Onomichi developed as the largest port city in the Seto Inland Sea since the Middle Ages, due to its topography which is easy for anchoring. Since the Muromachi period, Japan’s largest pirate group, the “Murakami pirates” appeared in the nearby Geyou Islands. They were not pirates who stole money and valuables, but acted as navigators and maritime security in exchange for toll money. By the mid-Edo period there were even more vessels calling, and stone works, salt, iron pots, etc. were shipped from Onomichi to various places. Above all, a lot of high-quality granite stone masonry was carried to the Sea of Japan side by Kitamae-bune.
Onomichi City, Hiroshima
Cultural Properties of Onomichi City
Townscape of the port town Onomichi
The largest port town in the Seto Inland Sea that prospered as a port of call for Kitamae-bune. Land reclamation for the port was carried out and expanded to make way for Kitamae-bune.
A temple that gathered followers from the Kitamae-bune merchants. An all-night light, Kitamae-bune funa-ema and Onomichi Ebyobu (painting on a folding screen) showing the prosperity of the port town remain.
Votive goods of Sumiyoshi Shrine (Onomichi)
Tamagaki and an all-night light donated by Kitamae-bune merchants. This also serves as a venue for the year’s first auction of goods, such as kelp, the Sumiyoshi Festival, and the Onomichi Minato Festival.
Guard dog statue riding on the ball at Itsukushima Shrine
This is a granite stonework made by Onomichi masons and transported to the port of call as the bottom cargo of Kitamae-bune. These statues of guard dogs riding on a ball are also scattered throughout the port areas on the Japan Sea side.
A folding screen depicting Onomichi-Ura
A picture depicting ships anchored in Onomichi-Ura and the Onomichi Channel, which prospered in the Edo period as a port of call for Kitamae-bune.
Townscape of the port town Setoda
A port town where Kitamae-bune of the offshore navigation routes called. The Horiuchi family's Shio-kura (salt warehouse) and other buildings which prospered in the shipping business remain, and it still has the feeling of a port town.