Yokohama Museums

Osaka Castle
Osaka Dome
Osaka Grand Cube
Universal Studios Japan
Hiroshima Peace Memorial
Shukkeien Garden
Golden Pavilion
Heian Shrine
Kasuga Taisha
Toji Temple
Nishi Hongwanji
Toshogu Shrine
Irohazaka Drive
Meiji Shrine
Asakusa Kannon
Girl with Red Shoes On
Hikawa Maru
Marine Rouge Cruise
Kaiko Promenade
Yokohama Museums

The museums we visited in Yokohama included the Yokohama Archives of History, the Yokohama Doll Museum, and the Yokohama Silk Museum. Information on the Hikawa Maru luxury liner museum is on a separate page.

Yokohama Archives of History

According to its Web site, The Yokohama Archives of History were established on June 2, 1981, at the historic site where Japan and the U.S. signed the Treaty of Kanagawa in 1854. The purposes of the Archives are to preserve and exhibit to the public historical materials from the Edo period to the Taisho-Showa era, and to facilitate understanding across generations and interaction among citizens. A visit to the Archives provides a unique opportunity to know Yokohama's role as a junction of world and Japanese history.

Although the museum’s building plan shows several exhibition halls, I remember only two of them. Although we must surely also have visited Exhibition Room 2 (Flourishing Yokohama: Its Early Days of Modernization”), I know that I must have seen Exhibition Room 1 (“Opening the Port of Yokohama”) because I have a photo made there; the other room I know I saw was the Special Exhibition Room, which at the time featured an exhibit on “Commodore Perry in Yokohama” in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Peace and Amity. This exhibit looked very intriguing, but the signage was entirely in Japanese, so it was difficult to figure out what we were looking at.

Needless to say, this special exhibit featured yet another reproduction of the well-known “Landing of Commodore Perry, Officers & Men of the Squadron, to meet the Imperial commissioners at Yoku-Hama March 8th 1854, a lithograph of a watercolor by William Heine, a German-born American painter who  was the official artist of the Perry expedition to Japan. Only in his mid-twenties at the time, he was adventurous and sought to make a name for himself. Over the course of the trip, he sketched and painted numerous illustrations — making the expedition the most widely illustrated American event before the Civil War. This paticular image has special significance for the museum for two reasons. One of course is that the museum building is the site where the treaty was signed. The other is that the tree at the right in the painting is believed to be the ancestor of the tabunoki tree in the Archives courtyard.

We actually spent quite a while in the museum, but there was just too much to take in all at once. Before we left the museum, we visited the gift shop, and of course among the things we had to buy were small refrigerator magnets bearing a reproduction of the famous painting.

It would be easy to find better photos of the museum, but this one is my own. Moreover, most photos show the “other side” of the building, the original consulate, whereas this entrance is to the modern C-shaped structure that has been built in front of the consulate, creating a courtyard in the center.

The tabunoki tree in the courtyard can be glimpsed through the entrance gate.

These photos show the entire new structure and its relation to the old consulate building.

Yokohama Doll Museum

This was always one of Mother’s favorite places to visit, so we went there at least in part in her memory. According to its Web site, the museum reopened on Saturday, April 22, 2006. I don’t know how long it was closed, or for what reason (presumably renovation), but it was open and in full swing when we visited. Its collections include Dolls of the World, Japanese Dolls, and Friendship Dolls. The World Dolls collection includes 5,349 dolls of every imaginable type from 140 countries. The Friendship Dolls are especially interesting, being dolls that were exchanged between Japanese and American schoolchildren in 1927. The story of these dolls was told in a 1995 article in Look Japan magazine and again in a 1997 article in American Girl.

Yokohama Silk Museum

The museum’s brochure explains its origins and purpose:

To commemorate the centennial anniversary of the opening of the Port of Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama City and businesses and industries concerned opened the Silk Center International Trade and Sightseeing Building on the site of British trading firm the Jardine Matheson & Co. (then known as English House No.1) in March 1959.

The museum is one of the buildings important activities. Our principal objectives are: to disseminate an understanding of the science and technology of silk production, display beautiful costumes for people to admire, and promote the demand for silk. It is hoped that the museum will encourage international tourism as well. We are happy to add that this museum, one of the worlds rare institutes of its kind, is very popular with both local and foreign visitors.

The museum’s first-floor exhibits began with “Silk in Our Lives,” illustrating how silk is used in food, clothing, and housing. This is followed by an explanation of how silk is produced: the mysterious life of the silkworm, the stages of its metamorphosis, the process of unreeling silk fro cocoons, the kinds of silk yarns, and the complicated procedures of weaving and dyeing silk yarns. In a display of “Silk and Clothing Around the World,” various types of silk clothing are grouped according to weaving and dyeing techniques so that their beautiful characteristics can be easily appreciated.

The second floor is devoted to displays of contemporary Japanese clothing and faithful reproductions of historical Japanese clothing. The latter were especially interesting, demonstrating the evolution of kimono fashion.

I believe that photography was prohibited in the museum; in any case I have no photos, but a few can be seen at the museum’s Web site.

The museum gift shop was strategically placed at the entrance/exit of the building, permitting shopping without paying for admission to the museum and also ensuring that museum-goers could not leave without visiting it. We browsed in the shop a good bit, and Barney bought a beautiful purple scarf for Virginia.