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Enjoy the history and mystery of Yokohama at the renewed Yokohama Tram Museum!

Did you know there were trams in Yokohama back in the day?

It was introduced in Meiji 37 as Yokohama was being developed. Since then the Yokohama tram has gone through the Kanto Earthquake, the 2nd World War, and the rapid growing economy after the war.
It was discontinued in Showa 47 due to increased traffic. The trains are now stored at the “Yokohama Tram Museum” in Isogo-ku, Yokohama.

The Yokohama Tram Museum was renewed and reopened on January 28th.

The history of the Yokohama tram dating back to Meiji, Taisho, to Showa is the history of Yokohama city itself.
On the first day after the renovation, the museum held a panel exhibition featuring a map-based riddle about various mysteries of Yokohama’s history and a talk show.

Today, I bring to you a review of the renovated Yokohama Tram Museum and the event, “Solve the mystery of Yokohama with a map”.


Photo&Text:Rumiko Ozeki

Isogo-ku/Takigashira, where Yokohama Tram Museum is located, is found along the Horiwari River, which is on the way to the Isogo from Kannai, Yokohama on Route 16.

The land was previously used as the Takigashira train factory for the Yokohama tram. Currently, it is the Takigashira headquarters for Yokohama municipal bus. Next to it is municipal housing and the Tram Museum is located on the 1st floor. It’s quite rare to find a museum with an apartment on top.

What can I find at Yokohama Tram Museum?

Currently, there are 7 trains stored at the museum. You can go inside, sit on the conductor’s seat, feel the wooden handles, and enjoy the nostalgic atmosphere.。

Children love to sit on the conductor’s seat to pretend they’re driving the train! Children love to sit on the conductor’s seat to pretend they’re driving the train!

This cream colored train with blue stripes appeared in “Kokurikosakakara” (Studio Ghibli 2011), a movie about Yokohama in 1963.

市電の古い車両はクラシックな内装

The old tram trains have a classic interior. It has a great atmosphere that would make a great bar if renovated.

比較的新しい車両の内装

Here are the interiors of relatively new trains. The floors are made of wood but the interior in general is similar to the trains and buses we have today. This is nostalgic enough, but when you compare them the old trains seem more sophisticated.

Trains aren’t the only things you’ll find.。 There are repaired train georamas gage and 0 Gage. On the N gage you will find new trains running on the tracks.

鉄道ジオラマ

And if you’re a fan of train models, you will love the “Yoshimura Collection” exhibit featuring train models (0 gage) created by the late train model collector, Sakae Yoshimura. It took him 40 years to collect everything and complete the model.

吉村コレクション

The exhibition case got renewed so it is much easier to see now.

The most popular section for the children on this day was the “Tram simulator”.
Here you can become a conductor of Yokohama city in Showa 40 using a CG simulator.

It was strange watching children born in the 21st century driving discontinued trams in Yokohama city 50 years ago, but they really seemed to enjoy it.

夢中になってスティックを握る姿

The cityscape with the tram ~ The history of the tram is the history of Yokohama

For 70 years since its establishment in 1904 (Meiji 37), the Yokohama Tram covered a quite large area during its peak including Yokohama station, Sakuragicho, Kannai, Isezakicho, Honmoku, Sugita, Hinodecho, Hodobaya, Asamashita, Rokukakubashi, and more.

電車運転系統図

Just look at how complicated the route map is! Even if you were familiar, you might miss a stop if you don’t pay attention!

電気局運転手免許之証

The photo on the left shows old measuring equipment like pressure gauges. On the right is the “Tram conductor license” from Taisho era. The license was printed on a wooden board!

女性車掌さんの当時の制服

The picture on the left shows the uniform of a female conductor. It’s quite modern. The picture on the right shows the anniversary ticket for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

As we’ve seen so far, here at the Tram Museum you can see trains, as well as other valuable assets like equipment, station signs and posters, and anniversary tickets. And during this renovation, they added a new “History exhibition section”.

横浜の発展と都市交通のあゆみ

Entitled the development of Yokohama and the passage of metropolitan urban transportation, the panel exhibition uses pictures and maps to show the history of Yokohama such as the “Opening of Tokaido and Yokohama” from “Tram to subways”.

