Introducing Rowing to Japan
As a result of the Ansei Treaties of 1858, settlements of foreigners formed in the ports of Yokohama. It was in these foreign settlements that modern sports were developed in Japan. In 1863, crews from English warships organized the first regatta. Foreigners living in the Yokohama settlement started participating in the regattas in 1865. These regattas led to the establishment of a more permanent boat club. Although we do not know exactly when the club was established, a club called the 'Barge Club' charged twelve dollars for the use of boats and yachts every season. The 'Barge Club' is thought to be the predecessor of the Yokohama Amateur Rowing Club (YARC), established in 1871. The club organized an autumn and spring regatta. The regattas were some of the biggest events in Yokohama, and were attended by almost all the expatriate settlers. Starting in 1871, YARC held an inter-port race with the KRAC (Kobe Regatta and Athletic Club). Other clubs started joining in the race held twice a year, with the distance of the race between three quarters of a mile and one mile. The YARC was one of the largest sports clubs in Yokohama, growing from 101 members in 1878 to 300 in 1895. Thus, the YARC became the heart of rowing in eastern Japan (Kochi, 447-449).