high-quality and overseas food that is hard to find anywhere else in Japan.
(4) Chinatown (Chûkagai, 中華街)
|West entrance to Chinatown's main street|
To the Japanese, the Chinese with their brocade robes, pigtails and their stiff black caps were as exotic as were the Westerners. In 1897, famous Chinese revolutionary Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) was in exile in Chinatown. Form here Sun worked to raise Japanese support and money for the revolutionary cause. He made friends with many Japanese political activists like Miyazaki Tôten (宮崎 滔天, 1871-1922), like Sun an ardent supporter of East Asian unity.
During the great earthquake, Chinatown disintegrated and numerous Chinese died. Thereafter, their number plummeted to 200 but removed to 3,000 by the end of the 1920s. After the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War (Nitchû sensô, 日中戦争) in 1937, the Chinese merchants were considerably complicated by import restrictions and boycotts. During the air raids of WWII, Chinatown burnt to the grounds, but directly after the war, bars and cabarets sprang up like mushrooms to cater the Occupation Forces and sailors. In February 1955, an inscription gate with the characters for “Chûkagai”, Chinatown, was erected over the west entrance. From this time onwards, the quarter is called Chûkakai, instead of “Nanking Town”, as the Japanese had called it.
|Yokohama, restaurant in Chinatown|
When the GIs left Japan and the sailors dissipated due to the containerization of the maritime trade, Chinatown became a major tourist spot. Restaurants opened and expanded and today you will find all kinds and levels of Chinese gastronomy here. Don’t miss to have a lunch or dinner here. In Chinatown’s main street, Chukagai ôdori, you will find the prestigious restaurants, in Shiba dori or Hongkong dori you can dine in a more familiar way.
(5) Kannai Area (間内)
Yokohama kôen (横浜公園) and Nihon Ôdori (日本大道り)
|Yokohama Customs Building|
Kannai, the “Gated Within”, was
the area where the foreigners lived and worked. Initially, checkpoints, known as
Kanmon (関門) were placed at the
entries and exits of the settlement to prevent contact between samurai and
foreigners. Today it refers to an area south of Kannai Station. Yokohama Park,
situated just in front of Kannai Stn. was designed by young Scottish engineer Richard
Henry Brunton in 1871. In former days, it included cricket and baseball fields.
Later, cherry trees, a fountain and a pond were built. Part of the park hosts now
the Yokohama Baseball Stadium. Nihon Ôdori, Japan’s
Broad Avenue, was completed in 1871. The street, also planned by Brunton, was
widened after the earthquake and ginkgoes were planted between roadway and
sidewalks, a novelty in Japan. The
eastern side of the avenue was reserved for consulates, such as the British
Consulate, today’s Yokohama Archives for History. It stands on the historic
site where Japan
and the U.S.
signed the Treaty of Kanagawa.
At the end of Nihon Ôdori you will find a group of
historical towers, the Yokohama three towers, nicknamed Queen, King and Jack:
The Yokohama Customs Building (横浜税関, Yokohama zeikan, The Queen),
the Kanagawa Prefectural Office (神奈川県庁本庁舎, Kanagawa kenchô honchôsha, The King), and the Yokohama Port
Opening Memorial Hall (横浜市開港記念会館, Yokohama-shi kaikô kinenkan, The Jack).
At the time when they
were constructed, there were not many high-rise buildings in the vicinity, thus
the trio was regarded as a point of reference for ships entering the port
at that time. The three buildings withstood the Great Kantô Earthquake and are
(partly) open to the public. The towers can be viewed best from Ôsanbashi Pier.
Yokohama Port Opening Memorial Hall
Bashamichi (馬車道, Horse-Drawn Carriage Street) was built in 1866 to provide a straight roadway to
the coastline. The street’s name dates back to the time of the port opening,
when numerous carriages throng the street, carrying foreigners up and down.
