Yamaguchi Prefecture

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Yamaguchi Prefecture
Japanese transcription(s)
 • Japanese山口県
 • RōmajiYamaguchi-ken
Flag of Yamaguchi Prefecture
Official logo of Yamaguchi Prefecture
Location of Yamaguchi Prefecture
RegionChūgoku (Sanyo)
Largest cityShimonoseki
SubdivisionsDistricts: 4, Municipalities: 19
 • GovernorTsugumasa Muraoka
 • Total6,112.30 km2 (2,359.97 sq mi)
Area rank23rd
 (February 1, 2018)
 • Total1,377,631
 • Rank25th
 • Density225.43/km2 (583.9/sq mi)
ISO 3166 codeJP-35
BirdHooded crane (Grus monacha)
FishJapanese puffer (Takifugu rubripes)
FlowerBitter summer mandarin blossom (Citrus natsudaidai)
TreeRed pine tree (Pinus densiflora)

Yamaguchi Prefecture (山口県, Yamaguchi-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūgoku region of Honshu.[1] Yamaguchi Prefecture has a population of 1,377,631 (1 February 2018) and has a geographic area of 6,112 km² (2,359 sq mi). Yamaguchi Prefecture borders Shimane Prefecture to the north and Hiroshima Prefecture to the northeast.

Yamaguchi is the capital and Shimonoseki is the largest city of Yamaguchi Prefecture, with other major cities including Ube, Shūnan, and Iwakuni.[2] Yamaguchi Prefecture is located at the western tip of Honshu with coastlines on the Sea of Japan and Seto Inland Sea, and separated from the island of Kyushu by the Kanmon Straits.


Yamaguchi Prefecture was created by the merger of the provinces of Suō and Nagato.[3] During the rise of the samurai class during the Heian and Kamakura Periods (794–1333), the Ouchi family of Suō Province and the Koto family of Nagato Province gained influence as powerful warrior clans. In the Muromachi period (1336—1573), Ouchi Hiroyo, the 24th ruler of the Ouchi family conquered both areas of Yamaguchi Prefecture. The Ouchi clan imitated the city planning of Kyoto. They gained great wealth through cultural imports from the continent and trade with Korea and Ming Dynasty China. As a result, Yamaguchi came to be known as the "Kyoto of the West," and Ouchi culture flourished. Sue Harutaka defeated the 31st ruler of the Ouchi clan. The Sue clan was then defeated by Mōri Motonari, and the Mōri family gained control of the Chūgoku region. Yamaguchi was ruled as part of the Mōri clan domain during the Sengoku period. Mōri Terumoto was then defeated by Tokugawa Ieyasu in the battle of Sekigahara in 1600. He was forced to give up all his land except for the Suō and Nagato areas (current-day Yamaguchi Prefecture), where he built his castle in Hagi. Mōri sought to strengthen the economic base of the region and increase local production with his Three Whites campaign (salt, rice, and paper).

After Commodore Matthew Perry's opening of Japan, clans from Nagato (also called Chōshū) played a key role in the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate and the establishment of the new imperial government. Four years after the Edo Shogunate was overthrown and the Meiji government formed in 1868, the present Yamaguchi Prefecture was established. The Meiji government brought in many new systems and modern policies, and promoted the introduction of modern industry, though the prefecture was still centered on agriculture during this period. In the Taishō period, from 1912 to 1926, shipbuilding, chemical, machinery, and metal working plants were built in Yamaguchi's harbors in the Seto Inland Sea area. During the post-World War II Shōwa Period, Yamaguchi developed into one of the most industrialized prefectures in the country due to the establishment of petrochemical complexes.[4]


Map of Yamaguchi Prefecture
     City      Town

As of April 1, 2012, 7% of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks, namely the Setonaikai National Park; Akiyoshidai, Kita-Nagato Kaigan, and Nishi-Chūgoku Sanchi Quasi-National Parks; and Chōmonkyō, Iwakiyama, Rakanzan, and Toyota Prefectural Natural Parks.[5]


Shimonoseki and Kanmon Strait

Thirteen cities are located in Yamaguchi Prefecture:

Name Area (km2) Population Map
Rōmaji Kanji
Flag of Hagi, Yamaguchi.svg Hagi 萩市 698.86 50,179 Hagi in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Hikari, Yamaguchi.svg Hikari 光市 91.94 51,040 Hikari in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Hofu, Yamaguchi.svg Hōfu 防府市 188.59 117,387 Hofu in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Iwakuni, Yamaguchi.svg Iwakuni 岩国市 873.72 137,128 Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Kudamatsu Yamaguchi.JPG Kudamatsu 下松市 89.44 55,119 Kudamatsu in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Mine, Yamaguchi.svg Mine 美祢市 472.71 25,857 Mine in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Nagato Yamagichi.svg Nagato 長門市 357.92 34,882 Nagato in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Sanyo-Onoda, Yamaguchi.svg San'yō-Onoda 山陽小野田市 132.99 62,288 Sanyo-Onoda in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi.svg Shimonoseki 下関市 716.14 265,684 Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Shunan, Yamaguchi.svg Shūnan 周南市 656.13 143,959 Shunan in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Ube, Yamaguchi.png Ube 宇部市 287.69 168,398 Ube in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Yamaguchi, Yamaguchi.png Yamaguchi (capital) 山口市 1,023.31 198,971 Yamaguchi in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Yanai, Yamaguchi.svg Yanai 柳井市 139.9 32,490 Yanai in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg

