Yokohama is the prefectural capital of Kanagawa prefecture. It is a beautiful port town which is accessible in less than 30 min by train from Tokyo. It boasts a number of popular tourist attractions such as an iconic Chinatown and western influenced architectures and restaurants. While it continues to develop as one of the most urbanized cities in Japan, it features impressive historical sites which has a modern and European atmosphere. Here are the best historical sites that you shouldn’t miss in Yokohama!
1. Yokohama Specie Bank (横浜正金銀行)
Yokohama Specie Bank was a large bank which was opened in 1880. It aimed to reduce the losses caused to Japan because of the uncompleted foreign exchange system at that time. It is also known as the predecessor of MUFJ Bank (also known as “Mitsubishi UFJ Bank), the largest bank in Japan.
The main building was designed by Tsumaki Yorinaka, who is counted as one of the three greatest Japanese architects in the Meiji period (1868-1912). It was completed in 1904, and attracts many tourists with the beautiful exterior which features the neo-baroque style. It currently plays an important role as a Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History which allows visitors to learn the history of Yokohama with a large collection of exhibits.
9:30am – 5pm
※closed on Monday
Admission(Permanent Exhibition): ¥300 (Adult), ¥200 (University/ college student/ under 20), ¥100 (high school student/ over 65)
Free admission for junior high school student and under
2. Former Fuji Bank Yokohama Branch (旧富士銀行 横浜支店)
Former Fuji Bank Yokohama Branch stands on Bashamichi Street which is a few minutes walk from Yokohama Specie Bank. It was originally established in 1929 as the Yokohama branch of the Yasuda Bank (安田銀行) by Yasuda Zaibatsu (安田財閥), one of the most powerful financial conglomerate during the Taisho to the early Showa period in Japan. After changing the name in 1948, it continued to be used as a branch office of the Fuji Bank (富士銀行) until 2001. It currently functions as a school building of Tokyo University of Arts which offers a Film and New Media course for graduate students.
The main building features exquisite walls that are made of rusticated stones. Doric embedded columns add a solemn atmosphere with gorgeously curved windows. It is not allowed to enter the building, but you can still feel the impressive exterior from the street!
3. Port Opening Memorial Hall (横浜市開港記念館)
Port Opening Memorial Hall is an iconic building that draws a lot of attention with the noticeable classic exterior. The construction was started to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Yokohama port in 1913, and it took 4 years to complete the main building. Although it was completely burned down by fire due to the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, it was restored later on in 1927.
The unique architectural style is called Tatsuno-shiki Free Classic, which was established by Tatsuno Kingo, a world-famous Japanese architect who is also known for the design of her symbolic structures such as Tokyo station. Jack’s Tower refers to the beautiful clock tower standing 36 meters tall. From inside, you can enjoy the stunning stained-glass window reflecting the sunshine with fascination colors!
4. Yokohama Yusen Building (横浜郵船ビル)
If you are interested in the development and history of the marine transportation industry in Japan, head to Kaigandori Street where Yokohama Yusen Building is located. It is widely recognized as a representative building built by Japan Post Holdings Co., Ltd. to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the company in 1936. The architectural style is characterized by 16 Corinthian columns that beautifully decorate the facade.
First floor of the building is currently used as NYK Maritime Museum. It houses a range of exhibits which helps visitors learn the history of marine transportation in Japan. Permanent exhibitions include intriguing collections from the Meiji period through the present day. Miniature models of ships allow children to enjoy the informative exhibitions visually as well.
10am – 5pm
※closed on Monday
Admission (Permanent Exhibition) ¥400 (Adult), ¥250 (junior high/ high school student/ over 65), Free admission for elementary school student and under
5. Yokohama Customs (横浜税関)
Another historical site that you can find along Kaigandori Street is Yokohama Customs. Built in 1934, it is officially designated as a historical building by Yokohama city. As you reach the entrance, you will soon realize the symbolic tower situated at the center of the building. It features a green mosque-style dome offering an exotic atmosphere. The tower is called Queen’s tower and loved by locals as one of the three famous towers in Yokohama along with Jack’s Tower of Port Opening Memorial Hall and King’s Tower of Kanagawa Prefectural Government Office.
First floor of the building is open to the public as a customs museum which displays a variety of exhibits. It helps visitors understand the basic customs procedures as well as the history of Yokohama Port. There is also an exciting hand-on experience which allows you to experience a metal detector or learn how to distinguish fake products and real ones!
(※Museum is temporary closed due to Covid-19)
6. Red Brick Yokohama (横浜赤レンガ倉庫)
Red Brick Yokohama is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Yokohama. It draws about 6 million people all year round as a popular shopping spot with numerous stores and restaurants. In the early 20th century, it started its history as a warehouse where products imported from overseas were temporarily stored. It basically consists of two separate buildings, Building No.1 and Building No.2. Building No.1 was completed in 1913, which was recognized as the modern warehouse equipped with cutting-edge facilities such as lifts for products and fire doors. In 2002, it reopened as a cultural facility which includes a large hall and exhibition space. Building No.2 boasts about 40 shops and restaurants selling a range of products. There are many outdoor events and festivals carrying out constantly on the site too!
Building No.1: 10am – 7pm Building No.2: 11am – 8pm
※Opening hours may vary depending on each shop
7. Yamate Museum (横浜山手西洋館)
After the opening of Yokohama port in 1859, Yamate area (山手エリア) developed as a settlement for foreigners and diplomats. They were officially permitted to reside in these areas, which resulted in a number of western-style buildings and houses that still remain today. Yamate is home to 7 different historical buildings which can be enjoyed without reservation or admission fee. They are conveniently located close to one another, making it a perfect spot to enjoy comparing them while exploring the surrounding areas.
Berrick Hall is one of the largest buildings among the seven that covers about 600 hectares. The Spanish-style building was completed in 1930 by J.H. Morgan, American architect who also designed Yamate 111th Building. It was used as a residence of British trader, B.R. Berrick. The Home of Diplomat is another one which was originally built as a residence of Uchida Sadatsuchi, who served as a diplomat of the Meiji government. It features a cozy café offering refreshing coffee and light meals served at the terrace seats overlooking Yokohama city!
9:30am – 5pm
Admission: Free admission
Japan Wonder Travel Tours
We offer some private tours in Tokyo and Kamakura, which both are close to Yokohama.
Walk around the city with knowledgeable guide and learn the history from listening to background stories!
Yokohama is a perfect weekend trip destination from Tokyo. It offers a range of exciting spots full of cutting-edge technologies as well as peaceful sites where you can have historical experiences. Visiting any of the historical spots we introduced above will take you to an intriguing journey to explore valuable buildings while learning about the history of the amazing city!
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