1 北海道 Hokkaido
Hokkaido is the largest prefecture in Japan. It includes Hokkaido island, the second largest in Japan after Honshu, and a number of other islands. Hokkaido is at about the same latitude as southern France, but, located at the northernmost end of Japan, it is cold in the winter and the summers are short. You can enjoy there a variety of foods, including fish and shellfish such as salmon and crab. It is famous for its potatoes and other farm products and for its dairy products. Hokkaido is also Japan’s leading area for the raising of horses.
2 青森 Aomori
Aomori prefecture is located in the northernmost part of Honshu. Its cold weather is suitable for growing apples, and it ranks first in apple production in the country. The Shirakami Mountains, ranging from the southwestern part of this prefecture to Akita, have been registered in the “World Nature Legacy” for the world’s largest virgin beech tree forest.
3 秋田 Akita
Akita prefecture shares the same latitude with Beijing and New York. It’s blessed with natural beauty like magnificent mountains and mysterious lakes, and has four national and semi-national parks. There are also many traditional festivals unique to this prefecture. The “Kamakura” and “Namahage” festivals in winter are especially well-known.
4 岩手 Iwate
Iwate prefecture is the second largest prefecture in area, and is located in the north of Honshu, facing the Pacific Ocean. The prefecture is blessed with beautiful nature, such as a long, natural sawtooth coastline and Mt. Iwate, regarded as the Mt. Fuji of the Tohoku district. Among the celebrities from this prefecture are Kenji Miyazawa and Takuboku Ishikawa, both of whom are famous poets. It is also well-known as a hometown of folklore.
5 宮城 Miyagi
Miyagi prefecture is located in northern Honshu and it faces the Pacific Ocean to the east. Fishing is one of its main activities; it produces large amounts of sardines, tuna and mackerel. In the western part of this prefecture, there are several leisure spots, ski slopes and hot springs: Zao and Naruko are the most famous ones among them. The tanabata festival in Sendai city, the capital of the prefecture, is held yearly in early summer. People in the downtown decorate numerous balls with paperflowers, hang them from bamboo branches and place them all over the downtown area; visitors are impressed by the scene.
6 山形 Yamagata
Yamagata prefecture is located in northern Honshu and faces the Sea of Japan on the west. Most of its terrain is mountainous, though the mouth of the prefecture’s major river, the Mogamigawa, forms a plain. Agriculture and forestry are counted among the major components in this prefecture’s economy. Industry is minimal except in some major cities, such as Yamagata and Sakata. There are many hot spring and ski resorts. Among them Zao, which lies on the border with Miyagi prefecture, is in particular well-known for both its hot spring and ski resorts.
7 福島 Fukushima
Fukushima Prefecture is located in northern Honshu and faces the Pacific Ocean to the east. It generally has hot summers and cold winters. The prefecture’s major industry is agriculture, and a wide variety of crops are produced there. In addition to rice, vegetables, and fruit such as cucumbers, tomatoes, peaches, and pears, tobacco is also grown in large amounts.
8 新潟 Niigata
Niigata prefecture faces the Sea of Japan to the north. This prefecture usually receives heavy snow in winter, and in some areas the level of the snow often reaches more than four meters in depth. The Niigata plain stretches across the center of the prefecture and the Shinano, the longest river in Japan, runs through it. This plain is famous for a rice-producing district that is distinguished for both the quantity and quality of its rice. Niigata is Japan’s top rice producer.
9 茨城 Ibaraki
Ibaraki prefecture has been making progress in various fields, from agriculture and fishery (thanks to its favorable geography) to advanced technology and nuclear power. Mito, the prefectural capital, used to be the home of the Tokugawa clan. And now the capital is well known for Kairakuen Garden, recognized as one of Japan’s three greatest gardens. Mito is also the country’s biggest producer of “natto.”
10 栃木 Tochigi
Tochigi prefecture is located in central Honshu. A part of this prefecture belongs to Nikko national park and is one of Japan’s scenic spots. In this area, most visitors are attracted by the Toshogu shrine, dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu,and other temples and shrines. This park includes, also within the prefecture’s territory, many sites of natural beauty, such as Lake Chuzenji and Kegon waterfall.
