Yokohama was the first treaty port in Japan to be opened to foreign trade in 1859, and the heart of the foreign concession area was known (and is still known today) as Kannai 関内, or within the Kanmon 関門 (“Kan Gate”).
This is also the area where most of Yokohama’s historic European-style and Meiji/Taisho/Showa-era buildings are found today. Unfortunately, almost nothing from the Treaty Port era (1959 – 1899) actually remains – most were destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923.
But the city still displays the typical layout and architectural vernacular of its sister cities in Nagasaki and Yokohama, albeit with architecture that is a little more early modern.
There are a few sections of the tour of Kannai, the most important being the former Yokohama Bund and its environs, which still exists today, just barely. Along the Bund and just off the Bund we find the city’s most iconic buildings, including two of the “Three Towers” earlier introduced, and the fabled Hotel New Grand.
Just off the Bund are two historic streets – the Bashamichi 馬車道, or “Horse Carriage Street”, which was once the most fashionable street during the Treaty Port era, and the Nihon Oo dori 日本大通り, which houses some of the major Government offices, including the Kanagawa Prefectural Offices (the “King Tower”).
Joining the two is the Honcho 本町 – which was the equivalent of Yokohama’s Wall Street, with its early 19th century local bank headquarters, including the headquarters of the former Yokohama Specie Bank, today’s Kanagawa Prefectural Museum, located one block off the Honcho on Bashamichi.
They are a reminder of Yokohama’s once glorious past as a treaty port; and its continued position today as Japan’s foremost port city.
The Former Yokohama Bund 海岸通り and its Environs
Bashamichi 馬車道 and Honcho 本町 – the Banking Quarter
Nihon Oo Dori 日本大通り