Visit Nagasaki’s World Industrial Heritages

Impression of Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard and World Heritages

Walking around the Kyushu/Yamaguchi “Industrial Heritage” (3)

♣  Nagasaki Shipyard — Making Dawn of  shipbuilding engineering in Japan

Nagasaki Zosen- Kibaba 01.JPGThe Edo period of Japan, which was under the long seclusion, was seriously faced the serious threat from advancing Western marine powers in 19th century. In these circumstances, the Edo gov’t has loosened the previous ban of the large vessels in order to protect the Japan’s Nagasaki Zosen- Illust x07.JPGsovereignty. Then, Shogunate and leading clans in the western part of Japan have started the construction of large vessels in use as battle ships. Among them, Hagi, Satsuma, Saga clans were vigorously trying
to build large sailing ship in their own way based on the Dutch technical books. In the meantime, the Edo gov’t set up the “Naval Training Institute Nagasaki Zosen- Denshu x01.JPG“(海軍伝習所)in Nagasaki for learning the sailing skill and technology of manufacturing warships.

These series of movements have significantly enhanced the development measures all of Japan’s shipbuilding technology. The “Nagasaki Shipyard Works” and its related facilities have played the pivotal role in these challenges. This process was greatly valued and registered in the “World industrial heritage” in 2015.

Nagasaki Zosen- Entrance hall x01.JPGI have visited these “World Heritage” sites in Nagasaki during this summer. The aim was the visit to the Nagasaki Shipyard “Archives” (史料館). Because I had long desired to know about the historical issues of ship development
technology, particularly in Nagasaki. Through the visit I could learn a lot about the roots of Japan’s shipbuilding technology, and its subsequent results. This article is an impression notes at this time. However, some areas were inaccessible because the Nagasaki Shipyard Works is still running by the private company and prohibited to step in to the certain places in the shipyard. So I should say the description had a certain limitation.

♣  The eight historic sites of the “world heritage”

The following eight facilities and historic sites were defined as important evidence for nagasaki-zosen-illust-x04advancing Japanese shipbuilding industry and related machinery industries, and  nominated in the “World Industrial Heritage” by Unesco. These are; (1) Glover House and Office, (2) ” Kosuge Ship Dock” (小菅修船場跡), (3) “Mitsubishi Number Third Dock”(第三船渠), (4) “Mitsubishi Senshokaku Guest House”( 占勝閣)”, (5) old “Mitsubishi Former Pattern Shop” (旧木型場), (6) “Giant Cantilever Crane” all in the Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works, (7) “Takashima coal mine ruins”(高島炭坑跡), (8) “Hashima coal mines ruins”(端島炭坑跡)in the Mitsubishi coal mines sites.

<Development of Nagasaki Shipyard as a Industrial Heritage>

nagasaki-zosen-glover-house-x01ANagasaki Zosen- Glover x01.JPGmong them, the “Glover House” is the former residence of Mr. Thomas Glover, who greatly contributed to the Japanese industry modernization by trade deals of machines and Nagasaki Zosen- Illust x02.JPGtechnology in the last years of Edo and beginning of the Meiji period. It is now a famous tourist spot to overview the beautiful Nagasaki bay.

 Mr. Glover has also help the establishment of the Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery nagasaki-zosen-wh-craneWorks, Mitsubishi, and assisted the setting up “Kosuge Slip Dock” in 1869 and “Takashima coal mine”. This Dock was valued the oldest slip dock in Japan to land ships by steam engine power. It became a model of the subsequent nagasaki-zosen-wh-dock-3similar facilities . nagasaki-zosen-wh-kosuge
The “Third Dock” of Nagasaki Shipyard is a dry dock for large ships which was built in 1905 and continues to be running even today. And the “Giant Cantilever Crane”, was constructed in 1909 with an electric power for loading and unloading of large machinery, This Crane is still operating in the shipyard even after 100 years of construction.
Nagasaki Zosen- Kibaba 1898 x01.JPG     The “Pattern Shop” was built in 1898 as a factory to make up “wood patterns” for casting iron of ships. This is the oldest memorial building in Nagasaki Shipyard, but now it has transformed to the Museum which exhibits many machine tools being used in the shipyard. The “Senshokaku nagasaki-zosen-wh-guest-houseHouse” was used as the State Guest House for prominent businessmen, political circle of people in the initial period of shipyard.

All these facilities and buildings have been functioned as the crucial infrastructures in the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Shipyard, and shows how the shipbuilding industry and the machinery technology of Japan have been developed. It is likely to be historical witnesses to tell the ship building industry in Japan.

