After more than two centuries of self-seclusion, Japan finally opened itself to Western traders and influences in the 1850s. However, Westerners were restricted to a handful of Foreign Concessions set adjacent to selected Japanese cities, where they could fashion a working urban space suited to their own cultural patterns, and which provided the Japanese with a microscopic lens on Western ways of behaviour and commerce. Kōbe was one of these treaty ports, and its Foreign Concession, along with that at Yokohama, became the most vibrant and successful of these settlements.
The first book-length study of Kōbe's Foreign Concession, Opening a Window to the West situates Kōbe within the larger pattern of globalization occurring throughout East Asia in the nineteenth century. Detailing the form and evolution of the settlement, its social and economic composition, and its specific mercantile trading features, this vivid micro-study illuminates the making of Kōbe during these critical decades of growth and development.