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Yokohama Osanbashi

Last updated date:2018/9/28

Yokohama Osanbashi
International Passenger Terminal

Not too far from my place is the port of Yokohama. I should be more clear: 3 minutes on foot from my place is the port of Yokohama! I’m really close. Yet, I don’t go quite as often as you would imagine. And so I thought I would treat myself and go visit on a sunny day. The port is rather large, though, so I’ll introduce it little by little, starting with one of its more famous piers: Osanbashi.

As the title hints, it is the International Passenger Terminal in Yokohama. However, it didn’t use to look the way it does today. In 1894, Osanbashi Pier was constructed close to the 2 small docks that were originally used to welcome international vessels after the port opening. One hundred years later, in 1994, a design competition was held to revamp the structure and make it a recognized symbol of Yokohama. The winners were a team of 2 architects operating in the UK. You can learn more of its history from the official site:外部サイト).

Constructions were completed in 2002. The main characteristic is that there’s hardly a straight line in the whole structure which is meant to flow naturally like a wave. It is also known as the “Whale’s Back” because of how it looks from the sea. The deck is made from ipe, a disease and insect resistant, durable wood from Brazil. It made perfect sense to use it for a pier as its properties make it almost invulnerable to water, sea or rain, wind and waves typical of the coast. Grass has also been mixed with the wooden design in a bid to make it more visible and more attractive. Every angle and every measure has been meticulously calculated to integrate this new Osanbashi into the scenery of the Yokohama port.

Roof of the pier

Although an imposing structure allowing world class cruise ships to easily dock, it is built as not to hide the view of Bay Bridge from the Red Brick Warehouses on the shore. From the Rooftop Plaza, a wide variety of views can be appreciated. The most impressive of which is, in my opinion, the dichotomy of the Yokohama skyline: standing on the Rooftop Plaza looking toward the coast on your left, you will see what was known as Yokohama when the city first developed 152 years ago, such as the Yamashita Park area and Marine Tower. While turning your head and looking on the right shows you what comes to most people’s mind when they think of Yokohama nowadays, such as the Red Brick Warehouses and the modern development Minato Mirai 21.

There are also 5 view points, properly identified as such, which suggest where to stand for truly memorable pictures. Furthermore, Osanbashi offers a great view of the three towers of Yokohama known as Jack, Queen and King and associated with the city’s history.

Perhaps the most famous image when searching for pictures of Yokohama online is the night view of the aforementioned Minato Mirai 21 area from Osanbashi. Many couples come at night both to enjoy it and because Osanbashi offers a dimly lit dating spot. Actually, the dim lights are one of the reasons why the night view from this spot is so nice!

As for patronage, about 200 vessels dock every year. That’s an average of one ship every two days. Of course winter is the down season, sometimes with a ship every two weeks, but from April to October, there’s nearly one every day! It serves as the start and goal for the “Asuka II”, a Japanese vessel that cruises around the world, and as stops for foreign boats offering similar world cruises such as the “Sun Princess” and the “Explorer”. These kind of rare ships come in less often than their Japanese counterparts and constitute only about 10% of ships coming in every year. As the official port of entry in the area, Osanbashi offers a solid starting point to visitors from the sea to explore the Kanto area.

Osanbashi is both a functional piece of the city’s infrastructure and a sightseeing spot that cannot be ignored. It is a nice place even for travelers not boarding a ship as well as for local boat enthusiasts to give their passion free reign while enjoying the sights!

Osanbashi seen from the bay

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