Nara Prefecture (奈良県 Nara-ken) is a prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan. The capital is the city of Nara. Nara Prefecture has the distinction of having more UNESCO World Heritage Listings than any other prefecture.
|Subdivisions||Districts: 7, Municipalities: 39|
|• Governor||Shōgo Arai|
|• Total||3,691.09 km2 (1,425.14 sq mi)|
(September 1, 2017)
|• Density||365.46/km2 (946.5/sq mi)|
|ISO 3166 code||JP-29|
|Bird||Japanese robin (Erithacus akahige)|
|Fish||Goldfish ( Carassius auratus auratus )|
Ayu (Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis)
Amago (Oncorhynchus masou ishikawae)
|Flower||Nara yae zakura|
(Prunus verecunda cultivar)
|Tree||Sugi (Cryptomeria japonica)|
Nara Prefecture region is considered one of the oldest regions in Japan, having been in existence for thousands of years. Like Kyoto, Nara was one of Imperial Japan's earliest capital cities. The current form of Nara Prefecture was officially created in 1887 when it became independent of Osaka Prefecture.
From the third century to the fourth century, a poorly documented political force existed at the foot of Mount Miwa, east of Nara Basin. It sought unification of most parts in Japan. Since the historical beginning of Japan, Yamato was its political center.
Ancient capitals of Japan were built on the land of Nara, namely Asuka-kyō, Fujiwara-kyō (694–710) and Heijō-kyō (most of 710–784). The capital cities of Fujiwara and Heijō are believed to have been modeled after Chinese capitals at the time, incorporating grid layout patterns. The royal court also established relations with Sui and then Tang dynasty China and sent students to the Middle Kingdom to learn high civilization. By 7th century, Nara accepted the many immigrants including refugees of Baekje who had escaped from war disturbances of the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. The first high civilization with royal patronage of Buddhism flourished in today's Nara city (710–784 AD).
In 784, Emperor Kanmu decided to relocate the capital to Nagaoka-kyō in Yamashiro Province, followed by another move in 794 to Heian-kyō, marking the start of the Heian period. The temples in Nara remained powerful beyond the move of political capital, thus giving Nara a synonym of "Nanto" (meaning "South Capital") as opposed to Heian-kyō, situated in the north. Close to the end of Heian period, Taira no Shigehira, a son of Taira no Kiyomori, was ordered by his father to depress the power of various parties, mainly Kōfuku-ji and Tōdai-ji, who were backing up an opposition group headed by Prince Mochihito. The movement led to a collision between the Taira and the Nara temples in 1180. This clash eventually led to Kōfuku-ji and Tōdai-ji being set on fire, resulting in vast destruction of architectural heritage.
At the rise of the Minamoto to its ruling seat and the opening of Kamakura shogunate, Nara enjoyed the support of Minamoto no Yoritomo toward restoration. Kōfuku-ji, being the "home temple" to the Fujiwara since its foundation, not only regained the power it had before but became a de facto regional chief of Yamato Province. With the reconstruction of Kōfuku-ji and Tōdai-ji, a town was growing again near the two temples.
The Nanboku-chō period, starting in 1336, brought more instability to Nara. As Emperor Go-Daigo chose Yoshino as his base, a power struggle arose in Kōfuku-ji with a group supporting the South and another siding the North court. Likewise, local clans were split into two. Kōfuku-ji recovered its control over the province for a short time at the surrender of the South Court in 1392, while the internal power game of the temple itself opened a way for the local samurai clans to spring up and fight with each other, gradually acquiring their own territories, thus diminishing the influence of Kōfuku-ji overall.
Later, the whole province of Yamato got drawn into the confusion of the Sengoku period. Tōdai-ji was once again set on fire in 1567, when Matsunaga Hisahide, who was later appointed by Oda Nobunaga to the lord of Yamato Province, fought for supremacy against his former master Miyoshi family. Followed by short appointments of Tsutsui Junkei and Toyotomi Hidenaga by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to the lord, the Tokugawa shogunate ultimately ruled the city of Nara directly, and most parts of Yamato province with a few feudal lords allocated at Kōriyama, Takatori and other places. With industry and commerce developing in the 18th century, the economy of the province was incorporated into prosperous Osaka, the commercial capital of Japan at the time.