<Development of Coal Mining Industry as a Industrial Heritage>

On the other hand, the historic coal industry sites are also found in Nagasaki area along nagasaki-zosen-wh-takashimawith shipbuilding industrial sites. The Takashima and Hashima coal mine are the most famous among them.          At that time, the coal mines equipped modern machines were seldom in Japan but huge demand to the coal were
existed because the steamship and steam engines development were in boom in Japan. It was said that the “Takashima coal mine” had developed the powerful “Intake Shaft” system to mine coal for responding these big demands.

The “Hashima coal mines” has developed a large-scale coal mining after the Nagasaki Zosen- Illust x10.JPG“Takashima” with fully using the entire island for mining. This Hashima started and Nagasaki Zosen- Hashima x01.JPGcontinuously run from the mid-Meiji till the post-War period as a flagship coal mine of the Mitsubishi Co. But after the closing coal mines in 1974, the Hashima has changed to the uninhabited island. But in the recent years, the Hashima is becoming famed as a tourism landmark site called “Ginkanjima” (Warship Island) and inviting many tourists.

In the meantime, there are many coal mines of “Miike” (三池炭鉱)too in the Chikuho area, northern Kyushu. They were all major coal mines in paralleled with the Mitsubishi related coal mines at least until around 1970s when the coal industry declined in Japan caused by the energy resource shift..

♣   Nagasaki shipbuilding Works -A forerunner of shipbuilding  

The prototype of the “Nagasaki Shipyard Works” was the “Nagasaki Molten Irons Nagasaki Zosen- N Ironwork x01.JPGFactory” in the Edo period which Edo gov’t had been building for the repairing modern
vessels in 1861. After that, the name was changed to “Nagasaki Ironworks” and managed by Japanese government for a moment after the Meiji Restoration. Then, the factory was disposed to the Mitsubishi Co. Nagasaki Zosen- Machin plat 1885.JPG1n 1884 as the “Nagasaki Shipyard Works” which is now owned by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Afterward this Shipyard has enhanced the function and innovated the facilities in large scale, and it has grown to the modern full-fledged shipbuilding factory in the period Meiji.

<Nagasaki Naval Training Plant and other Shipbuilding Movement>

On the other hand, prior to this movement in Edo period, the Edo gov’t had established nagasaki-zosen-denshu-x02the “Nagasaki Naval Training Plant” in 1855, and began training of the way of operation of
Nagasaki Zosen- Illust x11.JPGwarships and construction of western ships under the guidance of Dutch marine officer. In this facility many prominent figures are participated who have actively worked and led the Edo-Meiji social and political change as well as industrial development. For the example, Kaishu Katsu勝海舟, Godai Tomoatsu五代友厚, Sano Tsunetami佐野常民, Tanaka Hisashige田中久重 and others had participated.
In the Eastern Japan, Edo Gov’t had also engaged in the Western shipbuilding works by its own hand. Coincidentally, the Russian ship “Diana” was overturned off the coast of Toda
Nagasaki Zosen- Kimisawa xxx.JPGvillage, Izu
in 1854. The Shogunate dispatched shipwrights to Ishikawa-jima (near the Izu) and ordered to repair and re-build the ship “Heda”, and constructed the same type of new ship named “Kimisawa” type in the area.
In addition, the Edo gov’t established “Yokosuka Ironworks” in 1866 and got to work in transforming shipbuilding measures from wooden ships to steel ships under the guidance of French engineers.

<Major Ship Products of Nagasaki Shipyard in early time>

Around the same time in the northern Kyushu area, the “Nagasaki Shipyard Works”
Nagasaki Zosen- Dock 1879.JPGhad greatly advanced its shipbuilding capacity and technology. For instance, it had completed the first dock in 1896, and built “wooden pattern plant” in 1898. And after the Meiji, the second and third modern dock was also constructed in 1903. The Ship hull test aquarium completed in 1907, and large crane has installed in 1909. So the infrastructure of shipyard has quickly line-upped through these facilitation and began to show the figures of modern full scaled shipbuilding plant.

Nagasaki Zosen- Yugiri 1887.JPGIn the ship making field, it produced “Yugiri-maru” (the first iron steamship) in 1887, “Hitachi Maru” (large passenger ship) in 1898, “Tenyomaru” (full-scale turbine ship) in 1908, and succeeded to build the modern battle cruiser “Kirishima” in 1915 afterward.

In this way, Japan’s shipbuilding technology is Nagasaki Zosen- Tenyo 1908.JPGdramatically improved in the Meiji period and went up the ladder to the shipbuilding powerhouse of the world only in just 50 years from the start.

So it is clear that the Nagasaki Shipyard Works and its related facilities have been evaluated as one of the leading players in the shipbuilding field, and is natural their old sites were designated as the important historic assets to signify the Japanese successful industrial development.

