Back to WHKMLA Main Index . WHKMLA, Students' Papers Main Page . WHKMLA, Students' Papers, 12th Wave Index Page

New Urban Centers: Yokohama and Osaka, As Reflected in Historic Encyclopedias

Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Hwang, Soyeon
Term Paper, AP European History Class, June 2009

Table of Contents
I. Introduction
II. Yokohama
II.1 Chronological Overview
II.2 Turning point to an urban center
II.3 Development as an urban center
II.3.1 Social development
II.3.2 Economic development
II.3.3 Political development
III. Osaka
III.1 Chronological Overview
III.2 Turning point to an urban center
III.3 Development as an urban center
III.3.1 Social development
III.3.2 Economic development
III.3.3 Political development
IV. Description in 19th century encyclopedias
IV.1 Objectivity
IV.2 Yokohama
IV.3 Osaka
IV.4 Analysis
V Conclusion

I. Introduction
            This paper will discuss the development of new urban centers, Yokohama and Osaka, within the boundaries of 19th century by referring to the information in 19th Encyclopedias. The paper will investigate the leap to the urban centers from three perspectives: social development, economic development and political development. The development is defined in this paper as a modernization, industrialization and, unfortunately, westernization. It is a big controversy whether the westernization can define a development; however, considering the fact that the Japanese government encouraged the modernization through the tools of westernization (as shown in the basic mottos of Meiji Restoration), westernization can possibly mean a development and signify a takeoff to the urban center.
            The primary sources from the 19th century Encyclopedias will be used. Some biases exist in the encyclopedias; there are, still, other sources that can reveal the facts of the time and also, there will be established facts to be used as good resources for a research in encyclopedia.
            The chief purpose of discussing descriptions in encyclopedias is to search for the progression of article¡¯s contents. Since the degree of urbanization of cities and the amount of trade with those cities increased rapidly during the 19th century, the contents are likely to be broaden as edition of the encyclopedia develops.
            This paper has its purpose to understand the characteristics of the two emerging urban centers, Yokohama and Osaka, and to analyze how the growth is shown in the 19th century encyclopedias with European origins

II. Yokohama

II.1 Chronological overview
            Before opening the ports, Yokohama was a small village which was focused on fishing and cultivating rice. (especially in Kozukue) During the Edo period, feudal government strictly controlled Yokohama without any specific plan for development.
            After the commodore Matthew Perry arrived in 1854, Japan-US Treaty of Peace and Amity (Treaty of Kanagawa) was signed and the port of Yokohama opened. After the port was opened, Yokohama began a quick industrialization. In 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake devastated Yokohama; yet thanks to the citizen's efforts, Yokohama could recover by 1929. The bombing during the World War II destroyed the city again, and city was taken over by the allied forces after the Japan's defeat. In 1951, Yokohama was returned to the national government and continued to grow as one of the major industrial cities and trading centers in Japan.

II.2 Turning point to an urban center
            The turning point of Yokohama, to be the urban center of Japan, is easy to find : opening ports to foreign ships. At the landing of the imperial commissioners, Commodore Perry in July 1853, Japan signed a treaty of Peace and Amity (Treaty of Kanagawa) and became the first country in the entire Asia to participate in the flow of modernization and urbanization. Initially, the ports to be opened were focused in the town of Kanagawa-juku on the Tokaido; yet the national government decided to unlock the port in Yokohama since Kanagawa-juku was too close to the central Japan. At the opening of the port of Yokohama on July 1, 1859, Yokohama began to take a leap to "the point of origin of Japan's modernization." (1)

II.3 Development as an Urban Center

II.3.1 Social Development
            As soon as the treaty was signed between the Japanese government and other foreign governments, foreigners occupied a certain district in the Yokohama city, which was named "Kannai" (In Japanese, Kannai means inside the barrier) (2) Because of the influence of the foreigners, Yokohama introduced to various kinds of urban cultures such as street lamps, railways and newspapers. In 1870, Yokohama became the first city in Japan to have a daily news paper and was equipped with gas-powered street lamps in 1972. Also at the same year, Japan's first railway was constructed and it connected Yokohama to the other urban centers like Shinagawa and Shinbashi in Tokyo, a traditional urban center. The first introduction of beer hall in Japan called the Beer and Concert Hall in 1865 can also suggest the formation of urban life style in Yokohama. According to articles of encyclopedia in 1905, "In the east there are the big European goods and banking houses, hotels and club houses, in the middle, the prefecture, the city hall, post and telegraph office, custom, railroad depot, etc. in large, palatial buildings" in Yokohama.
            Most conspicuously, Yokohama experienced a drastic population growth. A small fishing town gained over 120,000 populations in 1889 and what's more is vividly shown in the table below.