The economic dependency to Osaka even characterizes today's Nara Prefecture, for many inhabitants commute to Osaka to work or study there.
A first prefecture (briefly -fu in 1868, but -ken for most of the time) named Nara was established in the Meiji Restoration in 1868 as successor to the shogunate administration of the shogunate city and shogunate lands in Yamato. After the 1871 Abolition of the han system, Nara was merged with other prefectures (from former han, see List of Han#Yamato Province) and cleared of ex-/enclaves to encompass all of Yamato province. In 1876, Nara was merged into Sakai which in turn became part of Osaka in 1881. In 1887, Nara became independent again. The first prefectural assembly of Nara was elected in the same year and opened its first session in 1888 in the gallery of the main hall of Tōdai temple.
In the 1889 Great Meiji mergers which subdivided all (then 45) prefectures into modern municipalities, Nara prefecture's 16 districts were subdivided into 154 municipalities: 10 towns and 144 villages. The first city in Nara was only established in 1898 when Nara Town from Soekami District was made district-independent to become Nara City (see List of mergers in Nara Prefecture and List of mergers in Osaka Prefecture).
Nara Prefecture is part of the Kansai, or Kinki, region of Japan, and is located in the middle of the Kii Peninsula on the western half of Honshu. Nara Prefecture is landlocked. It is bordered to the west by Wakayama Prefecture and Osaka Prefecture; on the north by Kyoto Prefecture and on the east by Mie Prefecture.
Nara Prefecture is 78.5 km from east to west and 103.6 km from north to south.
Most of the prefecture is covered by mountains and forests, leaving an inhabitable area of only 851 km². The ratio of inhabitable area to total area is 23%, ranked 43rd among the 47 prefectures in Japan.
Nara Prefecture is bisected by the Japan Median Tectonic Line (MTL) running through its territory east to west, along the Yoshino River. On the northern side of the MTL is the so-called Inner Zone, where active faults running north to south are still shaping the landscape. The Ikoma Mountains in the northwest form the border with Osaka Prefecture. The Nara Basin, which lies to the east of these mountains, contains the highest concentration of population in Nara Prefecture. Further east are the Kasagi Mountains, which separate the Basin from the Yamato Highlands.
South of the MTL is the Outer Zone, comprising the Kii Mountains, which occupy about 60% of the land area of the prefecture. The Ōmine Range is in the center of the Kii Mountains, running north to south, with steep valleys on both sides. The tallest mountain in Nara Prefecture, and indeed in the Kansai region, is Mount Hakkyō. To the west, separating Nara Prefecture from Wakayama Prefecture, is the Obako Range, with peaks around 1,300 metres. To the east, bordering Mie Prefecture, is the Daikō Range, including Mount Ōdaigahara. This mountainous region is also home to a World Heritage Site, the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range".
About 17% of the total land area of the prefecture is designated as National Park land, comprising the Yoshino-Kumano National Park, Kongō-Ikoma-Kisen, Kōya-Ryūjin, Murō-Akame-Aoyama, and Yamato-Aogaki Quasi-National Parks; and the Tsukigase-Kōnoyama, Yata, and Yoshinogawa-Tsuboro Prefectural Natural Parks.
In the Nara Basin, the climate has inland characteristics, as represented in the bigger temperature variance within the same day, and the difference of summer and winter temperatures. Winter temperatures average about 3 to 5°C, and 25 – 28°C in the summer with highest reaching close to 35°C. There is not a single year over the last decade (since 1990, up to 2007) with more than 10 days of snowfall recorded by Nara Local Meteorological Observatory.
