Two Germans Impressed by Yokohama City

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Date & Time: Wednesday, October 31, 1 – 6 pm
Spots: Yokohama Sankeien Garden, Yokohama Motomachi, Yokohama Park, Yamate Street, The Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery, Harbor View Park (Minato-no-Mieru Oka Koen) and France-Yama
Visitors: 2 Germans
Attendants: 1KSGG member
Language: German


One of the Germans came from Frankfurt, the other, who has a Japanese mother, was actually living in Belgium. They had initially wanted to go the Yokohama waterfront course, but since they could enjoy the waterfront and Chinatown on their own, we decided to tour Sankeien Garden, Motomachi, the Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery and Yamate Street instead. We met at the pillars in front of the tourist office near the south exit of Sakuragi-cho Station at 1 pm. Those pillars were illustrated with the past and present stations of Sakuragi-cho, as well as a portrait of railway engineer Morel. I explained them of the birthplace of the country’s railroad system (between Shimbashi and Sakuragi-cho) , which they already knew. I told them about the history of Yokohama on the way to the bus stop in front of Yokohama Landmark Tower. I tried to give them some idea of how Yokohama might have been like 150 years ago by showing them an old map, as well as various of caricatures of Western and Japanese people after Perry’s landing. In Sankeien Garden, they learnt about Hara Sankei’s early life and his achievements. We managed to visit all the important cultural properties. The houses and trees complemented each other so well, the atmosphere of which made them feel as if they were in the natural garden, not artificial one. It was the first time they had ever been to Yokohama, and they liked what they thought was a harmony between the old and the new. I pointed out the “spring water” at Motomachi-koen Park*1, Gerard’s bricks*2, and the first swimming pool*3, among other things. Though the German with Japanese heritage didn’t speak any Japanese, he seemed to have some memory of the streets of Motomachi and Yamashita. As it was Halloween, Motomachi Street was filled with small children and their mothers in fancy costume. We parted on the way to the Chinatown.

*1 Gerard, a French businessman who supplied ships with water, built the factory in the place which is Motomachi-koen Park now. It is well known by local people as the water house (Mizu-yashiki). “Motomachi spring water” refers to the water from the old Gerard factory.

*2 After the huge success of his water business, Gerard came up with a new idea in 1873. As more and more people were coming from the West with the opening up of Japan in 1868, he decided to set up a factory to supply bricks to make Western-style houses, which again proved to be a great success.

*3 The first swimming pool was built in 1930.