The History of Hitachi city

From Ancient T
ime to Present Time

  Since the potsherd of The Jomon and The Yayoi periods were found in and around Hitachi, we could guess people lived in several villages in this region from the old times. Also quite a few ancient tombs from the 5th to the 7th centuries remain alongside the Kuji and the Juo rivers. The large scale of these tombs indicates existence of the powerful families of those days.

Mikanohara ancient tomb

 This area has been partially used as a route of the main road for Tohoku district since Nara period (710–793). Sukegawa and Miyata villages used to be prosperous as the postal towns. The street running through the villages stretched north and south was lined by pine trees. Part of these pines could be seen until the 1950s, but there is no trace now due to the expansion of the streets.

Photograph is taken Mr. Chuya Chiba.

  The Satake, a feudal lord, governed this area from the 12th century, for nearly 400 years. However he was transferred to Akita by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1600.
From that time, Mito- Tokugawa lords governed this area for 250 years. In the 19th century, the Sukegawa castle was built on a hill and a fortress was set up along the coastal area by Mito-Tokugawa lord to get ready for invasion by foreign countries. These installations were not actually used because there was no attack from overseas. The castle was burnt down during an the internal strife of Mito feudal domain.

After the Meiji Restoration

  In 1939, Hitachi city was formed after repeated consolidation of surrounding smaller municipalities. The JR Joban line was opened to traffic in 1897. Mining of copper ore, which laid the foundation of Hitachi as an industrial city, started on full-scale in the later 19th century. In 1905 Mr. Fusanosuke Kuhara acquired the Akasawa Copper Mine and established Hitachi Mine as a modern and large scale mining company. Finally he developed it as the one of the leading mines in Japan.

  Five years later, Mr. Namihei Odaira who used to be in charge of repairing machinery in the Hitachi Mine.  established the foundation of the Hitachi Ltd..

  In those days Hitachi city was polluted by the poisonous gas discharged from smelting copper of Hitachi Mine, and trees and shrubs in surrounding areas became withered. Various measures were taken to deal with this pollution and finally this problem was solved by defusing the gas to the minimum level possible through the tallest chimney (Giant Stack) in the world and by planting trees which were tolerant of pollution.

  Both of Hitachi Mine and Hitachi, Ltd. have developed to the key industries along with a wave of Japanese modernization. However the factories of these companies were utilized as munitions plants during the World War II, which resulted in destruction of the factories and city by the attack from the air and the bombardment by battleships.

Main street (1940's)
Photograph is offered by Hitachi Local Museum.

Main street (1940's)
Photograph is offered by Hitachi Local Museum.

Under air strike (1945)
Photograph is offered Hitachi Local Museum.

Main street after air strike
Photograph is offered by Hitachi Cable, Ltd.

After the World War II

  In 1960s, the factories were rapidly restored. At the same time, urban areas were put in order and the basis of the current plot of Hitachi city was completed.
  Hitachi Mine was closed in 1981 due to the exhaustion of resources. As a result, an extensive land used as transportation facilities for ore and smelt turned up disused. However modern public and commercial facilities were built at this site to make a new center of Hitachi city. When reconstructing the city, lots of cherry trees were planted. Therefore beautiful cherry blossoms can be seen throughout the city now. In 1990, Kamine Park and Heiwa street (the street in front of JR Hitachi station) were designated as the spots of 100 famous places of Japanese cherry trees.

Heiwa-dori  (1951)
Photograph is offered by Hitachi Local Museum.

Heiwa-dori  (2006)

The view from Kamine park

Patio near Hitachi station


inserted by FC2 system