Yamate Station is a train station located in Naka Ward of Yokohama in the south of Tokyo. It is served by East Japan Railway Company’s Keihin-Tohoku and Negishi Lines.
Yamate is the name of two neighborhoods of Naka Ward – one is the historical Yamate Bluff, and the other is the area around Yamate Station. Yamate Station is situated near the Honmoku area, which was once the site of a U.S. military base. Although the base is no longer here, the area still retains much of the American atmosphere and is popular among tourists. Some of the attractions in this area include:
Negishi Forest Park and Horse Museum
Located 3 minutes from Yamate Station, Negishi Forest Park is an oasis of tranquility in the midst of the hustle of the crowded Yokohama. With over 180,000 m2 of land, it is one of the biggest and most peaceful places in the city. Originally opened in 1867 as Yokohama Race Club, it was the first western style race course in Japan. Regular races were held here till 1943, when horse racing was banned in the area. After World War II, when the land was taken over by the American forces, it was turned into a golf course. In 1969, it was returned to the Japanese government, who renovated it and opened it to the public in 1977 as Negishi Forest Park.
Negishi Forest Park today is a beautiful park with lots of grass, flowers, and trees. People from all over come here to enjoy the beauty and tranquility, take walks on the sloping lawns, jog on the paths, fly kites on the rolling hills, and picnic in the shades of the trees. Its many cherry and plum trees also make it a favorite in blossom viewing seasons. Pony riding is available for children. Visitors can also enjoy beautiful scenes of the city from the top of the hill.
Also located in the park is the Horse Museum, which houses all the equestrian memorabilia from the race course days. Exhibits include the very first silver Emperor’s Cup, newspaper snippets of the horse race winners, and a full scale model of a horse on the first floor; and murals, scrolls, paintings, and pictures of the racing theme on the second floor. There is also a section which shows the evolution of the horse from 5000 years ago to today. Various machines and apparatuses highlighting the usefulness of the horse are also displayed here, which can be tried and handled by the visitors. There is a barn outside the museum building where visitors can watch or pet horses.
The Horse Museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and entry is 100 yen.
On the other side of Yamate Station is Sankeien Garden, a vast Japanese style garden with a pond, rivulets, lots of flowers and trees, and some historical buildings. The garden, covering an area of 175,000 m2, was built by Sankei Hara in 1906. Sankei Hara was a successful businessman of Yokohama in the Meiji Period (1868-1912). He personally designed the garden for his pleasure in the latter part of his life. Besides the flora, Sankei has also preserved 17 old buildings brought in from Kyoto and Kamakura, which have been skillfully arranged throughout the garden.
Sankeien Garden consists of two sections – the Inner Garden and the Outer Garden. The Inner Garden was a private Hara property till 1958, after which it was opened to the public. This beautifully landscaped area includes the historical building, Rinshunkaku, built in the 17th century by the Tokugawa family; and the museum that houses the valuable properties of the Hara family and works of some young artists that Hara supported. Japanese tea ceremonies are also held here for tourists by great tea masters. The fee for attending the tea ceremony is 400 yen. The Outer Garden has been open to the public since the time it was built in 1906. Since this was the garden built especially for enjoyment, it contains some of the most beautiful flowers and shrubs. The best known buildings here are the three-storied pagoda (relocated from Tomyoji Temple in Kyoto), and an elegant daimyo residence.
Sankeien Garden is considered one of the most beautiful Japanese gardens in Japan. Whatever the part of the year, there is something to be enjoyed here – the plum blossoms in winter, cherry blossoms and azaleas in spring, and the ume blossoms and beautiful leaf color changes in autumn. Ten of the seventeen buildings in the garden have also been designated Cultural Properties.
Sankeien Garden is 5 minutes walk from Yamate Station. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the entry fee is 500 yen for adults, 200 yen for children, and 300 yen for senior citizens.
MyCal Honmoku is a huge shopping center located on Honmoku Street just outside Sankeien Garden. Opened in 1989, it is said to be the biggest shopping mall in Japan. MyCal consists of 12 “districts”, each in a Spanish colonial-style building. With over 300 restaurants, shops, boutiques, and cinemas, there is something for everyone at this large and beautiful center, often called the entertainment district of Honmoku.