Watanabe no Tsu (Watanabe Port) (渡辺津)

Watanabe no tsu, one of the biggest seaports on the coast of Seto Inland Sea, used to be located near the river mouth of the Kyu-Yodo-gawa River (former Yodo-gawa River) in the Settsu Province.
It is also called 'Kubotsu.'
Watanabe no tsu located at the center of current Osaka City, between the Tenma-bashi Bridge and the Tenjin-bashi Bridge over Kyu-Yodo-gawa River. Kita Senba, Osaka City, centered around there, used to be a bay and there was a town, being flourished, on the western part of the north end of Uemachi plateau. Naniwa no tsu (Naniwa Port) and Naniwa-kyo had located there up until the Nara period, and the place remained functioning as a seaport even after the transfer of the capital and secondary capital city.

Watanabe no tsu used to be the center of water transportation system between Setouchi and Kyoto, the delivery platform of the sea and river, and also the ferry connecting the north and south side of Yodo-gawa River. The place was important from transportation, economics and even religious point of view. Watanabe no tsu was also the starting point for Kumanokodo Road, because the worshippers from Kyoto visiting Shitenno-ji Temple, Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine and Kumano Sanzan (three major shrines, Kumano-Hongu-Taisha Shrine, Kumano-Hayatama-Taisha Shrine and Kumano-Nachi-Taisha Shrine) got off boats at here. Later, Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple was built on a highland near the port and became the base of Jodo Shinshu sect (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism).

It was also important for military purpose. In the late Heian period, MINAMOTO no Tsuna (WATANABE no Tsuna) of Saga-Genji, the Minamoto clan, lived there and started the Watanabe clan by changing his family name to Watanabe. The descendants of WATANABE no Tsuna grew into a bushidan (warrior bands) called Watanabe-to Party, and since they located at seaports, scattered everywhere in Japan as Suigun (warriors battle in the sea) and became the toryo (leader) of the Suigun in the Seto Inland Sea. The representative branch family of the Watanabe clan is the Matsuura clan and the Matsuura Party, inherited by the Matsuura clan, located at the northern Kyushu. It is said that the Watanabe clan, the vassal of the Toyotomi clan, and the Watanabe clan, the daimyo in hereditary vassal to the Tokugawa family, are also the descendants of MINAMOTO no Tsuna.

The famous shrine located in that location was Ikasuri-jinja Shrine (Its shago [shrine's name] is 'Ikasuri' but it is usually called 'Zama'). Its honden (main shrine) was located in the place where Watanabe no tsu used to be - Watanabe-cho (present Koku-machi) located at the south-east of the Tenjin-bashi Bridge, but it was moved to the present location - the south of the Honmachi Station of Osaka (Municipal) Subway, when Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI built Osaka-jo Castle.

Osaka did not play a major part in the history between the era of Naniwa-kyo and Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple. Although the seaports in Hyogo Ward, Kanzaki in Amagasaki City, and Sakai City attract attention in the Osaka Bay, Watanabe no tsu was continuously functioning as the seaport at the river mouth of the Yodo-gawa River through the Heian period, the Kamakura period and the Muromachi period.

One of the four bridges that go through Nakanoshima (Osaka Prefecture) is the Watanabe-bashi Bridge, named after the prosperity of Watanabe no tsu in the Edo period, located in the place slightly downstream from the place where Watanabe no tsu used to be.

The place where Ikasuri-jinja Shrine is located is also called 'Watanabe,' and the name itself was also moved with the shrine from its original location by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, and it is separated from the location where Watanabe no tsu was originally located. The present address of the shrine is Watanabe, 4-chome Kyutaromachi, Chuo Ward, Osaka City, but the area was called Watanabe-cho up until 1988. There was a protest campaign by the descendants of the Watanabe clan against that the roots of the Watanabe clan to be disappeared, and eventually, the name of Watanabe remained in the address replacing the block number.

After the Edo period, on the south of the urban area of Osaka City, there was a settlement of Burakumin (modern-day descendants of Japan's feudal outcast group) called 'Watanabe-mura Village,' manufacturing leather, drums and such, and this place also was a good distance from the location where Watanabe no tsu used to be. However, according to the local legend, the residents of the Watanabe-mura Village were moved from the original location of Watanabe no tsu to the place where the settlement used to be.

[Original Japanese]