is an island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 lying to the south of Kyushu
is the third largest island of Japan and most southwesterly of its four main islands. Its alternate ancient names include , , and . The historical regional name is referred to Kyushu and its surrounding islands....

, in southern Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, and is part of Kagoshima Prefecture
Kagoshima Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan located on the island of Kyushu. The capital is the city of Kagoshima.- Geography :Kagoshima Prefecture is located at the southwest tip of Kyushu and includes a chain of islands stretching further to the southwest for a few hundred kilometers...

. The island is the second largest of the Ōsumi Islands.

It is a long low stretch of land, carefully cultivated, 57.5 kilometers from north to south, and 5–12 kilometers from east to west. On the island, there is a city
Cities of Japan
||A is a local administrative unit in Japan. Cities are ranked on the same level as and , with the difference that they are not a component of...

, Nishinoomote
Nishinoomote, Kagoshima
is a city located in Kagoshima, Japan on the island of Tanegashima.As of 2008, the city has an estimated population of 17,666 and the density of 85.9 persons per km²...

, and two towns
Towns of Japan
A town is a local administrative unit in Japan. It is a local public body along with prefecture , city , and village...

, Nakatane
Nakatane, Kagoshima
is a town located on Tanegashima or Tanega Island in Kumage District, Kagoshima, Japan.As of 2003, the town has an estimated population of 9,473 and the density of 68.75 persons per km². The total area is 137.78 km²....

 and Minamitane
Minamitane, Kagoshima
is a town located on the southern portion of Tanegashima in Kumage District, Kagoshima, Japan.As of 2003, the town has an estimated population of 6,997 and a density of 63.38 persons per km². The total area is 110.40 km²....

. The towns belong to Kumage District
Kumage District, Kagoshima
is a district located in Kagoshima, Japan. The district covers two islands from the Ōsumi Islands, Tanegashima and Yakushima. The district has an estimated population of 29,706 with a total area of 789.16 km².Contains 3 towns:...


New Tanegashima Airport
New Tanegashima Airport
, also known as Tanegashima Airport, is located on Tanegashima, one of the Osumi Islands in the Kagoshima Prefecture of Japan.- Airlines and destinations :...

 serves the island, offering daily flights to Kagoshima and Ōsaka.

Introduction of firearms into Japan

This island is celebrated as the site of the first known contact of Europe and the Japanese, in 1542. A Ryukyuan
Ryukyu Kingdom
The Ryūkyū Kingdom was an independent kingdom which ruled most of the Ryukyu Islands from the 15th century to the 19th century. The Kings of Ryūkyū unified Okinawa Island and extended the kingdom to the Amami Islands in modern-day Kagoshima Prefecture, and the Sakishima Islands near Taiwan...

 trading post had been established there several decades earlier, and all traffic from the Ryukyus
Ryukyu Islands
The , also known as the , is a chain of islands in the western Pacific, on the eastern limit of the East China Sea and to the southwest of the island of Kyushu in Japan. From about 1829 until the mid 20th century, they were alternately called Luchu, Loochoo, or Lewchew, akin to the Mandarin...

 to Kagoshima
Kagoshima, Kagoshima
is the capital city of Kagoshima Prefecture at the southwestern tip of the Kyūshū island of Japan, and the largest city in the prefecture by some margin...

 on Kyushu, in southern Japan, was obliged to pass through this station. Thus it was that the Portuguese ship, having been blown off course from China to Okinawa
Okinawa Island
Okinawa Island is the largest of the Okinawa Islands and the Ryukyu Islands of Japan, and is home to Naha, the capital of Okinawa Prefecture. The island has an area of...

 made their way to Tanegashima, and not directly to Japan proper.

Until modern times, firearm
A firearm is a weapon that launches one, or many, projectile at high velocity through confined burning of a propellant. This subsonic burning process is technically known as deflagration, as opposed to supersonic combustion known as a detonation. In older firearms, the propellant was typically...

s were colloquially known in Japan as "Tanegashima", due to the belief that they were introduced by the Portuguese
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 onboard that ship. In his memoirs published in 1614, Portuguese adventurer turned author, Fernão Mendes Pinto
Fernão Mendes Pinto
Fernão Mendes Pinto was a Portuguese explorer and writer. His exploits are known through the posthumous publication of his memoir Pilgrimage in 1614, an autobiographical work whose truthfulness is nearly impossible to assess...

 placed himself in that first landing party, although this claim has been roundly discredited and in fact contradicts with his claims to be simultaneously in Burma at the time. However, Mendes Pinto does appear to have visited Tanegashima soon thereafter.

