Yokohama (横浜市 Yokohama-shi), the capital of Kanagawa prefecture, Japan is the country’s second largest city and running one of its leading seaports. Yokohama is a major commercial hub of the Greater Tokyo Area, and is one of the major international trading ports of Japan today.

 Yokohama: A Small Fishing Village

cdm.tokugawa.1-0216610.0000full

In the late Edo period, Yokohama played a major role in Japan’s foreign trade, but before becoming a leading port, Yokohama was once a small fishing village. Until Commodore Matthew C. Perry and his fleet of U.S. naval warships visited Yokohama near the end of the Edo period in 1854, in which, quickly turned the city into the base for foreign trade in Japan. In 1859, Yokohama became a port for foreign trade and settlement that enjoyed extraterritorial and powerful rights. Known especially for its exports of raw silk and tea, Yokohama also handled canned fish and other local products since this city now was once a fishing village.1 “Foreign trade led to the rapid growth of Yokohama, which served during the last half of the 19th century as Tokyo’s outer port.”2

The Arrival of Foreigners

Almost 160 years ago the Edo government decided to open more of Japan to Westerners such as The United States, UK, Russia, Netherlands and France. Until then Japan has been isolated since they only allowed certain type of people to trade in Nagasaki such as the Dutch and Chinese. Yokohama was a small fishing village, and the history of Yokohama as a metropolis began with the opening of the port in 1859. The seaport was the result of a treaty between Japan and the United States, together with a number of other European countries.3 There was a need for a new port, but between Japan and the US, it was almost impossible to reach agreement as to where it was to be located.4 The USA and other allies wanted to settle in Kanagawa (an area directly south of Edo), but the Shogunate (also known as the office of chief military commanders) decided otherwise. Therefore, they chose Yokohama to become the new port. However the real motive behind this decision was the Shogunate’s fear of how the foreigners’ disruption might arise in Japan, since there were foreigners already living in the Kanagawa’s area.5 “Another reason for opening the port in Yokohama was its topography, which has consisted of hills and the bay of Tokyo. This topography had the same advantages in isolating the foreign community as that of Nagasaki.”6 The new port was constructed at a steady pace, and as the villagers of Yokohama were moved to another area, foreign “custom houses, two harbours, and a checkpoint for trading goods were constructed.”7

cdm.tokugawa.1-0227942.0000full

So the big question here is why did Commodore Matthew C. Perry, or to be more broad; Europeans, go to Yokohama and turned the city into a trade harbor? One of the most common reasons was to bring back items, which worth a lot in the Western countries which meant money and wealth. Asia was still a newly market country that could bring wealth to the Western countries, and in the Edo period, Edo (currently known as Tokyo) was the biggest city in the world, and in order to reach and trade with Edo, Yokohama was the place to do that since the city had the biggest port, closest to Edo. Additionally, the availability to trade with Yokohama carried a great amount of Southeastern products. For Japanese, traveling to the Southeastern part of Asia was not difficult, but for the Europeans, such as the Dutch had a difficult time since the direction to go to Southeast Asia was difficult for them, the easiest way to trade for Southeastern products was through, Japan.8

When Commodore Matthew C. Perry arrived to Yokohama, supposedly the message he brought to Japan’s leaders also looked forward for a mutually beneficial trade relations. Commodore_Matthew_Calbraith_PerryOn the surface, Perry’s demands seemed relatively modest,9 but truthfully, the trade treaty was unfair and made the European unwelcome for this business. However, since the government of Japan was frightened by the power of the US military, hence the Japanese government gave in to almost all of Perry’s demands to this negotiating treaty. Even though the Japanese government grant these foreigners to settle in and allowed their trading businesses, the Japanese government still had a bit of control of this port because “first, the treaty was a negotiated, not a treaty of defeat, and thus had no coercive elements; second, the shogunate had planned the construction of the foreign settlement and thus had a strong say in its running; third, the shogunate even in the later negotiations never relented about Yokohama; and fourth, the foreigners did not have the monetary recourses to construct a settlement by themselves.”10 Therefore, the Japanese still had power to this port.

