Ruled by Yoshibumi Taira descendants from the 1000’s onward to the middle of the millennium, Yokohama was a feudal society for the early half of its history, its economy based on rice cultivation.
Population and political importance in Yokohama increased significantly between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, and during the 1850’s, Japan signed numerous treaties with countries throughout the world, such as the United States, Great Britain, Russia, and Holland, that opened most of its ports to the rest of the planet, a development that would have significant effects on all major Japanese cities.
Following the opening of Japan, Yokohama took a lead in the country’s westernization, launching its first bakery, photo studio, brewery, movie theater, and newspaper as well as embracing such goods as the telephone and ice cream. Exports from Yokohama now destined for a more international economy included silk, tea, and wool, and traders established a silk company to greatly increase the city’s merchant status. During this time, developments in healthcare, public water and electricity, and general infrastructure brought the area unprecedented prosperity.
An earthquake in 1923, however, killed 20,000 and left another 60,000 homeless, though the city had almost entirely rebounded before the onset of the Great Depression and World War Two. In 1945, Yokohama lost about 15,000 residents and 80,000 homes to US air raids.
Following the devastation of war, Yokohama recuperated, as prosperity and infrastructural refurbishment proceeded apace, helping the city become the densely populated, culturally-rich
cutting-edge metro area that it is today.