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.
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.
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.
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.
The museum’s brochure explains its origins and purpose:
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.