Yokohama, a Stylish, Exotic, International City
Yokohama is the capital city of Kanagawa Prefecture. It has a population of 3.74 million, making it the second most populous designated city after the 23 wards of Tokyo, and is divided into a total of 18 administrative wards. It is located in the southern part of the Kanto region, approximately 30 km southwest of central Tokyo.
Due to its development as an international port from the end of the Edo period, it is seen as a stylish port city, with areas that have an exotic feel and, in the past, a unique fashion trend called Hamatora (Yokohama traditional).
There are four distinct seasons, without much difference in temperature throughout the day, and a mild climate year-round. However, there is a lot of rain during June–July (the rainy season), and September–October (autumn rains and typhoons).
In May, when the World Relays will be held, average high and low temperatures are 22.4°C and 15.0°C, respectively, with a humidity of 70%, making it a pleasant time of the year. The average number of days with precipitation in May is 11.5.
The development of Yokohama, which was nothing more than an isolated village until the end of the Edo period, was triggered by the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States and Japan in 1859. This treaty led to the opening of the Port of Yokohama, and the creation of a settlement for foreigners as well as a customs office.
Later, when it thrived as a trading port, factories were built on reclaimed land starting from the Taisho era (from 30 July 1912 to 25 December 1926), which then developed into the Keihin Industrial Zone. Yokohama became the leading international port city in Japan, while also having the character of an industrial port.
The center of Yokohama comprises the area from Yokohama station, where many tourists stop by, to Ishikawacho station on the JR lines and Motomachi-Chukagai station on the Minatomirai line.
Yokohama station is a vast terminal, used by the JR, Tokyu, Keikyu, Sotetsu, and Yokohama Municipal Subway lines. The waves of people are never-ending, and it is overcrowded with commuters and students during rush hours in the mornings and evenings. There are numerous restaurants and large-scale commercial facilities, such as department stores, near the station.
The area around Sakuragicho and Minatomirai stations underwent development starting from the 1980s. Central facilities include the 70-storey, 296-meter-high Yokohama Landmark Tower and PACIFICO Yokohama, a convention center comprising an international conference center, exhibition hall, and hotel. The area is dotted with numerous other commercial facilities and theme parks.
The area around Kannai and Nihon-odori stations is a business district that is home to government offices such as the Kanagawa Prefectural Government Building, and the Yokohama City Hall, as well as being lined with corporations. Along the shore is Osanbashi Pier, where large passenger ships and cruise ships dock at the International Passenger Terminal. Sports facilities such as the Yokohama Stadium and the Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium are also located near Kannai station.
Ishikawacho and Motomachi-Chukagai are the closest stations to Yokohama Chinatown, the biggest in Japan. Along the waterfront is Yamashita Park, where the NYK Hikawamaru, which used to run the trans-Pacific route, is permanently berthed. Harbor View Park is also close by, providing the ambience of a port town.
In addition, Nogecho, to the west of the JR Sakuragicho station, has many restaurants and a zoo, and is famous for its street performances. Isezakicho, near the Isezaki-chojamachi station on the Yokohama Municipal Subway line, is renowned as a shopping mecca with a pedestrian-only mall.
Due to its history as the gateway to Japan, many sports were introduced into the country from Yokohama. It is said that in 1874, English seamen conducted the first rugby match in Japan in Yokohama, while in 1896, the first international baseball game was held in Yokohama. Major professional sports teams based in Yokohama today are as follows:
・Professional Baseball: Yokohama DeNA BayStars
・Soccer “J League”: Yokohama F. Marinos; Yokohama FC; YSCC Yokohama
・Basketball “B League”: Yokohama B-Corsairs