Bashamichi was the street, where the first gas lights in Japan were
introduced, the first roadside street trees were planted and the first ice
cream was sold. At that time, it was too expensive for Japanese to buy ice cream;
however, they flocked in droves to watch the curious foreigners eating ice. The concentration of
banks and insurance companies made Bashamichi the Wall Street of Yokohama. Today,
still a variety of impressive old buildings can be found here such as the
Yokohama Specie Bank (Yokohama shôkin ginkô, 横浜正金銀行), which is now the Kanagawa
Prefectural Museum of Cultural History (Kanagawa kenritsu rekishi
The museum became focussed on cultural history and highlights
the Kamakura Shogunate (1185-1333) and the treaty-port days. Designed in a
German-style baroque, it lost its dome in the 1923 earthquake, however, the main
building weathered the quake and many fled to the fire-resistant structure. Since
not all could squeeze in, more than 100 burned to death in the entranceway. After
the Second World War, the Specie Bank was reorganized as the Bank of Tokyo. In
1967, the dome was restored and the building became a museum, and two years
later the building was designated as an Important Cultural Property.
Former Yokohama Specie Bank
Isezakichô Shopping Mall (関内駅と伊勢佐木町)
On the other side of Kannai Stn. lies Isezakichô, the former theatre district. Many theatres gathered here along with cheap bazaars, teahouses, public baths and restaurants. At the end of the Meiji period (1868-1912) the first motion pictures, a wonder like electricity or telephone were shown at the Odeonza theatre, and in the late 1920s, the Matsusakaya department store was established here. After WWII, clubs opened to cater the Occupation Forces, and with the black GIs interest in Jazz rose. The Yokohama jazz scene was established here and clubs performing jam sessions rose up. In 1951, Isezakichô was illuminated with decorative streetlights, and the following year an arch was erected over its entrance. In 1978, it was closed to traffic and became a pedestrian mall. The golden days of the mall are over and the Matsuzakaya is gone, but nevertheless, the arch has remained and it is still a pedestrian zone to shop and stroll – a rarity in Japan.
Sankeien garden (三渓園)
You can access by bus from Sakuragichô or Yokohama stations to Honmoku Sankeien mae (bus no. 8 or 125), from where Sankeien is another 5 minutes walk; or, take the Negishi line (from Kannai or Motomachi Ishikawachô Stn.) to Negishi and then a bus to Honmoku. Form there Sankeien is another 5-10 minutes by foot. Alternatively, you can walk from Negishi Stn. in 30-45 minutes. Please view its homepage
Hakkeijima (八景島) / Kanazawa Bunko (金沢文庫)
Just a short ride southwards from Yokohama you can find Hakkejima Sea Paradise, an artificial island, which serves as an amusement park, as well as a very nice, beautifully located beach. Since entry is free, you can walk around the island or have a lunch here. From here you can walk to Shômyôji Temple (称名寺), which was built by Hôjô Sanetoki (北条実時, 1224-1276), the founder of the Kanazawa Bunko library, in 1258. At its height of prosperity, it had seven majestic buildings including a three-story pagoda.
|Villa of Itô Hirobumi|
If you make a trip to Kanazawa, do not miss to see the villa of Itô Hirobumi (Kyû Itô Hirobumi Kanazawa bettei , 旧伊藤博文金沢別邸), one of the famous leaders of the Meiji government. It is an elegant Japanese-style house on Kanazawa bay, built in 1896 as a summer residence. The villa was restored to the original state and opened to the public in 2009. You can walk from Hakkejima along the beach to the villa.
On the way back to Yokohama you can stopover at the “Marina”, Japan’s largest marina with more than 1,500 boats and yachts. There are many outlet stores and restaurants, where you can dine and watch the yachts floating in and out.
Access: Hakkejima: Negishi line from Yokohama Stn. to Shin Sugita Stn. Change to the Kanazawa Seaside line (Hakkejima Stn.). Kanazawa bunko: Keikyû mainline (Kanazawa Bunko Stn.) to Yokohama Stn. Villa of Itô Hirobumi: Kanazawa Seaside Line (Nojimakoen Stn.), 2 stops from Hakkejima Stn. Marina: Kanazawa Seaside line (Torihama Stn.).
A map can be found here...
If you want to learn more about Yokohama and its history
read Burritt Sabin’s book “A Historical Guide to Yokohama: Sketches of the
Twice-Risen Phoenix” (ヨコハマ歴史ガイド). Yokohama: Yurindo, 2002. Read more....
If you want to learn more about Yokohama and its history read Burritt Sabin’s book “A Historical Guide to Yokohama: Sketches of the Twice-Risen Phoenix” (ヨコハマ歴史ガイド). Yokohama: Yurindo, 2002. Read more....