Jules Verne’s adventure story was published in 1873. Phileas Fogg of London and his French valet, Passepartout, attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a £20,000 wager (roughly £2.25 million today) set by his friends at the Reform Club.
While we might have 80 days ahead of us in lock-down with the CoVid-19 coronavirus, this doesn’t mean we can’t travel – the internet at least.
The fifth major stop in Fogg’s journey was Yokohama, the second largest city in Japan by population, which lies on Tokyo Bay, south of Tokyo and is a major commercial hub. Yokohama developed rapidly as Japan’s prominent port city following the end of Japan’s relative isolation in the mid-19th century, and is today one of its major ports along with Kobe, Osaka, Nagoya, Hakata, Tokyo, and Chiba. Originally a small fishing village, a major turning point in Japanese history happened in 1853–54, when Commodore Matthew Perry arrived just south of Yokohama with a fleet of American warships, demanding that Japan open several ports for commerce.
Yokohama was the scene of many notable firsts, including the growing acceptance of western fashion, photography by pioneers such as Felice Beato, Japan’s first English language newspaper, the Japan Herald published in 1861 and in 1865 the first ice cream and beer to be produced in Japan. Recreational sports introduced to Japan by foreign residents in Yokohama included European style horse racing in 1862, cricket in 1863, and rugby union in 1866. A great fire destroyed much of the foreign settlement on November 26, 1866 and smallpox was a recurrent public health hazard, but the city continued to grow rapidly – attracting foreigners and Japanese alike.
Much of Yokohama was destroyed on September 1, 1923 by the Great Kantō earthquake, vigilante mobs thereupon murdered many Koreans believing that they had used black magic to cause the earthquake. Rubble from the quake was used to reclaim land for parks, the most famous being the Yamashita Park on the waterfront which opened in 1930.
Yokohama was destroyed again by US air raids in World War II. An estimated seven or eight thousand people were killed in a single morning on May 29, 1945 in what is now known as the Great Yokohama Air Raid, when B-29s firebombed the city and in just one hour and nine minutes reduced 42% of it to rubble. During the American occupation, Yokohama was a major trans-shipment base for American supplies and personnel, especially during the Korean War. After the occupation, most local US naval activity moved from Yokohama to an American base in nearby Yokosuka.
For a sense of what the locals are listening to, check out FM Yokohama! There is no English-language radio station in Japan, though you can pick up the American Forces Network. However, Japan does have an international service and this broadcasts in English (https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/radio/about/).