Yokohama, Japan, the nation's second largest city and the capital of Kanagawa prefecture. It lies on Tokyo Bay in eastern Honshu, separated from Tokyo by the city of Kawasaki. Together the three cities form a vast urban and industrial belt, known as Keihin, which contains roughly a tenth of Japan's population.
Sometimes called the "Gateway to Japan," Yokohama is one of Japan's principal ports and is the nation's chief terminal for passenger ships. Industries in the city produce such varied products as iron and steel, ships, automobiles, machinery, chemicals, petroleum products, and foods. Yokohama is linked with Tokyo by expressways and commuter railways and has regular rail service to other major cities. A subway serves the city.
The dominance of trade and industry in Yokohama is reflected by the piers, factories, and warehouses that line much of the waterfront. Government buildings, banks, offices, hotels, and major stores are concentrated in the downtown area adjacent to the piers and general cargo terminals.
Many parks and gardens provide tranquil refuges from the bustle of economic activities. The largest is 47-acre (19-hectare) Sankeien Garden, which contains a 500-year-old pagoda and other historic structures on its landscaped grounds. Yokohama has several universities, chief of which is Yokohama National University. There are museums of natural history, arts, and archeology and a library of rare books that date from the 13th century.
Yokohama was a small fishing village in 1854, when Commodore Matthew C. Perry, a United States naval officer, opened Japan to foreign trade. A few years later a foreign settlement and trading port was established on the site. Thereafter the community grew rapidly, becoming the chief center of the Japanese silk trade. In 1872 it was linked with Tokyo by Japan's first railway. An earthquake and fire virtually destroyed Yokohama in 1923. It was quickly rebuilt, only to be leveled again by Allied bombings during World War II. Postwar recovery was at first slow, but Yokohama soon recovered its former prominence and became one of the fastest-growing cities in Japan.