Table 1 : Population growth of Yokohama city (4)
Year Area Households Population
square km total male female
1889 5.40 27,209 121,985 65,934 56,051
1890 5.40 27,835 127,987 68,878 59,109
1891 5.40 29,070 132,627 72,487 60,140
1892 5.40 29,269 143,252 78,866 64,386
1893 5.40 29,942 152,142 83,853 68,289
1894 5.40 29,974 160,439 91,912 68,527
1895 5.40 30,124 170,252 97,708 72,544
1896 5.40 30,474 179,502 102,650 76,852
1897 5.40 31,584 187,453 107,576 79,877
1898 5.40 31,765 191,251 103,567 87,684
1899 5.40 32,159 196,966 109,075 87,891

            As shown in the table1, for ten years from 1889 to 1899, the city population approximately doubled from 121,985 to 196,966 without any enlargement in the area of the city. To take a closer look, compared to the increase in the total population, the number of households did not show a significant growth. The fact can indicate that the family size grew rather than the new family itself was created. It also suggest that the general age of the population was not old enough to constitute another family. This type of family is often found in the newly uprising cities and Yokohama city was clearly one of the new urban centers.
            Along with the rapid influx of population from the whole Japan and even in the neighboring country, Korea, Yokohama established a firm status as an urban center, while creating some side effects such as the formation of Kojiki-Yato, then the largest slum in Japan.

II.3.2 Economic development


            Shown from the picture above, right after the port was opened, Yokohama became the trading center of Japan. Raw silk, tea and sea products were the key export products and the silk and wool were the import ones. As the trade between foreigners was facilitated, the merchants began to set up professional trading companies. A silk trading company in 1873 was one the initiatives.
            Not only the companies but also the plants were constructed in Yokohama. Its first power plant was set up by a British merchant, Samuel Cocking. This plant was later developed into the Yokohama Cooperative Electric Light Company. Toward the northern part of the city, Kawasaki, entrepreneurs continued to set new plants up that Keihin Industrial Area was finally made.
            The growth of companies and plants motivated the industrial development of Yokohama and brought the affluence together. This affluence was the chief factor of increase in the population of Yokohama and of making Yokohama a new urban center of Japan.

II.3.3 Political development
            The government, after the treaty, naturally gave more interests toward Yokohama. To control the open ports, government established a foreign resident zone and a special Japanese resident zone. The zone was divided into 5 parts and the each part was ruled by the local official. The whole area was controlled by the Shogunate Government (sotoshiyori). Compared to the former control of government, the city became more organized in its administration.
            The first municipal government was established on April 1st, 1889. From this establishment, Yokohama was officially acknowledged as one of the key centers of Japan.

III. Osaka

III.1 Chronological Overview
            By the 5th century, Osaka gained a certain status as the entryway for visitors from the Asian continent. Diverse cultures arrived to Japan through Osaka and a variety of products were traded here also. Later, it grew to a hub port, the largest base of international exchange.
            In 645, the Emperor of Japan (Kotoku) left Asuka and stayed in "Naniwa Nagara Toyosaki-no-miya" (modern-days Osaka) to be safe from the Chinese influences. Even if Osaka was at the epitome of its influence over Japan, Osaka was destroyed in the Osaka Winter and Summer Battles. Soon after, however, during the Edo era, Osaka regained its prosperity and became the economic hub again. It shipped all the foreign products to all over Japan. Along with the wealth, Osaka was also famous for its diverse cultures.
            Following to the Meiji Restoration late 19th century, Osaka was in confusion and temporarily in stagnation. Yet, it once again succeeded in restoration and jumped to the one of the early modernized urban centers in Japan.

