The Origin of Hamamatsu
Monument for the shell mounds
Hamamatsu is a city blessed with a rich natural environment and a warm climate. Evidence of human settlement can be traced as far back as the Paleolithic Era. Human bones discovered in the Hamakita area, dating from about 18,000 years back, constitute the oldest fossils found in Honshu. The archeological ruins of prehistoric people who lived with nature can also be found in every part of the city. Most important of all are the shell mounds from the Jomon period (about 3,000 – 4,000 years ago from now) found on the eastern shores of Lake Sanaru. To this day, they are the only artifacts of their kind found in Shizuoka.
In the Yayoi period (ca. 300 BCE – 250 CE), when rice first began to be grown in Japan, many people came to live on the lower reaches of the plains, a location ideally suited for cultivating rice paddies. Over 20 dotaku
, or bronze instruments believed to have been used in ancient rituals, have been excavated in Hamamatsu to date, drawing national attention to the city.
During the Kofun Period (250 – 538), many kofun
, or ancient burial mounds, were also constructed in this area in the tradition of the enormous kofun
built for clan leaders found in Osaka, Nara and other places. Among those found in Hamamatsu include the famous Akamonue kofun
(Hamakita) and the Komyosan Kofun
Origin of the City’s Name
In the Nara period (ca. 8th
century), the western part of Shizuoka was called Totsu-afumi. A mokkan
(a strip of wood on which official records were written) that was found at an Iba excavation site reveals that the city’s name originates as Hamamatsu from over 1,300 years ago. We also know that the place names of Inasa and Miyakoda, among many others, have similarly long histories.
The Warring States Period & the Edo Period
Hamamatsu became a battlefield among the Tokugawa, Imagawa and Takeda clans during the civil wars that tore apart the country in the 16th century. The famous Hamamatsu Castle was built during this period by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the man who later founded the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled during the Edo period. Many important battles were waged during the 17 years Tokugawa spent at the castle, including the famous Battle of Mikatagahara in 1572. During the Edo Period, daimyos in the Tokugawa administration became lords of the castle, and many of these lords were later appointed to important positions in the central government. As a result, the castle has been known as the “Castle of Success”.
During the peaceful Edo era after the civil wars, Hamamatsu thrived as an important posting station which is located roughly on the center of Tokaido Road. The road was the main artery connecting the Kyoto/Osaka area to Edo (currently Tokyo) for centuries.
The Meiji Restoration
Under the Abolition of the Han System in 1871, the current western part of Shizuoka became Hamamatsu Prefecture. A prefectural hall was established at Hamamatsu-juku (Hamamatsu station) which became the center of administration.
Hamamatsu Town was established in 1889 after the government officially announced the reorganization of cities, towns and villages. It was also this year when the Tokaido Railway was fully opened to traffic. Around 1897, Teikoku Seibo Co. (now Teibo), Nihon Gakki Co. (now Yahama), Hamamatsu Momen Co. (now Nihon Keisen) and other companies were established, which built the foundation of industries in Hamamatsu.
The Founding of Hamamatsu City
On July 1, 1911 Hamamatsu officially became a municipality. At the time, it had a population of 36,782 and covered an area of 8.66km2. Although the nation’s economy went through a series of ups and downs in the early 20th century due to World War I, Hamamatsu continued to grow steadily through the brisk evolution of the city’s textile, dye-works, musical instrument and other key industries.
Air Raids on Hamamatsu
World War II broke out in 1941. Hamamatsu became a major target for air raids due to the Air Force base and a concentration of munitions factories in the area. A total 27 air raids and naval bombardments struck the city during the war, resulting in over 5,000 casualties and the destruction of 30,000 houses.
In particular, the major air raid at daybreak on June 18, 1945 transformed the city into an inferno. Later named the “Hamamatsu Major Air Raid”, 1,157 people were killed and 16,011 homes were destroyed on this horrendous day.
The Path to Recovery
The Pacific War ended on August 15, 1945. People rose from the ruins to build their shattered lives, fighting hunger and poverty along the way. Manufacturing industries were given special support and as a result, they were restored to 70% of the pre-war capacity in just three years. In particular, the three major industries of Hamamatsu, textile, musical instrument and motorcycle, developed rapidly during this period.
Hamamatsu City continued to grow steadily and expanded its size by merging with surrounding towns and villages.
Leaping Forward as a City
Many infrastructures were built during the rapid-growth period in the 1950s. Upgrades of social infrastructures such as the Tokaido Shinkansen Railway, the Tomei Expressway and the Mikatabara Irrigation Canal were also carried out, which had significant effects on the development of Hamamatsu.
Also, the elevation of the Tokaido and Enshu Railways, which divided the city into the four directions of the compass, made city traffic significantly smoother.
It was also during this time that the North Plaza of Hamamatsu Station was reconstructed, and a 16-sided bus terminal was completed in 1982. It was also in 1982 that the population of Hamamatsu reached 500,000 people.
A City of Technopolis and Music
In 1982, Hamamatsu was designated as a technopolis development plan region, which leads to initiatives for advanced technologies such as optics and electronics being developed rapidly. The Hamanako International Neurology Center was completed in 1992, and the area zoning of the Miyakoda Techopolis was completed a year later. Everything is in place for Hamamatsu to develop as an advanced industrial city that focuses on research and development, and the technology developed in Hamamatsu, city of industry, in the high technology field in particular, has drawn the attention of not only Japan, but of the entire world.
On the other hand, Hamamatsu is proactively enacting policies that relate to the cultural development of the city as a “City of Music”. ACT City was built in 1994 and became a symbol of the new Hamamatsu. Since then, many international meetings and competitions, such as the International Piano Competition have been held inside the complex. Since accepting the challenge in 1988 of becoming an “International Convention City”, Hamamatsu has accepted visitors from all over the world. A prime example is the Lake Hamana Flower Exposition held in 2004, which attracted 5,440,000 visitors from around the country and abroad during the six months it was held.
Merger and Becoming an Ordinance-designated City
In 1996, Hamamatsu was designated as a Core City. The city promoted its broad regional administration as the “core” of the western region of Shizuoka Prefecture. In 2003, the year that the city population reached 600,000, Hamamatsu established merger councils with 11 other cities, towns and villages in the Tenryu river and Lake Hamana regions. Under a “Spirit of Equality”, council meetings were held to discuss the merger and in July 2005, Hamamatsu merged with 11 other municipalities to become a brand-new Hamamatsu. Furthermore, on April 1, 2007, the city became an ordinance-designated city. With the same level of authority as a prefecture and its great financial resources, the city is now able to solidly press forward with promoting an administration desired by citizens.
100th Anniversary of the Establishment of the City
On July 1, 2011, Hamamatsu City welcomed the 100th anniversary of its establishment.
In order to pass on the “Yaramaika Spirit” (Yaramaika= “Let’s do it” in the local dialect), which is a major force in the city’s development, the city held many 100th anniversary commemorative projects with the concept of “Shining into the Future ‘Yaramaika Spirit!’～NEXT 100～”.
In addition, the commemorative mascot character “Daimyo of Success, Ieyasu-kun” was created and became the city’s Mayor of Fortune.