|This article does not cite any references or sources. (March 2012)|
|— City —|
|• Mayor||Masaaki Aihara|
|• Total||993.35 km2 (383.53 sq mi)|
|Population (April 2008)|
|• Density||130/km2 ( 330/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
|- Bird||Green Pheasant|
|Address||1-1 Ōtemachi, Mizusawa-ku, Ōshū-shi, Iwate-ken
The city was founded on February 20, 2006, as the result of a merger between the cities of Esashi and Mizusawa, the towns of Maesawa and Isawa and the village of Koromogawa from Isawa District. The modern city traces its origins to the foundation of Fort Isawa by Sakanoue no Tamuramaro in 802 in what is now Mizusawa Ward. Ōshū is famous for its Maesawa Beef, numerous festivals, historic temples and shrines and especially Fujiwara no Sato, a theme park and movie lot based on the exploits of the Northern Fujiwaras in the 12th century. Many famous people have claimed Ōshū as their home including Ichiro Ozawa, the long-time leader of the Democratic Party of Japan.
At 993.35 square kilometers, Ōshū is the second largest community in Iwate Prefecture in terms of land area. The city lies in a fertile plain stradling the Kitakami River and rises to the Ōu Mountains in the west and the Kitakami mountains to the east. The city's highest point is Mt. Yakeishi-dake at 1,548 meters in the Ōu Mountains. The northern boundary is marked by the Isawa River while the Koromo River marks the southern border. Ishibuchi Dam creates a reservoir on the upper reaches of the Isawa River near Mt. Yakeishi-dake. However a new reservoir will be created behind Isawa Dam which will completely submerge the old reservoir. Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2013. There is some concern among local citizens that the weight of the water in the reservoir will trigger an earthquake which could cause the dam to burst.
The first inhabitants of this area were the prehistoric Jōmon people but little remains of their presence except arrowheads and pottery fragments. Isawa Ward is especially rich in Kofun Period remains. Next to Route 397 in Isawa Ward is the Tsunozuka-kofun Tumulus which dates from the 5th century.
By the 8th century Japanese hunters, trappers, settlers and itinerant missionaries were visiting and settling in this area coming into contact with the native Emishi people. In 729 Kokuseki-ji Temple was said to have been established by the Buddhist priest Gyōki in a mountainous area to the east of the Kitakami River in what is now Mizusawa Ward. In this century too the central government began sending military expeditions against the Emishi but with little success. In 776 two separate attacks were launched but neither met with success. In June 787 Emishi cavalry led by Aterui and More surprised and routed a larger force of Japanese infantry in the Battle of Subuse Village which is now a part of Mizusawa Ward. Despite these military successes the Emishi could not hold out against the Japanese who engaged in a policy of burning crops and capturing and resettling women and children to Western Japan. In 802 the Emishi leaders Aterui and More surrendered and were beheaded. That same year Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, the Grand General of Conquering East-Barbarians or Seii Tai Shogun, established Fort Isawa in what is now Mizusawa Ward in an attempt to keep the peace.
Despite the victory the Japanese found themselves unable to rule the acquired territory directly. Six semi-autonomous districts were established along the Kitakami River. Eventually these came under the control of a powerful Emishi clan from Appi, the Abe Family. Early in the 11th century their leader Abe no Yoritoki refused to pay taxes to the central government, led raiding parties south of the Koromo River and generally ruled as an independent monarch. This led to the Zenkunen War (前九年合戦) or Early Nine-Years War (1050 - 1062) in which Minamoto no Yoriyoshi reinforced by Kiyohara no Takenori from Dewa Province defeated the Abes. The six semi-autonomous districts were then given to Kiyohara no Takenori. Corrupt administration in the Kiyohara family led the Japanese to war a second time. In the Gosannen War (後三年合戦) or Latter Three Years' War (1083 - 1087) in which Minamoto no Yoshiie subdued the Kiyoharas.
Fujiwara no Kiyohira, the founder of the Ōshū Fujiwara dynasty, was born in Fort Toyota which is now in the Iwayado area of Esashi Ward. The remains of the fort can still be seen there. Around 1100 he moved to Hiraizumi where he and his descendants ruled for nearly a hundred years. Much of Koromogawa Ward is full of the ruins of temples, estates and so forth dependent on Hiraizumi culture. The ruins at Chōjagahara and Kinryū-ji Temple are two examples.
In 1348 a Zen Buddhist priest named Mutei Ryōshō founded Shōbō-ji Temple near Kokuseki-ji Temple in Mizusawa Ward. It is the third head temple of the Sōtō sect of Zen Buddhism and boasts the largest thatched roof in Japan.
In the 16th century all of Ōshū became a part of the Date family feudal domain ruled by Date Masamune. One of his retainers was a certain Juan Gotō who commanded Date Masamune's gun regiment at Osaka in 1614 and 1615. He was also a Christian and established a church in the Fukuwara area of Mizusawa Ward. After Christianity was outlawed in 1623 he went into hiding to escape capture. Many foreign missionaries visited the area but finally in December 1623 a Rev. Calvarius from Portugal was captured on the upper reaches of the Isawa River, sent to Sendai and forced to stand in the frozen Hirose River until he died on January 1, 1624. There is a memorial to Juan Gotō in the Fukuwara area and many crypto-Christian remains can still be seen there.
Other famous Ōshū residents include:
- Saitō Makoto (1858-1936) Prime Minister of Japan;
- Shimpei Gotō (1857-1929) Governor of Taiwan, Home Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister;
- Takano Chōei (1804-1850) Doctor and "Dutch Scholar"
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Ōshū, Iwate|
- Official website (Japanese)