Japan: Yokohama (Berrick Hall/ ベーリック・ホール)

Yokohama was once a small fishing village having little contact with foreigners until the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Amity which opened Japan to foreign trade following the Sakoku Period (Japan’s period of isolation). Once the Port of Yokohama opened on June 2, 1859, the town quickly became a base for foreign trade in Japan. Foreigners initially settled in the Kannai area and later occupied much of the Yamate district overlooking the city. Today, the Yamate area is known for having the largest number of foreign residences in Japan.

Among these foreign residences is Berrick Hall, a Western-style building constructed in 1930 by architect J.H. Morgan. The building was the residence of British trading merchant, Bertram Berrick. It later served as the dormitory for the St. Joseph’s International School. Today it is open to the public and often used as a venue for weddings.

The original house where the Berrick family lived was destroyed by the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. The current residence was constructed in the same location in 1930. The architect, J.H. Morgan also constructed the Yokohama Christ Church.

Visitors pass through a gate and follow a looping footpath leading up to the main entrance. Although this is considered a foreign residence, visitors are asked to remove their shoes when entering the home. A typical Japanese custom which helps keep the house clean. To the right of the entrance you will find the living room. To the left is a reception area which connects to the dining room. Beyond that, you will find the palm room or the sun room with its checkered floor and wicker chairs.

Following the art deco style cast iron staircase to the second floor, you will find a number of private rooms including Berrick’s room which contains his working desk and an old fashioned typewriter. Other rooms include Mrs. Berrick’s room and their son’s room.

The Berrick family lived in this house from 1930 to 1938. They relocated to Canada in 1938 as the threat of World War II grew imminent. Bertram Berrick passed away in Vancouver ten years later and his family donated the Yokohama house to the Society of Mary who managed the St. Joseph International School. The home was converted into a dormitory for the school in 1956. The school closed its doors in 2000 and Yokohama City took possession of Berrick Hall in 2002. The city refurbished the home and opened it up to the public as a cultural asset.

The home is open between the hours of 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM. It is closed every second Wednesday of the month and during the New Year holiday. The residence is accessible via the JR Keihin Tohoku Negishi Line, exit Ishikawacho Station.

Address:           72 Yamate-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama.

Web page:        http://www2.yamate-seiyoukan.org/seiyoukan_details/Berrick/

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