11 群馬 Gunma
Gumma prefecture is a landlocked prefecture, located in central Honshu to the northwest of Tokyo. The whole area is mountaneous except for the southeastern part, and in the north there’s a high range of mountains in the 2,000 meters class. This prefecture is blessed with natural beauty such as many lakes and ravines. Especially the high moorland of Oze is very famous for its unique flora.
12 埼玉 Saitama
Saitama Prefecture is Tokyo’s neighbor to the north. The southern part of the prefecture is becoming particularly urbanized, and Saitama Prefecture has one of the fastest population growth rates in Japan. The prefectural capital is Saitama City, an ordinance designated city of a million people formed from the merger of Urawa, Omiya, Yono and Iwatsuki Cities. While Saitama Prefecture is industrialized, it is also a suburban farming center and supplies the capital region with vegetables, flowers and other agricultural products. Many tourists come from outside the prefecture to visit sites such as the former castle town Kawagoe City as well as Chichibu City with its many vineyards and other farms that are open to visitors.
13 千葉 Chiba
Chiba is located in central Honshu on the Pacific Ocean. It extends southward from the bend in the Honshu island. The northern part of this prefecture is plain, while the southern part is rather hilly. The climate is in general mild, and, therefore, we can find truck farms and daily farms as well as rice fields here and there in this prefecture. Though people are still been engaged in traditional industries such as the production of soy sauce, the weight has shifted remarkably to such industries as petrochemical, and so on. The New Tokyo International Airport in Narita plays a key role in international air transport in Japan. As a major attraction, Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983.
14 東京 Tokyo
Tokyo is the capital of Japan and is on the Pacific side of central Honshu. It became the capital of Japan in the beginning of the Edo period. Since then it has been the center of various fields. The imperial palace, which is in the center of Tokyo and the former Edo castle, was the residence of the shogun from the Tokugawa family during the Edo period. Nowadays, the emperor and imperial family live in the palace.
15 神奈川 Kanagawa
Kangawa Prefecture is located in central Honshu island and is bordered by Tokyo on the north. Once the home of the Kamakura shognate, during the Edo period Kanagawa became a key transportation link between Edo (later Tokyo) and Kyoto. Kanagawa is now a major center of commerce and industry and much of the Keihin Industrial Zone along Tokyo Bay is located in the ordinance-designated cities of Yokohama and Kawasaki. Yokohama, the prefectural capital, is an international city that includes one of Japan’s major trading ports; the Port of Yokohama opened in the mid-19th century and became Japan’s gateway for new ideas and culture from the West. There is also a Chinatown in Yokohama. Other popular destinations include Kamakura with its many cultural artifacts, the hot springs of Hakone, and Enoshima on the Shonan shore.
16 山梨 Yamanashi
Yamanashi prefecture, a landlocked prefecture, is located in central Honshu. The growing of fruit flourishes in the Kofu Basin, in which lies the city of Kofu, the prefectural capital. The production of grapes and peaches is famous and wine is abundantly produced in this prefecture. Mt.Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain, lies on the bord with the Shizuoka prefecture, and the area around this mountain attracts many tourists.
17 長野 Nagano
Nagano, a landlocked prefecture, is remote from the seashore. It has mountains higher than 3,000 meters, called ‘the Roof of Japan.’ With favorable geographical and weather conditions, there are many ski resorts and skating rinks and winter sports are popular. The 18th Winter Olympics were held in Nagano in 1998.
18 静岡 Shizuoka
Shizuoka is located in central Honshu on the Pacific coast. Its mild climate favors the cultivation of mandarin oranges and green tea, which are the most famous specialties of this prefecture. On Lake Hamana people are engaged in eel cultivation. In the industries of this prefecture, musical instruments, motorcycles and automobiles are important items. Hot springs such as Yugashima and Atagawa are part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu national park. And with its many spots of beauty, the park attracts many tourists.
19 富山 Toyama
Toyama prefecture is located in central Honshu on the Sea of Japan and it faces Toyama bay to the north which abounds with firefly aquid, yellowtail tuna, crab, and other marine products. The prefecture also produces a large amount of rice. The Northern Alps rise to the south. And north-west seasonal wind from the Sea of Japan brings heavy snowfall in the winter.
