Known affectionately as “The Bluff”, the Yamate area has been home to foreign residents ever since Yokohama opened its port to international trade over 150 years ago. Motomachi, located at the foot of the Yamate hill, was — and still is — a prosperous shopping district, but there’s more to this area than just shops and houses.
8:30am — Motomachi Chukagai Station to Harbor View Park
Head out from Motomachi Chukagai Station and walk up Yamate Hill to Harbor View Park. Here you’ll find unrivalled views of the city. Before opening as a park in 1962, the area housed barracks for British soldiers.
<Harbor View Park (Minato-no-Mieru Oka Koen)>
2: Kanagawa Museum of Modern Literature
9:30am — Kanagawa Museum of Modern Literature
Located inside Harbor View Park, Kanagawa Museum of Modern Literature displays manuscripts, first editions, notebooks, and other valuable items belonging to known literary figures with connections to the Prefecture. Ryunosuke Akutagawa and Soseki Natsume are two of the most noted authors featured here.
<Kanagawa Museum of Modern Literature>
10:30am — British House
Located near the Rose Garden in Harbor View Park, this former British consular residence was built in 1937 and now holds concerts in its first floor hall. The nearby rose garden is a must-see in season (April-June and October-November).
<British House Yokohama>
4: Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery
11:30am — Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery
Though many tombstones were destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, there are still over 3,000 tombstones here. You’ll find a mixture of World War I memorial graves, as well as individual and family graves of German, British, American and French citizens here, with many of them famous during their time here.
<Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery>
12:30pm — Tin Toy Museum
Opened in 1986, this toy museum houses one of the world’s largest vintage tin toy collections. Visitors will find about 3,000 toys here, ranging from the 1890s to the 1960s, most of them made domestically. Don’t forget to stop by the Christmas Toys Shop next door, which is open year-round.
<Tin Toy Museum in Yokohama>
1:30pm —Lunch at Yamate Jyubankan
Enjoy a delicious lunch with French flair with a view of the garden in this lovely establishment. Yamate Jyubankan was built in 1967 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Meiji restoration. You’ll also find the Yamate Museum here, which is the only wooden Western house in Yokohama to survive the Great Kanto Earthquake and contains a slew of historic artifacts from the foreign settlement period.
2:30pm — Motomachi Park
Motomachi Park used to be a veritable playground for foreign residents on the Yamate hillside, with an open-air pool, and even an archery range. You’ll also find a number of beautiful old buildings and ruins here. The Ehrismann Residence was originally owned by a Swiss silk tradesman, and is a fascinating example of Western architecture with Japanese influences. Czech-American Antonin Raymond, who had an in-depth understanding of both Japanese and western architecture, designed it.
Just outside the park and across the street from the Ehrismann residence is Yamate 234, an old apartment building built in 1927. The second floor is used as an exhibition space where people can display their photos and art.
Just down the road from Yamate 234 is Berrick Hall, a Spanish-style home owned by a British businessman, Bertram Berrick and his family. The original owner only lived here for 8 years before immigrating to Canada in 1938, but the building continued as a dormitory for a private school before being bought and restored by Yokohama city in 2002.
8: Diplomat’s House and Bluff No. 18
3:30pm — Diplomat’s House and Bluff No. 18
At the top of a hill further west, you’ll find the Yamate Italian Garden, a stunning oasis of greenery with a stellar view of Yokohama. Here, you can visit the so-called Diplomat’s House, a Victorian style building that belonged to Sadatsuchi Uchida, a diplomat. The house originally stood in Shibuya in Tokyo, but Uchida’s granddaughter donated it to the city of Yokohama in order for it to be preserved. It is now open to the public. Just a stone’s throw away from the house is Bluff No. 18, previously used as a parish house for the Yamate Catholic Church. Drop by the Bluff Garden Café for a rest and coffee and take in the beautiful garden scenery with Yokohama as a backdrop.
<Diplomat’s House >
<Bluff No. 18>
6pm onwards — Windjammer
Finally, to end the day, head down to outskirts of Motomachi Chukagai, where you’ll find the oldest jazz joint in Yokohama with live performances every night. And what could be more fitting? Jazz first made its way into Japan via Yokohama and it still holds on strong here. Try Windjammer’s famous 20-centimeter side hamburger along with one of the bar’s many original cocktails as you listen to the house band jam into the night.