Hamamatsu is 260 kilometres (160 mi) southwest of Tokyo.
Hamamatsu consists of a flat plain and the Mikatahara Plateau in the south, and a mountainous area in the north. It is roughly bordered by Lake Hamana to the west, the Tenryū River to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the south.
Hamamatsu has a significant non-Japanese population. The population of Nikkei foreigners, especially Brazilians increased after a 1990 change in Japanese immigration law allowed them to work in Japan. At one point, Hamamatsu had the largest Brazilian Nikkei population of any Japanese city, Many foreigners work in the manufacturing sector, taking temporary jobs in Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha plants. As of 2008[update] the number of non-Japanese in Hamamatsu was 33,332, and by 2010 the number exceeded 30,000. The city has a lot of Portuguese signage. It includes a Brazilian school, and many businesses catering to Brazilians display Brazilian flags. However, Natsuko Fukue of The Japan Times wrote in 2010 that many foreign children have difficulty integrating to society in Hamamatsu because "Japanese and foreign communities live largely separate from one another."
The foreign population dropped significantly in the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008, with the Hamamatsu city government offering aid for some foreign nationals to return to their home countries. The foreign population was estimated as 25,084 as of August 1, 2019, per official city statistics,
View of Mt. Fuji from Hamamatsu
The climate in southern Hamamatsu has a humid subtropical climate with cool to mild winters with little snowfall; however, it is windy in winter because of the dry monsoon called Enshū no Karakaze, which is unique to the region. The climate in northern Hamamatsu is much harsher because of foehn winds. Summer is hot with the highest temperature often exceeds 35 degrees in the Tenryu-ku area, while it snows in winter.
Climate data for Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Averages (1981–2010), Records (1883–2012)
Hamamatsu has been famous as an industrial city, especially for musical instruments and motorcycles. It also has been known for fabric industry, but most of those companies and factories went out of business in the 1990s. As of 2010, Greater Hamamatsu, Hamamatsu Metropolitan Employment Area, has a GDP of US$54.3 billion.
2014 Hamamatsu's GDP per capita(PPP) was US$41,470.
The city formerly hosted other Brazilian schools, Colégio Pitágoras Brasil and Escola Cantinho Feliz.
As of May 1, 2009, the municipal elementary and junior high schools had 1,638 non-Japanese students. As of 2008[update], there were 932 Brazilians enrolled in Hamamatsu's municipal elementary and junior high schools: 646 Brazilians were enrolled in 61 public elementary schools, and 286 Brazilians were enrolled in 38 public junior high schools.
Within public schools Brazilian students have the same academic programs and take the same classes as Japanese nationals. Special teachers and assistants work with foreign students at municipal elementary and junior high schools with significant numbers of non-Japanese enrolled. In particular the schools use their part-time interpreters to assist Brazilian students. The interpreters are not formal teachers, yet Tsutsumi Angela Aparecida of Hamamatsu's Burajiru Fureai Kai wrote that "[t]heir assistance
has become very useful". Toshiko Sugino of the National Defense Academy of Japan wrote that the municipal and prefectural schools in Hamamatsu "follow traditional views of education and enforce rigid school rules" despite the reputation of open-mindedness in the residents of Hamamatsu, causing some foreigners to send their non-Japanese children to foreign private schools.
As of 2008[update] many Brazilian parents have difficulty in deciding whether to send their children to Japanese schools or Brazilian schools, and it is common for Brazilian children attending Japanese schools to switch to a Brazilian school and vice versa. By 2010 many Brazilian parents had lost their jobs due to an economic decline, and many were unable to afford the Brazilian school annual tuitions of ¥30,000 to ¥40,000.
As of 2010[update] about 50% of Brazilians of high school age in Hamamatsu do not attend high school. The inability to afford high school and difficulty with Japanese resulted in lower high school attendance rates. Hamamatsu NPO Network Center has made efforts to increase school attendance.
In Hamamatsu volunteers and a non-profit organization have established Japanese-language classes and native language classes for foreign children.
Volare FC Hamamatsu, an autonomous club who competed in the Tokai Regional Football League Division 2 in 2011, flouted plans to either overtake Honda FC or merge with it, but it finished last in the Tokai League and was relegated. Hamamatsu University also keeps a team in the said division, but college teams cannot be promoted to the top three tiers.
