The Port of Yokohama is the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture on the eastern Pacific coast of Japan. Located on Tokyo Bay about 15 nautical miles southwest of the Port of Tokyo and nine nautical miles west-northwest of the Port of Kisarazu, the Port of Yokohama lies on a plain surrounded by hills and the sea. The Port of Yokohama was a small fishing community until the mid-19th Century when Japan decided to make nearby Kanagawa its major port for foreign trade and residence. In 2005, almost 3.6 million people lived in the Port of Yokohama.
In the late 20th Century, the modern Port of Yokohama was created with the merger of Yokohama and Kanagawa. Together with Kawasaki, the Port of Yokohama forms the hub of the Keihin Industrial Zone and home to ship-builders and manufacturers of chemicals, primary metals, machinery, automobiles, petroleum products, and metal goods. Other important industries include biotechnology and semi-conductors. Nissan Motor Company is planning to move its headquarters to the Port of Yokohamaby 2010. Handling raw material imports for the industrial zone and a variety of exports, the Port of Yokohama is one of the biggest ports in Japan. The city's business district is clustered around the Port of Yokohama.
In 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry and a fleet of American warships arrived just south of the Port of Yokohama with the intent of opening the country to foreign trade. Under duress, the Tokugawa Shogunate agreed, signing the Treaty of Peace and Amity and opening five Japanese ports to foreign visitors. Kanagawa was initially selected as one of the ports to be opened.
However, the Shogunate decided that Kanagawa was too close to the important route between Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. The Shogunate instead constructed port facilities across the inlet from Kanagawa at the village of Yokohama. Thus, the Port of Yokohama was opened in 1859 to both domestic and foreign traffic.
The Port of Yokohama soon became the main hub for Japan's foreign trade. An English-language newspaper was published in 1861, and foreigners began to move into the Kannai district, protected by a moat and special legal status. After the downfall of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Port of Yokohama began to trade silk, primarily with Great Britain. The same year, Kanagawa Prefecture was established with the Port of Yokohama as its capital.
The Port of Yokohama became the first entry point to Japan for foreign influences, boasting the first daily newspaper and the first gas streetlamps. In 1872, the country's first railway linked the Port of Yokohama to Tokyo, and Jules Verne made the city a stop on his famous Around the World in Eighty Days.
The Port of Yokohama's first coal-burning power plant was constructed in 1887 by British merchant Samuel Cocking. While he built it for his own use, it soon became the base for the Yokohama Cooperative Electric Light Company. The Port of Yokohama was officially incorporated in 1889, and it was Japan's most international city, hosting large "foreigner areas" and Japan's biggest Chinatown.
In 1894, the Yokohama Harbor Pier was completed. The next year, the Silk Inspection Hall was established in the Port of Yokohama. In 1896, the first section of the Port of Yokohama was completed with the end of construction of the inner breakwater and Osanbashi Pier. In 1911, the reclamation work for the Shinko Pier was finished.
The 20th Century brought rapid industrial growth to the Port of Yokohama. New factories arose on reclaimed land located between the port and Kawasaki. This eventually became the Keihin Industrial Area.
Industrial growth brought affluence and poverty to the Port of Yokohama. Newly wealthy families built mansions, and incoming migrants from Japan and Korea created Japan's largest slum, Kojiki-Yato. In 1913, the Port of Yokohama's No. 1 brick warehouse at Shinko Pier opened, and the Port Opening Memorial Hall went into operation in 1917.
In 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake destroyed much of the Port of Yokohama, killing almost 31 thousand people and injuring another 48 thousand, representing over 20% of the city's population at the time. Believing that Koreans from Kojiki-Yato had caused the earthquake by black magic, angry mobs murdered many unfortunate immigrants in the months following the quake.
Much of the Port of Yokohama was rebuilt with the rubble left by the quake, particularly the city's parks. Yamashita Park, the most famous park built upon the old city's rubble, opened in 1930. In 1933, the Takashima No. 1 Pier and the timber pool in the Port of Yokohama were completed, and the coastal industrial zone was opened in 1936.