“For Americans, Perry’s expedition to Japan was but one momentous step in a seemingly inexorable westward expansion that ultimately spilled across the Pacific to embrace the exotic East. But for the Japanese, on the other hand, the intrusion of Perry’s warships was traumatic, confounding, fascinating, and ultimately devastating.11
As the foreign settlement and trade began in Yokohama, the Americans enter into the Japanese trading industry and other foreigners quickly followed after. Due to the rush of foreigners, foreign influences and experiences flooded Japan heavily mixing the Japanese and Western culture.12 One example that the Europeans brought over on their 06_030a_Dejimatrading ships would be Christian missionaries. Widely known to the Japanese as the “southern barbarians” since they arrived from the south and welcomed themselves to a place that a religion has already been established a long time ago, these foreigners intruding into Japan established a particularly strong presence in and around port cities, thus the unwelcome mix of foreign influences.13

The Trading Ports: Yokohama vs. Nagazaki

Compared to other lesser well known Japanese ports, foreign merchants preferred Yokohama because the city had excellent deep water ports, therefore making the city the largest trading port in Japan because it was close to the capital, Edo, and because it was blessed with warm and clement weather.

“Since the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Tokugawa shogunate pursued a policy of isolating the country from outside influences. Foreign trade was maintained only with the Dutch and the Chinese and was conducted exclusively at Nagasaki under a strict government monopoly.”14 But since the arrival of Commodore Matthew C. Perry made the opening of Yokohama port easier for Westerns trade closer to Edo. Nagasaki contrary was at the very end of Japan, which made it difficult to communicate with the shogunate in Edo.

Past vs. Present

As the number of Western foreign ships docking at The Yokohama port, Britain ships carried more than 50 percent of the trade, although in terms of value, the Japanese export trade exceeded the import trade. The main Japanese export item was silk, and the second item was tea. Silk and tea combined comprised 90 per cent of the export trade.15

NauticalChart_Yokohama_1874

(Port of Yokohama in the Past)

yokohama-bay-areamain

(Present day Port of Yokohama)

Presently, Yokohama Port no longer exports only silk and tea, but is composed of ten major piers. Some of the piers such as the Honmoku Pier, is the port’s core facility, Osanbashi Pier handles passenger traffic, such as cruises, and has customs, immigration and quarantine facilities for international travel, Detamachi Pier receives fresh fruits and vegetables, and seven berths of Mizuho Pier are used by the United States Forces Japan, and additional piers handle timber and serve other functions.16 Over the evolving years of the Yokohama port, the port has expanded worldwide trading from importing and exporting.

 

Work Cited

[1] “Yokohama,” The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., last modified March 26, 2017, accessed March 22, 2017, http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/yokohama.

[2] “Yokohama,” The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., last modified March 26, 2017, accessed March 22, 2017, http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/yokohama.

[3] Arie Graafland, The Socius of Architecture: Amsterdam, Tokyo, New York (Netherlands: Rotterdam, 2000), 163.

[4] Arie Graafland, The Socius of Architecture: Amsterdam, Tokyo, New York (Netherlands: Rotterdam, 2000), 163.

[5] Arie Graafland, The Socius of Architecture: Amsterdam, Tokyo, New York (Netherlands: Rotterdam, 2000), 163.

[6] Arie Graafland, The Socius of Architecture: Amsterdam, Tokyo, New York (Netherlands: Rotterdam, 2000), 163.

[7] Arie Graafland, The Socius of Architecture: Amsterdam, Tokyo, New York (Netherlands: Rotterdam, 2000), 163.

[8] “100 Year Japan – The Netherlands,” Paulus Swaen, last modified June 14, 2010, accessed March 22, 2017, http://www.swaen.com/japanNED.php

[9] “Matthew C. Perry.” Wikipedia. Last modified March 21, 2017. Accessed March 22, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_C._Perry.

[10] Ian Nish and Yoichi Kibata, The History of Anglo-Japanese Relations, 1600-2000: Volume I: The Political-Diplomatic Dimension, 1600-1930. (New York: Springer, 2000), 45

[11] “Black Ships & Samurai: Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan (1853-1854).” Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Last modified July 2003. Accessed Match 22, 2017. https://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870/21f/21f.027/black_ships_and_samurai/bss_essay01. html.

[12] “Black Ships & Samurai: Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan (1853-1854).” Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Last modified July 2003. Accessed Match 22, 2017. https://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870/21f/21f.027/black_ships_and_samurai/bss_essay01. html.

[13] “Black Ships & Samurai: Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan (1853-1854).” Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Last modified July 2003. Accessed Match 22, 2017. https://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870/21f/21f.027/black_ships_and_samurai/bss_essay01. html.

[14] “Convention of Kanagawa.” Wikipedia. Last modified February 08, 2017. Accessed March 22, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_of_Kanagawa.

[15] Ian Nish and Yoichi Kibata, The History of Anglo-Japanese Relations, 1600-2000: Volume I: The Political-Diplomatic Dimension, 1600-1930. (New York: Springer, 2000), 45

[16] “Port of Yokohama,” Wikipedia, last modified November 15, 2016, accessed March 22, 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_of_Yokohama.

 

Contributor: Kellie
April 4, 2017

Advertisements