Capital of the Prefecture of Oita, the Port of Oita lies on the southern shores of Beppu Bay off the Pacific Ocean in northeastern Kyushu, Japan’s third largest island south of the Honshu mainland. Beppu Bay is a popular hot springs resort. The Port of Oita was influential in the 16th Century but declined during the Tokugawa period from the 17th to middle 19th Centuries.
Most of the residents of the Port of Oita are farmers raising cash crops (like citrus fruit, tobacco, and reeds) and cattle. In the surrounding mountains, forestry is an important industry. The Port of Oita is also a center for heavy industry operating on reclaimed land in Kyushu (petrochemical plants and oil refineries). In 2005, over 1.2 million people lived in the Prefecture of Oita. In 2001, almost 441 thousand people lived in the Port of Oita.
During the 15th and 16th Centuries (the Sengoku period), the Port of Oita was called Funai. At that time, the Ōtomo clan ruled the area. The Port of Oita flourished on trade with the Ming Dynasty in China and with Portugal. Ōtomo Sōrin, who introduced western culture, was a Christian Daimyo, and he built the first western style hospital there. It was in the Port of Oita that the first Japanese choir was organized.
In the mid-20th Century, industry gathered along the Beppu Bay coastline. Flagship plants for Nippon Steel and Showa Denko made their home there. Today, Nippon Steel’s Oita Plant has some of the world’s biggest blast furnaces.