The year 2018 marks the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration, which ended about 250 years of self-imposed isolation and marked the beginning of Japan's efforts to become a major international power.

That year, 1868, also saw the opening of the ports of Kobe and Osaka, while Niigata prepared to officially open to foreign trade on Jan. 1, 1869. Yokohama had been a center of foreign trade since opening in 1859 and would prosper after the Meiji Restoration. Nagasaki, the country's only window to the West during its period of isolation, remained an important international port but would start to decline as foreign merchants took up residence in Kobe and did business closer to Kanto and Kansai.

Various official events to mark the century and a half since the opening of their ports are planned for Kobe, Osaka and Niigata next year, including local seminars and museum exhibitions. The Prime Minister's Office has opened a website for the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration (, which lists commemorative events taking place across Japan throughout 2018.