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Shimoda, Shizuoka

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Title: Shimoda, Shizuoka  
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Subject: Convention of Kanagawa, Suzaki Imperial Villa, Shimoda bugyō, Henry Heusken, Itō Line
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Shimoda, Shizuoka

Flag of Shimoda
Official seal of Shimoda
Location of Shimoda in Shizuoka Prefecture
Location of Shimoda in Shizuoka Prefecture
Shimoda is located in Japan
Country Japan
Region Chūbu (Tōkai)
Prefecture Shizuoka Prefecture
 • Mayor Shunsuke Kusuyama
 • Total 104.71 km2 ( sq mi)
Population (June 2014)
 • Total 23,501
 • Density

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Time zone Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)
- Tree Oshima Cherry
- Flower Hydrangea
Phone number 0558-22-2211
Address 1-5-18, Higashihongō, Shimoda-shi, Shizuoka-ken
Website .jp.shizuoka.shimoda.citywww

Shimoda (下田市 Shimoda-shi) is a city and port located in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan.

As of June 2014, the city has an estimated population of 23,501 and a population density of 224 persons per km². The total area is 104.71 km².

In the 1850s, Japan was in political crisis over its increasing inability to maintain its national seclusion policy and the issue of what relations, if any, it should have with foreign powers. For a few years, Shimoda was central to this debate.


Shimoda is located at the southern tip of the Izu peninsula about 100 kilometres southwest of Tokyo. Shimoda's location, with the Amagi Mountains to the north, and the warm Kuroshio Current to the south give the city a humid, sub-tropical climate.

Surrounding Municipalities


Shimoda has been settled since prehistoric times, with numerous Jomon period remains found within city limits. It is mentioned in Nara period documents as the location to which Prince Ōtsu was exiled in 686 after his failed rebellion, and in Heian period documents in reference to its iron ore deposits. During the Sengoku period it was controlled by the Hōjō clan, who built a castle (later destroyed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi). Under the Tokugawa shogunate, Shimoda was tenryō territory directly administered by the Shogun. During the Edo period, Shimoda prospered as a seaport, and was a major port of call for coastal vessels travelling between Osaka and Edo. Until 1721, as a security measure, all vessels were obligated to call at Shimoda before proceeding on to Edo.

During the Bakumatsu period, Shimoda port was opened to American trade under the conditions of the Convention of Kanagawa, negotiated by Commodore Matthew Perry and signed on March 31, 1854. Shimoda was also the site of Yoshida Shōin's unsuccessful attempt to board Perry's 'black ships' in 1854.

The first American Consulate in Japan was opened at the temple of Gyokusen-ji under Consul General Townsend Harris. Harris negotiated the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the two countries, which was signed at nearby Ryōsen-ji in 1858.

Japan's relations with Imperial Russia were also negotiated in Shimoda, and in 1855 the Treaty of Shimoda was signed at Chōraku-ji.

However, in June 1859, with the opening of the port of Yokohama to foreign trade, the port of Shimoda was again closed and the American consulate was relocated to Zenpuku-ji in Edo.

After the Meiji Restoration, Shimoda came under the control of the short-lived Kikuma Domain in 1868, and the equally short-lived Ashigara Prefecture from 1871. The Mikomotoshima Lighthouse was completed in 1870 by British engineer Richard Henry Brunton. It is currently the oldest functioning lighthouse in Japan and is now a National Historic Monument. Ashigara Prefecture was divided between Kanagawa and Shizuoka prefectures in 1876. In a cadastral reform of 1889, Shimoda Town was formally established within Kamo District. The town was repeatedly bombed in 1945, in the final stages of World War II.

Shimoda expanded in March 1955 through the merger of six neighboring towns and villages. In 1958, an All Nippon Airways DC-3 en route from Haneda to Nagoya crashed offshore Shimoda, killing three passengers. Shimoda suffered damage from sizeable earthquakes in 1974 and in 1978.

Bust of Matthew C. Perry in Shimoda


The economy of Shimoda is based on tourism (primarily centered on the hot spring resort and marine sports) and commercial fishing.




Ferry service is available to Niijima and Shikinejima in the Izu Islands. There used to be a ferry service from Shimoda to Shimizu, Shizuoka, or vice versa; however, it is no longer in operation.

Local attractions

Apart from its role in the opening of Japan, Shimoda is famous for its hot spring resorts and beaches. Tatadohama, Ohama and Iritahama beaches attract many tourists in summer and are popular surfing spots year round, and Iritahama has been voted most beautiful Japanese beach a number of years.

Shimoda is also a setting for a much of Yasunari Kawabata's famous short story The Dancing Girl of Izu.

Tatadohama Beach is a sandy beach with the length of approx. 400 meters situated on the south coast of Izu peninsula.

Shimoda is the real-world inspiration for Pallet Town in the Pokémon video game and anime series.

Sister cities

Notable people from Shimoda

External links

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  • Shimoda City official website
  • Shimoda city and great beaches
  • Article in the Observer
  • Book about the history of Okichi Saito and the black ships
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