Taiken Japan

Western Houses on the Bluff, Yokohama

Western Houses on the Bluff, Yokohama

Alyson

The Bluff area is one of the few places in Yokohama where some older buildings survive, and it is a popular walking spot for both locals and visitors out for a stroll on weekends and holidays.

When Japan opened up to the outside world, Yokohama was one of the towns were foreigners were allowed to live, the low hills round the port becoming the favourite of Westerners. Originally an area of garrisons and parade grounds, it developed into a residential district with many fine houses, churches and schools.

Much of the earliest housing on the Bluff was destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. The houses that are there now were either built after that date or moved to the area.

The properties below have all been restored and furnished in keeping with the style of the house. In most of them several rooms are open to the public and there are information boards both about the house and about the Yamate area. Unfortunately most of this information is in Japanese, but there are many photos showing buildings and streets both before and after the Great Kanto Earthquake.

Some of the houses hold special events and displays during the year such as Christmas or Halloween.

You can pick up a “Yamate Western-style Buildings Map” at one of the properties and follow the route round all the buildings. Bluff No. 111 is closer to Motomachi-Chukagai Station, while Bluff No. 18 is nearer to Ishikawacho Station.

Bluff No. 111


Buff No.111

This house was designed by J H Morgan, who also designed Berrick Hall further along the Bluff. It was built in a Spanish style with an arched porch, red roof tiles and an internal balcony. The owner was John Edward Laffin whose father was American and mother Japanese. He built boats and was a keen member and manager of the Yokohama Yacht Club. There is a café at the rear of the building.

Bluff 111 inside

Opening times: 9.30-17.00
Closed: every second Wednesday, year-end and New Year holidays
Admission: free

Bluff No. 234


Bluff No. 234

This building was designed by Kichizo Asaka, and built in 1927 as four apartments for foreigners. Some rooms have been decorated to show how they would have been but the building is also used to explain information about Yamate area. Not much is in English.

Bluff 234 inside

Opening times: 9.30-17.00
Closed: Every fourth Wednesday year-end and New Year holidays.
Admission: free

Ehrismann Residence


Ehrismann Residence

The Ehrismann Residence was built for Fritz Ehrismann, a Swiss trader in silk, after the Great Kanto Earthquake had destroyed most of Yokohama. He employed the architect A Raymond who had already rebuilt his company office and warehouse. Raymond incorporated some Japanese elements into the architecture. The house was built in 1926 and has big windows, high ceilings and large sunroom. It was moved to its current position in 1990 from Yamate no. 127. There is a small café on the premises.

Ehrisman Residence inside

Opening times: 9.30-17.00
Closed: Every second Wednesday year-end and New Year holidays.
Admission: free
Address: 1-77-4, Motomati, Naka-ku, Yokohama, 231-0861

Berrick Hall


Berrick Hall 1

Like No 111 the Bluff, Berrick Hall was designed by J H Morgan in a Spanish style, for B R Berrick in 1930. Berrick’s company was involved with the trade of paper and silk between England and Japan. The living room is huge, more the size of a small ballroom and off to one side of it is a palm room with a fountain and wicker furniture. The Berrick family left Yokohama just before WW2 and after the war the house became a dormitory for St Joseph’s School, which was across the road.

Berrick Hall living room

Opening times: 9.30-17.00
Closed: Every second Wednesday, year-end and New Year holidays.
Admission: free
Address: 72, Yamate-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, 231-0862

Bluff No.68


Bluf No. 68

This wooden clapboard style house was built after the Great Kanto Earthquake for foreign residents. It is single storey and has an open balcony. It is used as a clubhouse for the nearby tennis courts and as a park management office. There is very little to see inside, but the house is in a pleasant setting next to Yamate Park.

Opening times: 8.00-17.00
Closed: Every third Monday year-end and New Year holidays.
Admission: free

The Home of a Diplomat


Home of a Diplomat

This wooden house is next to the Italian garden and has pleasant views from the windows on that side. It was the residence of Sadatsuchi Uchida, a diplomat in the Meiji Government, and designed by American architect J M Gardiner. The single tower makes interesting rounded rooms on each floor. There is a café at the entrance to this residence.

Home of a Diplomat inside

Opening times: 9.30-17.00
Closed: Every fourth Wednesday year-end and New Year holidays.
Admission: free
Address: 16, Yamate-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, 231-0862

Bluff No. 18


Bluff No.18

This two storey, shuttered house stands next to the Home of a Diplomat at the Italian Garden. Bluff house no. 18 was built as a residence for foreigners in Yokohama. It was used as the parish house of the Yamate Catholic Church until 1991 when it was moved to its current location and restored. Inside the white walls and pale green woodwork make it lighter and airier than some of the other Bluff houses.

Bluff No. 18 inside

Bluff No.18 living room

Opening times: 9.30-17.00
Closed: Every second Wednesday year-end and New Year holidays.
Admission: free
Address: 16, Yamate-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, 231-0862

Closest Railway Station: Ishikawacho Station: JR Keihin Tohoku Negish Line
or Motomachi-Chukagai Station: Minatomirai Line