III.2 Turning point to an urban center
            Unlike the case of Yokohama, it is obviously not true that Osaka transformed from a small village to an urban center in a day. Osaka, throughout the history of Japan, was always center of Japan though not urban.
            The exact incident that promoted the modernization of Osaka is not clear. It was found out that after the moment of confusion in Meiji Restoration, Osaka soon became the center of industries and revitalized into the nation's most flourishing spinning industry area. The Osaka city was often called "Manchester of the Orient" in the era. (6)

III.3 Development as an urban center

III.3.1 Social Development


            After a short repose of growth, Osaka jumped to industrialized, new urban center. It was exposed to western influence, and expanded according to the western pattern. Harbor facilities advanced (specialized harbor for ocean-steamers had been constructed), streetcars were made, water supply was systemized, and city planning continued. Including those inner developments, Osaka city became one of the transportation cores after the construction of the railways in 1873 (as the picture shows.) The encyclopedia commented that "Osaka is an important railway centre." (8)
            The city's population also increased. In 1877, it was 284,105. By 1890, it reached approximately 500,000 and in 1910, it doubled to 1,000,000. (9) It was about the 3rd highest population of Japan at that time.

III.3.2 Economic Development
            After the blow of Meiji Restoration in 1868, the economic style of Osaka altered. Before, it was a base of trade and finance; now it is a commercial and industrial center with lots of newly constructed plants. At the end of the 19th century, Osaka was called as the "smoky city," which emphasized the urban characteristic of Osaka. It was also nicknamed as the "Manchester of the Orient," since Osaka was similar to Manchester where all the industrial revolution began. For Japan, Osaka was the center of modern industries with its highly developed textile industry. (10)
            The economic system reformed and the mint was opened during the 19th century, as Osaka transformed to a newly urban city. According to the encyclopedia, "the mint, erected and organized by Europeans, was opened in 1871. Osaka possesses iron-works, sugar refineries, cotton spinning mills, ship-yards and a great variety of other manufactures." (11)

III.3.3 Political Development
            In 1867 and 1868, Osaka witnessed the reception of foreign legations by the Tokugawa shoguns. Interaction with foreign became formalized since the reception and naturally facilitated the communication with the other European countries. This communication made Osaka step closer to the process of westernization.
            The city was officially established as a municipality in 1889, after a display of high quality industry. Parallel to other few major cities in Japan, Osaka gained a firm position as the new urban center.

IV Description in 19th century encyclopedias

IV.1 Objectivity
            Articles related to the Japan¡¯s seaport are considerably free from intentional biases. Pre-1920 encyclopedias did not exhibit a certain likeness toward the city, or antipathy toward the city. Still, it had some unintentional biases; for example, it focused on the foreigner-related policy of the city rather than the status of the city under the Japanese government. There are some statements that are not as significant as the other contents in the same article.

            The foreign settlement has well-constructed streets, but the wealthier foreigners resides of the town, on the bluff. The land occupied by foreigners was leased to them by the Japanese government, 20% of the annual rent being set aside for municipals expenses. (12)
            The encyclopedia unintentionally included the additional information on the topic of foreigner's situation, presumably because the information provider, or sometime the editor himself, was directly associated with the information.

IV.2 Yokohama


            Interestingly, there is no article of Yokohama in the Konversations-Lexikon 1885-1892 edition encyclopedia. Yet, in the 1902 - 1909 edition, which is about 10 years after the previous one, there is a detailed description of Yokohama including an elaborate picture as below.
            The 1902 - 1909 Edition as well have the general information about its geography, location, and other urban characteristics. Especially, the article about trading business is very specific,

            Als Handelsstadt nimmt Y. unter allen japanischen Plätzen die erste Stelle ein, obschon ihm Kobe lebhafte Konkurrenz macht und sogar eine erheblich grössere Einfuhr, aber eine viel geringere Ausfuhr hat; 1905 betrug in Y. die Einfuhr 188,716,000, die Ausfuhr 145,585,000 Jen. Letztere besteht vornehmlich in Seide und Seidenstoffen, Tee und Kupfer, dann in Holzwaren, Porzellan, Streichhölzern, Lackwaren und Fischen.
            (Yokohama was converted into a trading town among all the Japanese places in a first place. Although it had a competition with Kobe, Yokohma in 1905 had a much greater import and a much smaller export. The amount of importation was 188,716,000 and the exportation was 145,585,000. The latter consists mainly of silk and silk fabrics, tea and copper, wooden ware, porcelain, matches, fishing and lacquerware.
Translated by Google Translator) (14)

            It is noteworthy that besides the major exporting and importing products, the specific amount to exportation and importation was recorded. The figure is impossible to be estimated independently by the foreign merchants, even though the foreign merchants were frequently found in the Yokohama city and had a big influence over the port of Yokohama. It is deemed from the precise figure that there was some kind of assistance from the city government, or interaction with the government. This is, again a big contrast with the situation of 10-years ago when the encyclopedia didn't even mention the city.
            In the encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition, there is also a specific figure of the city's population. The number is very accurate and also includes the detailed numbers of foreigners; it is quite a surprise in that in no other Japanese cities but Yokohama, encyclopedia has the information. It states,

