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Honshu Region


The term Kansai refers to an area centering roughly on the cities of Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe. While Kinki has well-defined borders and is an official geographical designation, Kansai is used in a cultural and historic context, and in contradistinction to Kanto. People living in this region are said to speak with a Kansai accent, for example.

Tohoku Region

This largely mountainous region encompasses all of northeastern Japan. Centers of population are found along the coastlines of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, and in several basins. The Tohoku region has short summers and long winters, interspersed with beautiful spring and autumn seasons. Shirakami Sanchi, located in south Aomori Prefecture and Akita Prefecture, has a large-scale primeval forest of beech trees; it was registered as a World Heritage site in 1993.

The Tohoku area is primarily agricultural: 65% of cultivated land is rice paddy fields, which account for almost a quarter of all the paddy fields throughout the country. However, it is not rare for a cool summer to damage the crops. Fishing and forestry are also important. Industrial activities include electrical appliances, chemical production, pulp processing, cement, and petroleum refining, with some production of petroleum and natural gas. Sendai is the largest city.

Matsushima, a group of more than 260 small islands in Miyagi Prefecture, is counted among the three most beautiful sights in Japan. Impact and damage in areas around Matsushima resulting from the tsunami caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 was reduced thanks to the areaís unique geological features. Matsushima is about half an hour from Sendai by train. Three large, colorful festivals are held each summer in the Tohoku region. They are Nebuta Matsuri, held in Aomori and Hirosaki; Tanabata Matsuri, in Sendai; and Kanto Matsuri, in Akita.

Kanto Region

The Kanto region lies in the southeastern part of Honshu and is dominated by the Kanto Plain, Japanís largest plain. The climate is generally mild, and the four seasons are sharply delineated. This region, which includes such key cities as Tokyo, Yokohama, Kawasaki, Saitama, and Chiba, is the most populous region of Japan. The hub of the regionóthe Tokyo-Yokohama districtóis the core of Japanís commerce and industry. The Keihin Industrial Zone and the Keiyo Industrial Region, extending along the shore of Tokyo Bay, form the largest industrial zone of Japan. The satellite suburbs, within about a two hoursí commuting distance from downtown Tokyo, are expanding, resulting in the urbanization of a large portion of the Kanto region. Though agricultural activity has decreased in general, it is still thriving in the areas to the east and north, and contributes to the regionís economy.

Tokyo is the capital of Japan. It is home to most large domestic corporations, foreign companies, and the head offices of the mass media. Tokyo is also a center of education. The city is famous as a center of culture and entertainment. It offers a variety of modern and traditional arts. Classical and popular music are performed at Tokyoís many concert halls, and there are numerous museums and art galleries. Sightseeing tours of the city by bus have regular scheduled departures. The bus, called Hato (pigeon), visits famous spots such as the Tokyo Tower, Ginza, and Asakusa. Asakusa, where many traditional events and festivals are held, still retains the atmosphere of old Tokyo. Metropolitan Tokyo consists of the 23 wards of urban Tokyo, 26 cities, 5 towns, and 8 villages.

Chubu region

The Chubu region in central Honshu faces both the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan. The climate varies greatly according to the area: while the Sea of Japan side is famous for heavy snowfall, the Pacific side generally enjoys a mild climate throughout the year. Some towns, located on plateaus, are very popular as summer retreats due to their cool climate. The Japan Alps, which has several lofty mountains and is thus called the Roof of Japan, extends from north to south in the Chubu region.

The Chubu region has some of Japanís longest rivers and one of the largest rice-producing areas, located along the Sea of Japan. It has three industrial areas: the Chukyo Industrial Zone, which is home to the main facility of Toyota Motors; the Tokai Industrial Region, where Yamaha is based; and the Hokuriku Industrial Region. In addition to rice, agricultural products include tea, mandarin oranges, strawberries, grapes, peaches, and apples.

The most famous landmark of this largely mountainous region is Mount Fuji. It is Japanís highest (3,776 meters, or 12,388 feet) and most highly regarded mountain, considered sacred by some Japanese. Its conical form has inspired generations of artists and is world renowned as a symbol of Japan. During the climbing season, from July 1 to August 31, it is crowded with climbers. Other sightseeing spots in the Chubu region are the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture, which has a subtropical climate, many beautiful beaches, and a great number of hot springs; and Zenkoji in Nagano Prefecture, a well-known temple that attracts a large number of visitors from all over the country.

Kinki Region

Located in west central Honshu, the Kinki region is Japanís second most important area in terms of industry. The ancient capital of Kyoto is in Kinki. So, too, are the cities of Osaka and Kobe (one of Japanís most important ports), which form the center of commerce for western Japan. Rice and citrusfruit production, lumbering, and fishing are all important to the regionís economy.

Kyoto, once the capital of Japan and the residence of emperors from 794 to 1868, is famous for its temples, shrines, and other historic sites, and is a virtual storehouse of officially designated National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties. As a noted tourist resort, Kyoto attracts millions of tourists every year, from throughout Japan and the world. The Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto were registered as a World Heritage site in 1994.

Osaka is the financial center of western Japan. It is an industrial center as well, especially for chemicals, machinery, steel, and metal. Both the Tokaido Shinkansen and the Sanyo Shinkansen depart from and arrive at Shin-Osaka station (with the exception of some trains going from Tokyo through to Hakata, Kyushu, or Hiroshima). Offering yet another of the three most beautiful views of Japan, Amanohashidate is a sandbar in northeastern Kyoto Prefecture. It is noted for the beauty of its more than 6,000 gnarled pine trees.

Chugoku Region

The Chugoku region, encompassing the whole western tip of Honshu, is mountainous, with many small basins and coastal plains. The Inland Sea coast, an important area of industry and commerce, is the most populous part of the region. Large rice-producing areas are concentrated along the plains of the Sea of Japan and the Okayama Plain. The warm, dry climate of the Inland Sea coast is ideal for growing oranges.

The last of the three most scenic spots in Japan, Itsukushima, also known as Miyajima, is an island in Hiroshima Prefecture. Famous for its torii gate, which stands in the bay, Itsukushima Shrine became a World Heritage site in 1996.

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Page last modified: 01-08-2012 20:14:20 ZULU