Location of Kushimoto in Wakayama Prefecture
|• Mayor||Katsumasa Tashima|
|• Total||135.78 km2 (52.42 sq mi)|
|• Tree||Tsubaki (Japanese Camellia)|
|• Flower||Mochinoki (Birdlime Holly)|
|Time zone||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
Kushimoto (串本町 Kushimoto-chō?) is a coastal town located in Higashimuro District, Wakayama Prefecture in western Japan. The town has the distinction of being the southernmost point of Japan's main island, Honshū. The central area of town is on a narrow isthmus, surrounded on both sides by the Pacific Ocean. Kushimoto is bordered by the towns of Susami on the west, Kozagawa on the north, and Nachi-Katsuura on the east.
The former town of Kushimoto was part of Nishimuro District, but the town has strong ties with the city of Shingū and Higashimuro District, both for political and economic reasons. The town became part of Higashimuro District upon this merger.
- 1 History
- 2 Climate
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Education
- 5 Culture
- 6 Transportation
- 7 Friend cities
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Though people were known to have inhabited the area since the Asuka Period, the first known documented settlements were established during the Edo Period. During that time, most of the area that encompasses Wakayama Prefecture today was known as Kii-no-Kuni (Kii Province) or Kishū. The area was owned by the Kii branch of the Tokugawa clan, headquartered at Wakayama Castle.
Kushimoto did not experience significant growth until the 20th century. It was officially incorporated into a town in Nishimuro District in 1907. Over the next decades, the town grew as a result of numerous mergers with the surrounding neighborhoods:
- 1924: Incorporation of Fuji-Bashi
- 1955: Incorporation of Arita, Shiono-Misaki, Tanami, and Wabuka
- 1958: Incorporation of Oshima
- On April 1, 2005: Kushimoto, formerly from Nishimuro District, absorbed the town of Koza, from Higashimuro District, to become the new town of Kushimoto, now in Higashimuro District.
Being in a very strategic location, Kushimoto was home to many military installations during World War II, including the Kushimoto Seaplane Base and Shiono-Misaki Airfield. Both bases were attacked by the United States Navy and Air Force in 1945, including a naval bombardment on the night of 24/25 July. Shiono-Misaki Airfield now serves as a small base for the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force.
Kushimoto (or specifically, Shiono-Misaki) was the epicenter of the Great Nankai earthquake, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake that struck the area on December 21, 1946 at 4:19am. This triggered a tsunami that enveloped the central part of town. Most of the Fuji-Bashi neighborhood was destroyed but has since been rebuilt. There are memorials around town marking the event, including signposts indicating how far the tsunami had penetrated inland. Of the 269 casualties in Wakayama Prefecture, the majority were in Kushimoto and in the city of Kainan.
There are two widely accepted views of where the name "Kushimoto" comes from. The first is explained by a strange tree growing in a shrine in Shiono-Misaki, whose seedling is thought to have floated from a far off island to its current resting place. An archaic compound form of the Chinese character for "kushi" (串) is said to have meant "strange tree"; in combination with the second character "moto" (本), the name is supposed to represent "strange tree's origin." Another explanation dictates that the "kushi" character is a visual abstraction of the town's layout; Shiono-Misaki and Oshima act as the smaller upper "kuchi" (口) radical, while the mainland acts as the larger lower one. The "bo" (｜) radical that strikes through both of the others is said to represent the isthmus that runs through the town.
Owing to its location on the Kii Peninsula in the path of typhoons and the moist winds of the Kuroshio Current, Kushimoto has a very wet climate, receiving an average of 2,600 millimetres (102 in) of rainfall per year, though it is not quite as wet as Owase further east. The wettest month was September 1929 with 846.5 millimetres (33.3 in) whilst in January 2010 the town received no rain for the second time since records began in 1913 and had the lowest monthly humidity on record at 47 percent. The heaviest daily rainfall was 420.7 millimetres (16.6 in) on 17 October 1939. The data below are for Shionomisaki Lighthouse near the town.
|Climate data for Shionomisaki Lighthouse|
|Record high °C (°F)||23.6
|Average high °C (°F)||11.1
|Daily mean °C (°F)||7.5
|Average low °C (°F)||4.3
|Record low °C (°F)||−3.6
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||94.4
|Average rainy days (≥ 0.5 mm)||7.6||8.7||12.1||11.5||11.9||14.5||12.6||12.2||12.6||11.4||9.4||6.6||131.1|
|Average relative humidity (%)||59||61||64||72||77||85||87||84||81||73||67||62||72.7|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||199.0||184.2||205.1||196.7||205.8||161.8||216.0||247.4||187.9||176.9||176.7||194.2||2,351.7|
|Source #1: Japan Meteorological Agency|
|Source #2: Japan Meteorological Agency (records)|
The population of Kushimoto is 20,618, consisting of 9,561 men and 11,057 women. There are a total of 9,397 families.
