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Profile of Semboku City

Semboku City, located in the central-east of Akita prefecture and facing Iwate prefecture, was formed in September 20, 2005 by the amalgamation of three communities, Tazawako town, Kakunodate town, and Nishiki village.

Natural/Geographical Environment

Semboku City is placed in the center of eastern Akita, facing Iwate prefecture.
It has Tazawako, the deepest lake in Japan, near its center, Akita Komagatake to its east, Hachimantai to its north, and the Semboku Plain to its South. About 80% of the area is woodland, and the rivers flowing out from the Ou mountain range are the watersource of the Semboku area.
The climate is cold, with the average temperature in winter falling below zero in all areas, but the northern and southern parts differ in climate and rainfall. The city is 1,093.64 square kilometers wide, occupying 9.4% of Akita prefecture.

History

Tazawako Area

A large quantity of stone tools, earthenware and pithouse remains are found from the area surrounding Tazawako, indicating habitation by hunting and cultivating people from ancient times.
In the Edo period, when the Satake Clan was transferred from Hitachi (present Ibaraki pref.) to rule Akita, a Sekisho (checkpoint) was established in Obonai, located at the border of Akita facing Nanbu.
Down in the 18th century, there were new reclamations utilizing the water from Tazawako, along with innovation in forestry. Also, the area was developed as a nationally famous area for growing horses.
In 1889, the villages Obonai, Tazawa, and Jindai when the municipal system was brought to effect.
In 1940, the strong acidic water of Tamagawa was lead into Tazawako for power resource development and cultivation, annihilating many fish including the Kunimasu, which was said to be Tazawako's endemic species. Today fish can be seen in Tazawako again, as the result of deacidification projects.
The town of Obonai (organized as a town in 1953), and the villages Tazawa and Jindai were consolidated in September of 1956, forming the present Tazawako town.


Kakunodate Area

Kakunodate town was developed as a castle town. In the Semboku and Kitaura areas, the Tozawa clan prospered from around the Oei period. In the time of Moriyasu Tozawa's rule, they were recognized by Hideyoshi Toyotomi as a daimyo (ruler) of 44,000 koku (rice produce). In the daimyo replacements made after the Battle of Sekigahara, the Tozawa Clan was moved to Hitachi (later to Shinjo), and Yoshinobu Satake entered Akita as the new ruler. Kakunodate was occupied by a Yoshikatsu Ashina (younger brother of Yoshinobu Satake), a once renowned ruler of Aizu. They were given 15,000 koku from the Satake clan to rule Kakunodate. The Ashina Clan worked on the building of the new castle town. The town's unique layout, dividing itself into the samurais' and the townsmen's districts, survives to this day, over 380 years later. The Ashina Clan's line lasted for only 3 generations. Yoshichika Satake (North Satake Clan) was given the rule of the land, and the line lasted to the Meiji Era, for 11 generations and over 200 years.
In 1889 the town of Kakunodate, and the villages Nakagawa, Kumosawa, and Shiraiwa were formed when the municipal system was started. The town and the 3 villages were amalgamated into the present Kakunodate town in March 1955.


Nishiki Area

The Tozawa Clan, which built their castle at Kadoya in 1228, entered Kakunodate in 1423. They governed the area for approximately 400 years, until their 21st lord Masamori Tozawa was promoted from tozama-daimyo to fudai-daimyo, and transferred to Hitachi (and later to Shinjo). The heritage of the Tozawa Clan is still passed down as the "Tozawa Sasara".
In the Edo period, minerals including copper were found in many mines located in the Hinokinai and Ani areas. The Paper Baloon Festival of Kamihinokinai, a traditional celebration of the Lunar New Year, is said to have been introduced by Gennai Hiraga, invited to Akita for directing the mining work.
In 1889 the villages Saimyoji and Hinokinai were formed when the municipal system was started. The 2 villages were amalgamated into the present Nishiki village in September 1956.