            The town grew rapidly - in 1886 the population was 111,179 (3904 foreigners, including 2573 Chinese, 625 British and 256 Americans, while in 1903 there were 314,333 Japanese and 2447 foreigners (1089 British, 527 Americans, 270 Germans, 155 French) besides about 3800 Chinese. (15)

            The information above indicates that Yokohama was possibly the most significant urban center for Britain in that it was the only city in Japan that Britain gathered the population data. Even at the government data of Japan, there is no record of population in 1886. Furthermore, the way of dividing the population according to the nationality is solely found in the encyclopedia Britannica.

IV.3 Osaka
            One-line description of Osaka exists in the Universal-Lexikon 1857-1865 edition. This is a better case than Yokohama, which was entirely omitted from the edition. The content of the one-line description as follows,

            Osaka, Stadt an der gleichnamigen Bai auf der Südwestk?ste der japanischen Insel Nipon, an der Mündung des Oomi- od. Jodogawaflusses; grosser Hafen, starke Citadelle; 320,000 Ew.
            (Osaka city, city on the southwest coast of the island of Japan, located at the mouth of Oomi-or Jodogawaflusses; large port, strong Citadel; 320.000 Ew.
Translated by Google Translator) (16)

            The only information it includes is the geographical location of the Osaka. There is no fact about economy, society, municipal government and people living in Osaka. The word ¡°large port¡± barely made readers not to mistake the whole city as an abandoned one in the desolate island.
            Yet, the contents of 10 years after hold much more information. Including the basic geographical knowledge of the city, the encyclopedia was full of diverse facts about the Osaka city.

            Für den Binnenverkehr ist O. die erste Handelsstadt des Reiches, namentlich für Reis, Baumwolle und Seidenwaren.
            (For the internal traffic is O. the first commercial city of the empire, particularly for rice, cotton and silk goods.
Translated by Google Translator) (17)

            It now gives a clear image of the Osaka city : the aspect as an urban center of Japan and the explicit lists of the industry that Osaka is related. The encyclopedia, beside the information, also has a statistical figure of the daily traffic of Osaka and its interaction with the neighboring countries, China and Korea. Despite of the lack of information on the various aspects of Osaka, the encyclopedia surely improved in its content. Especially, the economic aspect of Osaka and how it was transforming is well described through the article.


            The 1902-1905 edition holds a map of the North East Asia, with the name of Osaka in the picture. The map is very clear-cut and the cities¡¯ names are well recorded.
            An eye-catching articles in old Encyclopedia is that it includes the prediction of the Osaka¡¯s future. It is not the most accurate one. Still, the prediction has its own basis in it that it is difficult to ignore it as a mere subjective anticipation of the foreigners.

            At present, however, an extensive scheme of improvement to render the harbour capable of accommodating the largest vessels is being executed, and, on its completion, Osaka will take first place in foreign, as in internal commerce. Judging from the rapid growth of its population (821,235 in 1898; 1,226,590 in 1908), Osaka should be in the near future the real metropolis of Japan. Intersected by a myriad of canals, the city is often called the "Venice of the East", while its numerous industries, among which cotton-spinning occupies a leading position, has won it the title of the "Manchester of Japan". (19)

            The economic prediction as shown in the article above directly emphasizes how much influence Osaka had to the editors of the encyclopedias. It is a huge contrast to before, when brief geological information of Osaka was the entire statement of Osaka. The difference of the nickname ¡°Manchester of Japan¡± with the one used by Japanese ¡°Manchester of Orient¡± is additional interesting fact.

