The small fishing port has grown: today the second largest city in Japan, Yokohama, is divided between business districts and foreign communities that give it a unique aspect.
Only an hour from Tokyo, Yokohama no longer lives in the shadow of its immense neighbor. Long regarded as a mere commuter suburb of the capital, the country's second city, with more than 3.6 million people, is known for its business activity and individual charm.
A sudden fate
Like Nagasaki or Kobe, Yokohama owes its sudden change in standing to its port. The old village, which was rather isolated, had its heyday with its commercial port with the end of sakoku - the closure of the country to foreigners from 1641 to 1853. In 1859, a treaty signed (under duress) with the United States made it one of the first Japanese ports to open to trade with the West.
Because of its proximity to the Japanese capital, the city became a strategic point for foreign traders recently allowed to reside there. And logically, it was in the port area, in the district of Kannai, that Yokohama began to grow.
Strolling through the streets of the Yamate area between the foreign cemetery and the many Western-style residences characteristics of Japanese port cities, you will soon notice the imprint left by this auspicious time. In particular, you will discover the magnificent Victorian Diplomats’ House.
Close to the port, the largest Chinatown in the country is also home to the descendants of former traders. This Chinatown developed from 1873 around the Kanteibyo, a splendid and colorful temple.
By taking their place alongside typical Japanese beauties like the traditional Sankeien garden or Yamashita Park - the oldest of its kind in the country - these communities make Yokohama one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the archipelago!
Home to many large companies such as Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toshiba, a major business district, called Minato Mirai 21, was created on the waterfront