Historic residences in Yamate, Yokohama

(Posted on November 8, 2023)

One of the popular tourist destinations in Yokohama is Yamate, formally

the Bluff, which is close to the sea port. Yamate has been an exclusive residential area. You can visit Harbor View Park, churches, schools, the foreign general cemetery and historic residences there. Yokohama is now the second largest city with a population of more than three million but was only a small fishing village until the mid-19th Century, when Japan opened its doors to the foreign countries after nearly three centuries of a closed-door policy. Let’s see how Yamate has grown.


The 1854 treaty with the US heralded a number of agreements with the great powers. As a result, Yokohama was designated as one of the ports to carry out trade with foreign countries. What goods were traded then? From Japan they were mostly raw silk, tea, marine products so on; imported goods were cotton, woolen fabrics among many others. With the burgeoning trade, consulates, residences for foreign merchants were set up together with hotels, hospitals, churches, schools, parks, shops, a theater, tennis courts, and even a brewery in a specific area of Yamate. So, Yokohama has flourished through the port. I would like to show you two historical residences: who lived there and how did they fare? 


First comes Berrick Hall, which was designed in 1930 by an American architect J.H. Morgan as the residence of British trader Bertram Robert Berrick. Before we go on, let me remind you that most western buildings from the early days had been destroyed by the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. So, what remains now are relatively new.


Berrick was born in London in 1878. He came to Japan at the age of 20 to join his father and brother’s company, Berrick Brothers, later renamed as Berrick Co. Ltd. (1868-1938). The company exported Japanese paper, silk products, Japanese lacquerware and so on. Goods imported were paper, woolen products, medicine and more. Berrick’s stint included being the Honorable Consul General of Finland. Before the start of the Second World War, Berrick migrated to Vancouver, Canada with his family. He died there.    

Then comes Erisman Residence, which stands very close to Berrick Hall. 

                                                                 One of the rooms was decorated for                                                                     Halloween. 

The residence of Swiss-born Fritz Erisman (1867-1940) was built between

1925 and1926; the architect was Antonin Raymond, a Czech. Erisman was

the Yokohama manager of the raw silk trading company, Siefel Hegner & Co,

He died in 1940 in Yokohama and was buried at the foreign general cemetery.


Both residences mentioned are owned by Yokohama city and are open to the

public free of charge. 




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