The city of Yokosuka located in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan has long played a part in Japan’s naval history. On July 14, 1853, U.S. Navy’s Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in Tokyo Bay with his fleet of black ships and came ashore at Kurihama in southern Yokosuka. This event served as the impetus for the subsequent opening of Japan initiating the country’s modernization following 200 years of isolation.
Known as Sakoku (“chained country”) no foreigner could enter nor could any Japanese leave the country on penalty of death. The policy was enacted by the Tokugawa shogunate under Tokugawa Iemitsu from 1633–39 and remained in effect until 1853.
Today Yokosuka is the site of a major naval facility used by the United States and Japanese forces.
On July 14, 1901, a park was dedicated to commemorate the arrival of Commodore Perry in Japan. Known as Perry Park, it consists of a monolith inscribed by former Prime Minister, Hirobumi Ito and a memorial hall with exhibits of various materials relating to Commodore Perry and his coming to Japan. The park is situated along the Kurihama seashore where Commodore Perry first set foot in Japan. The stone monument which stands in the middle of the park is inscribed both in Japanese and English. The inscription reads:
“This Monument Commemorates
The First Arrival of Commodore Perry
Ambassador from the United States of America
Who Landed at This Place
July 14, 1853.
Erected July 14, 1901
By America’s Friend Association.”
The memorial hall entrance is flanked by two busts, one of Commodore Perry and the other of Lord Toda. Admission is free and the museum is open daily except for public holidays and New Year (Year End). Close to the entrance is a giant display featuring Perry’s fleet when it arrived in Yokosuka. Other items include various newspapers detailing the event (reproductions), drawings, paintings and other artifacts.
Every July the city of Yokosuka hosts the Kurihama Perry Festival. The festival features a parade, a ceremony recreating Perry’s landing and an impressive fireworks show featuring 3,500 shells launched into the night sky. The event which is sponsored by the Kurihama Tourist Association is free to attend.
Address: 7-14 Kurihama, Yokosuka 238-8550, Kanagawa Prefecture