The climate in the rest of the prefecture are mountainous, and especially in the south, with below −5°C being the extreme minimum in winter. Heavy rainfall is observed in summer. The annual accumulated rainfall ranges as much as 3000 to 5000 mm, which is among the heaviest in Japan.
Spring and fall are temperate. The mountainous region of Yoshino has been popular both historically and presently for its cherry blossoms in the spring. In the fall, the southern mountains are equally striking with the changing of the oak trees.
There are twelve cities in Nara Prefecture:
There are seven districts in Nara, which are further divided into 15 towns and 12 villages as follows:
|Population by districts|
|Yamato flat inland plain||837.27||1,282||1,531|
|(Share in %)||22.7%||89.7%|
|(Share in %)||13.7%||3.9%|
|(Share in %)||63.6%||6.4%|
|(Share in %)||100.0%||100.0%|
According to the 2005 Census of Japan, Nara Prefecture has a population of 1,421,310, which is a decrease of 1.5%, since the year 2000.
The decline continued in 2006, with another decrease of 4,987 people compared to 2005. This includes a natural decrease from previous year of 288 people (11,404 births minus 11,692 deaths) and a decrease due to net domestic migration of 4,627 people outbound from the prefecture, and a decrease of 72 registered foreigners. Net domestic migration has turned into a continuous outbound trend since 1998. The largest destinations of migration in 2005 were the prefectures of Kyoto, Tokyo, and Hyōgo, with respectively a net of 1,130,982 and 451 people moving over. The largest inbound migration was from Niigata Prefecture, contributing to a net increase of 39 people. 13.7% of its population were reported as under 15, 65.9% between 15 and 64, and 20.4% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 52.5% of the population.
As of 2004, the average density of the prefecture is 387 people per km². By districts, the so-called Yamato flat inland plain holds as much as about 90% of total population within the approximately 23% size of area in the north-west, including the Nara Basin, representing a density of 1,531 people per km². To the contrast, the combined district Gojō and Yoshino District occupies almost 64% of the land, while only 6% of people lives there, resulting in a density of 39 people km².
Nara prefecture had the highest rate in Japan of people commuting outbound for work, at 30.9% in 2000. A similar tendency is seen in prefectures such as Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa, all three of them having over 20% of people commuting for other prefectures.
The 2004 total gross prefecture product (GPP) for Nara was ¥3.8 trillion, an 0.1% growth over previous year. The per capita income was ¥2.6 million, which is a 1.3% decrease from previous year. The 2004 total gross prefecture product (GPP) for Nara was ¥3.8 trillion, an 0.1% growth over previous year. Manufacturing has the biggest share in the GPP of Nara with 20.2% of share, followed by services (19.1%) and real estates (16.3%). The share of agriculture including forestry and fishery was a mere 1.0%, only above mining, which is quasi-inexistent in Nara.
The culture of Nara is tied to the Kansai region in which it is located. However, like each of the other prefectures of Kansai, Nara has unique aspects to its culture, parts of which stem from its long history dating back to the Nara period.
There are large differences in dialect between the north/central region of the prefecture, where Nara city is located, and the Okunoya district in the south. The north/central dialect is close to Osaka's dialect, whilst Okunoya's dialect favours a Tokyo-style accent. The lengthening of vowels sounds in the Okunoya dialect is not seen in other dialects of the Kinki region, making it a special feature.
Foods particular to Nara Prefecture include:
The sports teams listed below are based in Nara.
Many jinja (Shinto shrines), Buddhist temples, and kofun exist in Nara Prefecture, making it is a centre for tourism. Moreover, many world heritage sites, such as the temple Tōdai-ji and Kasuga Shrine, exist in the capital city of Nara.
The Bambitious Nara is a professional basketball team that competes in the second division of the Japanese B.League.Gose Line
The Gose Line (御所線, Gose sen) is a railway line of Kintetsu Corporation in Nara Prefecture, Japan connecting Shakudo Station in Katsuragi and Gose Station in Gose.
