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Yokohama 横浜

Motomachi & Yamate 元町 & 山手

Gaikoukan no Ie, Yokohama Yamate Museum, Former Sonoda House, Yokohama (photo by Wiiii - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license) Yokohama Christ Church on the Bluff (photo by Wish.F - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)

To the east of Chinatown are the classy shopping streets of Motomachi. There is a somewhat European air about the place, with narrow paved streets, small boutiques, German and French bakeries, cafés... Motomachi certainly very different from Tokyo's Ginza or Shinjuku, but the architecture remains very much Japanese, whatever the Japanese tell you. The main street, Naka-dōri, is at the foot of the Yamate hill.

The large wooded hill at the end of the peninsula south of Chinatown is Yamate. This is where wealthy Westerners set up residence in the Bakumatsu and Meiji periods. The Yamate Bluff, as it is known, is still a popular neighbourhood for well-off expats. Its dozen of well-preserved colonial-style residences combined with excellent views on the harbour make it an ideal place for wandering around.

A good way to access Yamate is through the Harbour View Park (港の見える丘公園), just across the expressway from the eastern tip of Yamashita Park. This is where French and British once kept barracks to protect their citizens from the sometimes hostile Japanese population (e.g. an Englishman was decapitated in 1862 by a group of retainers from the Shimazu clan, prompting the Namamugi Incident and the retaliation of British warships on the Satsuma domain in Kagoshima).

At the southern extremity of the park, you will find two Western residences, the British House Yokohama and the Bluff Residence No 111 ("Yamate 111 Bankan"), as well as the Jiro Osaraigi Memorial Museum (dedicated to the local novelist) and the Kanagawa Museum of Modern Literature.

Parallel to the park is the Foreigners' Cemetery, where 4500 people of 40 nationalities are buried. The majority are British or American. Charles Richardson, the Englishman whose murder caused the Namamugi Incident, is interred here too.

Across the road south of the cemetery is the small Yamate Museum, which is the only Western-style wooden building still left in the city and Yokohama's oldest construction (in spite of the fact that it only dates from 1909). Keep moving south along that road to get to the Yokohama Christ Church. It was originally erected in 1862, destroyed by the 1923 earthquake and rebuilt in 1947. Behind the church is the Tin Toy Museum, featuring a collection of 3,000 toys from the 1890's to the 1960's. Going back to the main road, just after the church is the Bluff Residence No 234 (built in 1927), a small villa with a colonnaded terrace, followed by the Bluff Residence No 89-6. Further down the road, on the opposite side (Motomachi Park), stands the Ehrismann Residence. It was built for Swiss-born Fritz Ehrismann, the branch manager of Siber Hegner (now part of the DSKH trading company), one of largest silk trading companies prior to WWII. The last foreign residence in this part of Yamate is the Berrick Hall, a Spanish/Californian-style villa named after his English owner.

If you keep walking along the main road westward towards Ishikawachō Station, you'll reach the Yamate Italian Garden, where the Italian consulate to Japan operated between 1880 and 1886. In the perimetre are located the Bluff Residence No 18 and the Gaikōkan no Ie ("diplomat' house"), namely the former residence of Meiji-era diplomat, Sadatsuchi Uchida. The elevated ground of the garden command panoramic views on Kannai and Minato Mirai.

Map of attractions in Yokohama

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