Sunday, June 7, 2009

Yokohama and the Black Ships

I went to Yokohama, just outside of Tokyo, for the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Commodore Perry's "Black Ships" which lead to Japan's opening to foreign trade with the U.S. Perry arrived just south of Yokohama with a fleet of American warships, demanding that Japan open several ports for commerce, and the Tokugawa shogunate agreed by treaty.

Yokohama became the base of foreign trade in Japan, and in 1861 sprouted Japan's first English language newspaper. Foreigners occupied a moat-surrounded district.

It seems strange to me that Yokohama residents now celebrate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of foreign warships making demands upon Japan, but they do.

At the celebration I saw a chalk painting by American artist Kurt Wenner. Wenner's art is known for its 3D effect which causes it to appear to float. Due to the heavy rain the picture was covered with plastic, but it still was amazing. When viewed from this side, it appears 3D but from the other side it looks very distorted.

Unrelatedly, my boss gave me a box of sweets from Japan's city called Obama, which is capitalizing on the fame of the American president. Obama is really a small city, but is trying to make a name for itself!

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