20 石川 Ishikawa
Ishikawa prefecture is located in central Japan and faces the Japan Sea. The Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan’s three greatest gardens, and Mt. Hakusan, one of Japan’s three major mountains, are among the popular destinations for tourists from all over the country. Various traditional handicrafts have been well preserved, the most typical of which are Wajima lacquerware, Kutani porcelain and Kaga yuzen, or colorfully dyed silk fabrics.
21 岐阜 Gifu
Gifu Prefecture is a landlocked prefecture located near the center of Japan. The capital is Gifu City. In the northeast lie the Hida Mountains, which soar to heights of 3,000 meters and form part of the Japan Alps. In addition to prosperous light industry, Gifu also produces large amounts of rice and persimmons. Among the tourist attractions of Gifu is Takayama in the Hida region, a town known as “little Kyoto,” as well as the Nagara River, a well-known location for cormorant fishing. Especially famous is the village of Shirakawa, where many houses of the traditional “gassho-zukuri” style have been preserved. Together with Gokayama in neighboring Toyama Prefecture, this village has been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
22 愛知 Aichi
Aichi prefecture includes Nagoya (one of the biggest cities in Japan), and has the fourth biggest population in the country. Toyota, a world-famous automaker, has its head office in this prefecture, in the city named Toyota after the company. The ceramics industry, which is centered in Seto and Tokoname, is also famous. “Seto-mono” (literally means “ceramics produced in Seto”) has become a synonym for ceramics.
23 福井 Fukui
Fukui Prefecture is located in central Honshu and faces the Sea of Japan. The climate is typical of the Sea of Japan coast: cloudy and humid. The northern part of the prefecture receives heavy rainfall and snowfall. Fukui is closely tied to the Kansai area, which for a long time has been a major commercial and political center in Japan. In the Edo period, Tsuruga played a key role in trade along Sea of Japan coast. Today, power plants in this prefecture provide energy to the heavily populated Kansai area.
24 三重 Mie
Mie prefecture is located in the east of the Kinki district; and proximate to Nara and Kyoto it’s easily accessible from Nagoya, Tokyo, and Osaka. It is blessed with a mild climate and spectacular mountains, sea and sightseeing spots. The Ise Shrine has been especially well-known as a sacred Shinto site since ancient times. Iga, which formerly prospered as a castle town, is also famouse as the home of ninja spies and for the birthplace of the haiku poet Matsuo Basho.
25 滋賀 Shiga
Shiga is located in the western part of central Honshu and is surrounded by mountains on all sides. In the center of this prefecture lies Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan. Around this lake there are many cities and towns, which were communication centers in the transport over it. Some of the more famous temples are also in this area, including Enryakuji on Mt. Hiei, Ishiyamadera, and Miidera in Otsu.
26 京都 Kyoto
Most of the population of Kyoto Prefecture is concentrated in the south in the city of Kyoto, its capital. Kyoto was once Japan’s center for politics, culture, and economy for some 1,100 years until 1869, when the capital was moved to Tokyo. Among the many cultural properties in and near Kyoto City are Kyoto Imperial Palace, formerly the home of the Emperor; Ryoanji, a temple famous for its sone garden; and the temples of Kinkakuji (golden pavilion), Ginkakuji (silver pavilion) Kiyomizudera, Toji, and Byodoin. The Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto are registered as a World Heritage Site. Also well known are the historic Gion, Aoi and Jidai Festivals, known as the Three Major Festivals in Japan. Kyoto’s industry includes the manufacture of traditional crafts such as Nishijin silk fabrics and Kiyomizu ceramics, as well as the production of Uji (maccha) tea. Stretching to the north, Kyoto Prefecture faces onto the Sea of Japan, where the Amanohashidate sandbar in Miyazu Bay is one of the Three Famous Scenic Spots of Japan.
Osaka prefecture has the second largest population in the country, as well as the second smallest area. It has been the center of transportation, trade and commerce since ancient times, and together with Kyoto, it has cultivated a unique culture known as “kamigata culture.” The culture has been well preserved, and Osaka is often compared with Tokyo in various aspects.
28 奈良 Nara
Most of Nara prefecture is mountainous, except for the Nara Basin in the northwestern area, which belongs to the commuter belt of Osaka. Nara city was the capital in the 8th century, and was the political and religious center of early Japanese history. It was also the eastern goal of the Silk Road. Therefore much heritage remains in this city and the surrounding area, such as Buddist temples.
