One of the largest temples in eastern Japan, Soji-ji is a major temple belonging to the Soto-sect of Zen Buddhism. It was established in 1321 in Noto Province by Jokin Keizan (1268-1325), but after a disastrous fire, it was relocated to Tsurumi in 1911. Both the statue of Miroku Bosatsu, which dates to 1276, and the bell (cast in 1269) have been named important cultural properties. Along with Eihei-ji (in Fukui prefecture) in 1615, Soji-ji was named a major Zen center by the Tokugawa government. The public is welcome to participate in meditation sessions at this very active Zen temple.
Chinatown or Chukagai in Japanese, is a fun place for dining, shopping or just walking around. Chinese people started settling in Yokohama in the mid-1800s when Japan opened its doors to international trade. Since then Yokohama's Chinatown has blossomed into the country's largest Chinese community. The area comprises one major street, dozens of cross-streets and alleys, and is home to over 100 restaurants, most serving Cantonese cuisine. There are also many colorful and exotic shops overflowing with Chinese goods, books, souvenirs and even Chinese medicines.
Minato Mirai 21 Yokohama Pavilion was originally constructed for the 1989 Yokohama Exotic Showcase or YES Expo, which unveiled the details for the Minato Mirai 21 project. An estimated 13 million people visited the pavilion during 1989 YES Expo. The central feature was Gulliver Land, a model of what Minato Mirai 21 and the Yokohama Waterfront will look like in the 21st century. Gulliver Land contains scale models of over 3,500 buildings with 20,000 people walking through this futuristic vision. The lighting in Gulliver Land changes to simulate day and night. And, of course, the models illuminate in the darkness to create an image of a magnificent "City of Light". Admission is absolutely free.
Dedicated to the Minamoto family's guardian, the god of war, this shrine is believed to date to 1063. Noted for its striking vermilion embellished and lacquered torii arch, the shrine is very different from the Zen temples usually associated with Kamakura. Legend tells us that at one time only the shogun could walk on the Drum Bridge (Taikobashi), the original of which dates to 1182. Other attractions are the very old ginkgo tree near the dancing platform and the lotus-lilied ponds, which rest on former rice fields. It is recommended that visitors acquaint themselves with certain manners particular to Shinto before entering. Another famous sight in Kamakura, the Daibutsu (giant statue of Buddha), is easily accessible from this shrine.
Kirin Yokohama Beer Village is a complex that includes a Kirin Beer Factory, a beer hall and a restaurant. Japanese people love museums, and it seems that almost anything can serve as an excuse to create a museum. That includes food and drink. Take for example the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum, basically a museum honoring ramen noodles, and the McDonalds Hamburger Museum, honoring McDonalds hamburgers. Well, Kirin Yokohama Beer Village can be added to the list. Kirin Yokohama Beer Village features the Kirin beer museum, including a tour of the Kirin Beer factory at work. There is also some free sampling of the brew. And knowing that touring the Kirin Beer factory is likely to create make folks thirsty, Kirin has thoughtfully provided a beer hall and restaurant where you explore the Kirin experience in depth. The restaurant is open from 10a to 7.30p daily, closed on Mondays. Kirin Yokohama Beer Village is a ten-minute walk from Namamugi Station on the JR Keihin Kyuko Line. Admission to Kirin Yokohama Beer Village is free.
The Osanbashi Pier stands at the entrance to the Port of Yokohama from the greater Tokyo Bay. Osanbashi means "Big Wharf," and big it was. What we know today as the Osanbashi Pier was completed in 1894 and was known in its day as the Yokohama Harbor Pier. At the time it was biggest wharf in entire Japan. The Osanbashi Pier became the center of the booming port, and all the large ships were docked here. Consequently, it became the entrance to Yokohama for many visiting foreigners. Today the Pier still stands at the entrance to the Port of Yokohama and greets ships of all kinds from around the world.
