Yamate is a hilly area east of the river Nakamura and today's Chinatown
where once lived the Westerners.
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).
the entrance of Motomachi shopping street at Christmas time
Some famous buildings around Yamate hill:
, 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.
, built in 1926 by the Czech architect Antonin Raymond for a Swiss businessman, Fritz Ehrismann.
, 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.
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.
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
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
The areas of Yamashita
are located a short walk away just north of Yamate hill.
Guided tours, activities and other things to do
If you are planning a trip to Japan and you want to do something more than just visiting famous places and monuments, we suggest you to use Govoyagin
How to use Govoyagin
Govoyagin is a very useful website to enrich your travel experience
, especially if you are going solo or it's your first time in Japan.
Because of the language barrier (and more), in Japan it is very difficult to interact with the locals and to get off the tourist track.
Thanks to Govoyagin you can find a lot of interesting and sometimes unique guided tours and activities
all over Japan (and not only in Japan), that you would otherwise never be able to enjoy.
But there's more: on Govoyagin you can also buy tickets
for several famous attractions, events, transportation and other useful services for tourists. Last but not least, you can reserve a table
in hundreds of restaurants.