Whilst spending a couple of nights in Yokohama recently my wife and I spent our one free day wandering the Yamate area following an all-you-can-eat Chinese lunch in Chinatown. As my wife had never been to Chinatown, that was the main reason for the getaway but a walk was very much in need afterwards.
Just east of Chinatown through the Yamate tunnel on the left are the hills of this historic area known as The Bluff. It features some well-preserved residences from former periods of Japanese history when Westerners settled in the area which was one of only a few port towns where foreign traders were allowed to reside. Japan had long been an isolated country closed off from the rest of the world and so in the 1850’s there were some overseas traders looking to profit from the newly opened country.
We started off at Yamate Park and the first old residence was Bluff No. 68 (below left) which stands across from the Yamate Museum of Tennis. Thankfully its free to enter the house not that there’s that much to see! This time of year is supposed to be the best though as these big houses (by Japanese standards!) recreate the Christmas of countries around the world and possess the traditional dishes and sweets of the country being represented.
There’s something Spanish in the style of Berrick Hall (above right); the largest Western residence in Yamate which was built in 1930.
Located on the edge of Motomachi Park is the Ehrismann Residence (below left) which was the next place we saw and was originally built in 1926 though it did get relocated in 1990 to where it stands now. It was built for a Swiss businessman and among it’s rooms are a sun room and a drawing room!
Yamate has many parks, museums and other western-style buildings and is a nice scenic break from the more popular areas of Yokohama. Other sightseeing spots like an old wooden style phone box, a church, international schools and restaurants indicate the presence of western residents over the last hundred years or so.
The green wooden western-style building nearby is the last remaining one of its kind and was built in 1909 (200 yen entry).
Bluff No. 234 wasn’t too far away and was built for four tenants to live in with the two storey building including four identical apartments. This one was built shortly after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and there’s a restaurant in the neighbouring building.
We wandered on by the Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery (without going in) but as it was cold and getting dark we decided to cut through America-yama Park to the European feeling Motomachi shopping street running parallel to the Nakamura River. Once I’d finally managed to drag my wife away from the fashion shops we rounded off the evening by strolling along Yamashita Park which is famed for its beautiful waterfront views of the Port of Yokohama.