Our famous port city, Yokohama, was once a small fishing village in Edo Period. In 1859, the Black Ships led by Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in Yokohama and demanded Japan to open several ports for commerce. The Tokugawa shogunate agreed and signed the Treaty of Peace and Amity, this event ended Japan’s policy of national isolation which was established during feudal Edo period and limited Japan’s contact with the international world.
Since then, Yokohama City quickly developed into a base of foreign trade in Japan. A warehouse, which was made of red bricks, was constructed to fulfill the trading needs. It consisted of two buildings that served as bonded warehouses; a temporary storage for import cargo that was still awaiting clearance. It is called The Red Brick Warehouse or commonly known in Japan as Akarenga (赤レンガ). The Red Brick Warehouse itself was a world-class warehouse and a warehouse model in Japan back then. The red brick design is a state-of-the-art. All the bricks were made in Japan and Warehouse No. 2 alone used almost 3.18 million bricks.
Yokohama Red Brick House after Great Kanto Earthquake.
Throughout the century, unprecedented events happened to the warehouse. During The Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, the middle section of Warehouse No. 1 collapsed and what remains now is only half of the original size. Warehouse No. 2 escaped the unfortunate tragedy. During World War II, it became a military supply depot for Japanese Troops and after the war ended it became US military headquarters. 10 years later, it was returned to Japan and once again served as a custom warehouse. After 8 decades, in 1989 The Red Brick Warehouse retired from its original purpose.
In order to build an integrated urban city, Yokohama City acquired Akarenga in 1992 and started conservation and repair works on the site. The aim is to create a place for its citizens to both relax and enjoy the culture of Yokohama. This project took ten years to be completed and on April 12, 2002 the Red Brick Warehouse came back to life. Warehouse No. 1 is used as a culture facility complete with hall and exhibition space. Warehouse No. 2 is used as a commercial facility with an array of restaurants and shops. The Akarenga Warehouse is soon to be the first Japanese site to receive the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for Culture Heritage Conservation.
As one of the Yokohama City’s symbols, The Red Brick Warehouse is very attractive to many people. In Warehouse No. 1, a hall is equipped with approximately 300 seats is available to accommodate theater performances and concerts. It has some spaces for exhibitions and art gallery too. Meanwhile Warehouse No. 2 is full with shops, snazzy cafés, and classy restaurants. Be it a romantic dinner with your loved ones or cozy times with your friends, Akarenga is the perfect spot. On weekends, with open seafront area, spots around Akarenga are the perfect places for picnic with your family. Just spread the picnic sheets, enjoy the cool sea breeze and your savory bento while watching the ships drifting across the bay. If you are interested in some cruising, don’t worry, you can take a cruise from the pier right there.
As the night falls, engulfed in the surrounding darkness the Red Brick Warehouse lights up in orange color and creates a magical atmosphere. From here we can observe the night view of Yokohama Bay with its magnificent Bay Bridge and renowned Osanbashi Pier. On the other side, the night view of Minato Mirai with the colossal Landmark Tower, Cosmo Clock 21 and other starry skyscrapers will give us a warm feeling.
A plaza between the two warehouses is dedicated for various seasonal events throughout the year. For example, Flower Garden and FRÜHLINGSFEST in spring, the “Art Rink” ice skating and Christmas Market in winter. These exciting events are ready to entertain any visitors. So add Akarenga Warehouse, Yokohama to your bucket list and make sure you check the upcoming events there to make your day even more special.
For further information, please visit the official website.