Communities and neighborhoods
- Koza High School
- Kushimoto High School
Junior high schools
- Kushimoto Junior High School
- Kushimoto-Nishi Junior High School
- Nishi-Mukai Junior High School
- Oshima Junior High School
- Shiono-Misaki Junior High School
- Hashigui Elementary School
- Kinpu Elementary School
- Kushimoto Elementary School
- Koza Elementary School
- Izumo Elementary School
- Nishi-Mukai Elementary School
- Oshima Elementary School
- Shiono-Misaki Elementary School
- Tahara Elementary School
- Kushimoto Nishi Elementary School
- Izumo Kindergarten
- Kushimoto Kindergarten
- Nishi-Mukai Kindergarten
- Oshima Kindergarten
- Shiono-Misaki Kindergarten
Sites of interest
- Hashigui Beach
- Hashigui-Iwa Coastal Scenic Area
- Kashino Lighthouse
- Koza Coastal Scenic Area
- Koza River
- Kuroshima and Taijima
- Kushimoto Marine Park
- Okyoro Art Museum
- Shiono-Misaki Lighthouse
- Shiono-Misaki Southernmost Point Park
- Shiono-Misaki Youth Hostel
- Turkish Memorial and Museum
- Umikongo Coastal Scenic Area
- United States Friendship Museum
Kushimoto is famous for its many coastal rock formations, including Hashigui-Iwa and Umikongo. The cape of Shiono-Misaki, located in the southern tip of the town, has a park and tower marking the southernmost point of Honshū.
The island of Oshima, connected to the main town via the Kushimoto Big Bridge, is home to two museums of foreign origin.
- The Turkish Memorial and Museum, located on the southeastern end of the island, commemorates the crash of the Turkish ship Ertugrul on Oshima's shores. As of 2005, there was discussion of salvaging the wreckage with a Turkish team to exhibit it in the local museum.
- The United States Friendship Museum commemorates the visit of the USS Lady Washington, which took place years before Commodore Matthew Perry's infamous landing in Japan. The museum also hosts a collection of Native American artifacts and items of nostalgia from its sister city, Hemet, in the United States.
The surrounding wetlands and coastal areas in Kushimoto are designated areas of conservation through the Ramsar Convention of 1971. They have since become popular spots for scuba diving, with numerous diving establishments along National Highway 42.
A merger in 2004 incorporated the former town of Koza into Kushimoto. Located in the east of Kushimoto, Koza is home to the Kozagawa River. The river, regulated by the Shichikawa Dam, is one of three rivers in southern Wakayama Prefecture known for kayaking.
Annual events and festivals
In late January or early February is the Shiono-Misaki Fire Festival. During this event, the large grassy field that designates Honshū's southernmost tip is ritually burned. Spectators may walk through the fire as it progresses through the field.
In February is the Oshima Boat Race. Festivals grounds are set up at Oshima Port, and two boats ritually race to and from the port on the mainland Kushimoto.
In August, the Summer Fireworks Festival takes place at Kushimoto Port.
In October is the Sunset Marathon. The marathon's route winds through Oshima and Shiono-Misaki.
Mass public transportation
Rail service is provided by the West Japan Railway Company, or JR West, on the Kinokuni Line. There are direct services to other big cities in the Kansai area, with many limited express trains bound for Shin-Osaka Station and Kyoto Station. There are eight train stations in town (from west to east): Wabuka, Tako, Tanami, Kii-Arita, Kushimoto, Kii-Hime, Koza, and Kii-Tahara.
National Highways 42 and 371 run through Kushimoto. The Hanwa Expressway, still under construction, is set to pass to the north of the town.
Air and sea
The nearest domestic ferry services are in Nachi-Katsuura.
Kushimoto has three sister cities:
- Monthly Mean Relative Humidity
- "Monthly Mean and Monthly Total Tables". Japan Meteorological Agency. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
- "観測史上1～10位の値（年間を通じての値）". Japan Meteorological Agency. Retrieved 2011-11-25.