Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History 神奈川県立歴史博物館
Learning about the present through Kanagawa's past
Travelers passing through Yokohama looking to balance out the city's modernity with some traditional art and historical artifacts should head over to the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History. It's located right next to the Minato Mirai 21 district and is close to numerous other attractions, including Yokohama Chinatown .
- Artwork excavated from Japan's famed "kofun" ancient burial mounds
- Insights into the origins of the modern Japanese lifestyle
How to Get There
The museum is just down the street from Bashamichi Station on the Minatomirai Line.
Bashamichi is just five minutes on the subway from Yokohama Station. It is about 50 minutes from Shinjuku via the JR Shonan Line.
A history museum with a history
The building that houses the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum was constructed in 1904 as the head offices of Yokohama Specie Bank, which played a major role in facilitating trade between Japan and China.
Since 1967, the building has been educating visitors about the culture and history of Yokohama's Kanagawa Prefecture . Its atmosphere makes stepping inside feel like traveling back to the turn of the 20th century.
The building's distinctive dome was destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, but the prefectural government rebuilt this symbol of early-modern Yokohama in 1964.
Kanagawa time travel and the lay of the land
The museum's permanent exhibits on the history and culture of Kanagawa are grouped into five chronological periods.
The first part concerns the ancient people of Sagami, a part of present-day Kanagawa Prefecture. Artifacts span a period to around 1,000 years ago, including pottery, masks and other items.
High-ranking people from this period were sometimes buried in keyhole-shaped mounds called kofun. You can view a haniwa terracotta clay horse that was buried in such a tumulus.
The second section covers the medieval period when larger towns were forming in Kanagawa. This was a tumultuous time for the area as governments rose and fell. The Kamakura shogunate, which controlled Japan from 1185 to 1333, was based here in this area.
The museum gives you the chance to examine period artwork including Buddhist statues and ink paintings, as well as crafts like pottery and lacquer work. Some exhibits display daily household items excavated from Kamakura .
The fourth period you'll learn about encompasses Japan's modernization, the dramatic changes wrought by the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1867, and the end of Japan's policy of isolation from the rest of the world.
Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, newspapers, photographs, and other materials document how industrial culture flooded into Japan during this period. This was when the museum itself was built, and exhibits tell the story.
The first floor hosts special exhibits on topics such as the evolution of the city's public baths, and a free admission zone with select items from the museum's collection, along with a library, cafe and gift shop.