Yokohama was an isolated village during the Edo era, but over time, the port opened, civilization thrived, the shores turned into land, a line that connected Yokohama with Shinbashi opened, then came the trams.

The landscape photograph of Yokohama with the tram is the memory of Yokohama itself. You can feel the nostalgic “time” and “space” when Yokohama and trams coexisted.

※こちらの写真は「しでんの学校」さま提供のパネルを撮影したものです
※こちらの写真は「しでんの学校」さま提供のパネルを撮影したものです ※This is a picture of the panels provided by “Shidennogakko (Tram school)”.

At the panel exhibition featuring side-by-side photos of Yokohama during the tram era and today, hosted by a group of citizens called “Shidennogakko (Tram school)” that introduces Yokohama during the tram era through old pictures of the city, there were many elders staring at the pictures enjoying the nostalgia.
The building in the middle of Chojamachi district 5 from the past shown above was the building before Odeon in Isezakicho (Currently Don Quijote).

The old Yokohama seems calm since it does not have as many tall buildings, but today it is elegant full of energy. However, it was interesting how both eras had multiple “lines” crossing each other in the sky, the tram line from the old days and the electric lines from today.

被災した横浜市電

During the tram era, Yokohama was struck twice, once by the Kanto Earthquake and the other by the air raid from World War 2.

Initially, Yokohama station was located where Sakuragicho station is today. The second one was located near the old Takashimacho station on the Toyoko line. It was a magnificent brick building, but it was burned down just after 8 years by the Kanto Earthquake. The current Yokohama station is the 3rd generation.

The tram took a toll during these disasters, losing trains from fires and so on, but after the war, it expanded its lines as the city started to get back on its feet. It played a critical role for citizens. However, during the middle of Showa 30, traffic due to increased number of cars became a problem. The tram passed on its role to city buses and subways and disappeared.

About the opening event, “Solve the mystery of Yokohama with a map”

The museum hosted a panel exhibition & talk show entitled “Solve the mystery of Yokohama with a map” to celebrate its reopening.

嶋田昌子さんは、NHKの人気テレビ番組ブラタモリにご出演されたことも! Masako Shimada once appeared in Buratamori, a popular show on NHK!

Narrated by Masako Shimada from the City Guide Committee of Yokohama, the event featured Yoko Yamazaki, author with many mystery titles based in Yokohama, Isao Tsunakawa from Urban Design of Yokohama, and the members of the Yokohama Map Exhibition Committee, talking about the various histories and mysteries of Yokohama using a map.

As mentioned in the history of the tram, Yokohama has gone through multiple disasters and reconstruction. And you can find traces of it in subtle cityscapes or old maps and pictures.
Behind the giant elegant city lies a history of hardship.

Alright, let’s take a look at the mystery behind the history of Yokohama shall we?

Below are the names of the investigators from the Yokohama Map Exhibition Committee who discovered this mystery and solved it with their curiosity and inquisitive mind.

1. Why is Kannnai called Kannnai? (Noriko Takamura)
2. Are there hills in Kannnai? (Joji Yamagishi)
3. Why is Chinatown slanted? (Yoko Yamazak)
4. Opening of Yokohama port, the historical path and the “Rokudo-no Tsuji” (Isao Tsunakawa)
5. The surprisingly large number of hotels from the concession era (Masako Shimada)
6. Yokohama station that disappeared in just 8 years (Noriko Takamura)
7. The cityscape with beautiful curves (Yuichi Tane)
8. Station named after beer? (Joji Yamagishi)
9. Tram that ran through Kannnai (Tsutomu Ishiguro)
10. Freighter that blocked the national road (Shinji Yazaki)

All of them were things that made you say “Ah, come to think of it!” or “This used to be there?” if you live in Yokohama or knew the city.

I cannot cover all 10, so I will introduce one of them here.

As mentioned in the mystery of the Chinatown, you will notice on the map that the district is somehow slanted while all the surrounding areas consist of perpendicular roads that look like bedrocks.

