Opening a Window to the West: The Foreign Concession at Kobe, Japan, 1868-1899

Opening a Window to the West: The Foreign Concession at Kobe, Japan, 1868-1899

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By Peter Ennals
Japan and Global Society
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2013
World Rights
264 Pages 12 Images
ISBN 9781442614161
Published Dec 2013
Online discount: 25%
 $33.95    $25.46
ISBN 9781442646025
Published Jan 2014
Online discount: 25%
 $75.00    $56.25
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442664227
Published Dec 2013
Online discount: 27%
Full purchase $33.95

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.

Peter Ennals is a professor emeritus of Geography and Environment at Mount Allison University. He is co-author of Homeplace: The Making of the Canadian Dwelling Over Three Centuries, and has contributed to the Historical Atlas of Canada and the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.






1. Setting the Stage: The Role of Ports in the Encounter between East and West in Japan

2. The Creation of Kōbe's Foreign Concession

3. Establishing Municipal Government and Services in the Concession

4. Forging an Economy - The Basis for Mercantile Trade

5. Finding a Mercantile Staple for Kōbe: The Tea and Silk Trades

6. The Morphology of the Settlement and the Development of a Pleasing Townscape

7. Life at the End of the World: Forming an Expatriate Society in Kōbe

8. Measuring Success in the Concession



Explanatory Notes


Archival Sources


Published Sources


“In this informative and engaging book, Peter Ennals provides the very first study of Kōbe’s Foreign Concession during the last decades of the nineteenth century. Ennals has carried out careful research into the daily life and characters who inhabited the foreign settlement using archival material from a diverse array sources. He also illuminates the broader economic and social conditions that shaped the success and challenges of this distinctive period in the city’s history.”

David Edgington, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia

‘Ennals has written a wonderful history of the Foreign Settlement at Kobe, which appears especially strong in its analysis of spatial developments and patterns of architecture.’

Herald Feuss, Pacific Affairs; June 2015