pronounced yoh kuh HAH muh (pop. 3,220,331), is a Japanese port and a major center of
commerce and industry. Among the cities of Japan, only Tokyo has more people. Yokohama
lies about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Tokyo, on the island of Honshu. Yokohama is
the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture. A prefecture is a political unit in Japan.
Yokohama covers 163 square miles (421 square kilometers) on the western shore of Tokyo Bay
and on the slopes of the surrounding hills. Downtown Yokohama occupies a triangular plain.
The plain is bordered by narrow streams on two sides and by the bay on the third side.
Residential areas of the city lie among the hills.
Yokohama has a number of gardens, libraries, parks, and theaters. Universities in the city
include Kanagawa University, Kanto Gakuin University, Yokohama Municipal University, and
Yokohama National University.
The city faces such problems as air and water pollution and lack of space. Overcrowded
harbor conditions led to the construction of a pier that opened in 1970. The pier has
special loading and unloading machinery to speed the handling of cargo.
Yokohama is Japan's largest port in terms of cargo value. Ships leaving the city carry
many products manufactured in Tokyo and other nearby industrial regions. Rail lines link
Yokohama with such other major cities as Kobe, Osaka, and Tokyo. Shipbuilding is a major
industry in Yokohama. The city's factories also make such products as automobiles,
chemicals, electrical equipment, iron and steel, and machinery.
Until 1854, the area that is now Yokohama was little more than a seashore with a few
houses. That year, Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the U.S. Navy signed an agreement with
the Japanese opening Japan to trade with the United States. Traders from a number of
countries established offices in Yokohama in 1859. In time, Yokohama became a major
The city has twice been almost destroyed. On Sept. 1, 1923, one of the worst earthquakes
in history killed over 23,000 Yokohamans. In 1945, during World War II, U.S. bombers
dropped thousands of fire bombs on Yokohama. The city later was rebuilt a second time.
In 1973, a Yokohama law took effect that regulates new construction. It requires that no
structure be built that allows sunlight to fall on the surrounding neighborhood less than
four hours a day.