After many years of rebuilding, the Port of Yokohama was once again destroyed by over thirty United States air raids conducted during World War II. The 1945 Great Yokohoma Air Raid killed some eight thousand people and destroyed over 40% of the city in just over one hour.
The Americans used the Port of Yokohama as a transshipment base for supplies and personnel during their occupation of Japan after World War II. It was especially valuable to the U.S. during the Korean War.
When occupation ended, most U.S. Navy activity moved to an American base in Yokosuka about 25 kilometers to the south. In 1951, the City of Yokohama became the port management authority. The first Port of Yokohama festival ("Minato Matsuri") was held in 1953, and the Port of Yokohama Promotion Association was formed. The following year, the Takashima No. 3 Pier and the Detamachi Pier were finished.
In 1956, the Japanese government designated the Port of Yokohama as a city. Five years later, the reclamation work for Daikoku-cho and the Marine Tower was completed, and the Harbor View Park was opened in 1962. In 1963, the first reclamation work in the Port of Yokohama's Negishi Bay was completed, and construction began on the Honmoku Pier.
In 1964, the Port of Yokohama's Osanbashi Passenger Terminal was completed. Not coincidentally, the Tokyo Olympics were held that year. The first loaded container ship arrived at Honmoku Pier in 1968, the same year that the Metropolitan Expressway opened.
The 1970s saw many new developments at the Port of Yokohama. In 1970, the industrial zone at the Honmoku Pier was completed. The next year, reclamation work began in front of the Kanazawa area and on the Kaikoku Pier. In 1974, the Kanazawa Timber Pier and Daikoku Ohashi were finished. Reclamation work began for Ogishima in 1976, and the reclamation projects for Kanazawa and the Port of Yokohama's Sea Park were finished in 1977. In 1978, the Port of Yokohama Marine Waste Incineration Facility opened for business, and the Honmoku Fishing Jetty opened.
Construction began on the Yokohama Bay Bridge in 1980, and the Sea Park was opened. In 1981, the Yokohama Port Development Public Corporation was established, and the Port and Harbor Bureau's computing system began operating in 1982.
In 1983, an important urban development project, the construction of the Minato Mirai 21 ("Port Future 21"), started on reclaimed land. In 1989, the Yokohama Exotic Showcase was held at Minato Mirai 21. The showcase featured the first maglev (magnetic levitation) train in Japan and the world's largest Ferris wheel (at the time), Cosmo Clock 21. The same year, the 860-meter-long Yokohama Bay Bridge was opened. In 1993, the Port of Yokohama's Landmark Tower, Japan's largest building, was opened in Minato Mirai.
In 1984, the first phase of reclamation work for the Daikoku Pier was completed. The following year, the Nippon Maru Memorial Park opened. In 1986, the Port of Yokohama Symbol Tower was finished, and construction of the Tsurumi Tsubasa Bridge began in 1987. The Marine Park's beach was opened in 1988.
In 1989, the Yokohama Exposition commemorated the 130th Anniversary of the Port of Yokohama and the 100th Anniversary of the city government. The same year, the Yokohama Bay Bridge and the Yokohama Maritime Museum were opened, and a branch office of the Port of Yokohama was opened in Taiwan.
The Port of Yokohama continued to grow in the 1990s. In 1990, the Port of Yokohama established an office in Seoul, Korea. The Daikoku Pier was finished, and the Minami Honmoku Pier was started in the same year. In 1991, the Marine Terminal was completed. In 1992, the Yokohama Air Cargo Terminal opened, and the Yokohama Port International Cargo Center Company Limited was established.
Work began on Yokohama Hakkeijima Island in 1993. That year, the Port of Yokohama processed more than 2 million TEUs of containerized cargo, and the Port of Yokohama's International Passenger Terminal was opened. In 1996, the Yokohama Port Cargo Center and the Yokohama Bayside Marina opened.
Japan's first deep-water, high-standard container terminal opened in 2001 at the Port of Yokohama's Minami Honmoku Pier. In 2002, the New Yokohama International Passenger Terminal opened for business. Japan designated the Port of Yokohama the "Super Hub Port" in 2004. In 2009, the Port of Yokohama celebrates its 150th Anniversary.