The year 1859 was a turning point for the city of Yokohama when its port became one of the first to open itself to foreign trade after the long-standing isolation of Japan following the end of the Edo period. From a small fishing village to Japan's second largest city, the rapid transformation of Yokohama is truly a miraculous one. This extravagant metropolis is home to more than its fair share of expats and boasts one of the world's largest Chinatowns. Its more contemporary quarters are exemplars of modernity, thanks to the proliferation of snazzy bars, international restaurants, and a scintillating nightlife. The surreal Osanbashi Pier is the defining feature of the city's spectacular waterfront, while museums like the Yokohama Port Museum and Yokohama Art Museum largely offer cultural nourishment. The sprawling Yokohama Stadium is another of the city's contemporary highlights, as is the urban neighborhood of Minato Mirai 21. From its beautiful shrines and lush gardens to modern landmarks like the Marine Tower, Yokohama is a tourist-friendly city that benefits from the unstuffy attitude of its locals.
The Yokohama City Hall is an impressive building situated adjacent to Yokohama Park and the Yokohama Stadium. The Yokohama City Hall is a terrific source of information about everything from the history and culture of Yokohama, to sightseeing in the City, and even help if you're interested in doing business, or even starting your own business, in Yokohama. If you are a foreign resident, Yokohama City Hall is the best place to start to find out information about the which of the 19 ward offices (local government offices) within the City of Yokohama that you need to visit to take care of such matters as Alien Registration, family registry, personal seal registration, and getting children enrolled in Elementary and Junior High Schools. Ward offices also administer National Health Insurance and National Pension Plans, and are where residents must go to file their local taxes.
The records of Kirin Brewery Co. indicate that beer was first brewed commercially in Japan in Amanuma area. Kirin Park is a small city park that covers part of the old Amanuma area, and features the special old well known as "Beer's Well", or the biru ido, which supplied the pure water with which that first beer was brewed. Naka Ward has established a Commemorative Monument to the Birthplace of Beer in Japan at this site. Do reflect on this fact, of all the new, exotic technologies, fashions, foods, and drinks that foreigners brought through Yokohama into Japan, perhaps beer and baseball have made the greatest impact on the leisure habits of the average Japanese.
Yokohama Stadium is the home of the Yokohama Bay Stars, Yokohama's baseball team. Japan has perhaps the most eclectic culture on earth, choosing to adopt what it considers to be best in other cultures. And sports are no exception. Baseball was first introduced from the US in 1873, and it was love at first strike. Today baseball is Japan's national sport. However, like everything foreign that has been adopted and assimilated into Japanese society, baseball has been re-cast to match Japanese culture. The most striking change to American observers is that Japanese players do not steal bases. Why? Because in this group-oriented society it is the team that counts, not the individual, and such actions as stealing bases stress individual accomplishment and are thus frowned upon. The bizarre exception to this rule is the idol worshipping of the coaches. Everyday during baseball season, images of coaches are plastered in newspapers and broadsides on all commuter trains. And during televised baseball games, the camera intently focuses on the faces of the coaches for as much as 50 percent of the game, as if the coaches were mentally controlling the movements of the players on their teams. And the Japanese fans love it. But don't take anyone's word for it, come to Yokohama Stadium, feel the excitement surge through the crowds, and decide for yourself.
Richard Henry Brunton was born in Scotland in 1841. He was initially employed by the Japanese Government as an adviser to build lighthouses. He arrived in Japan in 1868 and left in 1876 after a disagreement. However, during his time in Japan, he designed some 26 lighthouses mostly in the area of Tokyo Bay. Additionally, Richard helped with the design and building of numerous other projects including bridges, waterworks, the Yokohama harbor and Yokohama Park, where his statue is placed. - AH
On the corner of a street very close to the BayStars monument, you'll find an engraved stone monument with a metal etching of an Edison-type generator. This monument commemorates the coal-fired power plant that used to be on this site. The plant was built by the Yokohama Kyodo Electric Light Company. It began supplying electricity to 700 houses in the city in 1890. -AH