The Port of Tomakomai lies on the southern shores of Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island, on the Pacific Ocean. It is the Iburi Prefecture’s biggest city with a population of over 172 thousand in 2005. Officially founded in 1948, the Port of Tomakomai was a 19th Century regional hub for transportation and commerce. Today, it is home to a pulp and paper industry and chemical manufacturers. In 1963, the commercial and industrial ports were constructed to attract heavy industry.
Since opening in 1963, the Port of Tomakomai has grown into a major distribution and industrial center. It is northern Japan’s biggest international trading port and a major player in Hokkaido’s economy, handling about a third of the island’s cargo volume. Many industries have located their plants on the Port of Tomakomai’s waterfront including oil refineries, automobile manufacturers, power generators, and processors of lumber, chemicals, and nonferrous metals. The biggest company in the port is the Toyota Motor Corporation Hokkaido, which began operations in 1992.
The Tomakomai Port Authority (Japanese) is responsible for managing and operating the Port of Tomakomai. The Port of Tomakomai’s Eastern Industrial Area, between Tomakomai and the New Chitose Airport, covers over 10 thousand hectares and adjoins both the airport and Tomakomai East Port. Construction started on the industrial port in 1976, and it opened to the first ships in 1980. As the industrial port developed, energy-related companies began to locate there, including a coal-fueled thermal power plant, a coal center, and a petroleum reserve base. In 1984, Isuzu Motors located their Hokkaido plant in the Port of Tomakomai’s industrial area.
The one-mile entrance channel to the Port of Tomakomai harbor is protected by breakwaters leading to the harbor basin. The channel is maintained at a depth of 14 meters, and the port can be entered both night and day. The Port of Tomakomai offers 10 tugs from 380 to 4000 horsepower.
The Eastern District of the Port of Tomakomai has a buoyed, lighted channel that is dredged to 17.5 meters decreasing to 16 meters at and in the turning basin to a dolphin berth on the north side of the breakwater. The berth is designed to handle tankers to 130 thousand DWT with a draft of 14.5 meters. The berth is surrounded by a submersible oil boom.
Both the Central North berth and the East Harumi Pier are 240 meters long with alongside depth of 10.8 meters and can accommodate vessels to 30 thousand DWT. The Port of Tomakomai has a maximum of three log gangs available as well as cargo-fumigation services. Discharge of cargo is by ship’s gear and shore grabs.
In the Port of Tomakomai, modern industry meets the wilderness. The word Tomakomai means “Mamokai River with a swamp.” In many ways, the Port of Tomakomai is a beautiful spot where nature is untouched. Nearby Mount Tarumae is over a thousand meters above sea level. The surrounding area also contains forests, moss-covered valleys, and swampy lakes, including Lake Utonai and Lake Shikotsu. Contributing to the natural setting are the University of Hokkaido’s experimental forest, Northern Horse Park, Midorigaoka Park, and several golf courses.