Location of Shimoda in Shizuoka Prefecture
|• Mayor||Shunsuke Kusuyama|
|• Total||104.71 km2 (40.43 sq mi)|
|Population (June 2014)|
|• Density||224/km2 (580/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
|- Tree||Oshima Cherry|
|Address||1-5-18, Higashihongō, Shimoda-shi, Shizuoka-ken
In the 1850s, Japan was in political crisis over its increasing inability to maintain its national seclusion policy and the issue of what relations, if any, it should have with foreign powers. For a few years, Shimoda was central to this debate.
Shimoda is located at the southern tip of the Izu peninsula about 100 kilometres southwest of Tokyo. Shimoda's location, with the Amagi Mountains to the north, and the warm Kuroshio Current to the south give the city a humid, sub-tropical climate.
Shimoda has been settled since prehistoric times, with numerous Jomon period remains found within city limits. It is mentioned in Nara period documents as the location to which Prince Ōtsu was exiled in 686 after his failed rebellion, and in Heian period documents in reference to its iron ore deposits. During the Sengoku period it was controlled by the Hōjō clan, who built a castle (later destroyed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi). Under the Tokugawa shogunate, Shimoda was tenryō territory directly administered by the Shogun. During the Edo period, Shimoda prospered as a seaport, and was a major port of call for coastal vessels travelling between Osaka and Edo. Until 1721, as a security measure, all vessels were obligated to call at Shimoda before proceeding on to Edo.
During the Bakumatsu period, Shimoda port was opened to American trade under the conditions of the Convention of Kanagawa, negotiated by Commodore Matthew Perry and signed on March 31, 1854. Shimoda was also the site of Yoshida Shōin's unsuccessful attempt to board Perry's 'black ships' in 1854.
The first American Consulate in Japan was opened at the temple of Gyokusen-ji under Consul General Townsend Harris. Harris negotiated the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the two countries, which was signed at nearby Ryōsen-ji in 1858.
After the Meiji Restoration, Shimoda came under the control of the short-lived Kikuma Domain in 1868, and the equally short-lived Ashigara Prefecture from 1871. The Mikomotoshima Lighthouse was completed in 1870 by British engineer Richard Henry Brunton. It is currently the oldest functioning lighthouse in Japan and is now a National Historic Monument. Ashigara Prefecture was divided between Kanagawa and Shizuoka prefectures in 1876. In a cadastral reform of 1889, Shimoda Town was formally established within Kamo District. The town was repeatedly bombed in 1945, in the final stages of World War II.
Shimoda expanded in March 1955 through the merger of six neighboring towns and villages. In 1958, an All Nippon Airways DC-3 en route from Haneda to Nagoya crashed offshore Shimoda, killing three passengers. Shimoda suffered damage from sizeable earthquakes in 1974 and in 1978.
Apart from its role in the opening of Japan, Shimoda is famous for its hot spring resorts and beaches. Tatadohama, Ohama and Iritahama beaches attract many tourists in summer and are popular surfing spots year round, and Iritahama has been voted most beautiful Japanese beach a number of years.
Notable people from Shimoda
- Shimooka Renjō – Photographer.
- Harumi Kurihara – Television personality.
- Michiko Matsumoto – Photographer.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shimoda, Shizuoka.|
- Shimoda City official website (Japanese)
- Shimoda city and great beaches
- Article in the Observer
- Book about the history of Okichi Saito and the black ships