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Kamaishi is a fantastic rugby town

Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture, is continuing along the path to recovery following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami disaster of 2011. With the triple strengths of steel, fish and rugby built into the DNA of its people, the rebuilding process has been fortified with the city’s indomitable spirit.
Through the Rugby World Cup 2019™, Kamaishi wants to take the opportunity to show its gratitude to the rest of Japan and the world for the support it has received, and looks forward to the new pride and hope for the future that the tournament will bring. This small video was created to convey these sentiments.




Kamaishi, a City Built on Steel, Fish and Rugby

Located on the rugged coastline of Iwate Prefecture in Northeast Japan, Kamaishi City is known as “The City of Steel, Fish and Rugby”, due to its history as a steel manufacturing town, its delicious seafood and deep love for Rugby. It was the only city chosen from the entire Tohoku region to host the Rugby World Cup 2019™, and the smallest of all other host cities across the country, making it a unique venue in what will be a historic tournament for Japan.
Kamaishi’s rugby and steel history began alongside the modern Japanese industry in 1857, when Nanbu retainer Takato Oshima successfully produced steel for the first time using Japan’s first western-style blast furnace, built in the mountains to the north. After the rapid growth of the industry, the Nippon Steel Kamaishi Works went on to sponsor its own rugby team, the Nippon Steel Kamaishi Rugby Football Club in the 1950s. Despite not having any big-name players, the team rose to the top of the National Championship and secured an historic seven consecutive championship victories between 1978 and 1984. Rugby has been forever loved in Kamaishi ever since, and the people of the city continue to cheer on the current-day iteration of the club, the Kamaishi Seawaves RFC, with their traditional fishing boat flags.
their traditional fishing boat flags
After suffering from catastrophic tsunami disasters in both 1896 and 1933, as well as naval bombardment in the closing days of the second world war, Kamaishi was hit once again by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami disaster on March 11 2011. Over one thousand lives were lost in Kamaishi alone, and the city suffered unpresented damage to a great many of its residential and business areas. In the years since, Kamaishi has worked tirelessly towards its recovery and, with a great deal of support from other regions of Japan and people all around the world, is determined to emerge stronger and more vibrant than ever.
rugby stadium
This history of overcoming disaster time and time again has fostered Kamaishi’s characteristic strength and resilience, but also its open and innovative spirit. Now, on the road to the Rugby World Cup 2019™, Kamaishi is eagerly waiting to welcome visitors from all over the globe and express their gratitude for the world’s support during these difficult years. A small town to be hosting such a huge event, Kamaishi is taking on the challenge with great heart, to make the cup a symbol of the region’s recovery, and pass on new hope and pride for the coming generations.

The Birthplace of the Modern Iron and Steel Industry

The Birthplace of the Modern Iron and Steel Industry


Hashino Iron Mining and Smelting Site: UNESCO World Heritage Recognition

At the 39th UNESCO World Heritage Committee Session held in Bonn, Germany, on July 5 2015, Kamaishi City’s Hashino Iron Mining and Smelting Site ruins were recognised as one of the World Heritage “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution”.

The First Western-Style Blast Furnace in Japan

Iron has been manufactured from iron sand in Kamaishi since as long ago as the Heian Period (AD794 – 1185). However, after Takato Oshima built a western-style blast furnace in the Ohashi district in 1857, continuous production of iron from iron ore was achieved for the first time in Japan.
For this reason, Kamaishi is often referred to as “the birthplace of Japan’s modern iron and steel industry”. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Japan’s entire industrial revolution began from this small town.

Takato Oshima (Image courtesy of the Kamaishi City Board of Education; all rights reserved)


The first domestic steelworks and steel utilization

From the dawn of the Meiji Period (1868-1912), steel manufacturing projects were sought to make use of the Ohashi iron mine. In 1880, the government-run Kamaishi Steelworks commenced operations as the first steelworks in Japan.
That same year, the third railway to be built in Japan was opened in Kamaishi and the city was recognised as vitally important to the country’s modernisation.