29 和歌山 Wakayama
Wakayama prefecture is located in the southwestern part of the Kii peninsula. The terrain is almost entirely mountainous, except for the Wakayama plain which supports the city of Wakayama, the prefectural capital. Formerly, forestry flourished and this area was called “Kinokuni”, which means “Tree Land”. Wakayama prefecure has plyaed an important role in religion and Kongobuji, the head temple of the Shingon sect on Mt. Koya, and the three shinto shrines, known as Kumano Sanzan, are especially famous. Among its products mandarin oranges and plums are popular.
30 兵庫 Hyogo
Hyogo Prefecture faces the Seto Inland Sea to the south and the Sea of Japan to the north. It is sometimes called a miniature version of Japan because of the variety of its geography and climate. The city of Kobe, the capital of this prefecture, has developed as a port city, and Kobe Port plays an important role as an international harbor for the Hanshin Industrial Zone that is centered around Kobe and Osaka. The earthquake of 1995 caused major damage to the Hyogo area.
31 鳥取 Tottori
Tottori prefecture is located in western Honshu and it faces the Sea of Japan to the north. The prefecture’s specialty is a pear called “nijusseiki nashi” which means 20th century pear. Tottori’s sand dunes are one of the major tourist attractions. The dunes, however, have been irrigated and planted with trees, so their features are changing.
32 島根 Shimane
Shimane is located in western Honshu and it faces the Sea of Japan to the north. Agriculure centered on rice production and fishing plays an important role in the prefecture’s economy. Major tourist attractions include Izumo Taisha shrine in Taisha-cho. This is one of the most important shrines in Japanese shintoism. According to an ancient myth, all of Japan’s gods made it a practice to gather there each October.
33 岡山 Okayama
Okayama prefecture is the home of “Momotaro,” one of the most famous folktales in Japan. It’s located in central Chugoku region (which is in western Honshu), and faces the Seto Inland Sea. Thanks to its mild climate, fruit cultivation has flourished in this prefecture. Okayama is one of the top producers of peaches and grapes.
34 広島 Hiroshima
Hiroshima Prefecture faces the Seto Inland Sea to the south. Most of this prefecture is mountainous; its industrialized and densely populated cities are concentrated along the southern coastal areas. In these coastal cities, the automobile, steel, and machinery industries flourish. The city of Hiroshima, the capital of this prefecture, is known around the world for having been the first city to suffer the explosion and aftermath of an atomic bomb.
35 山口 Yamaguchi
Yamaguchi prefecture is the westernmost part of Honshu and is linked to Kyushu across the Kammon Strait by tunnel and bridge. The cities along the Setonaikai have long been keys in the transportation network in western Japan. Today heavy and chemical industries flourish. This prefecture faces the sea on the three sides and has many fishing ports. Its fisheries flourish, and it’s Japan’s major port for the unloading of globefish. Yamaguchi prefecture’s globefish is well-known all over Japan.
36 香川 Kagawa
The smallest Japanese prefecture in land area, Kagawa Prefecture is located in north-eastern Shikoku island and includes Shodoshima and many other islands. The climate is mild and dry, and the prefecture often suffers from water shortages. The prefectural capital is Takamatsu city. Sakaide city in northern Kagawa is connected by the Seto Bridge across the Seto Inland Sea to Okayama Prefecture on the opposite shore. Kotohira-cho in the western part is home to the Kotohira Shrine, better known as “Kompirasan” small mountain. Dedicated to the guardian god of the sea, the shrine attracts many visitors. Kagawa is also a large consumer of “udon” noodles.
37 徳島 Tokushima
Tokushima prefecture is located in the shikoku island, one of the four big islands in Japan.The city of Tokushima, the prefectural capital, is famous for “Awaodori,” which is held from August 12 to 15 every year. “Awaodori” is a carnival of dance in which group of from tens to over one hundred of dancers dance along city streets to the accompaniment of shamisen, flutes, bells, and drums.
