Yoshidamachi is located in the heart of Yokohama, nestled between a favorite outdoor mall, Isezakicho, and a slightly more youth-oriented nightlife quarter around Nogecho. Yoshidamachi is easily accessed by foot; it is 3 minutes from JR Kannai Station or 5 minutes from JR Sakuragicho Station.
Yoshidamachi was named after Kanbei Yoshida, a lumber merchant who obtained a permit from the feudal government in 1656 to reclaim land to develop rice paddy fields.
After the Port of Yokohama officially opened in 1859 and a special residential zone was allocated exclusively to the foreigners, a checkpoint was built between this zone and the rest of the city where the locals lived. The area around this checkpoint prospered, drawing large crowds of locals looking for higher paying jobs offered by the foreign residents. The Yoshidamachi district grew out of this area.
Yokohama turned into ashes when the Great Kanto Earthquake struck in 1923 and again when it was bombarded by air raids in 1945. When the occupation forces moved in right after the end of World War II, the US military forces confiscated half of the city. The area along the main entrance/exit gate of their military base flourished with souvenir shops, unauthorized money exchange dealers, and sidewalk artists selling portraits and caricatures. Eventually, it expanded into the largest nightlife district in Yokohama, entertaining mainly those on the other side of the fence while most locals were still persevering through the hard times and enduring shortages.
Throughout the post-war period, Yoshidamachi continued to serve as the crossroads for foreigners and local Japanese to meet and interact. But as the city evolved through the extension of Negishi Line railway, redevelopment of the west side of Yokohama Station, and other urbanization projects, Yoshidamachi was left behind. Its role as a transit hub gradually faded together with the fond memories of those who used to frequent this multicultural intersection when it was still the bustling, fun place to be.
Now, the tide has shifted back. Yoshidamachi is picking up, drawing a wave of fresh start-ups who found the rents to be surprisingly reasonable compared to other similar urban areas of such proximity to a major train station. These young entrepreneurs have turned the quiet neighborhood into a vibrant community with over 110 businesses, of which 75 or so are eating and drinking establishments.
This surge of renewal and revitalization will continue to attract both new businesses and patrons.