Fujisawa | Japan

Fujisawa (藤沢市 Fujisawa-shi) is a city in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.

As of February 2015, the city had an estimated population of 420,254, and a population density of 6,040 people per km2. The total area is 69.57 km2.

Fujisawa is in the central part of Kanagawa Prefecture. It faces Sagami Bay of the Pacific Ocean. The northern part of the city is on the Sagamino plateau while the southern part is on the Shonan Dunes. Fujisawa has three major topographical features: the island of Enoshima to the south connected to the Katase shoreline area by a road bridge, and two rivers, the Hikichi (引地川) and the Sakai (境川), which run north-south.

The Hikichi can be traced from an area designated as a nature reserve park in the city of Yamato and flows directly along the boundary of the joint US Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Atsugi Naval Air Base and the United States Army Camp Zama. The Sakai runs directly from the mountains between Machida and Hachiōji, and for quite some distance forms the border between the Tokyo Metropolitan Area and Kanagawa Prefecture. From Machida city centre, the river can be directly followed by a foot and cycle path to Fujisawa city centre, a distance of approximately 35 kilometers. Another cycle path runs along the Shonan Coastal path, from the Sagami River, in Hiratsuka, to Enoshima Bridge in Fujisawa.

The area around present-day Fujisawa City has been inhabited for thousands of years. Archaeologists have found stone tools and shell middens from the Japanese Paleolithic period, ceramic shards from the Jōmon period, and graves from the Kofun period at numerous locations. The area is mentioned in the Nara period Nihon Shoki chronicles. By the Heian period, central Sagami Province was divided into shōen controlled by the Muroaoka, Oe, and other local warlords. During the Kamakura period, Fujisawa was the setting for a number of battles to overthrow the Kamakura shogunate as mentioned in the late 14th century Taiheiki. During the Muromachi period, Fujisawa developed around Yugyo-ji, a Buddhist temple, which was established in 1325.

With the Edo period, Fujisawa prospered as Fujisawa-shuku, a post station on the Tōkaidō highway connecting Edo with Kyoto. Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu built a palace in Fujisawa as a rest stop between Edo and Sunpu.

Following the Meiji Restoration, the area was divided into villages in Kōza District and Kamakura District within Kanagawa Prefecture. The Kōza District office was located in Fujisawa from 1878. The area developed rapidly after the opening of Fujisawa Station of Tōkaidō Main Line in 1887.

During the cadastral reform of April 1, 1889, Fujisawa-Ōsaka Town (in Kōza District) and Fujisawa-Ōtomi Town (in Kamakura District) were created through the merger of local hamlets. Emperor Meiji visited Fujisawa in 1891 to watch military maneuvers. The IJA 49th Infantry Regiment under the IJA 1st Division was stationed in Fujisawa from 1907. During the same year, Fujisawa-Ōsaka Town absorbed Fujisawa-Ōtomi Town and expanded further in 1908 by annexing the neighboring villages of Kugenuma and Meiji (both from Kamakura District), renaming itself Fujisawa Town.

The 1923 Great Kantō earthquake caused severe damage to Fujisawa, with some 4,000 houses destroyed. An Imperial Japanese Navy Artillery School was established in Tsujido in 1926.

Fujisawa remains at the centre of the 'Shōnan lifestyle' image, and its good rail and adequate road connections make it a very popular destination for day trippers from the Kanto region. Surfing and beach volleyball tournaments in summertime attract visitors, especially younger people, and they are also drawn to the seasonal bars and rest houses that are erected along the beach from Kugenuma Kaigan to Enoshima Kaigan.

Fujisawa has two major firework displays in the summer, in late July and early August, usually sandwiched in between similar festivals in Chigasaki, Hiratsuka, Kamakura, and Yokohama.

Enoshima Island has many attractions, including a botanical gardens and Enoshima Lighthouse which is open to visitors. Its height of 119.6 meters above sea level affords an excellent view of the area and, on a clear day, Mount Fuji. There are a number of famous Shinto shrines, some in caves on the south side of the island.

One of Fujisawa's most popular seasonal products is shirasu, similar to but much smaller and softer than whitebait.

In medieval Japan, Kanagawa was part of the provinces of Sagami and Musashi. Kamakura in central Sagami was the capital of Japan during the Kamakura period (1185–1333).

During the Edo period, the western part of Sagami Province was governed by the daimyō of Odawara Castle, while the eastern part was directly governed by the Tokugawa shogunate in Edo (modern-day Tokyo).

Commodore Matthew Perry landed in Kanagawa in 1853 and 1854 and signed the Convention of Kanagawa to force open Japanese ports to the United States. Yokohama, the largest deep-water port in Tokyo Bay, was opened to foreign traders in 1859 after several more years of foreign pressure, and eventually developed into the largest trading port in Japan. Nearby Yokosuka, closer to the mouth of Tokyo Bay, developed as a naval port and now serves as headquarters for the U.S. 7th Fleet and the fleet operations of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. After the Meiji period, many foreigners lived in Yokohama City, and visited Hakone. The Meiji government developed the first railways in Japan, from Shinbashi (in Tokyo) to Yokohama in 1872.

The epicenter of the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake was deep beneath Izu Ōshima Island in Sagami Bay. It devastated Tokyo, the port city of Yokohama, surrounding prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa, and Shizuoka, and caused widespread damage throughout the Kantō region. The sea receded as much as 400 metres from the shore at Manazuru Point, and then rushed back towards the shore in a great wall of water which swamped Mitsuishi-shima. At Kamakura, the total death toll from earthquake, tsunami, and fire exceeded 2,000 victims. At Odawara, ninety percent of the buildings collapsed immediately, and subsequent fires burned the rubble along with anything else left standing.

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