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Tōhoku region

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Title: Tōhoku region  
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Subject: Prefectures of Japan, 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, Iwate Prefecture, List of lakes of Japan, Akita Prefecture
Collection: Tōhoku Region
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Tōhoku region

Tōhoku region
Map showing the Tōhoku region of Japan. It comprises the northeast area of the island of Honshu.
The Tōhoku region in Japan
 • Total 66,889.55 km2 (25,826.20 sq mi)
Population (2015)[1]
 • Total 9,020,531
 • Density 130/km2 (350/sq mi)
Time zone JST (UTC+9)

The Tōhoku region (東北地方 Tōhoku-chihō) consists of the northeastern portion of Honshu, the largest island of Japan. This traditional region consists of six prefectures (ken): Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi and Yamagata.[2]

Tōhoku retains a reputation as a remote, scenic region with a harsh climate. In the 20th century, tourism became a major industry in the Tōhoku region.


  • History 1
    • Subdivision 1.1
  • Population development 2
  • Geography 3
  • Cities and populated areas 4
  • Points of interest 5
    • Natural features 5.1
    • Parks 5.2
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The area was historically known as the Michinoku region.[3] a term first recorded in Hitachi-no-kuni Fudoki (常陸国風土記) (654). There is some variation in modern usage of the term "Michinoku".[4]

Tōhoku's initial historical settlement occurred between the seventh and ninth centuries, well after Japanese civilization and culture had become firmly established in central and southwestern Japan. The last stronghold of the indigenous Emishi on Honshu and the site of many battles, the region has maintained a degree of autonomy from Kyoto at various times throughout history.

Cast iron teapots like this one sit atop stoves during the long winters in Tōhoku.

The haiku poet Matsuo Bashō wrote Oku no Hosomichi (The Narrow Road to the Deep North) during his travels through Tōhoku.

The region is traditionally known as a less developed area of Japan.[5]

The catastrophic 9.0-Magnitude earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 inflicted massive damage along the east coast of this region, killed 20,000 people and was the costliest natural disaster ever which left 500,000 people homeless along with radioactive fallout.


The most often used subdivision of the region is dividing it to "North Tōhoku" (北東北 Kita-Tōhoku) consisting of Aomori, Akita, and Iwate Prefectures and "South Tōhoku" (南東北 Minami-Tōhoku) consisting of Yamagata, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures.

Population development

The population collapse of Tōhoku, which began before the year 2000, has accelerated, now including previously dynamic Miyagi. Despite this, Sendai City has grown due to the disaster. The population collapse of Aomori, Iwate, and Akita Prefectures, Honshu's 3 northernmost, began in the early 1980s after an initial loss of population in the late 1950s. Fukushima Prefecture, prior to 1980, had traditionally been the most populated, but today Miyagi is the most populated and urban by far.


Tōhoku, like most of Japan, is hilly or mountainous, with the Ōu Mountains running north-south. The inland location of many of the region's lowlands has led to a concentration of much of the population there. Coupled with coastlines that do not favor seaport development, this settlement pattern resulted in a much greater than usual dependence on land and rail transportation. Low points in the central mountain range fortunately make communications between lowlands on either side of the range moderately easy.

Tōhoku was traditionally considered the granary of Japan because it supplied Sendai and the Tokyo-Yokohama market with rice and other farming commodities. Tōhoku provided 20 percent of the nation's rice crop. The climate, however, is harsher than in other parts of Honshū due to the stronger effect of the Siberian High, and permits only one crop a year on paddy fields.

In the 1960s, iron, steel, cement, chemical, pulp, and petroleum refining industries began developing.

Cities and populated areas

Designated cities
  • Sendai (population: 1,045,000)
Core cities
Other populated areas

Points of interest

Natural features


See also


  1. ^  
  2. ^ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Tōhoku" in , p. 970Japan Encyclopedia, p. 970, at Google Books
  3. ^ Hanihara, Kazuro. "Emishi, Ezo and Ainu: An Anthropological Perspective," Japan Review, 1990, 1:37 (PDF p. 3).
  4. ^ McCullough, Helen Craig. (1988). p. 81The Tale of the Heike, , p. 81, at Google Books; excerpt, "Furthermore, in the old days, the two famous eastern provinces, Dewa and Michinoku, were a single province made up of sixty-six districts, of which twelve were split off to create Dewa."
  5. ^ Dentsu. (1970). Issues 18-26, p. 58Industrial Japan,; retrieved 2013-4-17.


External links

  • Tōhoku region travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • Akita Prefecture Official website (English)
  • Aomori Prefecture Official website
  • Fukushima Prefecture Official website (English)
  • Miyagi Prefecture Official website (English)
  • Yamagata Prefecture Official website (English)
  • Iwate Prefecture Living Guide for Foreign Nationals (English)

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