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Hamamatsu History, Japan

Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture is a city where the latest technologies, different cultures and a rich history coexist peacefully. Hamamatsu is one of the most heavily industrialized cities in Japan. Over 20.000 Brazilians live in Hamamatsu, along with Peruvians, Bangladeshis and Philippines. In fact, Hamamatsu has the largest South-American community in the country. The variety of different ethnicities accounts for the international feel of the city. This Hamamatsu History Guide will briefly describe some of the main events that shaped this fascinating city’s past.

Hamamatsu History Guide - Foundation and Early History

Archaeological evidence suggests that the site of present-day Hamamatsu has been inhabited since the Jomon period, the Japanese prehistory. In the Nara period, in the 8th century AD, Hamamatsu was a large enough town to become the capital of Totomi Province. Hamamatsu Castle was built at the beginning of the 16th century, and a few decades later became the seat of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun of Japan. The Edo period was a golden era for Hamamatsu, who was used as a castle town by a succession of daimyos, or feudal lords. The city was an important stop on the Tokaido, the road connecting Kyoto, Osaka and Edo, present-day Tokyo.

Hamamatsu History Guide - Modern Period and the Present

During the Meiji Restoration, feudal domains were replaced with prefectures and for a short while Hamamatsu became the capital of Hamamatsu Prefecture, which later merged with Shizuoka Prefecture. In 1888, the Japanese Government officially elevated Hamamatsu to the status of town. Most of the major industries of Hamamatsu were established around that time. Hamamatsu became a municipality in 1911, and despite the national crisis, it continued to flourish.

During World War II, Hamamatsu was a major target of American bombs, due to the several air-bases in the vicinity of the city. Over 5000 people died in the bombings, and large parts of the city were destroyed. In the 1950’s Tokaido Road became the Tokaido Shinkansen line, and a few decades later Hamamatsu blossomed into a veritable technopolis where high-tech gadget were created and produced daily by the huge corporations based in Hamamatsu, and the city is internationally renowned for its contributions to research and technological development.

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