Japanese shipping firm begins regular run between Seattle and Japan on August 31, 1896.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 1/01/1999
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 1973
On August 31, 1896, the Japanese steamship Miike Maru arrives in Elliott Bay at the port of Seattle. The Miike Maru is the first ship owned by the Nippon Yusen Kaisha (Japan Steamship Company) to begin a regular run between Japan and North America. The Yusen Kaisha considered San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, and other Pacific Coast ports before choosing Seattle as its only North American port.

The Miike Maru steamed into a bay crowded with yachts, steamboats, and other boats. The Japanese steamship carried to Seattle a cargo of teas, silk goods, raw silk, camphor, curios, matting, soy oil, and paper. The vessel steamed away with lumber, flour, raw cotton, heavy hardware, fish, leather, nails, beer, wire, and tobacco. The exports went to Yokohama, Kobe, Nagasaki, and Hong Kong.

This was the first of many regular runs between Seattle and Japan by Nippon Yusen Kaisha steamships, including the ships Miike Maru, Yamaguchi Maru, Kinshui Maru, and Sakura Maru.


Sources: Thomas W. Prosch, "A Chronological History of Seattle From 1850 to 1897." Typescript dated 1900-1901, Northwest Collection, University of Washington Library, Seattle, 482-483; Richard C. Berner, Seattle 1900-1920: From Boomtown, Urban Turbulence to Restoration (Seattle: Charles Press, 1991), 31.
Note: The spelling of the name of Miike Maru was corrected on August 25, 2010.

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