An exhibition tracing the history of ocean liners — from paddle steamers that came to Yokohama toward the end of the Edo Period to present-day cruise ships — is being held at Yokohama Maritime Museum.

Yokohama Port was opened to foreign ships in 1854. Among the first shipping companies to launch ocean-liner routes to Yokohama were P&O Lines of Britain, Messageries maritimes of France and Pacific Mail of the United States.

In the latter half of the Meiji Era, Japanese shipping companies started international ocean-liner services from Yokohama:

Nihon Yusen sailed to Europe, Seattle and Australia, and Toyo Kisen to San Francisco.

The 1930s were the golden years for Yokohama’s port. Visited by many regular service liners and cruise ships, the area was often crowded with well-wishers, as well as curious people who came just to look at the mighty vessels.

Eventually, the development of air routes pushed regular liners out of service. These days, the only large passenger craft visiting Yokohama’s port are luxury cruise ships.

Exhibits include ship models, the piano used in the first-class saloon of the Buenos Aires Maru and a P&O Lines ocean-liner bell, as well as photographs of ocean liners, shipping-company posters, timetables, leaflets, trunks and portable wardrobes used by passengers.

The opportunity to board the moored tall ship Nihon Maru is included in the price of the ticket.

“Yokohama o Irodotta Kyakusen (The Ocean Liners That Lent Color to Yokohama Port)” is open 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. through Nov. 23 at Yokohama Maritime Museum (closed on Nov. 8 and 22; the Nihon Maru is closed every Monday).

Admission is 600 yen for senior high-school students and older, and 300 yen for middle- and primary-school students.

Every Saturday, admission is free for senior high-school students and younger children.

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