Prologue to a series: My new project for the next six months will be branding this site and making it a resource for travelers and researchers on Japan. Firstly, the internet is flooded with information on life over here. Many of the sites/blogs explore the dynamics between foreigner and native from a linguistic and cultural stand point.
When you first visit Japan, one of the things you'll notice is how well the Japanese blend Western architecture into their urban landscapes. There's the modern skyscraper, the Tokyo Government Office - Japan's twin towers. Here in Yokohama there's Yamate and here's where you'll see the reminents of the British expat community. I usually just pass through these areas because I'm not interested, but for some others who do decide to visit Yokohama, and are looking for something a little more familiar then by all means you may like what you see here.
One place I'd like to recommend is called Enokitei, a homemade pie & cake shop neatly disguised as a two story early 19th Century style house. Very well preserved actually. I discovered this little place while waiting to see my doctor; his office is next door.
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On a clear day you can really take in the views around the whole area. The pictures I took were uploaded into Foursquare, so if you want you can have a look there.
Now, the reason for me posting this is because if you visit Yokohama, and have a true interest in the development of the area, and its history, then you have to also understand the contributions the foreign community has made to the area, no other place in Japan, to my knowledge, has such a deep influence. When you're sitting the Enokitei you can feel the environment and how it used to be and what it may have been like over a hundred years ago. But we're not just talking about any foreigners, but those who were the very best at their respective professions. In Japanese they were called oyatoi-gaikokujin, a sort of hired professional during the Meiji Era.
These industry and academic professionals were hired by the government to train Japanese in order to speed up the modernization of Japan. Yamate Bluff, as it's called, is home for these foreign professionals. I think there were upwards to about 800 recruited back then. What they left behind were schools, churches, and cafes. There's even a foreign cemetery.
The furniture, the tables, the fire place all in their original form can be enjoyed with you enjoying your tea and cafe from them.