The Merchant Ships That Once Sailed the Sea of Japan
Kitamaebune are merchant ships that sailed between northern Japan and Osaka from the Edo era (1603–1867) to the turn of the 20th century. They purchased a wide variety of goods at their ports of call and made enormous profits by selling them on at other ports. Their courage in navigating the stormy waves of the Sea of Japan, maneuvering skills, and business acumen meant ordinary people could acquire enormous wealth at a time of a strict social class systems. The shores of the Sea of Japan contain countless hamlets where the Kitamaebune shipowners and sailors lived, as well as ports at which the ships called, and they are collectively designated as Japan Heritage. Hashitate and Segoe in the Kaga City area are such examples. However, with modernization, the Kitamaebune ship trade declined rapidly in the 20th century. Hashitate has managed to retain its unique landscape as a home of the Kitamaebune and was registered as a national Tangible Cultural Asset.