History of Kagoshima Prefecture

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The outline of the History of Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan is described herein.

Kagoshima Prefecture
Japanese transcription(s)
 • Japanese 鹿児島県
 • Rōmaji Kagoshima-ken
Location of Kagoshima Prefecture
Country Japan
Region Kyushu
Island Kyushu
Capital Kagoshima
 • Governor Yūichirō Itō
 • Total 9,132.42 km2 (3,526.05 sq mi)
Area rank 10th
Population (December 1, 2010)
 • Total 1,703,406
 • Rank 24th
 • Density 186.52/km2 (483.1/sq mi)
ISO 3166 code JP-46
Districts 11
Municipalities 49
Flower Miyamakirishima (Rhododendron kiusianum)
Tree Camphor laurel
(Cinnamomum camphora)
Bird Lidth's jay (Garrulus lidthi)
Website www3.pref.kagoshima.jp/


View of Sakurajima from mainland Kagoshima

The name of Kagoshima came from Kagoshima Shrine situated in Hayato Cho, Kirishima. There are several views such as a boat of Hoori who was enshrined there was built in Kagoyama Mountain, or Kagoshima means a kami mountain (island) or an island where kami lives, Kagoshima came from Sakurajima, which is encircled by cliffs, an old name of Kagoshima.

Kagoshimajingu Chokushiden.JPG
Dedicated to Hoori
Emperor Chūai
Emperor Ōjin
Empress Jingū
Address 2496, Hayato-chō Uchi, Kirishima
Kagoshima 899-5116
Shinto torii icon vermillion.svg Glossary of Shinto

Prehistoric Kagoshima[edit]

About 24,000 years ago, Aira Caldera, corresponding to Kagoshima Bay and larger areas, made great volcanic eruptions, and the volcanic ash reached as far as Hokkaido and made here Shirasu-Daichi (volcanic ejecta). As of 2005, about 40 archaeological sites of the lower paleolithic era had been found in Kagoshima Prefecture. In Nakatane Machi, Kumage-gun, a camp site of lower paleolithic era, 31,000 years ago, was found with sharpened stones and burned soil.[1]

Yamato Ouken and Kagoshima[edit]

Expanding Yamato Ouken(red) around the 7th century;Kagoshima Prefecture is southernmost in Kyushu,in black letters Kumaso and Hayato

There are various Japanese names for a political/governmental organization present starting in the 3rd century of kofun period in Kinki area of Japan, composed of several powerful families, with Oh (king) or Ohkimi (great king) as its center. These names include Yamato Choutei (Court), Yamato Ouken, Wa Ouken, and Yamato Seiken. At the present time, Yamato Ouken is tentatively used here. Kagoshima had been long regarded as a foreign country. Hayato people made underground tombs. Under the influence of Yamato Ouken, Satsuma Local Country was established in 702 and Osumi Local Country was established in 713. However, Hayato people were not friendly with the Yamato Ouken.

Shimazu Tadahisa, the founder of the Shimazu Samurai clan[edit]

In 1185, Shimazu Tadahisa (died August 1, 1227) was the founder of the Shimazu samurai clan. The Shimazu clan had become the daimyo of Satsuma and Osumi domains of Kagoshima and Hyuga country in the Azuchi Momoyama era. He went to Satsuma in 1196, subdued Hyuga and Osumi provinces, and built a castle in the domain of Shimazu (Hyuga) which name he also adopted. He is buried in Kamakura, near his father's tomb.

Wakou, the Portuguese, Francis Xavier and the Import of a gun[edit]

Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta (7 April 1506 - 3 December 1552)
16th century Japanese pirate raids.

In the medieval age, Wokou, meaning Japanese pirates raided the coastlines of China and Korea from the 13th century onwards. In Kagoshima Prefecture, Wokou departed from Bounotsu and Uchinoura ports. In 1543, a gun was firstly imported into Tanegashima when the Portuguese, the first Europeans, arrived in Japan, which later revolutionized warfare in the country. Francis Xavier, born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta (7 April 1506 – 3 December 1552) was a pioneering Roman Catholic missionary born in Navarra and co-founder of the Society of Jesus. In 1549, under the patronage of Portuguese King, he landed at Kagoshima and started missionary work. In 1574, Kimotsuki clan of Osumi area was defeated and in 1577, Ito of Hyuga was also defeated and the Shimazu clan unified Kagoshima.[2] In 1587, Toyotomi Hideyoshi won over the Shimazu clan and the Shimazu clan survived only in Satsuma and Osumi areas. Near the end of the 16th century, Japanese feudal leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi ordered the Ryukyu kingdom to support Hideyoshi’s invasions of Korea with men and arms. However, the kingdom was already a tribute state of China.

On August 25, 1543 a gun was imported into Tanegashima, which revolutinalized warfare in Japan. Murashukusha and Kirishimota in a Chinese document

Invasion of the Ryukyus[edit]

The invasion of the Ryukyus by Satsuma took place in April 1609. Three thousand men and more than one hundred war junks sailed from Kagoshima at the southern tip of Kyushu. The kingdom became a tribute state of both China and the Satsuma clan, with Satsuma exercising ultimate control.

