About Kamaishi City
Overview of Kamaishi City
Location and Key Industries
Kamaishi City is situated in the south-eastern section of Iwate prefecture, in the center of the Rikuchu Coastline National Park. Making use of the good natural harbors found in this ria coastline, the fishing industry has played a central part, and coupled with its history as the birthplace of Japan's modern iron industry, Kamaishi City has developed as a "City of Steel, Fish, and Tourism."
Because mountainous terrain continues all the way to the coast, there is relatively little flat land. The central portion of Kamaishi City is situated in the Unosumai and Kasshi river basins and the nearby mouths of the two rivers. With an area of 441 square kilometers, Kamaishi City's population numbers approximately 40,000.
Influenced by the nearby ocean, Kamaishi City experiences a mild four seasons. The average temperature for the year is about 11 degrees Celsius, while yearly rainfall averages about 1600 mm. Summer is comparatively cool, and there is little snow in winter.
Rail and Roadways
The JR Kamaishi Line connects Kamaishi City to the Tohoku Shinkansen Line.The coastal region is linked by the JR Yamada Line and the Sanriku Railways' Southern Rail Line.Main roadways include national highways 283, which connects Kamaishi City to the inland region, and 45, linking the southern coastal regions to those in the north.
A Brief History
In 1890 (Meiji 23) the coastal region villages of Kamaishi and Heita were combined to form Kamaishi Town.In 1937 (Showa 12) the municipal system was put into effect.Later in 1955 (Showa 30), the villages of Kasshi, Kurihashi, Unosumai, and Toni were incorporated, forming present day Kamaishi City.
In the Edo period as only one minor area under the authority of the Otsuchi local magistrate, Kamaishi came to play a historically significant role following the discovery of magnetite in the Ohashi region.
In 1857 Nambu retainer Oshima Takato, built Japan's first western-style blast furnace in Ohashi.On December 1 of the same year, steel was successfully produced.In Japan this day is marked as "Iron Commemoration Day."
In 1874 (Meiji 7) a government operated ironworks was constructed in the Suzuko area.The Kamaishi port pier, railways, and other facilities were also constructed.Kamaishi is regarded as the cornerstone of the modern iron and steel industry in Japan.
The city developed smoothly.However, Kamaishi's history has also been marked by a number of unfortunate events. Kamaishi faced the devastation of two large tsunami which struck the Sanriku Coast in 1896 (Meiji 29) and 1928 (Showa 3). Then during the closing months of World War II in 1945 (Showa 20), Kamaishi was damaged by two warship bombardments.
During the post-World War II revival, Kamaishi' s population grew to 90,000 people in the 1960s.However, due to the depression of the fishing and marine industry and the successive rationalizations of the steel industry, Kamaishi's key industries, a depopulation trend has continued.Ensuring employment has become a major concern for the city.
At present, new expressways are being built to link Kamaishi with the inland areas and to connect the northern and southern coastal regions. Progress also continues to be made on construction of a breakwater at the port. Kamaishi expects that these infrastructural changes will drastically improve its capabilities as a base for the transportation of goods.
Canphor tree "tabunoki"
Beach Lily "Hamayuri"
Characterized by its beautiful stretch of white sand, Nebama Beach is famed as one of the biggest sea bathing sites in lwate. Visitors can enjoy many leisure facilities, including a large grassy park and a marina.
Located in the Kitakami Highlands, Mt.Goyo rises 1,351 meters above the Pacific Ocean. It is blessed with a panoramic ocean view of the Sanriku Coast. Renowned as a treasury of azaleas in spring, Mt.Goyo also serves as the northernmost point of habitation for he Honshu Deer.
This uninhabited island lies off the southern coast of the Hakozaki Peninsula. Completly covered by trees, Sangan island is famous as a breeding ground for black petrels, a small sea bird, and streaked shearwaters' a type of swallow. It is designated as a Japanese natural monument.
The Wayama Plateau offers beautiful views of a variety of nature including the pasture and ravine. The marsh is a habitat of fauna and flora, and in the spring skunk cabbages grow abundantly.
History and Culture
Site of Hashino Blast Furnace
This is the oldest western-style blast furnace in Japan, and is regarded as a cornerstone of the development of the iron and steel manufacturing industry in Japan. It was constructed with the help of the technical assistant, Oshima Takato and is now designated as a National Treasure.
In 1801, Ino Tadataka, a geologist during the Edo period, visited Kamaishi and executed an accurate measurement of the local landscape. This monumental stone was established in honor of his great achievement, and has the latitude of the local area and 24 constellations engraved upon it.
Iron and Steel History Museum
In 1858, Japan’s first western-style blast furnace went into operation in Kamaishi. This museum was founded in 1985 to exhibit the life-size blast furnace as well as many important historical documents that illustrate the relationship between Kamaishi and iron.
The Kamaishi Daikannon, or the Goddess of Mercy, is a huge white statue which was erected in 1970. She is protectively watching over the safety of sailors and ensuring a bountiful catch. This statue is 48.5 meters high and has 13 floors inside. From its observation platform you can enjoy a splendid, panoramic view of Kamaishi Bay.
Kamaishi City is called "Like Wales in Japan", it is famous as Rugby Town in Japan. Rugby Football is very popular in Kamaishi.
Nippon Steel Kamaishi Work Rugby Football Club had won the championship for 7 successive years. The club supporterd by Nippon Steel Kamaishi Work , has launched the new system, “Kamaishi Seawaves RFC “ as a local amateur club in 2001. The members of the classic Nippon Steel Kamaishi Work Rugby Club were called “ Northern tough guys", and they were loves by a lot of supporters.
The club train to familiarize rugby to people living in Iwate Prefecture, to build up their health, and to make themselves the top level team in Japan.
They have not only the top team, but also senior team and youth team.
The top team is different from the conventional teams supported by companies. The members belonging to the various companies, are training to get through the local games and attain "Top League" in Japan. In addition, even if we do not belong to the club directly as players, we can support it. It is characteristic of the club.
All the people living at Kamaishi support Kamaishi Seawaves RFC.
Festivals and Local Specialties
Kamaishi Tora Mai
Tora Mai, or the tiger dance, is one of the traditional folk performing arts originating in the Sanriku coastal area which includes Kamaishi. The dancers wear masks and cloaks which give them the appearance of tigers. The energetic and lively movements of the fishermen, coupled with unique instrumental accompaniment, vividly reflects their power and high morals.
Cherry Blossom Festival in Toni
The festival of the Toni Shrine, which is dedicated to the great sun goddess and is meant to protect the local population, is held every three years. Amidst cherry blossoms in full bloom, local inhabitants re-enact picturesque and historical scenes of the glory days 300 years ago.
Every August, the main street is full of thronging people dancing the "Kamaishi Yoisa". You can join the dance and have fun dansing and jumping with the local people.
(October, the third weekend)
This is the most lively festival in Kamaishi. One of the highlights of this festival is a parade of gorgeously decorated fishing boats on the water, with their banners, which represent a bountiful catch, flying in the wind. Another highlight is Tora Mai, tiger dance on the boats.
The fish market is very busy and bustling every morning, and offers various fresh seafoods caught off the Sanriku Coast, such as salmon, sau-ries, scallops, abalones, and so forth.