Mietsu Naval Dock was situated along the river and straddles the current towns of Morodomi-cho and Kawasoe-machi in Saga City. At the end of the Edo Period, this district was known as Mie—and because the port was in Mie, it was called Mie-no-tsu, “the port in Mie,” which is how it acquired the name Mietsu. This port spread out about 600 meters along the western side of the current Hayatsue River.
Mietsu Naval Dock is considered an invaluable site for understanding the process by which Japan began implementing Western ship technology and working independently towards modernizing the country’s naval skills.
Western docks are usually built using stone and bricks, but the dock at the Mietsu Naval Dock was constructed by applying traditional Japanese techniques that utilize wood, dirt, and funakugi, nails used for building Japanese ships. The dock at the Mietsu Naval Dock is the oldest existing one in Japan that was built for repairing Western-style ships.
A dock is a facility for building and repairing ships.
Usually, the water in the dock is drained out with a large pump;
however, there was no such machinery available at the time the dock was built. So, the dock at Mietsu Naval Dock utilized the tides of the Ariake Sea, which has the biggest difference in tide levels of any body of water in Japan. A ship would be brought into the dock at high tide, and the water would drain naturally with the ebbing of the tide.
Note: The photo is a full-scale panel of the dry dock. The actual size of the discovered dock was immense, with a length of approximately 60 meters and a width of approximately 20 meters.
The Japanese ships owned by the Saga Clan at the time had an overall length of about 20 meters, but the steam warship, Denryūmaru, imported from the Netherlands during the end of the Edo Period, had a total length of 45 meters. This size made it too large to be maintained and repaired in the Small Boat Dock Section. That is why they decided to build a dock for repairing large-sized Western-style ships at the Shipbuilding/Repair Docks and Metal Working Section at the southern end of the site.
Since the embankment structure of the dock at the Mietsu Naval Dock is made from wood, it is at risk of deteriorating from dryness if weathered above ground in the open air.
Thus, the remains of the dock were reburied to protect it from weathering, and cannot be seen.
And so, the Tsunetami Sano Memorial Museum began offering the Mietsu Time Cruise. It uses CG images and VR (virtual reality) equipment to let visitors see what the Mietsu Naval Dock was like at the time it was in use.
The third floor of the museum also offers a Mietsu Naval Dock Information Corner with panels, visuals, and replica models for visitors who wish to acquire more detailed information on the site.
Note: If using a map or car navigation system, look for “Mietsu Naval Dock” or “Tsunetami Sano Memorial Museum.”