Yokohama is a port city with the second largest population of 3.6 million South from Tokyo on the bay of Tokyo. (Tokyo has 13 million.) Before the sea port was opened in 1859, Yokohama was a small village of about 100 households on the small inlet.
After the sea port was opened and shipping lines started services, Business men and their families began to come and live in the foreign settlements in Yamashita and Yamate areas. They built Consulates, hospitals, houses, churches, schools, water system and various facilities in the neighborhood. They enjoyed horse races and other sports during weekends, brewed beer, baked bread and made locals cultivate western vegetables, to name a few. They brought their life style into the neighborhood of Yamate, Motomachi and Yamashita. Yokohama was a kind of a showcase of the Western life-style. A tiny sleepy village on the inlet turned into colorful town with exotic atmosphere. Yamashita and Yamate areas still keep the atmosphere here and there.
Yamashita area, where the trading houses from the Western countries had their offices, is the face of the city. There are Yamashita Park, the passenger ship Hikawa Maru, the Yokohama Marine Tower, Osanbashi international passenger terminal, etc. Yokohama Chinatown, the largest Chinatown in Japan, is just across the street from Yamashita Park. On the South side of the Yamashita area, Motomachi, known for its shopping streets, and hilly area of Yamate are located. On the hill of Yamate both the British and French troops once stationed to protect their citizens in the settlements. There are old buildings designed by the Westerners on the hill. Newly developed area of the Minato Mirai district is stretched on the East side. The streets are lined with high-rises, shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, museums, etc. Now the area is known as the new face of Yokohama.
It takes about half an hour from Shibuya and Shinagawa to Yokohama Station. There are many hotels near Yokohama Station, Minato Mirai and Yamashita.
Most of the city’s tourist attractions are in these areas. You can look around the city in a day efficiently using public transport system such as subway, buses and trains or renting a bycle. There are a lot of events being held throughout the year. I hope you can enjoy your stay in Yokohama.
Spring is around the corner
It’s getting light outside earlier in the morning. But still it’s not easy to get out of bed soon. I really want to stay in bed as long as I can. It is February, the coldest month of the year.
However, you find signs that spring is not so far when you are out. When you walk in the Negishi Shinrin Park early in the morning, Lawns are still brown. Your breath turns white in the cold air. Maybe, you want a hot coffee. I hear little birds are chirping loudly in the trees. Plum blossoms in the west side of the part are in bloom. You can smell faint scent of the flowers wafting around. Spring is approaching by repeating warm Spring-like days and bone-chilling days until the middle of March, when Magnolia in white or purple petals bloom and buds of cherry trees are growing large.
Negishi Shinrin Park is not a tourist place. Maybe an oasis for city dwellers, who want to get in touch with nature. Some are jogging along the track of about 1.5 km. Some are walking with dogs. Some are practicing Tai-Chi under the trees. They are spending their time in the park as they like.