With a population of about 3.4 million, Yokohama is an important city in the capital region. It lies 20 km southwest of Tokyo.
Yokohama's development began when the Tokugawa Shogunate agreed to open Japan to the outside world. Unable to resist Western pressure to permit trade with other nations, the Shogunate abandoned its closed-door policy and opened the ports of Nagasaki, Hakodate, and a small fishing village on the western shore of Tokyo Bay, Yokohama. International trade began in 1859.
This led to the establishment of a foreign quarter in Yokohama, and the introduction of Western culture and products. In 1872, a railway linked Yokohama to Shimbashi in Tokyo, and Yokohama was soon enjoying boom times as an exporter of raw silk. Some coastal areas were reclaimed to make more land, port facilities were modernized, and Yokohama became Japan's largest trading port.
The port continued to develop after World War II, and the city became the core of the Keihin Industrial Zone, where major manufacturers like Nihon Kokan, Toshiba Corp., Nissan Motor Co., and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries built factories.
Many foreign companies established offices here, attracted by the city's impressive record as an international port. For years, people from other countries have found the city one of the best places to live in Japan, and this explains why Yokohama is closely associated with the birth of soccer in Japan.
The Minato Mirai 21 District is a large area stretching from JR Sakuragi-cho Station to the harbor. The tall buildings stand on land previously used for the 1989 Yokohama Exposition.