The Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery in The Bluff/Yamate district of Yokohama is an important historical site dating from the late Edo and early Meiji periods, when Japan was opening up to the world under pressure from Western powers.
The Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery was established in 1854 when a sailor, Robert Williams, on Commodore Perry's flagship The Mississippi died after a fall on Perry's second voyage to Japan.
Permission was asked of the Japanese shogunal authorities to bury the sailor onshore and to provide a resting place for any future Americans who died in Japan.
Part of the grounds of Zotokuin Temple were set aside and have since become the Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery.
Williams' body was later removed to Gyokusenji Temple in Shimoda and the oldest graves at Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery are now those of Roman Mophet and Ivan Sokoloff, two Russians murdered by samurai hotheads during the turbulent Bakumatsu Period, when the Tokugawa regime was overthrown in a spasm of violence to be replaced by the new Meiji government, established in 1868.
A small museum inside the cemetery details some of the most famous people buried in the cemetery and provides a map of how to visit their graves.
Among the foreigners buried here are Charles Richardson (1834-1862), murdered in the Namamugi Incident by Satsuma samurai in 1862, the Scottish journalist John Reddie Black (1826-1880), Clarence Griffin (1873-1951), who founded the first Boy Scouts' troop in Japan, Englishman George Edward Oakes Ramsay (1839-1885), a master sea captain in the employ of Mitsubishi, the larger-than-life Henry James Black aka "Kairakutei (Pleasure) Black" (1858-1923), the first foreign-born rakugo comic, the French educator Henry Maillot (1831-1874), who taught the Meiji Emperor French in 1872, countryman Andre Roger Lecomte who introduced the baguette and French confectionery to Japan, Jennin Mary Kuyper (1872-1923), the Third Principal of Yokohama's Ferris Girls' School, the Irish physician Edwin Wheeler (1840-1923) who was influential in the spread of rugby in Japan, the Dutch pharmacist Anton J. Geerts (1843-1883), Hans Kurt V. Seebach (1859-1891), the Prussian penologist who helped guide the establishment of the Meiji-era penal system and the railway engineers John Diack (1828-1900) and Edmund Morel (1840-1871).
The Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery
Tel: 045 622 1311
Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery is a short walk from Motomachi-chukagai Station (Exit 6) on the Minato-mirai Line and is close to a number of other historic buildings on The Bluff including the Bluff No. 234 Building, the Ellisman Residence, Berrick Hall and Christ Church. From Sakuragicho Station take bus #11 and get off at the Motomachi-koen-mae stop.
The Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery is open to the public on weekends and national holidays.
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