Many times people say that “The Chinese built this area, so they designed it based on feng shui”.

But this is not the case!

山崎洋子さん。江戸川乱歩賞作「花園の迷宮」を始め多くのミステリーを執筆されています。 Yoko Yamazaki has written many mysteries including “Hanazono no Meikyu”, which won the Edogawa Rampo Prize.

Author Yoko Yamazaki explained this mystery by thoroughly covering the history of Chinatown from the beginning.

When the port of Yokohama opened and many westerners came in, there was a problem. They couldn’t understand their language. That’s when the Chinese, who understood their language, came into help. Japan and China had a common language tool, “Kanji”. The Chinese acted as translators and helped them with trade negotiations and other matters.

The Chinese people who gained wealth and work in Yokohama built their own community. This was the beginning of Chinatown.

中華街はなぜ斜めなのか?

Looking at the landscape of Yokohama on an old map, you will notice that it looked like a creek at the time and the current location of Chinatown used to be a rice field, which meant that the land was reclaimed.

Chinatown was built on these rice fields, which faced the ocean, leaving the side roads. Then the creek ocean area got filled too and the land got rearranged.

So it turns out that the zoning of Chinatown was built first in the first place and it now seems to be slanted as a result.

I see!

The panels of mysteries uncovered in this event will be available until February 12th at the Yokohama Tram Museum.

A cute nostalgic tram, tram simulator children love, train models and georamas that will make fans go crazy, and the numerous then-and-now pictures of Yokohama city comparing the tram era and today.

Yokohama Tram Museum is a great enjoyable spot for both adults and children. Check it out!

Walk a little bit from the museum and you can visit the Negishi Shinrin Park and the Sankeien Garden too, where you can enjoy the plum trees during this season.

Also, most bus routes you would take to get to the nearest station from here run on top of the old tram routes. Look out the window and remember the old cityscapes of Yokohama. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the ride.

横浜市電保存館

Yokohama Tram Museum

Address: 3-1-53 Takigashira Isogo-ku, Yokohama-shi,〒235-0012
Tel: 045-754-8505
Open: 9:30~17:00
Entrance fee: Adult (High school or older): \300 / 3 years old ~ junior high: \100

Special pricing

  • ・65 or older: \200 Please show the Hamatomo card or the elder commuter’s pass.
  • ・Visitors using the city bus with an IC card or one-day pass for the city bus
  • ・(High school or older): \200 / 3 years old ~ junior high: \50
  • ・※You cannot pay with an IC card
  • ・Group discount(Party of 20 or more)
  • ・(High school or older):\200 / 3 years old ~ junior high \50
  • ・Guests with handicapped person’s passbook enters for free, along with 1 guest

Closed: Every Monday (Next day if it’s a holiday), New years season (December 29th ~ January 3rd), ※Open on Mondays during spring/summer/winter break season.

Access: The closest bus station is “Shidenhozonkanmae” and “Takigashira”.

  • ・7 minutes on the city bus #113 bound for Isogo station/#156 bound for Takigashira from Yoshinocho station. 3-minute walk from “Takigashira”.
  • ・10 minutes on the city bus #68 bound from Takigashira/#102 bound for Takigashira from Bandoubashi station. 3-minute walk from “Takigashira”.
  • ・7 minutes on the city bus #21 bound for Shidenhozonkan/#78 bound for Isogo station/#133 bound for Kamioooka station from JR Negishi station. Museum is right next to the “Shidenhozonkanmae” stop.
  • ・20 minutes on the city bus #133 bound for Negishi station from Kamioooka station. Museum is right next to the “Shindenhozonkanmae” stop.
  • ・30 minutes on the Keikyu bus #110/City bus #102 from East exit of Yokohama station. Get off at “Takigashira” and the museum is 3 minutes away on foot.

Parking: 16 free parking (free) ※Parking sometimes fills up on holidays. Please use public transportation as much as possible.

--------------------------

Shidennogakko (Tram school) website Shiden-chan Yokohama project Shidennogakko – Shidenchan Yokohama project
Here you will find numerous nostalgic pictures of Yokohama and the tram running around the city.

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