Yokohama Port Museum and the Training Ship Nippon Maru Learn all about the Port of Yokohama
Yokohama and its port have an inseparable relationship
Most people immediately associate the words of “harbor” and “ocean” with Yokohama. The “Yokohama Port Museum” and the “Training Ship Nippon Maru” are two facilities that symbolize this, located in the Nippon Maru Memorial Park in the Minato Mirai 21 district.
The Yokohama Port Museum is themed around the Port of Yokohama, which is an international trading port. In April 2009, the Yokohama Maritime Museum was fully renovated and reborn as the Yokohama Port Museum, as a commemorative project for the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Port of Yokohama. With the main theme of “the Port of Yokohama within history and daily life”, it consists of exhibits that convey the port’s 150 years of history, its structure and its role.
The facility is a two-storey building composed of a basement floor and a first floor. The first floor contains a general information guide, a shop and a café, and the exhibits are on the basement floor. There are two exhibition rooms, one permanent and one for special exhibitions, and the permanent exhibition room is divided into two zones.
One of these is the “Port of Yokohama History Zone”, which conveys the 150-year history of the port, split into seven time periods. These include the era of Yokohama village and the reclaimed land called “Yoshida Shinden” before the port opened; the arrival of Commodore Perry’s Black Ships from the U.S.; the construction of Osanbashi Pier; the golden age of passenger ships in the prewar period; the first arrival of container ships; and the present age of advancing international competitive power.
The steel screw pile foundation (the real thing!) that supported Osanbashi Pier from the ocean floor for around 100 years after the founding of the port in 1894 is on display, as well as models of the passenger-cargo ship the Argentina Maru and the oil tanker the Tokyo Maru.
Furthermore, in the “Port of Yokohama Rediscovery Zone” the structure and role of the Port of Yokohama are introduced in sections such as “About the Port”, “Port Construction”, “Marine Transport”, “Harbor Transportation”, “Shipbuilding & Ship Repair” and “Living & Environment”. You can learn about the port’s structure by touching the screen of a large-scale multi-touch movie, and exhibits include a model of the Minami Honmoku Pier MC-3 Container Terminal. When you look closely at the harbor transportation models, you can see that the port equipment and layout differs according to the type of cargo being transported. This has been planned in order to speed up the conveyance of large volumes of goods, even incrementally. The intelligence and hard work of the people involved with the port is quite clear.
In the “Living & Environment” area, there is a reproduction of the kitchen of a family living close to the port. With this, you can learn about the relationship between the port and our daily lives. For example, if you look at the back of the breakfast plate, you can find out the Japanese agricultural self-sufficiency rate. Usually, most of the food that Japanese people eat is imported, because the national agricultural self-sufficiency rate is only 39%. Although it’s not possible to raise the proportion of domestic produce straight away, this at least makes me think about being careful not to waste food.
Additionally, in the center of this zone is a ship operation simulator. Using this authentic simulator you can maneuver a ship inside a realistic visual recreation of the Port of Yokohama, and it allows selection of variables like route, weather and time.
The CG graphics on the screen are quite realistic - when I chose to operate the “bad weather version”, I began to feel a little bit nauseous. Be careful not to get seasick(!?). If you skillfully reach the goal within the time limit, you can get a certificate from the staff. The simulation has a step platform provided, so young children can use it too.
Listen to the sailors’ tales
The other attraction, the sailing ship Nippon Maru, was built in 1930 as a nautical training ship. She served to educate 11,500 cadets for 54 years until her retirement in 1984, and during this time sailed a total of 1,830,000km. This is equivalent to sailing around the world an amazing 45.4 times! In 1984 she became the property of the City of Yokohama, and from 1985 onwards has been open to the public.
The Nippon Maru is decked out in full sail around 12 times a year. In addition, a marine education class aimed at youngsters is held. The full sail display is quite impressive; the beautiful sight of the billowing sails has led the ship to be called the “Swan of the Pacific”. This takes place around once a month, so you can check it on the website and go along to look (cancelled in stormy weather conditions). Furthermore, the stone-built dock at which the Nippon Maru is moored for preservation is the No. 1 Dock of the Former Yokohama Dock Company, a nationally designated Important Cultural Property. This should be checked out too!