Awa Maru (1899)

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Civil naval ensign ([Hinmaru])Japan
Name: Awa Maru
Operator: NYK Line house flag.svg Nippon Yusen (NYK)
Builder: Mitsubishi Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Nagasaki, Japan
Yard number: 102
Laid down: 20 June 1898
Launched: 27 July 1899
Completed: 14 November 1899
Out of service: 1930
Fate: Scrapped
General characteristics
Tonnage: 6,309 gross register tons (GRT)
Length: 135.6 m (445 ft)
Beam: 15.1 m (50 ft)
Speed: 13 knots (24 km/h)

The Awa Maru (阿波丸) was a Japanese ocean liner owned by Nippon Yusen Kaisha. The ship was built in 1899 by Mitsubishi Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Nagasaki, Japan.

The ship's name comes in part from the ancient province of Awa.[1] This turn-of-the-20th-century Awa Maru was the first NYK vessel to bear this name.[2] A second mid-century, 11,249 ton Awa Maru was completed in 1943.[3]


The ship was built by Mitsubishi at Nagasaki on the southern island of Kyushu. The keel was laid down on June 20, 1898. The Awa Maru was launched on July 27, 1899; and she was completed November 14, 1899.[3]

The ship sailed the route between Japan and England.[4] By 1914, the ship settled into a regular schedule of sailings between Yokohama and Seattle.[5] and she would be taken out of service in 1930.

On December 27, 1906, the Awa Maru ran aground on the West Scar Rocks off Redcar. No lives were lost, thanks to the efforts of the Redcar lifeboat crew and local fishermen, and after eighteen days the vessel was successfully refloated.

Arguably the most important voyage of this Awa Maru began when it left Yokohoma on February 14, 1912 carrying 3,020 cherry trees of twelve varieties.[6] These fragile tree slips were bound for Seattle where they were trans-shipped across the North American continent via insulated freight cars. On arrival in Washington, D.C., these trees they would form the genesis of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.[7]


  1. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1935). The Nomeclature of the N.Y.K. Fleet, pp. 8, 80.
  2. ^ Harris, Charles B. (1905). "Shipbuilding at Nagasaki" (December 13, 1899), Monthly consular and trade reports, p. 314.
  3. ^ a b Haworth, R.B. Miramar Ship Index: ID #4049894
  4. ^ Hamilton, Louis. (1908). The English Newspaper Reader. p. 149.
  5. ^ Tate, E. Mowbray. (1986). Transpacific steam: the story of steam navigation from the Pacific Coast of North America to the Far East and the Antipodes, 1867-1941, p. 122.
  6. ^ Constable, Pamela. "Nurturing a Legacy of Fleeting Blossoms and Enduring Bonds", Washington Post, April 8, 2007. p. A-1; dbking notes, 1912 shipment of cherry trees.
  7. ^ Ozaki, Yukio. (2001). The Autobiography of Ozaki Yukio: The Struggle for Constitutional Government in Japan pp. 231-233; "Cherry Trees in Washington," Archived 2007-02-27 at the Wayback Machine. The English Academy Times (Ehime, Japan). 2001.


  • Ponsonby-Fane, Richard Arthur Brabazon. (1935). The Nomeclature of the N.Y.K. Fleet. Tokyo : Nippon Yusen Kaisha. OCLC 27933596
  • Tate, E. Mowbray. (1986). Transpacific steam: the story of steam navigation from the Pacific Coast of North America to the Far East and the Antipodes, 1867-1941. New York: Cornwall Books. ISBN 978-0-8453-4792-8; OCLC 12370774
  • U.S. Bureau of Manufactures, Bureau of Foreign Commerce. (1905). Monthly consular and trade reports (1854-1903). Washington, D.C.: Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office. OCLC 13504256