Main article: Satsuma Domain

Satsuma Ware (Porcelain) and history[edit]

A Satsuma ware bowl from the Meiji or Taishō period (19th-early 20th century)
  • Satsuma ware or porcelain was originally developed by Korean potters, who came to Japan following the Japanese Invasion of Korea in the 17th century. The Prince of Satsuma brought potters from Korea, where they established a now famous kiln for making pottery. The ongoing patronage of the prince's family, the Shimazu family was the daimyos (feudal lords) at the time that resulted in the great popularity of Satsuma porcelain. Production of Satsuma pottery is no longer limited to one area of Japan. The Shimazu family introduced the world to their beautiful earthenware pieces at the Paris International Exposition of 1867.

Horeki Age River Improvement Incident[edit]

Horeki Age River Improvement Incident or Nobi Plain River Improvement Incident was a big project of Satsuma han which intended to divide the rivers into Kiso River, Nagara River and Ibi River, in Nagoya district between 1754 and 1755. These rivers were three big rivers which flowed in the Nobi Plain with complicated geographical features and frequent floods. Tokugawa Ieshige, the 9th Edo Shogunate ordered the river improvement construction works to be done by the Satsuma han, in order to weaken the Satsuma han. Hirata Yukie (1704–1755) a karo (家老, house elder), accepted the construction works with 947 people. The works were tremendously difficult and 51 samurais died and 33 people died of disease during the construction works. Hirata Yukie committed seppuku for the great burden to the Satsuma han. Ironically, floods increased after the works and modern technology completed the works in the Meiji era under the direction of Johannis de Rijke(1842-1913) a Dutch civil engineer and advisor to Japanese government.

Shimazu Nariakira[edit]

Shimazu Nariakira
IJN Ensign
Builder: Sakura-jima, Seto-Mura
Laid down: 1853
Launched: April 1854
Commissioned: January 1855
Decommissioned: 1870
Fate: Wrecked, 1870
General characteristics
Propulsion: 3-masted sailing ship
Armament: 10 guns
  • Shimazu Nariakira (1809-1858) was an influential daimyo of Satsuma. After he became daimyō of Satsuma, Nariakira had Minayoshi Hotoku, a Satsuma physician, to build the Iroha-maru, one of the first Western-style ships built in Japan. It was based on Minayoshi’s 6-foot-long (1.8 m), 3-foot-wide (0.91 m) model. Nariakira then built a shipyard for Western-style shipbuilding at Sakurajima. He also began enacting educational changes in Satsuma geared at bringing in Western science and technology. Nariakira established the Rangaku Koshujo, a school for the study of the Dutch language and Western culture. He would frequently visit schools and ask students to explain the meaning of the Confucian texts, to ensure that their Western learning did not corrupt their sense of nationalism. So strong was Nariakira’s desire to raise well-educated youths that he set aside four koku annually to feed starving scholars, essentially a form of financial aid or scholarship. The Shūseikan (集成館) industrial area established by Shimazu Nariakira in 1852 in Iso, Satsuma province.
  • Shōhei Maru (Japanese: 昇平丸) was Japan's first Western-style warship following the country's period of seclusion. She was ordered in 1852 by the government of the Shogun to the southern fief of Satsuma in the island of Kyūshū, in anticipation of the announced mission of Commodore Perry in 1853.

Tokugawa Shogunate, Powerful Satsuma Clan and Satsuma Rebellion[edit]

Bombardment of Kagoshima

Toward the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, namely the bakumatsu in which the Shimazu clan played an important role, there have been a chain of events such, bombardment of Kagoshima, also known as the Anglo-Satsuma War (Satsu-Ei Sensō), which took place on 15–17 August 1863 during the Late Tokugawa shogunate, Meiji Restoration(1868), abolition of the han system(1871) and Satsuma Rebellion(1877). In 1872, the Ryukyu islands were made the Ryukyu han. The Sword Abolishment Edict and the abolishment of the Samurai system were issued in 1876, and samurais were angered and became furious. Saigo Takamori, the hero and leader of Meiji Restoration left the central Meiji Government and returned to Kagoshima, with dissatisfied samurais. In 1877, Satsuma Rebellion army went up to Kumamoto, but could not invade the Kumamoto Castle and Saigo Takamori committed seppuku at his native place Kagoshima. In 1883, Kagoshima Prefecture was founded after the re-establishment of Miyazaki Prefecture. In 1914, Mt. Sakurajima erupted and the island of Sakurajima connected with the Osumi Peninsula.

The city of Kagoshima was covered by deep ash during the 1914 eruption of the Sakurajima volcano, in the distance across the bay.

World War Ⅱ and after[edit]

On June 17, 1945, Kagoshima city was attacked by B-29 bombers with 2316 persons killed, while in the same year, suicide attack planes departed from Kagoshima Prefecture. At the end of the war, islands southernmore than 30 parallel went into American control. In 1953, Amami islands were returned to Kagoshima Prefecture. In 1972, the Kamoike Airport was abolished and a new airport was established in Kirishima City. In 1993, 1993 Kagoshima Heavy Rain occurred, with the death toll of 71, but about 2,500 people who were either in 1200 cars or busses, including those on the trains and inhabitants were saved by fishing boats and ferries which carried them to Kagoshima through the Sakurajima Bay. In 1996, the Kagoshima Prefectural buildings were completed in the present place. In 2004, Kyushu Shinkansen partially opened between Shin-Yatsushiro and Kagoshima Chuo Station which opened fully in 2011.

See also[edit]

Satsuma Domain


  1. ^ Nagayama S: Reimei of Kagoshima, in History of Kagoshima Prefecture Yamakawa Shuppansha, 2002 p12.
  2. ^ Kagoshima Prefecture, Unification of three countries