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Only 32 kilometers from Tokyo Yokohama is the second city of Japan. It is a city with a cosmopolitan feel that certainly warrants a visit.

Yokohama was a small fishing village up to the end of the Edo period, a time when Japan did not trade with other seafaring nations. In 1854, Commodore Matthew Perry arrived just south of Yokohama with a fleet of American warships, and forced Japan to open several ports for commerce. Yokohama was designated as a foreign port instead of Kanagawa, which the Tokugawa shogunate feared was too close to the Tokaido, a strategic highway connecting Edo to Nagoya, Kyoto, and Osaka 

After the Meiji Restoration of 1868 the port was developed for trading silk. Japan’s first railway was constructed in 1872 to connect Yokohama to Tokyo, allowing zaibatsu firms to use the port for importing raw materials bound for factories in the growing Keihin Industrial Area. The growth of Japanese industry brought affluence to Yokohama, and many wealthy trading families constructed sprawling residences there. Until more commerce was carried out directly in Tokyo, Yokohama was known as the most international city in Japan. Today it’s possible to take a harbour tour by boat for a firsthand inspection of the port area as it bustles with ships from all over the world loading and unloading cargo.

Yokohama is located on a peninsula facing the western side of Tokyo Bay, 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Tokyo, to which it is connected by a half-dozen railway lines as well as expressways and surface streets. Although the city is largely a doemitory town for people commuting to Tokyo, it also has a strong local economic base, of its own.

Many of the sights in Yokohama are close to the waterfront, Minato Mirai (right) is the futuristic heart of the area, many shops, restaurants a maritime museum a historic ship and a good museum of art. One of the most interesting places elsewhere in the city is without a doubt Sankaien Garden a haven of peace in the big city. The garden consists of a collection of historic buildings moved from elsewhere in Japan to this park. The garden around is very pretty as well, and as always, best seen in springtime.

Other notable  spots in Yokohama include Yamashita Park  and Chinatown, Sankeien Gardens and the International Cemetery, which offers nice views of the sunset. Other city sights include the Silk Museum (in the Silk Center) and the Yamate Museum, with exhibits relating to the city’s foreign communityThe Isezakicho and Noge areas offer many colourful shops and bars and, with their restaurants and stores catering to residents from China, Thailand, South Korea, and other countries, have an increasingly international flavour. Shoppers may want to visit the upscale Motomachi district - prices there are lower than Tokyo’s

The Ramen Museum and the Curry Museum are other interesting spots recently opened in Yokohama.

Yokohama is the home of the Yokohama Baystars, a Central League baseball team, and the Yokohama F Marinos, a J. League soccer team.

 

 
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