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Yokohama

Yokohama (yōˌkōhäˈmä) [key], city (1990 pop. 3,220,331), capital of Kanagawa prefecture, SE Honshu, Japan, on the western shore of Tokyo Bay. Japan's second largest city and one of its leading seaports, Yokohama belongs to the extensive urban-industrial belt around Tokyo called the Keihin Industrial Zone. Among its industries are steel mills, oil refineries, chemical plants, and factories that produce transportation equipment, electrical apparatus, automobiles, machinery, primary metals, ships, and textiles. The city also has advanced technology industries and venture businesses. Yokohama has excellent transportation links with most major Japanese cities. In 1854, U.S. Commodore Matthew C. Perry visited Yokohama, which was then a small fishing village. In 1859 it became a port for foreign trade and the site of a foreign settlement that enjoyed extraterritorial rights. Known especially for its exports of raw silk, Yokohama also handled canned fish and other local products. Foreign trade led to the rapid growth of Yokohama, which served during the last half of the 19th cent. as Tokyo's outer port. The capital has since expanded the facilities and operations of its own port, but Yokohama is still important in the export of machinery, iron, and steel and in the import of raw materials for the region. Japan's first railroad linked Yokohama with Tokyo in 1872. Yokohama formally became a city in 1889. Extraterritoriality was abolished in 1899. Virtually destroyed by an earthquake and fires in 1923, Yokohama was quickly rebuilt; the city was modernized, and extensive improvements were made in its harbor. Yokohama suffered heavy bombardment during World War II, but it revived and prospered. The filling in of shallow areas of the bay for port facilities and industrial use has continued. The city has four universities; a variety of Christian churches, Shinto shrines, and temples; and numerous parks and gardens, notably Nogeyama Park, which was created after the earthquake. It is the site of Kanazawa Library, founded in 1275, which houses a large collection of historical documents.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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