Hirado is a city in Nagasaki Prefecture. The part historically named Hirado is located on the island of the same name. With recent mergers, the city's boundaries have expanded, and Hirado now occupies parts of the main island of Kyushu. The components are connected by the Hirado Bridge.
Hirado has been a port of call for ships between the Asian mainland and Japan since the Nara-era. During the Kamakura and Muromachi-eras, the local Matsuura clan held the rights to trade with Korea and with Sung Dynasty China. During the Sengoku and early Edo-eras, Hirado's role as a center of foreign trade increased, especially vis-a-vis Ming Dynasty China and the Dutch East India Company (VOC). The Portuguese arrived in 1550; and the English and Dutch initially reached Japan at the beginning of the 17th century.
The first step in the profitable Dutch-Japanese trading relationship was the Shogun's grant of a trading pass (handelspas) in 1609.
At its maximum extent, the Dutch trading center covered the whole area of present-day Sakikata Park. In 1637 and in 1639, stone warehouses were constructed, and the Dutch builders incorporated these dates into the stonework. However, the Tokugawa shogunate disapproved of the use of any Christian Era year dates, and therefore demanded the immediate destruction of these two structures. This failure to comply with strict sakoku practices was then used as one of the Shogunate's rationales for forcing the Dutch traders to abandon Hirado for the more constricting confines of Dejima, a small artificial island in the present-day city of Nagasaki. The last VOC Opperhoofd or Kapitan at Hirado and the first one at Dejima was François Caron, who oversaw the transfer in 1641. However, modern research indicated that this incident might actually have been an excuse for the Shogunate to take the Dutch trade away from the Hirado clan. The stone warehouse from 1639 that was torn down has been reconstructed in its original form in 2011.
During the Edo-era, Hirado was the seat of the Hirado Domain. Hirado Castle is today an historical and architectural landmark.
The island was the namesake of IJN cruiser Hirado.
The modern city was founded on January 1, 1955. The city expanded by merging on October 1, 2005, with the neighboring towns of Tabira, Ikitsuki, and the village of Ōshima. The local economy is dominated by agriculture, fishing and food processing.
William Adams (1564–1620): English navigator. Died in Hirado.
Camillus Costanzo (1571–1622): Italian Jesuit martyr. Burnt alive in Hirado.
Koxinga (1624–1662): Taiwanese national hero and Ming general. Born in Hirado.
Inagaki Manjiro (1861–1908): Diplomat. Born in Hirado.