Konnichiwa, and welcome to Hiratsuka, Japan.
New! Hiratsuka City Web site (in English, or Japanese)
Hiratsuka International Exchange Association (HIEA)
What time is it in Hiratsuka?
Hiratsuka, with a population of 254,013 and 89,415 households (as of May 1, 1995) is located almost in the center of Kanagawa Prefecture, some 60km (38 miles) southwest of Tokyo, and 60km east of Mt. Fuji. It can be reached by the Japan Railway's (JR's) local Tokaido railroad in about an hour from Tokyo, two hours from Narita International Airport serving the Kanto (Tokyo) area.
The city has a 4.8 km border facing the Pacific Ocean, and is blessed with relatively mild ocean-modified temperatures in both summer and winter, the average being 15 C (59 F). The average monthly rainfall is 150mm, or 57 inches per year. Hiratsuka's total land area is 68 square km, running 10 km north to south and 12 km east to west.
Hiratsuka literally means a flat elevation of earth. Historically, however, it is defined as an "ancient plain burial mound" originating from the tomb of Masako (a granddaughter of Emperor Kammu) who died here in 857 A.D.
In the Edo period (1603-1867), Hiratsuka served as one of the 53 lodging towns, for Samurai and merchant travelers, on the 518 km Tokkaido Road from Tokyo to Kyoto. After the Meiji Restoration (1868 when the reigns of government was restored to the Emporer from the Tokugawa shogunate), the town grew to be an active trade center by taking advantage of the railroad laid out from Tokyo. By incorporating seven surrounding villages and a town into Hiratsuka in 1932, Hiratsuka became the fourth registered city in Kanagawa Prefecture with a population of 36,000. An air raid in 1945 completely devastated the city, burning down some 7,000 houses.
As a modern industrial city today, Hiratsuka has a number of chemical, electric, automobile, perfume, and many high-tech factories located along the Sagami River on its eastern border. Also as a suburban residential community, it is a bedroom town for commuters to Yokohama and Tokyo, However, farming and fishery are still a part of daily life for thousands of people here.
Hiratsuka is a city of academic institutions, too. Presently, there are two private universities located in the western Rose Hill Park area; Tokai University, one of the largest private universities in Japan, has its Shonan Campus with over 23,000 students enrolled plus about 300 students from abroad; Kanagawa University, which opened its Hiratsuka campus in April, 1989, has two faculties (business administration and science) with about 3,450 undergraduate and postgraduate students. Other than college-level academic institutions, Hiratsuka has a number of public schools: 10 high schools, 15 junior high, and 28 elementary schools.
The city is surrounded by a number of natural scenic spots-- The Pacific ocean, Sagami Bay, the Sagami and Hanamizu rivers on its eastern and western borders, and the Tanzawa mountain range stretching toward the northwest. Citizens enjoy weekend hiking to Shonan Hilltop Park, which is 180m (570ft) high and commands a full view of Hiratsuka, Mt. Fuji, and Sagami Bay.
What you cannot miss are the natural surroundings of lush green hills and forests spread out over the western part of Hiratsuka, occupying almost one-third of the entire city. Hiratsuka is ideal for hiking, jogging, cycling, birdwatching, golfing, you name it. The view of Mt. Fuji from the Nanakuni Pass is a spectacular panorama.
"High-Tech" is the word for the new business direction for Hiratsuka. An advanced telecommunications project called "TELETOPIA" is under way. The city is launching a variety of telecommunication services, first with a Cable TV service (Shonan Cable Network - SCN) which started in April, 1990. On July 1, 1994, "FM Shonan 783" commenced its community broadcasting service covering all areas of Hiratsuka.
Hiratsuka is an active town both in culture and sports. A new art museum was opened in March, 1991 as a modern cultural activity center. The city's Sogo Koen Central Park was completed in the spring of 1991, now consisting of the home stadium for Bellmare, a Hiratsuka-based professional soccer team that is part of Japan's J-League. Bellmare's home games attract nearly 20,000 soccer fans to the stadium each game.
Various international amity programs are in progress in Hiratsuka:
June 20, 1997
C. 1996, Kevin Sullivan, email@example.com
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