39 愛媛 Ehime
Ehime prefecture is located in northwestern Shikoku, facing the Seto Inland Sea to the north, and the Uwa Sea to the west. Thanks to its mild climate, the cultivation of mandarin oranges has flourished in this prefecture, and now has gained nationwide reputation. The capital of the prefecture, Matsuyama, is well known for Dogo onsen, the oldest hot spring in Japan, and also as the scene of the famous novel written by Natsume Soseki, “Botchan.”
40 福岡 Fukuoka
Fukuoka Prefecture is located in northern Kyushu. It faces the Sea of Japan to the north and the Seto Inland Sea to the east. Many port cities have been developed in this prefecture’s coastal areas, including Fukuoka City, which is the present capital of the prefecture and has been the political and commercial center of Kyushu for a long time. Today, it is one of the most important centers for international transport in Asia and the Pacific.
41 大分 Oita
Oita prefecture is located in northeastern Kyushu, facing the Seto Inland Sea to the north. The mountainous region covers more than 70 percent of the prefecture, and is part of both the Kirishima and Hakusan Volcanic Zones. This gives the prefecture the largest number of hot springs in the country. Beppu and Yufuin are especially famous nationwide.
42 佐賀 Saga
Saga Prefecture is located in northwest Kyushu and faces the Sea of Japan to the north and the Ariake Sea to the south. The prefectural capital is Saga city. A prosperous agricultural prefecture, Saga grows rice, barley, mandarin oranges and other crops. Edible seaweed is also raised in the Ariake Sea. The prefecture’s promimity to the Korean Peninsula and to China has long brought a strong influence from continental culture. The Arita (or Imari) and Karatsu ceramics that are famous as Saga’s traditional crafts were originally developed by potters who had come from the Korean Peninsula. Kanzaki-gun in eastern Saga is the location fo the Yoshinogari archelogical site, which dates back the Yayoi Period, about 200 AC.
43 長崎 Nagasaki
Nagasaki prefecture is located in northwestern Kyushu and it consists of four peninsulas and a number of islands, such as Tsushima and the Goto group. It has a history of contact with foreign countries and in the Edo period, during Japan’s era of seclusion, Nagasaki Port was the only window to the world, through which Japan traded with the Netherlands, China and Korea. Therefore many foreign influences can still be found in this area. The city of Nagasaki is the place where, after the bombing of Hiroshima, the second atomic bomb was dropped in August 1945.
44 熊本 Kumamoto
Kumamoto prefecture is located in almost the center of Kyushu. Blessed with mild climate and abundant water, culture has flourished in this prefecture since ancient times, and a lot of burial mounds have been excavated as well as ruins from the old Stone Age and Jomon period. Kumamoto is also known for Mt. Aso, which has the best caldera in the world, and enjoys many visitors every year.
45 宮崎 Miyazaki
Miyazaki prefecture is located in southeastern Kyushu and it faces the Pacific Ocean to the east. The climate is warm with heavy precipitation. Typhoons frequently hit the prefecture in early fall. The warm climate allows the cultivation of early and late crops of vegetables, such as cucumbers, eggplants, green peppers and tomatoes, and fruits, such as satsumas and melons. As a sightseeing spot the Nichinan Seacoast National Park, a resort with a tropical atmosphere, is famous. This prefecture is also well-known as the place of origin of many legends.
46 鹿児島 Kagoshima
Situated at the southernmost tip of Kyushu, Kagoshima Prefecture encompasses the Osumi Islands, which include Tanegashima and Yakushima, and the Amami Islands, which include Amami Oshima and Toku-no-Shima. Several large volcanoes are found in the prefecture, which also has the second largest number of hot springs in Japan. One of the active volcanoes is on Sakurajima across Kagoshima Bay from Kagoshima City, the prefectural capital. A mojor agricultural and livestock producer is especially well known for its Berkshire pigs, chickens and sweet potatoes, as well as for specialties such as “satsuma-age” fried fish balls and the huge, round Sakurajima radishes. The World Heritage Site of Yakushima Island is famous for the Jomon Sugi cedar, which is estimated to be over 7,000 years old.
47 沖縄 Okinawa
Okinawa prefecture consists of many islands spotted in the East China Sea. It is south of Kyushu and is the only prefecture with a subtropical climate. It used to be called Ryukyu, and had active cultural exchange with other Asian countries, especially China. Okinawa attracts tourists not only from all over the country but also from abroad, because of its unique culture and rich natural beauty.