Sunday, September 5, 2010

Yokohama: International City of Western Architecture

Technically, this was my third trip to Yokohama, but I didn't notice the Western architecture until I walked to the waterfront. It makes perfect sense that Yokohama has an international flavor; as a port city it was the first stop for Western influence in Japan.

Here are some nuggets of info about Yokohama, the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture and the second largest city in Japan (at least by population):

  • Commodore Matthew Perry's Black Ships arrived just south of Yokohama in 1854
  • The Port of Yokohama opened in June of 1859
  • The Japan Herald, Japan's first English newspaper, began publication in Yokohama in 1861
  • Yokohama traded silk, with Great Britain as a partner, after the Meiji Restoration of 1868
  • Japan's first railway system connected Shinagawa and Shinbashi to Yokohama
  • A large part of Yokohama was destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and again by U.S. air raids during World War II
A stroll through Yokohama
First Marc and I walked around Yokohama Stadium, where we would later watch the BayStars take on the Yakult Swallows in baseball. There is a little park nearby.

A turtle hangs out in a pond at a park near Yokohama Stadium
A cat finds a way to keep cool
A man takes a break from his bike ride
Western architecture
As we walked away from the stadium and toward the waterfront, we noticed a lot of the buildings, especially municipal or government structures, seemed heavily influenced by western architecture.

Yokohama District Court

Yokohama Port Opening Memorial Hall
Kanagawa Prefectural Office
Yokohama No. 2 Joint Government Office Building
Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History

Yokohama's High Line
This walkway along Yokohama's waterfront reminds us of the High Line, the sensational and popular park in our neighborhood of Chelsea in New York City. It's called the Yamashita Rinko Line Promenade, and, like the High Line, it's a repurposed railway. We were delighted to find a sliver of New York in Japan.

Yamashita Rinko Line Promenade
Old turntables that were uncovered during the construction of Zou-no-hana Park
Preserved railroad turntables
Along the Yamashita Rinko Line Promenade, which connects Yamashita Park and Minato Mirai in the distance 
Aka-Renga Soko, or Red Brick Warehouses, are now home to shops and restaurants
The Landmark Tower (big one on the right) in Minato Mirai

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