Act City Tower Observatory: Hamamatsu's only skyscraper, situated next to JR Hamamatsu Station, is a symbol of the city. It was designed to resemble a harmonica, a reminder that Hamamatsu is sometimes known as the "City of Music". The building houses shopping and a food court, the Okura Hotel, and an observatory on the 45th floor overlooking all of central Hamamatsu, even down to the sand dunes at the shore.
Hamamatsu Castle: Hamamatsu Castle Park stretches from the modern city hall building to the north. The castle is located on a hill in the southeast corner of the park, near city hall. It was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu. His rule marks the beginning of the Edo period. Tokugawa Ieyasu lived here from 1571 to 1588. There is a small museum inside, which houses some armor and other relics of the period, as well as a miniature model of how the city might have looked 400 years ago. North of the castle is a large park with a Japanese garden, a koi pond, a ceremonial teahouse, and some commons areas.
Long ago, Mount Akiha was believed to have supernatural powers to prevent fires. Bow and arrow, sword, and fire dances are performed at the Akiha Shrine. At the Akiha Temple, a firewalking ceremony is performed where both believers and spectators celebrate the festival.
During Hamamatsu Festival
Saigagake Museum, Hamamatsu City: July 15
When a family commemorates the first Obon holidays after the death of a loved one, they may request that a dainenbutsu (Buddhist chanting ritual) be performed outside their house. This is one of the local performing arts of the region. The group always forms a procession in front of the house led by a person carrying a lantern and marches to the sound of flutes, Japanese drums and cymbals.
Hamamatsu Kite Festival
Naka-ku, Minami-ku, others: May
Hamamatsu Kite Festival is also called Hamamatsu Festival. Hamamatsu Kite Festival held from May 3 to May 5 each year, includes a Tako Gassen, or kite fight, and luxuriously decorated palace-like floats. The festival originated about 430 years ago, when the lord of Hamamatsu Castle celebrated the birth of his first son by flying kites. In the Meiji Era, the celebration of the birth of a first son by flying Hatsu Dako, or the first kite, became popular, and this tradition has survived in the form of Hamamatsu Kite Festival. During the nights of Hamamatsu Kite Festival, people parade downtown carrying over 70 yatai, or palace-lake floats, that are beautifully decorated while playing Japanese traditional festival music. The festival reaches its peak when groups representing the city's various districts compete by energetically marching through the downtown streets.
Hamakita Hiryu Festival
This festival is held in honor of Ryujin, the god believed to be associated with the Tenryū River, and features a wide variety of events such as the Hamakita takoage (kite flying) event and the Hiryu himatsuri (flying dragon fire festival) which celebrates water, sound, and flame.
Hamamatsu International Piano Competition
This festival celebrates Hamamatsu's history as a city of musical instruments and music, and brings dozens of the best young pianists from all over the world. It has been held triennially since 1991 at the Act City Concert Hall and Main Hall.
This event takes place in Man'yō-no-Mori Park to commemorate the Man'yō period and introduce its culture. As part of the festival, people reenact the ancient past by wearing traditional clothes from the Heian period and presenting Japanese poetry readings.
Inasa Puppet Festival
Inasa, Kita-ku: November
One of the few puppet festivals held in Japan, featuring 60 performances of about 30 plays by puppet masters from all over the country. The shows provide a full day of enjoyment for both children and adults.
Princess Road Festival
Hosoe, Kita-ku: April
This reenactment of a procession made by the princess in her palanquin along with her entourage of over 100 people including maids, samurai, and servants makes for a splendid scene beneath the cherry blossoms along the Toda River. In the Edo period, princesses enjoyed traveling this road which came to be known as a hime kaidō (princess road).
The Hamamatsu Samba Festival is held in the city.
Shoryu Weeping Ume Blossom Festival
Inasa, Kita-ku: late February to late March
In Ryusui Garden there is a stream with seven small waterfalls and about 80 weeping ume trees pruned to give the appearance of dragons riding on clouds to the heavens. There are also 200 young trees planted along the mountainside.