Yamate (山手?) is the name of a historic neighbourhood in Naka-ku, Yokohama often referred to in English as the The Bluff. The neighbourhood is famous as having been a foreigners' residential area in the Bakumatsu and Meiji periods.
When the Port of Yokohama first opened to foreign trade under the terms of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1859, the foreigner's settlement was initially confined to a low-lying area known as Kannai. As commercial activity in the Kannai settlement rapidly outgrew the available space, construction on the elevated Yamate Bluff started in 1862. Initially a residential area for the foreign diplomatic community, one of the first structures to be built on the Bluff was the residence of the British Consul-General, Sir Rutherford Alcock.
From 1863 until about 1875, both the British and French diplomatic missions stationed small troop garrisons at the crest of the hill overlooking the harbour, a location that now serves as Harbour View Park.
Over succeeding years, many senior officers of the Kannai trading companies, oyatoi gaikokujin and the diplomatic representatives of other trading nations established homes in the neighbourhood. Although many of the original foreign resident's accommodation and civic buildings were destroyed in the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, a number of older Meiji and Taisho Period properties have been preserved and relocated to this neighbourhood. Many of these buildings and their ornamental gardens have now been opened to the public and serve as popular tourist attractions.
Sightseeing and local landmarks
The area features some well-preserved residences from the Meiji and Taisho Period, as well as the campuses of Yokohama International School, Saint Maur International School and Ferris University. Additionally:
- Harbour View Park Minato no mieru oka koen (港の見える丘公園?) featuring the former British Consul's residence (1937).
- Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery established in 1859, contains graves and memorials to many prominent members of the Bakumatsu and Meiji Period foreign community.
- Anglican, Christ Church
- Catholic, Sacred Heart Cathedral
- The Ehrismann Residence (1927) designed by Antonin Raymond
- The Italian Garden Park and Diplomat's House (1910) designed by James McDonald Gardiner
- Berrick Hall (1930) designed by Jay Hill Morgan as the residence of a British trading merchant
- Yamate 111 House, Bluff 18 House, and the Yamate 234 house.
- Kirin Park adjacent to the location of William Copeland's original Spring Valley Brewery, the first beer production facility of any notable size in Japan.
The neighborhood still maintains a reputation as an exclusive residential district today, along with the Motomachi neighborhood located below it.
Yamate is served by Motomachi-Chūkagai Station, the terminus of the Minatomirai Line subway. Pedestrian access to and from the station and the historic properties on the Yamate ridge road is facilitated by elevators and escalators rising directly from the station on Motomachi Shopping Street to America-yama Park.
- "Archives". www.yokohamachristchurch.org. Yokohama Christ Church. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- D'Almeida, Anna (1863). A Lady's Visit to Manilla and Japan. London: Hurst and Blackett. p. 233.
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