The line has four stations including the terminal Gose and the transfer station Shakudo. It is mainly used by commuters to Osaka, as well as those who access to Mt. Katsuragi. At Gose, there is a bus headed for the Mt. Katsuragi Ropeway, which is also run by Kintetsu.Ikoma Line
The Ikoma Line (生駒線, Ikoma-sen) is a railway line of Kintetsu Railway in Nara Prefecture, Japan connecting Ikoma Station in the city of Ikoma and Ōji Station in the town of Ōji. Having a total length of 12.4 km (7.7 mi), the entirely electrified standard gauge line is partially double-tracked. All trains stop at all 12 stations (including both termini) along the line.Kashihara, Nara
Kashihara (橿原市, Kashihara-shi) is a city located in Nara Prefecture, Japan.
As of April 1, 2015, the city has an estimated population of 124,829, with 52,034 households. Population density is around 3,176.79 persons per km², and the total area is 39.52 km².The city was founded on February 11, 1956. The former mayor was Yutaka Asoda, who was elected to his third term of office in 2003. The present mayor is Yutaka Morishita, who was elected in 2007.
The exact spot of Emperor Jimmu's descent to earth was debated for centuries until in 1863 an area that is now part of the city was claimed to be the exact location. The city was the location of the Imperial capital Fujiwara-kyō, from 694 to 710.
In the late 16th century it was said to be one of the two richest autonomous cities of Japan, as in Umi no Sakai, Riku no Imai (tr. "by the sea, Sakai – inland, Imai" - Imai or ja:今井町 is now a part of Kashihara).Kashihara Line
The Kashihara Line (橿原線, Kashihara-sen) is a 23.8 km (14.8 mi) north-south bound railway line in Nara Prefecture, Japan, owned and operated by the Kintetsu Railway, a private railway operator. It connects Yamato-Saidaiji Station and Kashiharajingu-mae Station.Katsuragisan Ropeway
The Katsuragisan Ropeway (葛城山ロープウェイ, Katsuragisan rōpuwei), legally referred to as Katsuragi Ropeway Line (葛城索道線, Katsuragi sakudō sen), is an aerial tramway line in Gose, Nara, Japan. The line is the only aerial tramway line in Japan that is directly owned and operated by a major private railway company, the Kintetsu Railway. Opened in 1967, the line climbs Mount Yamato Katsuragi. Contactless smart cards PiTaPa or Surutto Kansai are not available on the line.Kinokawa River
The Kinokawa or redundantly Kinokawa River (紀ノ川 or 紀の川, Kinokawa) is a river in Nara and Wakayama Prefecture in Japan. It is called Yoshino River (吉野川, Yoshinogawa) in Nara. It is 136 km long and has a watershed of 1,660 km².
The river flows from Mount Ōdaigahara to the west. It pours into Kii Channel at Wakayama city.Kodai Hamaya
Kodai Hamaya (濱矢 廣大, born February 27, 1993 in Totsukawa, Nara Prefecture) is a Japanese professional baseball pitcher for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball.Nara, Nara
Nara (奈良市, Nara-shi, Japanese: [naꜜɾa]) is the capital city of Nara Prefecture located in the Kansai region of Japan. The city occupies the northern part of Nara Prefecture, bordering Kyoto Prefecture. Eight temples, shrines, and ruins in Nara remain: specifically Tōdai-ji, Saidai-ji, Kōfuku-ji, Kasuga Shrine, Gangō-ji, Yakushi-ji, Tōshōdai-ji, and the Heijō Palace, together with Kasugayama Primeval Forest, collectively form "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara", a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the Nara period, Nara was the capital of Japan, and the Emperor lived there before moving the capital to Kyoto.Sakurai, Nara
Sakurai (桜井市, Sakurai-shi) is a city located in Nara Prefecture, Japan.
