• Japan In Focus

Yokohama’s Trim Brick Jyuban-Kan, with Cafe and Bar, Exudes Old Port Charm

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Bashamichi Jyuban-Kan

After Yokohama opened to foreign ships in 1859, the city’s Bashamichi area took off. Nowadays, if you wander some of the area’s backstreets, you might chance upon a stately red-brick building. In front stands a gas streetlight and a wooden phone booth. An old water trough for horses and cows has also been moved to the site, amplifying the 19th-century feel.

The Bashamichi Jyuban-Kan opened in 1970 amid the bustle of Japan’s rapid economic growth. The building houses a cafe on the first floor, a bar on the second and a French restaurant on the third. Banquet rooms on the fourth and fifth floors are often used for wedding receptions.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The bar on the second floor

The building, constructed in a Western style, is said to reflect the architecture in vogue after the port opened up to the world.

The wooden double doors in front lead into the cafe, decorated in classic style, with stained-glass windows in red, yellow and blue. Although it was my first time to visit, the room felt nostalgic.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The cafe at the Bashamichi Jyuban-Kan features stained-glass windows.

Other attractive pieces include glassware inside a showcase and a painting depicting Yokohama in the late 19th century, which hangs beside a staircase with a red carpet. I heard the stairs are often used for wedding photos.

It is said that the Bashamichi area was bustling with the atmosphere of the rapid economic growth period of the mid-20th century. Then the building, which included a cafe and restaurant, was built and became popular with men and women of all ages. Half a century has passed since then.

Hatsuho Honda, 56, president of Yokohama Jyuban-Kan, which manages the building, said they have customers who come back regularly for their timeless shortcake, as well as their other delicacies. There are also families who have had multiple generations hold their wedding receptions at the Jyuban-Kan. Some have visited with their parents when little and came back years later, grown up and in company of their special someone.

“I feel like doing whatever it takes to keep this place running when I think of all the memories people have here,” Honda said.

A tall grandfather clock looks out on visitors to the Jyuban-Kan — those sipping coffee by themselves, others chatting away. The clock no longer works, but its face still watches the town as time ticks by.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A large grandfather clock at the Bashamichi Jyuban-Kan

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The Yomiuri Shimbun

Bashamichi Jyuban-Kan

Address: 5-67 Tokiwacho, Naka Ward, Yokohama

Access: A 1-minute walk from Kannai Station on the Yokohama Municipal Subway’s Blue Line