♣  The exhibition of “Former Pattern Shop” Archive

The old ” Former Pattern Shop” Archive has embodied these long histories of Nagasaki Nagasaki Zosen- Archive x02.JPGShipyard Works and Japanese shipbuilding efforts as above mentioned. The building of Archive itself was formerly used as a machine factory, but it was transformed to the museum facility in 1985. In the archive hall, we could find a number of historically used machines, tools and memorabilia, and many photos with Nagasaki Zosen- memorial x01.JPGshort introductions.
These exhibitions were arranged in order by historic years like the products of government-run period of Nagasaki Works, Mitsubishi founding period’s, the Meiji and Taisho period’s, Showa’s products and memorials, and so on.

Additionally, the exhibitions were also available by the Nagasaki Zosen-Yataro x01.JPGsubjective access, such as the Iwasaki family corner of Mitsubishi, shipbuilding monuments, battleship “Musashi” corner. These were displayed with many photos and commentaries to give lively imagine about the historical background of Mitsubishi Shipyard Works and its historical development.

The rare historical exhibits were also exhibited there, for example, a Nagasaki Zosen- Oxygen x01.JPGdiving equipment “Oxygen Bell”(1834) which was used for wharf construction in the old Nagasaki Shipyard plant construction, Japan’s oldest machine tool “vertical cutting board” (1857), the first domestically produced steam turbine (1908), the “cast iron pillar” used in the construction of the factory, and the like.

Nagasaki Zosen- Steam engine 1928.JPGThe power steam engine for “Shirataka Maru” (1920s), the open-cycle gas turbine of 500 horsepower used in the “Hokuto Maru” (1954), Tsurumi power plant No. 1 turbine welding rotor for Tepco (1962), and other recent machine products were also displayed there as a memorial collection.     There existed many photos too which tell the history of the Nagasaki Shipyard Works. TheNagasaki Zosen- Hitachi 1898.JPG visitors would find the photographs of Nagasaki Ironworks in 1870s, “Akunoura” machine producing plants and “Tategami” first dock pictures (around 1870s), the iron steamer ship (1887), battleship “Hitachi Maru”, “Hyuga” and “Musashi”, all these photos showed the passing days’ memorial records of Japanese shipbuilding history.
Kunio Illust x01.JPG    I’ve looked around the “Archives” in an hour, but it was enough to roughly understand the trends and the movements of Japanese shipbuilding history, and could learn a lot by observing working place and materials. And this opportunity of visit Nagasaki gave me fruitful information regarding initial efforts to build modern western ships in Edo and Meiji period, as well as historical background of Nagasaki Shipyard Works. I hoped to visit there again if I could find another chance to tour in Kyushu.



♥  Column:

Introduction of the Saga’s Mietsu Navy Training Sites

The one of the key roles were played by Saga clan in the development of shipbuilding in nagasaki-zosen-mietsu-x03the Edo period. The Saga has constructed a “reverberatory furnace” and showed pioneering moves in the modern ship making from the early time along with Satsuma, Hagi clan, and Edo gov’t.     The Edo Gov’t had set up a “Navy Training Plant” in Nagasaki in 1850s to promote ship making technology to protect its land, and in nagasaki-zosen-tanaka-x01this time Saga clan sent a biggest number of nagasaki-zosen-sano-m-x02Samurai engineers with following trainees dispatched by Edo Shogunate. Furthermore, the Saga launched its own “Mietsu Naval Institute “ (三重津海軍所)for training Saga’s Samurai engineers after closing of the Nagasaki’s training facility.

Then, the facility of Saga successfully completed the “steam engine for the naval ship in Nagasaki Zosen- Ryofu maru x01.JPG1863, and launched the practical steamboat “Ryofumaru” in 1865. To this challenging project, the members of this Institute, Sano and Tanaka (later he became a founder of Toshiba) and other engineers have participated and contributed much to make these vessels.

Thanks to these significant memorial works, theNagasaki Zosen- Sano M x01.JPG ruins of “Mietsu training plant” was registered in the “World Industrial Heritage” along with the nagasaki-zosen-mietsu-x02
Nagasaki shipbuilding-related facilities. The historical ruins of this “Mietsu” is now been excavating to clarify the historical meanings and is currently being developed as a historic tourist spot as the “Sano Tsunetami Memorial Park”.



  1. 三菱重工・長崎造船所「史料館」パンフレット
  2. 「明治日本の産業革命遺産―近代化は長崎からはじまったー」PRIDEパンフレット 
    (Note: Pictures were quoted from “「明治日本の産業革命遺産」PRIDE” Pamphlet)
  3. 「長崎の近代化遺産」パンフレット
  4. 「開国日本―造船の歴史―」(
  5. 「長崎にある8つの構成遺産」(長崎市ホームページ)
  6. ビジュアル版「日本の技術100年」(3) 造船・鉄道 (筑摩書房)


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