As of March 31, 2017, the city has an estimated population of 58,386, and 24,629 households. The population density is 590 persons per km², and the total area is 98.92 km².Sakurai Line
The Sakurai Line (桜井線, Sakurai-sen) is a railway line operated by West Japan Railway Company (JR West) in Nara Prefecture. It connects Nara on the Yamatoji Line to Takada on the Wakayama Line, with some services continuing on the Wakayama Line to Ōji Station, and then to JR Namba on the Yamatoji Line. Starting on March 13, 2010, it is referred to by the nickname "Manyō-Mahoroba Line" (万葉まほろば線, Man-yō Mahoroba sen, "Man-yō" refers to the Man'yōshū and mahoroba refers to Nara)" in reference to the large number of ancient landmarks along the line's route.So Yamamura
So Yamamura (山村聰, Yamamura Sō, 24 February 1910 – 26 May 2000) was a Japanese actor and film director. He appeared in more than 110 films between 1947 and 1991, and directed four films. He was also known by the name Satoshi Yamamura, while his actual birth name is Koga Hirosada. In the US, he is well known for his portrayals of Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto of the Combined Fleet, in Tora! Tora! Tora!, and of Mr. Sakamoto, the CEO of Assan Motors in Gung Ho.Tawaramoto Line
The Tawaramoto Line (田原本線, Tawaramoto sen) is a railway line owned and operated by the Kintetsu Railway, a Japanese private railway company, connecting Ōji Station (Nara) (Ōji, Nara Prefecture) and Nishi-Tawaramoto Station (Tawaramoto, Nara Prefecture) in Japan.
The line does not connect directly with other Kintetsu Lines, however both terminals are located within walking distance of nearby Kintetsu stations on other lines.Tenri, Nara
Tenri (天理市, Tenri-shi) is a city located in Nara Prefecture, Japan. The modern city was founded on April 1, 1954, and is named after the Japanese new religion Tenrikyo, which has its headquarters in the city.
As of April 1, 2015, the city has an estimate population of 66,866, and 29,169 households. The population density is 800.61 persons per km², and the total area is 86.37 km².Tenri Line
The Tenri Line (天理線, Tenri sen) is a railway line of Kintetsu Railway in Nara Prefecture, Japan connecting Hirahata Station in Yamato-Kōriyama and Tenri Station in Tenri.
The line has four stations including the terminal Tenri and the transfer station Hirahata. It is mainly used by commuters in the morning and evening, as well as by followers of Tenrikyo, headquartered in Tenri, especially during festivals of the religion.Wakayama Line
The Wakayama Line (和歌山線, Wakayama-sen) is a railway line that links Nara Prefecture to Wakayama Prefecture in Japan, operated by West Japan Railway Company (JR West). It connects Ōji Station on the Yamatoji Line to Wakayama Station on the Hanwa Line and Kisei Main Line, with through train service to JR Namba via the Yamatoji Line and to Nara via the Sakurai Line.Yamato River
Yamato River (Yamatogawa) is a Japanese class A river in the Kansai region and flows via the Nara Prefecture and Osaka Prefecture to the Osaka Bay.
The river flows via towns:
Fujiidera - confluence with Ishikawa RiverSince 1704 the river was reconfigured, originally its flow was north from the Ishikawa River confluence point, where it joined the Shirinashi River and Kizu River.At the river mouth is a densely populated area and Yamatogawa forms a natural border between Osaka and Sakai cities.Yoshino District, Nara
Yoshino (吉野郡, Yoshino-gun) is a district located in Nara Prefecture, Japan.
In 2003, the district had an estimated population of 59,020 and a density of 26.14 persons per km². The total area is 2,257.79 km².
On September 25, 2005 the villages of Ōtō and Nishiyoshino merged into the city of Gojō.Yoshino Line
The Yoshino Line (吉野線, Yoshino-sen) is a railway line in Nara Prefecture, Japan, operated by the private railway operator Kintetsu Railway. It connects Kashihara-Jingūmae in Kashihara and Yoshino in Yoshino. All Express and Limited Express trains continue to and from Ōsaka Abenobashi Station on the Minami Osaka Line.