An historic Saga City naval shipyard is one of 28 facilities related to Japan’s industrial revolution in the Meiji era (1868-1912) the goverment is hoping to have added to the UNESCO World Heritage list:
The remains of the Mietsu Naval Shipyard, located on a tributary of the Chikugogawa river that flows through the southern part of Saga city, were the base of the naval forces established by the Saga domain at the end of the Tokugawa shogunate and the foundation of modern Japanese shipbuilding. It began when the 10th daimyo feudal lord of the Saga domain, Nabeshima Naomasa, instituted training in naval technology at a shipyard. Nabeshima also devoted efforts to shipbuilding and the purchase of warships, and in 1865 the Saga domain completed Japan’s first practical steamship, the Ryofu Maru.
The Saga city board of education began excavating the site in 2009 and confirmed the structure of a wooden dock used for repairing sailboats. The structure is currently being preserved underground, and the whole area is maintained as a park.
In addition to a preservation association formed by local residents, a municipal development group comprising students of Saga University is also contributing to publicity efforts, such as by performing a skit about the construction of the Ryofu Maru.
“We want to tell young people about the remains, which Saga can be proud of, through the sensibilities of college students,” said group representative Kaori Soejima, 21.
Momentum for the UNESCO bid is growing in the area through such events as a symposium on the UNESCO World Heritage listing, to be held in Saga city on June 14 by the Saga branch of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives and others.
The list will be announced in 2015.