GO GB Features and Articles

What’s the Pre-Games camps?

A Real Taste of Britain in Yokohama: A UK-themed Walking Course Guide (Kannai – Motomachi Edition)

The City of Yokohama is set to host the pre-Games preparation camp of the British Olympic and Paralympic teams for the Tokyo 2020 Games. Take a quick look back through history, though, and you will soon discover how the relationship between Yokohama and the United Kingdom goes back much further, to the end of the Edo period (mid-19th century), around the time when the Port of Yokohama first opened up.
So why not take this opportunity to find out about the history of interaction between the United Kingdom and Japan while enjoying a stroll through the streets of Yokohama.
In this guide, the GOGB Column Editing Department introduces a recommended walking course that will give you a real taste of Britain in Yokohama, featuring a route beginning in Kannai and ending Motomachi.

Nihon Odori Street

Our walking tour starts from Nihon Odori Street in the Kannai area. This area sustained heavy damage during a major fire which broke out in 1866, including not only Japanese residential areas but also foreign settlements. As such, urgent steps were taken to redevelop the area, such as putting in place modern street plans and coming up with measures to prevent fires. Japan’s first ever Western-style roads were constructed here as part of this work, designed by Richard Henry Brunton, a British designer who also designed Yokohama Park. You can find a bust of Brunton on a corner of this street.

The tiles embedded into the street also give a sense of Yokohama’s history from around the time of the port’s opening.

This street, which leads to the Port of Yokohama and is lined with buildings including Kanagawa Prefectural Government’s Office, Yokohama Archives of History, and Yokohama District Court and Yokohama Summary Court, offers picturesque scenery all year round, including rows of beautiful gingko trees in autumn and stunning illuminations in winter. The street is broad and spacious, steeped with an atmosphere reminiscent of a British movie.


Address: Nihon Odori Street, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture
Nearest station: 1 min. walk from Nihon-Odori Station on the Minato Mirai Line / 15 min. walk from JR Kannai Station

Yokohama Archives of History

Yokohama Archives of History consists of two buildings: a new building facing Kaigan-dori Street, and a small old building surrounded by a courtyard. The old building was originally constructed to house the British Consulate General. This building was designed by the British government and all of the materials used in its construction were brought all the way from the UK. As such, both the exterior and interior give the appearance of a quintessential British building. The museum features easy to understand displays on the history of the Port of Yokohama, charting its growth as a port town through the use of photos, contemporary newspaper cuttings, models etc., making it a fun place for even children to come and learn.
There is a camphor tree in the courtyard, a symbol of the Yokohama Archives of History.

One cannot help but feel a sense of awe at how this dignified tree has been standing in the same place since the Edo period, witnessing the course of Yokohama’s history from the opening of the port to the present day.


3 Nihon Odori Street, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture
TEL: 045 (201) 2100
Opening hours: 9:30 am – 5:00 pm
Closed: Mondays (the following day in the event Monday falls on a national holiday), end of year New Year holiday season, other days
Nearest station: 2 min. walk from Nihon-Odori Station Exit 3 on the Minato Mirai Line / 15 min. walk from JR Kannai Station
URL:http://www.kaikou.city.yokohama.jp/index.htm

Café: Au jardin de Perry

Au jardin de Perry, a café located on a corner of Yokohama Archives of History, is housed in a building that was once used as guardhouse for the former British Consulate General. The café faces Kaiko Hiroba Park, a square commemorating the opening of the Port of Yokohama. This was also the place where the Convention of Kanagawa was signed, a peace treaty reached between Japan and the US in 1854, and is the perfect place to sit back and unwind with a cup of tea in a historical setting.


Yokohama Archives of History, 3 Nihon Odori Street, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture
TEL: 045-662-8345
Opening hours: (Tue. – Fri.) 8:00 am – 5:00 pm; (weekends and national holidays) 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
Closed: Mondays, end of year New Year holiday season, other days

Silk Center (Silk Museum)

Following the opening of the Port of Yokohama in 1859, many foreign merchants came to the port area to set up shop.
The Silk Center is located at the former site of the Yokohama branch of Jardine Matheson Holdings Limited, a major British conglomerate that was involved in the silk trade at the time of the port’s opening.

The Silk Museum is housed inside the Silk Center.

The Silk Museum opened in 1959 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Port of Yokohama. In addition to learning about the history of silk, which contributed to Yokohama’s development as a port city, you can also enjoy workshops, searching for silk items in the museum shop, and other fun events.

The museum also boasts stunning views of the port, another reason why it has been included on this recommended walking itinerary.


Silk Center 2nd floor, 1 Yamashita-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture
TEL: 045-641-0841
Opening hours: 9:30 am – 5:00 pm (final entry: 4:30 pm)
Nearest station: 2 min. walk from Nihon-Odori Station Exit 3 on the Minato Mirai Line / 15 min. walk from JR Kannai Station
URL: http://www.silkcenter-kbkk.jp/museum/

NYK Hikawa Maru (Yamashita Park)

Walk alongside the port from the Silk Center and you will find Yamashita Park. This park was created as a part of a reconstruction project following the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, using the rubble left by the earthquake for landfill.

