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traditional building A Japanese student of mine brought to my attention the following story. His hometown of Yamate in Yokohama, Japan is a place is high historical significance.

Why? Because it is home to ancient Japanese architecture? Because it is intricately related to culture that is innately Japanese? Well, yes and no – that’s what folks refer to as cosmopolitanism. When Commodore Perry arrived in Yokohama in 1853, Yamate served as a neighborhood where many foreigners resided. There are numerous historical “Western” buildings, foreign cemeteries and churches. Yamate has developed into one of the leading tourist sites in Yokohama.

When plans to build a high rise apartment building were proposed to city residents, they reacted by creating a “Protect the History and Culture of Yokohama Yamate Association!”

I highly recommend reading Kwame Anthony Appiah‘s excellent New York Times piece from New Year’s Day, 2006.

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