Becoming a Logistics Hub for the ILC

Within the ILC Project plan, it is expected that cryomodules, one of the most important experimental equipment, in addition to cooling equipment and other devices necessary for the research facilities, will be sent from United States and Europe by sea.

In the “ILC Tohoku Master Plan,” released by the Tohoku ILC Promotion Council in 2018, it states that Ofunato Port is positioned to be one of the logistics hubs (unloading bays) for ILC construction materials and equipment sent by sea and are anticipated to play a key role in its realization. As such, we would like to take this time to explain the key features of Ofunato Port in this article.

The Journey of Ofunato Port

Iwate prefecture, Ofuanto city, the city where Ofunato Port is located, is a port city situated approximately an hour driving distance from the anticipated ILC construction site in the southern coastline of Iwate prefecture.

Ofunato Port is measured at, longest length of 6km and longest width of 2km, and the surrounding hills and deep bays peculiar to the Rias coast helped this natural port prosper significantly.

The importance of Ofunato Port was recognized in 1881 when the huge naval warship “Raiden” had made a port call here, attracting attention ever since.

At the mouth of Ofunato Bay, there is an enormous breakwater that is 244m long in the northern direction and 291m long in the southern direction and has 201m long opening.

The breakwater at the mouth of the bay was constructed after the 1960 Chilean Earthquake and Tsunami, and with a maximum depth of 38m, this was said to be the first deep-sea breakwater in Japan. Additionally, this breakwater ensures the wind and waves within the harbor to be extremely low, creating a well maintained quiet and calm bay.

Ofunato Port is also characterized by its multifaceted functions. A “commercial port” that handles the prefecture’s largest marine cargo, a “fishing port” managed in conjunction with the Ofunato Fish Market, boasting the largest pull of fish in the prefecture, and an “industrial port” that handles cement-related cargo.

[Picture: Birds-eye-view of Ofunato Port]

 Recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

On March 11, 2011, Ofunato city and other eastern Japan areas facing the Pacific Ocean suffered an unprecedented disaster, resulting in the loss of many lives and properties.

In Ofunato Port, the breakwater at the mouth of the bay, which had played a major role in preventing tsunami disasters of the region for approx. 40 years since its completion in 1966, was completely destroyed. Additionally, the tsunami had caused port facilities and cargo handling machinery, owned by both public and private facilities, to be rendered unusable.

Restoration work of the breakwater was carried out from 2012 to 2017, one year after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. The newly completed breakwater is now 11.3m above sea water, more than twice the height as it was before the disaster, and is expected to reduce tsunami damage going forward.

[Picture: Restored Ofunato Bay Mouth Breakwater]

The largest cargo volume handled in all of Iwate Prefecture

Sea freight handling volumes, which had fell due to the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, has increased each year since the disaster and have recovered to pre-disaster levels in recent years.

In FY2020, even during the global logistics turmoil caused by the pandemic, Ofunato Port had over 2.83 million tons of sea freight handling volume, which makes up over 50% of the total volume handled within all of Iwate prefecture.

[Graph: Sea Freight Handling Volume of Ofunato Port]

Sightseeing near Ofunato Port

Ofunato Port is home to a large number of fishes throughout the year thanks to the Sanriku Fishing Grounds and also thanks to the port’s perseverance to flourish as an aquaculture.

Depending on the season, visitors can enjoy a wide variety of fresh seafood such as abalone, oysters, scallops, seaweed, as well as squid, Pacific saury, salmon, and even tuna.

Additionally, Ofunato Port boasts the largest catch of Pacific saury in all of mainland Japan (AKA Honshu), and Ofunato’s specialty, the “Ofunato Sanma* Ramen” which use Pacific sauries as the main ingredient within the ramen is very popular.

*Sanma is the Japanese word for Pacific Saury

  Last but not least, famous Japanese cruise ships such as “Asuka II” and “Nippon Maru” make a port call here. When cruise ships arrive, the city readies specialty seafood stands and celebrates with a sincere hospitality attraction unique to Ofunato featuring the local residents. This has been quite popular amongst the cruise ship passengers.

[Photo: Citizens welcoming the cruise ship].

 We hope that Ofunato Port will play an active role as one of the major hubs for transporting ILC-related equipment in the future, and that it will become a memorable place for everyone who visits!


【国際港湾都市 大船渡】

ILC 計画では、重要な実験装置のクライオモジュールをはじめ、冷却設備など研究施設の設備に必要な機器類が、アメリカやヨーロッパから海上輸送されることが想定されています。