Kobusho (Ministry of Industry) Kamaishi Railway (Image courtesy of the Kamaishi City Board of Education; all rights reserved)


The Steel Industry Takes Off


The 25t blast furnace (Image courtesy of the Kamaishi City Board of Education; all rights reserved)


From Post-war Recovery to Present Day

Throughout the Taisho (1912 – 1926) and Showa (1926 – 1989) Periods, the Kamaishi Steelworks expanded in size alongside the technological advancement of the steel industry, and came to play a vital role in supporting the modernisation of the nation. However, the steelworks were destroyed in the two naval bombardments during the closing days of the second world war, which also caused extensive damage to much of the city.

Kamaishi City after naval bombardment (Image courtesy of the Kamaishi City Board of Education; all rights reserved)

After regular operations recommenced in 1948, the Kamaishi Steelworks developed into one of the leading steel manufacturers in Japan, producing high quality rails for Shinkansen tracks among other projects. Due to the boom in this industry, Kamaishi reached its peak population (approx. 91,000) in 1963, but declined once more after industry rationalization and the construction of new steelworks in other parts of the country.
Currently, the steelworks constructs machine parts, such as wires used in steel cords for car tires, and maintains the world-class quality of the Kamaishi brand.
昭和27年 第十高炉火入れ
You can learn all about the history of steel manufacturing in Kamaishi and Japan at the information center attached to the UNESCO World Heritage Hashino Iron Mining and Smelting Site, and the Iron and Steel History Museum overlooking Kamaishi Bay.

Kamaishi City Iron and Steel History Museum


Kamaishi City Hashino Iron Mining and Smelting Site Information Center

《Google Street View》


Kamaishi Ramen

Kamaishi Ramen



Kamaishi Ramen is a regional variety exclusive to Kamaishi City in Iwate Prefecture, characterized by its fine, curly noodles and light, amber-colored soy sauce-based soup. Of the stores in town that serve this ramen (from Chinese restaurants and casual eateries to specialty soba and udon stores), each has its own unique take on the recipe that can be found in their choice of noodles, soup and topping.
Click here for restaurant information

The History of Kamaishi Ramen

In the 1970s, when Kamaishi was thriving with both the steel industry and fishing trade, there were several blocks of steelworks company housing (nicknamed harmonica houses for their long shape) in the same neighborhood as the ramen shops. On payday, whole families would come and eat together, paying \30-50 a bowl. Therefore, it could be said that the prosperity of the steel trade contributed greatly to the development of Kamaishi’s ramen culture. Prior to that, the booming fishing trade and the impatience of the influential fishermen strutting through the business district lead to the popularity of the thin, quick-to-cook noodles and transparent soup.


Kamaishi Ramen with its fine, curly noodles and transparent soup.


In this way, the development and progress of Kamaishi’s ramen culture came about not just from the popularity of a particular style of noodles or soup, but through unifying the approach of those cooking ramen with the taste and temperament of those eating it, to make a ramen perfectly suited to the local people. Therefore, Kamaishi Ramen contains not only the people’s local pride and the history of the lively fishing port and steel town, but also the path of the progress made in its culinary culture.


The Kamaishi Ramen Association

釜石ラーメン のぼり
On March 10, 2011, the owners of ten ramen restaurants gathered and agreed to establish The Kamaishi Ramen Association to promote the popularity of the delicacy and contribute to the general vitality of the region. However, the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami disaster struck the very next day, destroying 20 restaurants belonging to approximately half the ramen business owners in town.

The Association was formally established among 22 ramen restaurants in November that same year. There are now 24 member stores within Kamaishi, who are united in their goal to revitalize the city as it recovers from the disaster.


Kamaishi Ramen Association
Contact: Kamaishi City Chamber of Commerce
TEL +81-193-22-2434