The port of Akita at the mouth of Omono River, the longest river in the prefecture of Akita, was called the port of Tsuchizaki until the merger of the town of Tsuchizaki Port and the city of Akita, in 1941. Then, it was officially renamed as the port of Akita.
In the old days, the port of Akita flourished with the export of local specialties, such as rice and Akita cedar wood. After Satake Yoshinobu was appointed as the lord of Akita in 1602, the port of Akita became the chief port for the Satake family’s domain of 200,000 koku rice production. In 1672, a new sea route was opened along the Northwest coast of the island of Honshu up to that of Hokkaido. Maritime transport thrived and the Kitamae ships brought forth economic prosperity and cultural exchanges.
With the modernization in the Meiji era (starting in 1889), the sailing ships became larger; then, these were replaced with steamships, which required further modernization of port facilities. Thus, the urgent issue was to stabilize the configuration of the estuary, which was constantly affected by seasonal winds and sand sedimentation. In 1885, the first mooring quays were constructed in the Furuichi Wharf, under the guidance of Dr. Furuichi Kōi who was a civil engineer in the Ministry of Home Affairs. In 1902, the second wharf, or the Hiroi Wharf, was constructed under the guidance of Dr. Hiroi Isami, professor of engineering in Sapporo Agricultural College.
In the Taisho era (1912-1926), it was desired that the port would be turned into a full-scale modern port. In so doing, the government of Japan started the project in 1917 by cutting through Mt. Katsuhira to create a new estuary, which would spare the port from the risk of overflowing and sand accumulation. It was thus claimed: “To change the port of Akita, we should start by changing Omono River.” The new estuary was opened in 1938.
The modernization of the port of Akita opened a new page in 1965 with the designation of the port district as a new industrial area. A 10,000-ton wharf was built in the Nakajima district, followed by the construction of an excavated port in the Ohama district and the reclaimed port in the Gaiko district, now with up to 40,000-ton wharfs.
The port of Akita is a transport and industrial activities center and a recreational place for citizens. The Port Renaissance Twenty-One Project started in 1988; Port Tower Selion was built in 1994 and Selion Rista (a large indoor green garden) in 1995. Sea transport developed across the Sea of Japan, and the sea route to the port of Busan (Republic of Korea) was opened in November 1995 and has been developing since then. The car ferry route to Tomakomai (prefecture of Hokkaido), Niigata (prefecture of Niigata), and Tsuruga (prefecture of Fukui) was opened in July 1999. Modern Kitamae ships opened the possibility for the port of Akita’s transport and tourism development.
The port of Akita, as the center of trade, industry, and human exchanges, continues to move ahead.
Port of Akita: Timeline
In 1910, the port of Akita was designated as a second-class important port.
In 1917, construction of the new estuary for Omono River started.
In 1938, Araya waterway (the new estuary) was opened.
In 1941, the town of Tsuchizaki Port and the city of Akita were merged and the port was renamed as the port of Akita.
In 1945, Tsuchizaki district suffered a large-scale air raid at the end of the War of the Pacific.
In 1951, the port of Akita was designated as an important port under the Port Law.
In 1953, by virtue of the Port Law, the management of the port of Akita was placed under the authority of the prefectural government of Akita.
In 1962, the port of Akita was designated as a special port (allowing the entry of large and international ships) under the Port Regulation Law.
In 1965, the port of Akita was designated as an open port for international trade under the Customs Law and the Akita Port district was designated as a new industrial area under the New Industrial City Development Law.
In 1983, the Nihonkai-Chubu earthquake hit the prefecture of Akita.
In 1994, Port Tower Selion was inaugurated.
In 1995, Selion Rista (a large indoor green garden) and Akita Marina were opened. A Busan container route was opened.
In 1999, a ferry route to Tomakomai and container route to the port of Posyet (Russian Federation) were opened.
Development of Port Facilities
In 1965, Nakajima Wharf # 1 was constructed.
In 1966, Nakajima Wharf # 2 was constructed.
In 1970, Ohama Wharf # 1 was constructed (10 meters deep).
In 1971, Nakajima Wharf # 3 was constructed.
In 1972, Mukaihama Wharf # 1 was constructed (10 meters deep).
In 1975, Ohama Wharf # 2 was constructed (10 meters deep).
In 1976, Mukaihama Wharf # 2 was constructed (10 meters deep).
In 1977, Gaiko Wharf #1 was constructed (13 meters deep).
In 1979, Ohama Wharf # 3 was constructed (10 meters deep).
In 1984, Mukaihama Wharf # 3 was constructed (10 meters deep).
In 1992, construction of the second south breakwater started.
In 1995, Gaiko Wharf #2 was constructed (13 meters deep).
In 2004, Mukaihama Wharf was constructed (12 meters deep).
Message at the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Akita Port Development Society
The Akita Port Promotion Society was established in April 1957 to accelerate the improvement of the port of Akita’s facilities. To develop maritime transport and facilities at the port of Akita, the Society has been lobbying to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism along with other national and local agencies. The port of Akita is now established as a key port that is capable of connecting Akita to the nations and regions around the Sea of Japan.
It would be our pleasure if the present commemorative panel could help you look back to the port of Akita’s history.
Yasuhiko Watanabe, Chairperson of the Akita Port Development Society