The Europeans had arrived to trade
Nanban trade
The or the in Japanese history extends from the arrival of the first Europeans to Japan in 1543, to their near-total exclusion from the archipelago in 1614, under the promulgation of the "Sakoku" Seclusion Edicts.- Etymology :...

, not only guns, but also soap
In chemistry, soap is a salt of a fatty acid.IUPAC. "" Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. . Compiled by A. D. McNaught and A. Wilkinson. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford . XML on-line corrected version: created by M. Nic, J. Jirat, B. Kosata; updates compiled by A. Jenkins. ISBN...

, tobacco
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

 and other goods unknown in medieval Japan, for the Japanese goods.

Knife industry

Edge tools (particularly knives and scissors) made in Tanegashima are famous traditional handicrafts in Japan. Craftsmen in Tanegashima have kept alive traditional techniques for forging and sharpening iron tools. Tanegashima is also famous as the center of sand iron production. The technique has been around since about 1185 when the Taira clan
Taira clan
The was a major Japanese clan of samurai in historical Japan.In reference to Japanese history, along with Minamoto, Taira was a hereditary clan name bestowed by the emperors of the Heian Period to certain ex-members of the imperial family when they became subjects...

 were exiled here from their native Kyoto by Minamoto no Yoritomo
Minamoto no Yoritomo
was the founder and the first shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate of Japan. He ruled from 1192 until 1199.-Early life and exile :Yoritomo was the third son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo, heir of the Minamoto clan, and his official wife, a daughter of Fujiwara no Suenori, who was a member of the...

, taking with them craftsmen and chefs from Kyoto. The people of the island speak with a Kyoto accent even now, rather than a Kyūshū
is the third largest island of Japan and most southwesterly of its four main islands. Its alternate ancient names include , , and . The historical regional name is referred to Kyushu and its surrounding islands....

 or Kagoshima accent, despite its proximity to Kyūshū. These craftsmen were the original users of the distinct techniques used for forging and sharpening. The technique is unique in the world, and produces such tools as "Tanegashima Hocho" (Tanegashima knives), used by many chefs in Kyoto and Kansai, and "Tane-basami" (Tanegashima scissors), preferred by many for the art of Bonsai
is a Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in containers. Similar practices exist in other cultures, including the Chinese tradition of penjing from which the art originated, and the miniature living landscapes of Vietnamese hòn non bộ...


Since 1542, when firearms were introduced by Pinto, ironworking craftsmen on Tanegashima have expanded their original techniques to include the creation of high quality firearms.

Tanegashima Space Center

The headquarters of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
The , or JAXA, is Japan's national aerospace agency. Through the merger of three previously independent organizations, JAXA was formed on October 1, 2003, as an Independent Administrative Institution administered by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the...

, the Tanegashima Space Center
Tanegashima Space Center
The is one of Japan's space development facilities. It is located on Tanegashima, an island located 115 km south of Kyūshū. It was established in 1969 when the National Space Development Agency of Japan was formed...

A spaceport or cosmodrome is a site for launching spacecraft, by analogy with seaport for ships or airport for aircraft. The word spaceport, and even more so cosmodrome, has traditionally been used for sites capable of launching spacecraft into orbit around Earth or on interplanetary trajectories...

 is located at the southeastern end of the island.

Notable people

  • Miyu Uehara
    Miyu Uehara
    , better known as , was a Japanese gravure idol and TV personality, who gained popularity as a "poverty idol".-Life:Uehara was born on the island of Tanegashima in Kagoshima Prefecture, the youngest of 10 siblings. She attended high school in Kagoshima for a brief time before dropping out...

    (1987–2011), a Japanese gravure idol and TV personality born in Tanegashima

External links

  • http://spaceboy.nasda.go.jp/gallery/gallery-e/t_tour_e.html
  • http://web-japan.org/atlas/technology/tec09.html
  • http://minamitane.wordpress.com
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