Port of Aomori
Review and History

The Port of Aomori lies on the shores of Matsu Bay in northern Honshu, the main and largest island of Japan. The Port of Aomori is an important transportation center, as both the railway and ferry services located there carry people and cargo to and from the northern island and Prefecture of Hokkaido. In 2005, over 311 thousand people lived in the Port of Aomori.

The capital of and biggest port in Aomori Prefecture, the Port of Aomori is on the Tsugaru Straits that connect the Sea of Japan to the Pacific Ocean. Protected by the open sea in Matsu Bay, the Port of Aomori is ideal for ocean-going traffic. The cruise center is minutes away from the city center, and the Port of Aomori is determined to offer each visitor a warm welcome.

Port History

The City of Aomori was officially founded in 1898, although both the town and port were settled as early as 1626. There are many ruins from the Jōmon period (14,000-400 BC) to the southwest of the city center. The Sannai Maruyama site was occupied continuously from about 5500 to 4000 years ago, and archaeologists have unearthed a large wooden building from that period. The discovery had a profound effect on Japan’s understanding of that era.

Before the Edo period began in the early 17th Century, the Port of Aomori was a small fishing village known as Utō. The village came under the rule of the Tsugaru samurai clan and part of the Tsugaru Domain. With their capital in Hirosaki about 30 kilometers southwest of the Port of Aomori, the village of Utō began to grow.

In 1612, the Tsugaru port development officer began the formal development of Utō-Mura, changing its name to Aomori and making it a formal seaport and trade center for Hirosaki.

During the late 19th Century (the Meiji Restoration), the old administrative system was eliminated, and the prefecture system came into being. In 1871, the Port of Aomori was made part of Hirosaki prefecture, and the prefecture capital was moved to the Port of Aomori. Soon after the move, the prefecture name was changed to Aomori.

In 1896, the Imperial Japanese Army’s 8th Division was stationed in the Port of Aomori. In 1902 as the Russo-Japanese War was beginning, a group of 210 Japanese soldiers was lost in the mountain passes nearby while they were on a cold-weather readiness exercise. Few of the men survived the ordeal. In 1945, sixty-one US B-29s bombed the Port of Aomori, killing over 1700 people immediately and many more in the months following the bombing.

Much of the modern city’s development resulted from the Port of Aomori’s status as prefecture capital and the presence of the Seikan ferry that connected Honshu and Hokkaido islands. From 1908 until 1988, the ferry was the main transportation access between the two Japan islands. The Seikan Tunnel opened in 1988, providing an underwater transportation route.

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