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Yamate is a hilly area east of the river Nakamura and today's Chinatown where once lived the Westerners.

The neighborhood

It is a district with a very particular and almost unique atmosphere in Japan, since it doesn't seem to be in Japan.
When the port of Yokohama was opened to foreign trade in 1959, foreigners were allowed to settle in the area of Yamashita. From 1867 onwards, given the ever increasing number of Westerners, the government allowed them to move to the area of Yamate.
From then on, more and more wealthy Western moved to this area, building a lot of Western-style houses, churches, schools and buildings, many of which still remain today.

The shopping street of the neighborhood, also with a more European atmosphere than Japanese, is Motomachi dori, marked on the map at the bottom (Motomachi shopping street).
motomachi street at christmas the entrance of Motomachi shopping street at Christmas time
Some famous buildings around Yamate hill:

-Berrick Hall, built in 1930 for a wealthy English merchant, it is a project (Spanish style) of American architect J.H. Morgan

-Bluff No. 111 , another house designed by American J.H. Morgan for another wealthy English merchant, also in Spanish style.

-Ehrismann Residence , built in 1926 by the Czech architect Antonin Raymond for a Swiss businessman, Fritz Ehrismann.

-Diplomat's House, Victorian style home designed by American architect James Gardiner.

-Sacred Heart Cathedral, a Catholic Church (also called Yamate Catholic Church) in Gothic style, completed in 1933 to replace the previous one destroyed by the earthquake of 1923.
berrick hall in yamate yokohama diplomat's house in yamate yokohama
ehrismann residence in yamate yokohama sacred heart cathedral in yamate yokohama from left to right, top to bottom: Berrick Hall, Diplomat's House, Ehrismann Residence, Sacred Heart Cathedral

Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery

A cemetery that was created specifically to bury all the foreigners who died while they were in Japan, where today there are about 4200 graves.
The cemetery is open from April to November and can be visited with a donation of 200 YEN. At the entrance there is a small "museum" with some information about the cemetery and the city of Yokohama at the time of the opening to foreign trade. Inside there are many cherry trees.

Harbor View Park

A park opened in 1962 that has a lot of history behind itself.
The northern part of the park was once the basis of a defense of the French army who had gone there to protect its citizens settled in Yokohama, and then it was the location of the French Embassy. Today this part of the park is called France hill (France yama) and there are still the ruins of the French embassy destroyed by fire.
The British troops stationed instead, for the same reason of the French, in the south of the park, where you can still find the so-called British House , used since 1937 as the residence of the British consul.
This is an excellent place where you can admire the view of the port of Yokohama and in the distance the skyscrapers of Minato Mirai.
view from harbor view park in yokohama
view of minato mirai and yamashita from harbor view park in yokohama The view at sunset from the terrace of Harbor View Park

Sleeping in Yamate

There aren't any hotels in this area, look at the nearby areas of Yamashita and Kannai (near Chinatown).

Pratical guide, how to get to Yamate and map

There is a station called Yamate station, but it is too far south of the waterfront and is not very useful.
If you want to visit this neighborhood, just get off at Ishikawacho station (JR Negishi line) or at Motomachi-Chukagai station (Minatomirai line).
The areas of Yamashita and Chinatown are located a short walk away just north of Yamate hill.

View Yokohama Yamate in a larger map

Guided tours, activities and other things to do

If you are planning a trip to Japan and you want to add something special besides the visit of the different monuments and famous places, we suggest you to use the site Govoyagin. This is a very useful site to enrich your travel experience, especially if you are going solo or it's your first time in Japan and, for language barriers and more, and you will not have many opportunities to interact with the locals and to enjoy something different from the famous places marked in the tourist guides.

What Govoyagin is

Govoyagin is a website where you can find many particular activities all over Japan (and not only in Japan).
You can buy tickets online for some famous attractions, but also book tours and really special experiences with locals ready to guide you and take you to places outside the tourist circuits that you would hardly ever find by yourself. Last but not least, you can reserve a table in hundreds of restaurants.

Some examples

On Govoyagin you can buy tickets in advance to visit the Tokyo Tower or the Tokyo Sky Tree, but also book guided tours of Kyoto temples accompanied by a samurai, or to go around the streets of Osaka on a go-kart dressed as Super Mario, or even play videogames against an unbeatable Japanese otaku at his place.
Last but not least, if you need to reserve your table in some restaurants, such as the legendary 3-star Michelin, also in this case you can find this kind of service for sale on Govoyagin. Take a look at Govoyagin

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Author: Davide Lee