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English > The History of Omura

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update:January 20, 2016

The History of Omura

 

The city of Omura has a long and rich history of culture, religion, and warring. The official name Omura was first recorded in the Japanese encyclopedia written in the 10th century. However, many archeological sites containing tools dating as far back as the Stone Age have been excavated in Omura providing evidence of a much longer history of inhabitants. Of note are the remains of ancient burial grounds built between the 5th and 7th century, the Kofun (Tumulus) period. These burial grounds can still be viewed today and are concentrated in the Kori area of northern Omura.

It is believed that the Omura clan were descendants from the Taira clan because the Kanji 平(Taira) is inscribed on the tombstone of Sumikore Omura.

Many of the traditions indigenous to Omura were born out of wartime practices. For example, the dances “Suko Odori,” “Okita Odori,” and “Kuromaru Odori” originated from the Battle of Nakatake, fought in 1474, while Sumikore Omura was the lord of Omura. During this battle, Arima defeated Omura and drove Lord Sumikore and his warriors out of the territory. In 1480, Sumikore returned and successfully regained the territory of Omura. To glorify this victory, the people of Omura held a celebration where they performed the above three dances to congratulate the triumphant Sumikore. These dances have been passed down through generations and continue to be performed today.

Also during that celebration, the people prepared food for the warriors; a special type of sushi. The sushi was prepared in layers in a wooden box. On the bottom was rice seasoned with vinegar and sugar and then topped with thin strips of egg omelet, burdock root, boiled carrots, shitake mushrooms, dried gourd, dried mackerel flakes and bright pink and green colored hanpen (steamed fish paste). This bright colored ingredient gave this Omura sushi its distinction. Later the warriors cut the food into squares with their swords, which was also out of the ordinary, and this became the Origin of OmuraZushi.

After the Battle of Nakatake, the Omura and Arima clans formed relationships through marriage and adoption bringing a peaceful and final end to their feud. Sumitada Omura, the Lord of Omura territory after Sumikore Omura, was actually adopted from the Arima clan. Sumikore Omura’s biological son was adopted by a clan in Saga.  
Once in power, Sumitada Omura opened a port to foreign ships in the territory around Omura Bay. As a result Nanban (southern barbarian) trade became active and Christianity spread rapidly throughout the territory. Sumitada himself was also converted to Christianity and is known to be the first Christian Daimyo (Feudal Lord) in Japan. He built many churches and forced his people to convert to Christianity. It is estimated that 60,000 people were converted under Sumitada`s reign. In 1582, he and two other Christian lords, Sorin Otomo and Harunobu Arima, sent four boys to Europe as Japanese delegates. This delegation is known as the Tensho Emabassy and is considered the first recorded youth exchange from Japan to Europe.

Sumitada stepped down as feudal lord in 1586 and his son, Yoshiaki was inaugurated. Soon after Sumitada passed away in 1587, Yoshiaki quickly renounced Christianity and converted to Buddhism in accordance to the expulsion of Christianity through the Bateren Tsuihou ordinance. He built Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples such as Honkyo-ji (temple) and Myosen-ji. All citizens were forced to convert religions once again: those who did not follow met unfortunate fates.

When the Tokugawa clan came into power, they established a new feudal political system. Under this system, Omura-ryo (territory) became Omura-han (a territory and administrative organization controlled by a feudal lord in the Edo period). Yoshiaki became the first feudal lord of this newly named territory, Omura-han. This governmental changed led to Yoshiaki building Kushima Castle. The Omura family resided there for 12 generations, until the end of the Edo period.

The Meiji period brought many changes to Japan. The Meiji government abolished the Han system and Omura-han became Omura-ken (prefecture). However, at that point, the Tokugawa Shogunate had taken much of the land of southern Omura-ken and that area was renamed Nagasaki-ken. Omura-ken along with other hans of this area were soon absorbed creating the current Nagasaki Prefecture.

In 1942, the town of Omura and five other separate villages were municipalized to form the city that is now known as Omura. From that point, Omura City has continued to develop and increase its population.


・The Abbreviated Chronological Table

1550

Sumitada succeeded Sumikore Omura and became the 18th lord of Omura.

1563

Sumitada was converted to Christianity, the first Christian lord in Japan.

1582

Christian lords, Sumitada Omura, Harunobu Arima, and Sorin Otomo sent four Japnese boys, Mancio Ito, Miguel Chijiwa, Juliano Nakaura, and Martinho Hara, to Europe to meet Pope Gregorius XIII in Rome. (The Four Boys of the Tensho Embassy Statue ) (Tensho Square)

1614

Tokugawa Shogunate banned Christianity and closed the national border in 1633.

1657

Nagasaki Bugyo (magistrate) uncovered 603 Christians keeping their faith secretly in Kori area of Omura. They were caught and 406 of them were executed. (the Site of Hokobaru Martyrdom)

1868

Omura-han entered the Boshin War and dispatched an army to assist Kakunodate, Akita. Seven Omura soldiers, including a 15 year-old boy, Kingo Hamada, died in this battle. (the Statue of Kingo Hamada), (Senboku City, Akita)

1871

Omura-han became Omura Prefecture and merged into Nagasaki Prefecture a few months later.

1942

Omura City was born as the result of one town and 5 villages municipalized.

1944

The U.S. attacked Omura City from air.

1945

The U.S. took force with an atomic bomb on Nagasaki City. The many injured were also taken to the naval hospital in Omura. (National Hospital Organization Nagasaki Medical Center)

1952

The first motorboat racing of Japan was held in Omura.

1975

Nagasaki Airport, the first island airport in the world, was opened.

1993

Minhang Shanghai, China and Omura established a friendship cities connection. (Minhang Shanghai, China)

1997

2012

Sintra, Portugal and Omura became Sister Cities. (Sintra, Portugal)

San Carlos, California, USA and Omura became Sister Cities. (San Carlos, California, USA)

( )・・・related remains, sites, buildings, etc.