Located in Western Honshu, Hyogo Prefecture is near the center of the Japanese archipelago. The Chugoku mountains neatly divide it into northern and southern halves,and it is the only prefecture in central Honshu to enjoy coasts on the Japan Sea in the north and the Pacific Ocean in the south. Due to Hyogo’s important location close to the Nara-Kyoto capitals, it became the site of many battles between reigning warlords in feudal times. Hyogo is rich in traditional and contemporary culture and natural beauty and also is home to a highly modernized society and business market. This is how Hyogo earned the nickname “Japan in Miniature.”
The prefecture has the world’s longest suspension bridge, Akashi Kaikyo Ohashi, with acenter span of 1,991 meters. Other leading modern facilities are the world’s largest synchrotron facility, Spring-8, and the Kansai International Airport. Hyogo also features the Japan-France Friendship Monument and Washington Village as well as an extensive infrastructure which has assisted in making it an ideal location for international business in the 21st Century.
The land area of Hyogo is 8,380 square kilometers, approximately 2.2% of the total land area of Japan, and its population is 5.4 million people. Hyogo is comprised of five districts. Each district is quite different from the others in terms of climate, industry , and cultural and historical background.
Hanshin is highly industrialized (accounting for 60% of the population in Hyogo), especially around the international port city of Kobe, the largest city and capital of Hyogo. To avoid potential concentration problems, Hanshin continues to develop complex environmental controls and regional redevelopment programs. Shipbuilding and steel manufacturing have been the leading industries of Hanshin while emerging technologies such as biotechnology and high technology are starting to pave the way. It is also a brewing center for many of Japan’s most prestigious sake brands and is the source of the delicious Kobe beef. The city of Takarazuka offers famous and exciting entertainment with universal appeal.
Harima occupies the southwest section of Hyogo. The part of Harima adjacent to Kobe is likewise highly modernized, but throughout the inland regions, farming and traditional industries prevail. Harima is perhaps most well known for the Himeji Castle which is also called the Egret Castle because of its resemblance to the tall, white elegant bird. This National Treasure was built in 1609 by Warlord Terumasa Ikeda. Near the city of Akashi, the remains of primitive man were found illustrating that Hyogo was inhabited very early on.
Tajima is the most northerly and mountainous district of Hyogo. With substantial snowfall during the winter months, it is primarily a rural area. Because its population is decreasing as young people move to Japan’s urban areas, Tajima has taken steps to improve roads and other transportation systems to Kobe and Himeji and also revitalize production activity.
In the Tanba region to the east, the primary industry is truck farming to the urban markets in the south. Like Tajima, Tanba is also improving its infrastructure. Tanba is also famous throughout Japan for its traditional ceramics and is flush with historical monuments dating from the Middle Ages.
Awaji Island is Hyogo’s fifth district and one of the largest off-shore islands in Japan; less developed than the southern coast, it is hilly and traffic to and from the mainland was restricted to sea travel until 1985 when the O-Naruto Bridge was completed linking the island to Shikoku. Now that the Akashi Strait Bridge is finished (completed in 1998), the island is directly linked to Honshu. Awaji’s mild climate and fascinating natural beauty make it a popular area for tourism, sports, and recreation. The island is renown for its longstanding art of traditional folk puppetry.
THE SYMBOLS OF HYOGO
FLAG: On the cerulean blue background is the stylized Chinese character “Hyo,” the first part of the name of the prefecture, “Hyogo.” The blue color symbolizes the waters of the surrounding seas and youthfulness. It was adopted in 1964.
BIRD: The Japanese stork (koh-no-tori) is found almost exclusively in the Toyooka area of northern Hyogo. Unfortunately, the number of these elegant birds has decreased and there are only six of them in existence today.
TREE: The camphor tree (kusu-no-ki) is a tall evergreen tree found in the warmer regions of the Kansai area. It is popularly known for its vigor and vitality.
FLOWER: The wild chrysanthemum (nojigiku), mostly found growing in the southwestern part of Hyogo, blossoms in November.
INTERNATIONAL SISTER-STATE RELATIONSHIPS
With the international Port of Kobe (it opened in 1867) and the Osaka International Airport acting as gateways to the outside world, Hyogo has had a long history of contact with other countries. The current list of International sister-states are:
|Washington State, USA||1963|
|Western Australia, Australia||1981|
|Guang Dong Province, Republic of China||1983|
|The Republic of Palau||1983|
|Hainan Province, Republic of China||1990|