HOME PORT: Sasebo, Japan
Sasebo was first mentioned in the Hizen Fudoki folklore compiled in 928. This folklore is a collection of legends from many regions of Japan. Among them, one legend dating back to around 340 has it that the Emperor Leiki XIV ordered his follower Kamushiro no Atai to suppress the Tsuchigumo Revolt led by Hayaki no Tsuhime. Now it is widely accepted that the name of the Haiki district today was taken from Haayaki no Tsu.
In 1069, Hisashi Watanabe, a descendant of the Genji Clan, came down to Shimomatuuragori, present-day Matsuura City, and became lord of the manor and the founder of the Matsuura family. The descendants of the Matsuura family became the lords of the manors in various areas, later banding together and playing an active role in the battles between the Genji and Taira families, the Northern and Southern Courts and the Mongols. The head of the Matsuura family moved his stronghold to Sasebo in 1393 and constructed Takebe castle. Diachian castle was constructed in Ono, and Iimori castle in Ainoura. However, the Hirado Matsuura family defeated the Matsuura family, captured their castle and laid the foundation for the Hirado feudal clan.
Because of the naturally fine port here, the Imperial Japanese Navy set up station in Sasebo in 1886. This began the naval port area. Harbor facilities were constructed, and Sasebo's population grew to 50,000 by 1902. In 1904, ships of the Imperial Japanese Navy under Admiral Togo sailed from Sasebo to take on the Russian Baltic Fleet. Admiral Togo's victory at the Battle of Tsushima is a classic in naval history. At the peak of World War II, the Japanese Navy had some 60,000 people outfitting ships, submarines and aircraft in the dockyard and associated naval station. After World War II, in the summer of 1946, U.S. Fleet Activities, Sasebo was established. In 1955, with 99 islands as a core, about 246 square kilometers of the Sasebo area, including Hirado Island and te Goto Islands, was designated as the Saikai National Park. Since Sasebo has a U.S. Naval base, it is also expected to play an active role as a cultural city in the international arena. In 1966, Sasebo set up sister-city relations with Albuquerque, New Mexico in the United States; in 1982 with Xiamen, China; and in 1988 with Coff's Harbor, Australia. In 1982 Sasebo City also formed a sister-port relationship with San Diego.