Yokohama, a capital of Kangawa prefecture, situated south of Tokyo, with its population of 3.6 million is the largest incorporated city and most populous "bedroom" city in the world. Being a small fishing village, just like Tokyo, it started to grow during Tokugawa shognate and was a place where a lot of significant accomplishments were achieved. At the end of Japan's isolation in the middle of XIX century, black ships of Commodore Perry arived south of Yokohama, demanding the opening of Japan's ports to commerce. Port buildings were built in a small fishing village Yokohama and officially it was opened in June 2nd, 1859.
After that, Yokohama became the most significant foreign access point in Japan. First English language newspaper in Japan was published there (Japan Herald), first gas-powered street lamps (in 1872), first railway (connecting Shinagawa and Shimbashi). As it happened with Tokyo, Great Kanto earthquake damaged the city, as well as bombings during WWII but nothing could stop development of the most significant port in Japan.
When I visited Yokohama for the first time two years ago, I went to Minato Mirai 21 together with my friends from USA. Building of Minato Mirai 21 (Future Port 21) started 25 years ago, in 1983. but, according to some information I have found on the Internet, about half of the area still remained unoccupied. Area is consisted with a lot of buildings (Yokohama Landmark Tower 295.8m, the tallest building in Japan, Queen's Square shopping mall, Pacifico convention center), a beautiful sail shaped hotel Intercontinental (somehow it remind me on Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai), Cosmo Clock 21, which was the largest Ferris wheel in the world when it was built in 1989. and some museums.
Free space is the most expensive thing in Japan's big cities. But even though every square meter is covered with concrete and glass and steel, you can find things like this:
I made this photo from my hotel room's terrace. If you are attentive observer, you will find such miniature parks or shrines everywhere. They are almost invisible among buildings, or rail tracks but they are here. And they present, even in a small, a connection between modern and medieval times. The next photo is made in Tsurumi, a northern ward of Yokohama:
Sōji-ji shrine is also placed in Tsurumi, just a few minutes of walk from Tsurumi station, west entrance. made around 740. in Noto peninsula, Shingen and later Soto Zen temple suffered significant damage after fire in 1898. After that a leaders of temple insisted that it has to be reconstructed somewhere near Tokyo so they can spread Soto Zen in eastern Japan. It happened in 1911. when temple started with religious services in Tsurumi.
This is Sanmon or Inner gate. It was constructed in 1969. by donations of Toyojiro Kihara. He was a big forest owner and he thought that he owes succeess in business because of his wife Yoshi. When she died in 1966. he decided to became a priest and burried her ashes in the temple`s graveyard. The gate was built in memory of his wife and is among largest of its kind in Japan.
Taisodo or Founders` Hall is among biggest buildings in temple`s area. Built in 1965. in memory of the 600th anniversary of death of the Second Chief Priest Shoseki Gazan (1275-1365). Inside, building floor is covered with 1000 tatami mats (one tatami is 90x180x5cm). Also, there are statues of Priest Keizan in the center, Priest Dogen to its left and Priest Gazan to its right.
Butsuden or Main Hall was built in 1915. (construction started in 1907.), made totally of zelkova trees, has double and semi-gabled roofs.
This is part of what was always attracting me to Japan. A country of 21st century, far beyond the rest of the world but at the same time so connected to its past. In next few posts I will go deeper in Japan`s history, especially to its warrior, samurai part. Hope you will like it 🙂
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