The Hikawa Maru, an ocean liner floating in the port alongside Yamashita Park, was once nicknamed “The Queen of the North Pacific,” and is now permanentlyberthed alongside Yamashita Park.
The Hikawa Maru was built in 1930 for use on a regular liner route between Yokohama and Seattle. Prior to the breakout of the Pacific War, the ship’s famous passengers included English comedian Charlie Chaplin, and Prince Chichibu and his wife, who were returning to Japan after having attended King George VI’s coronation in the UK.
The Hikawa Maru, now decommissioned, has been preserved as an Important Cultural Property, a floating museum which retains the glory of its heyday.Visitors can look around the ship’s interior and gaze over the port steeped in an opulent atmosphere of sea voyages from days gone by.


Yamashita Park. Yamashita-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture
TEL: 045-641-4362
Nearest station: 3 min. walk from Motomachi-Chukagai Station Exit 4 on the Minato Mirai Line / 15 min. walk from JR Negishi Line Ishikawacho Station or Kannai Station
URL:https://hikawamaru.nyk.com/

British House Yokohama

If you carry on past Yamashita Park and keeping walking in the direction of Motomachi, you will arrive at British House Yokohama, located adjacent to Harbor View Park. This house is the former British consular residence, where the British consul general lived with his family.

The nameplate with royal insignia beside the front gate and copperplate beside the front entrance testify to the building’s long and prestigious background. Also, the small gate to the left of the front gate served as an entrance for servants, giving insights into the history of Britain’s class society. From the moment you enter, you will feel as if you have stepped back in time to a bygone Britain, with the building’s chalk white walls, furniture and interior décor hearkening back to life in those days.


115-3 Yamate-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture
TEL: 045-623-7812
Nearest station: 8 min. walk from Motomachi-Chukagai Station on the Minato Mirai Line
URL:http://www.hama-midorinokyokai.or.jp/yamate-seiyoukan/british-house/

Yokohama Christ Church on the Bluff

Yokohama Christ Church on the Bluff is a church belonging to the Anglican Church in Japan, which shares many of the traditions and practices of the Church of England. Built from oya tuff stone, this church is a landmark of the Yamate area of Yokohama, an imposing building constructed in the style of a Norman church from medieval Britain.
The current building is actually the third church building. The second building, which was constructed at the current location, was destroyed during the Great Kanto Earthquake. A temporary building was set up in the aftermath of the earthquake until construction of the third building was complete. This impressive building lends the surrounding area a profound air, giving a sense of history and the ongoing faith of those who have continued to come here to worship over the years.


235 Yamate-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture
TEL: 045-264-8156
Nearest station: 7 min. walk from Motomachi-Chukagai Station on the Minato Mirai Line
URL: http://anglican.jp/app-def/S-102/yamate/
URL:http://anglican.jp/app-def/S-102/yamate/

The Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery

Many foreign nationals who passed away while in Japan are buried here in this cemetery, including many people from the United Kingdom, such as soldiers who died during the First World War on the way to battlefields from Japan. The Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery Museum is located next to the cemetery. In addition to providing an overview of history from the end of the Edo period (mid-19th century), this museum uses explanatory panels and photographs to introduce the lives of some of the people buried here, including British engineers and other notable people who contributed to Japan’s modernization during the Meiji period. For museum lovers, the Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery Museum is certainly worth a visit.


96 Yamate-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture
Museum opening times: 10 am – 5 pm
Closed: Mondays
Nearest station: 3 min. walk from Motomachi-Chukagai Station on the Minato Mirai Line
URL:http://www.yfgc-japan.com/index.html

Yokohama Motomachi Shopping Street

Walk down the slope from the Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery in the direction of Motomachi-Chukagai Station, and you will find Yokohama Motomachi Shopping Street. During the days when Yokohama was first opening up as a port, this shopping street developed through the appearance of shops aimed at foreigners at a location linking foreign settlements in Yamashita-cho and the Yamate area. Unusual for the time, shops here formed sister partnerships with shopping streets in other countries to enable direct imports from famous stores overseas. Sister partnerships with London’s Strand and five other shopping streets in 1967 have served to promote further growth in this area of town. With rows of stores selling everything from fine pottery to antique import goods, just browsing through the huge range of products on offer here will put you in the mood for shopping. Benches are located throughout the shopping street, providing the perfect place to stop for a rest with views over town.


Nearest station: 0 min. walk from Motomachi-Chukagai Station on the Minato Mirai Line

Uchiki Pan

The last point of call on this walking course is Uchiki Pan, a long-standing bakery that has been in Motomachi Shopping Street since 1888.
This bakery is particularly well known for its English style bread, which it has been baking for over a century since its foundation.

This bakery also provides a range of other kinds of bread, including French bread, donuts, anpan sweet red bean buns, and others. So what better way to remember your stroll through Yokohama’s streets than with some freshly baked bread for breakfast the next morning?


1-50 Motomachi, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture
TEL: 045-641-1161
Nearest station: 2 min. walk from Motomachi-Chukagai Station on the Minato Mirai Line
Closed: Mondays

So, how did you enjoy this UK-themed Walking Course Guide?
This walking course really gives a great sense of just how many historical connections there are between the United Kingdom and the City of Yokohama, which is set to host the pre-Games preparation camp of the British Olympic and Paralympic teams for the Tokyo 2020 Games, from the end of the Edo period when the Port of Yokohama first opened up to modernization during the Meiji period and beyond. We hope you take this opportunity to enjoy not only history but also the many sights of cosmopolitan Yokohama.

Text: Mie Hirao, GOGB column writer
Photography: Osamu Sueyoshi, GOGB cameraman