Remains of Kanagawa Daiba fort unearthed at apartment construction site

This article also appears on realestate.co.jp.

Remains of the Kanagawa Daiba (battery or fort) were found at an apartment construction site in Kanagawa Ward, Yokohama. The fort was constructed during the time Yokohama opened its port in the mid 1800s. The fort and surrounding bay is now reclaimed land.

On July 26th a 17m long and 2.5m high stone wall which forms the eastern side of the fort was uncovered. Although one part of the wall appeared to have been repaired with concrete prior to the land reclamation, other parts of the wall that were commissioned by Count Katsu Kaishu remain untouched from when it was completed in 1860 during the Man’en era.

The site is located at a corner of Yokohama Cotton Harbor – a mixed-use residential/commercial area. Construction on a 6-storey apartment building had only just began at the 785sqm site when the discovery was made. Completion of the 30 unit apartment building is scheduled for January, 2012, but a local citizen’s group is demanding that the site be preserved.

Despite the many historical maps available to the public and signs posted in the parks around the area, the apartment developers said they were not aware of any ruins under the site. However, they are open to discussions about how best to continue with the site.

A map from the Meiji era overlaid on a recent satellite image.

The Kanagawa Daiba was 26,000sqm in size and has now mostly been filled in. One part of the stone wall was restored and forms part of a park. The fort was never actually used in warfare, but was used to perform gun salutes whenever foreign nobility sailed into Yokohama Bay.

It was decommissioned in 1899 and in 1922 they began to use earth and sand from Mt. Gongen (now an area near Kogaya Park) to fill in the area and create extra land for development.

The fort prior to land reclamation

Source:

Kanagawa Shimbun, July 17 and 27, 2011.