Port of Yokohama, c. 1940.

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“Yokohama was Japan’s largest city after Tokyo. By 1936, it had developed into a prominent, relatively modern, international port city. It had the largest foreign community of any city in Japan, including by far the largest Chinatown of any city outside of China.

“… Well-to-do foreigners lived mostly on ‘the Bluff,’ as the Yamate hill area overlooking the port was called. Foreign schools, a foreign cemetery, and a large public park were also located there. Cars and taxis were scarce, and bicycles and rikishas were still a common form of private transport. Sleek Western-style buildings lined the downtown streets in stark contrast to the small wooden houses away from the city center.”

Edokko: Growing Up a Foreigner in Wartime Japan, by Isaac Shapiro, 2009

Yokohama, panoramic view, c. 1940.

A panoramic view of Yokohama harbor, c. 1940, taken from “Jack’s Tower” (Yokohama Port Opening Memorial Hall). The two prominent buildings, marked with arrows, are Customs House (left) and the Kanagawa Prefectural Office (center). (Click to enlarge.)

See also:
Yokohama port centennial parade, 1958.
Kanagawa Prefectural Office, Yokohama, c. 1930
“Jack’s Tower”, Yokohama Port Opening Memorial Hall, c. 1920.
Yokohama Bluff, c. 1910

“The Port of Yokohama formally opened to foreign trade on the 2nd of June 1859. The port grew rapidly through the Meiji and Taisho periods as a center for raw silk export and technology import. Western influence and technological transfer contributed to the establishment of Japan’s first daily newspaper (1870), first gas-powered street lamps (1872) and Japan’s first railway constructed in the same year to connect Yokohama to Shinagawa and Shinbashi in Tokyo.

“By the time the extraterritoriality of foreigner areas was abolished in 1899, Yokohama was the most international city in Japan, with foreigner areas stretching from Kannai to the Bluff area and the large Yokohama Chinatown.”


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