About Hyogo Prefecture
Hyogo Prefecture is located in the center of Japan. The city of Akashi, sitting at 135 degrees east longitude, has become the standard for determining Japan Standard Time. The Chugoku Mountain neatly divides the prefecture into northern and southern halves, and it is the only prefecture in central Honshu to enjoy coasts on both the Japan Sea in the north and the Seto Inland Sea in the south. Hyogo Prefecture is also called the "prefecture with five faces" because it consists of five countries with distinct historical backgrounds and terrains.
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DISCOVER THE FIVE DISTINCT AREAS OF HYOGO
Hanshin accounts for 60% of the population in Hyogo. It is highly industrialized, especially around the international port city of Kobe, which is Hyogo's largest city and capital. To avoid potential population concentration problems, Hanshin continually develops complex environmental controls and regional redevelopment programs. Shipbuilding and steel manufacturing have historically been the leading industries of Hanshin, while new technologies such as biotechnology and high technology have also begun to thrive there. Hanshin is a brewing center for many of Japan's most prestigious sake brands and is the world's source of Kobe beef. The city of Takarazuka in Hanshin is home to Takarazuka Revue, a famous all-female musical theater troupe that's been performing since 1913.
Harima occupies the southwest section of Hyogo. The part of Harima adjacent to Kobe is, as a result of its location, 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 a tall, white, elegant bird. This National Treasure was built in 1609 by the Warlord Terumasa Ikeda.
Tajima is the most northerly and mountainous district of Hyogo, with substantial snowfall during the winter months. It's a popular location for hiking & skiing in the winter, and swimming & kayaking in the summer. The Takeda Castle Ruins, located in Asago City, are a designated National Historic Site known as "the castle in the sky." Tajima is also well-known for Kinosaki Onsen, a hot spring town with 1300 years of history. Tajima is primarily a rural area, but it has recently taken steps to improve roads and other transportation systems to Kobe, Himeji, and other cities.
Tamba is an inland district located in the eastern part of Hyogo. It is home to many well-preserved samurai homes, and enjoys an eight-hundred year history of pottery-making, a practice it continues to this day. The primary industry in Tamba is the transportation of agricultural products to the urban markets of the south. Like Tajima, Tamba is currently in an era of infrastructural growth.
Awaji Island is Hyogo's fifth district and one of the largest off-shore islands in Japan. A hilly island less developed than the southern coast, it was for a long time considered somewhat remote because traffic from the mainland was restricted to sea travel. It was not connected to the main island of Honshu until the completion of the Akashi Strait Bridge in 1998, which has the longest central span of any suspension bridge in the world. Awaji's mild climate and fascinating natural beauty make it a popular destination for tourism, sports, and recreation. The island is renowned for its longstanding art of traditional folk puppetry.