IV.4 Analysis
            Unfortunately, there was not much information on the two new urban centers. It was originally assumed that there could be series of information that directly show the progression of the articles' contents in the encyclopedias. The articles were, however, limited in quantity so that it was not easy to discover and to verify a step-by-step growth of the Yokohama and Osaka from the encyclopedias. Still, the initial hypothesis was right in that the two cities grew to be the new urban centers in the 19th century and that the level of description in encyclopedias increased as the edition of the encyclopedias developed.
            In the articles of Pierer's Universal-Lexikon and Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, there is a remarkable distinction between 1857? 1865 edition and 1902 - 1905 edition. The range of the information expanded from the geographical point of view to cultural, economical and political point of view. The latter version also contained well-marked maps, which showed the proximity of the two countries and the two cultures. From some of the information, the clues for the interaction between the two countries (Japan and the foreign country) were evident. Despite of that fact that the two new urban centers began to establish its urbanity by following the western cultures the foreigners brought, they soon grew to the central cities of Japan and encompassed the ideas of foreigners to foster the city¡¯s own development. In other words, they could be a subject of their developments.
            In the articles of the Encyclopedia Britannica, there exists a forecast of the Osaka¡¯s economic circumstances based on the statistical figures and ongoing project. If Osaka was no more than the inhabits of the foreigners as other cities in Asia, the Encyclopedia Britannica was unlikely to include the predictions in the article since they all know that predictions were not permanent information compared to the geographical characteristics. Since Osaka was the major center of Japan at the moment and the Britain who was constantly trading with Japan was in need of Osaka¡¯s information, it is believed that the encyclopedia decided to include the economical prediction.

V. Conclusion
            As has been aforementioned, the developments of the two cities were measured by the degree of industrialization, modernization and westernization. Two cities in short experienced a tremendous growth during 19th century; they each had a turning point and thanks to the turning point, they grew as the biggest urban centers characterized by the commercial and industrial hubs. The population of the cities increased, other social comforts became prevalent over the city, economic facilities such as power plants appeared, and finally the two new urban centers were acknowledged as the municipality.
            The encyclopedias reveal the developments of the cities through its direct mention in the article and through the progression of its articles¡¯ contents. Unlike the beginning of the interaction, when the cities were not modernized as it were several decades after, the encyclopedias included more diverse and more accurate figures in the articles. Although there were some unintentional prejudices in the article, the overall article effectively delivered the growth of the two new urban centers : Yokohama and Osaka.

Notes (1)      History of Yokohama
(2)      Wikipedia
(3)      Article : Yokohama from Meyers 1902-1909
(4)      Population Growth of Yokohama city
(6)      Osaka city
(7)      Jacek Wesolowski
(8)      Article : Osaka from Meyers 1902-1909
(9)      Public Purpose
(10)      Osaka city
(11)      Article : Osaka from Encyclopedia Britannica 1911 ed.
(12)      Article : Yokohama from Encyclopedia Britannica 1911 ed.
(13)      Article : Yokohama, from Meyers 1902-1909
(14)      Articlew : Yokohama from Meyers 1902-1909
(15)      Article : Yokohama from Encyclopedia Britannica
(16)      Article : Osaka from Pierer 1857-1865
(17)      Article : Osaka from Meyers 1902-1909
(18)      Article : Osaka, from Brockhaus 1911

Note : websites quoted below were visited in June 2009.

Primary Sources
(1)      Article: Osaka, from Pierer's Universal-Lexikon 1857-1865 edition, in German, posted by Zeno
(2)      Article: Osaka from Meyers Konversations-Lexikon 1902-1905 edition, in German, posted by Zeno
(3)      Article: Yokohama from Meyers Konversations-Lexikon 1902-1905 edition, in German, posted by Zeno
(4)      Article : Osaka, from Brockhaus Kleines Konversations-Lexikon 1911, in German, posted by Zeno
(5)      Article : Osaka from Encyclopedia Britannica. 1911 edition, posted by Classic Encyclopedia
(6)      Article : Yokohama from Encyclopedia Britannica. 1911 edition posted by Classic Encyclopedia
(7)      Article : Osaka from Catholic Encyclopedia 1907-1914, posted by New Advent

Secondary Sources
(8)      history of Yokohama, from Yokohama city official website
(9)      history of Yokohama, from Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
(10)      Yokohama newsletter, from Yokohama city official website
(11)      City of Yokohama, from Yokohama city official website
(12)      Population growth of Yokohama, from Yokohama city official website
(13)      Article : Yokohama, Wikipedia
(14)      Article : Osaka, Wikipedia
(15)      Article : Urban center, Wikipedia
(16)      history of Osaka, from Osaka Prefecture
(17)      Osaka City, from Osaka city official website
(18)      City of Osaka, from Osaka City
(19)      History of Osaka, from Hotel Travel
(20)      Train sheds & Overall Roofs at Japanese Railway Stations, by Jacek Wesolowski
(21)      Central city population from 1890 : Osaka, from Public Purpose

Back to WHKMLA Main Index . WHKMLA, Students' Papers Main Page . WHKMLA, Students' Papers, 12th Wave Index Page

Impressum · Datenschutz