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Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2006
Two Yokohama landmarks close down
The Hikawa Maru passenger liner and Yokohama Marine Tower, two tourist landmarks in the old port city, closed their doors Monday on 45 years of history as red and green illumination lights were turned off in a sayonara countdown on Christmas night.
The operating company of the two facilities, Hikawamaru Marine Tower, decided to shut them down as the number of visitors has dwindled in recent years.
The ship will be handed over to major shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K. and the tower to the Yokohama Municipal Government.
Both are expected to be renovated and reopened by around 2009, the 150th anniversary of the opening of the port of Yokohama, but no specific plans have been decided yet, according to media reports.
The Hikawa Maru, which has been docked at Yamashita Park, once plied the open seas, sometimes with celebrities on board, including comedian Charles Chaplin and members of the Imperial family.
The 106-meter-high tower, standing across the street from the waterfront park, has long been listed as the world's tallest lighthouse by Guinness World Records.
Since opening in 1961, some 2.2 million people have visited the liner and 2.5 million have ridden to the top of the tower, according to the operating company's Web site.
The two facilities dropped in popularity among young people as numerous new tourist spots, including huge shopping malls, have been opened one after another in the Yokohama area in recent years.