It’s not about playing cards. In Yokohama, Japan, there are three buildings with towers which have been called King, Queen and Jack as nicknames. They are located in the district adjacent to the Yokohama Port and their nicknames were given by foreign mariners back in the early 20th century as the three towers were visible from ships which were approaching to the Yokohama Port. Yokohama is the seat of the Kanagawa Prefectural Government and it has a history of being one of the first five international ports opened to the west in 1859 when the Tokugawa Shogunate put an end to its two-and-half-century-long seclusion policy.
King; what is it?
(Modeled after Buddhist pagoda)
King is the nickname given to a majestic building which is currently used as the local government office of the Kanagawa Prefecture. The building was built in 1928 in the Lloyd Wright’s architectural style which use scratched-faced tiles and marble in a geometric-patterned building. Actually, it’s in the taste of the cultural mixture of the West and the East as the fundamental design is modeled after a five-storied Buddhist pagoda. It can be confirmed with a metal object on the top of the tower and HOSOGE (an imaginary flower in the Buddhist’s Pure Land) adopted as the objects of staircases. The building has been designated a national important cultural property.
(HOSOGE, imaginary flower in Buddhist Pure Land)
Queen; what is it?
(Red Brick Warehouse)
Queen is the nickname given to the building of the Yokohama Custom Office. It was built in 1934 with a tower which has the taste of a Muslim mosque. On its ground floor, there is a room stored with reference materials regarding customs such as smuggled goods and counterfeit goods. These are open to public and you can learn how the Yokohama Custom Office has been fighting against smugglers and counterfeiters around the world. In a nearby park, there is the Red Brick Warehouse which is a commercial facility turned from historical red brick warehouses built in the late 18th century for exports and imports from/to Yokohama.
(Muslim-mosque like tower lit up in the darkness)
Jack; what is it?
(Stained glass of views in Old Yokohama)
Jack is the nickname given to the Yokohama Port Opening Memorial Hall, built in 1919 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of opening the Yokohama Port. It is a redbrick building with a clock tower and domes on the roof and the whole budget of the construction was covered by donation from citizens in Yokohama. Its interiors are adorned with several magnificent stained-glass panels. The photo is a panel depicting USS Pawhatan, one of ships in Admiral Perry’s squadron which visited Japan in the middle of the 19th century, urging to open the nation to the west.
(Stained glass panel of USS Pawhatan)
Wish fulfillment by the three towers?
The three towers and buildings used to be the symbol of safe voyages for mariners and survived bombings during the last war although they were much damaged. These facts let people believe in luck brought by the towers.
(One of the three specific spots to view the three towers at a time)
There are three specific spots from which you can view the three towers at a time. An urban legend says that if you visit the three spots and see the three towers three times a day, your wish will be fulfilled. Do you want to know where the spots are? Please ask a guide who belongs to iTWS japan!
By Jin Shibata
Let’s cross fingers for days with no worry about COVID-19!