Towns and districts[edit]

These are the towns in each district:

Name Area (km2) Population District Map
Rōmaji Kanji
Flag of Abu Yamaguchi.JPG Abu 阿武町 116.07 3,372 Abu District Abu in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Hirao Yamaguchi.jpg Hirao 平生町 34.4 12,643 Kumage District Hirao in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Kaminoseki Yamaguchi.jpg Kaminoseki 上関町 34.81 2,687 Kumage District Kaminoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Suoooshima Yamaguchi.JPG Suō-Ōshima 周防大島町 138.17 20,163 Ōshima District Suo-Oshima in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Tabuse Yamaguchi.JPG Tabuse 田布施町 50.35 15,200 Kumage District Tabuse in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Waki Yamaguchi.JPG Waki 和木町 10.56 6,338 Kuga District Waki in Yamaguchi Prefecture Ja.svg


Economic development[edit]

For the purposes of development analysis, Yamaguchi is construed to be part of Northern Kyushu. Although Yamaguchi is not part of the island of Kyushu, it has become a functional satellite of the Kanmon Straits metropolitan area.[6]


Per Japanese census data,[7] and,[8] Yamaguchi prefecture has had negative population growth from 1955 to 1973 and 1985–onwards

Historical population
1920 1,041,000—    
1930 1,136,000+9.1%
1940 1,294,000+13.9%
1950 1,541,000+19.1%
1960 1,602,000+4.0%
1970 1,511,000−5.7%
1980 1,587,000+5.0%
1990 1,573,000−0.9%
2000 1,527,964−2.9%
2010 1,451,338−5.0%
2020 1,368,495−5.7%


The most popular place for tourism is Shimonoseki, for example Karato Fish Market. There is a large fireworks festival in summer.

Another attraction is the Kintai Bridge in the town of Iwakuni. This five-arched wooden structure is considered a symbol of Western Honshū. The area on the banks of the Nishiki river close to the bridge is considered among the best places in Japan for Hanami, when groups of family and friends gather in early April to view cherry blossoms.

Hagi City is in the north of Yamaguchi. It is a very traditional city. The usual color of Japanese post boxes is red, but in Hagi they are painted green or brown. The Hagi Museum is modeled after a traditional samurai residence. The exhibits are detailed and realistic, and are changed every year. The permanent collection is data about Hagi's history and collections about Takasugi Shinsaku. Hagi also contains a reverberatory furnace which has been designated a World Heritage Site.[9]

Kawara soba (hot tile noodles) is a popular food in Yamaguchi. It was developed during the Seinan Rebellion that broke out in 1877. Soldiers cooked wild grass and meat on hot tiles. Now it is a local dish of Yamaguchi people. They fry green tea noodles on a hot tile, and arrange thin fried egg, stewed beef, green onions and grilled liver on top.

Akiyoshidai Quasi-National Park, which includes Japan's longest cave, the Akiyoshido (秋芳洞), is another popular destination.

Famous festivals and events[edit]

  • Kintaikyo Festival in Iwakuni - held on April 29
  • Nishiki River Water Festival in Iwakuni - held in August
  • Iwakuni Festival in August
  • Yokomichi Festival, Kintai Bridge November 19
  • Yanai Goldfish Lantern Festival in August
  • Yamaguchi Gion Festival on July 20 to 27
  • Yamaguchi Tanabata Lantern Festival on August 6 to 7
  • Hagi Era Festival in April
  • Hagi Festival on August 2 to 3
  • Shimonoseki Strait Festival on May 2 to 4
  • Shimonoseki Firework Festival in August[citation needed]


High schools[edit]



Ferries from Shimonoseki Port International Terminal[edit]

Two ferry services provide regular sea transport from the Shimonoseki Port International Terminal: Kanpu Ferry provides round-trip service to Busan, South Korea; the Orient Ferry provides round-trip service to Qingdao and Shanghai, respectively.

  • Kanpu ferry to Pusan in South Korea regularly
  • Gwangyang Beech to Gwangyang in South Korea regularly
  • Orient ferry to Qingdao in China regularly
  • Orient ferry to Shanghai in China regularly

Other ferry routes[edit]





Toll roads[edit]

  • Hagi Misumi Road
  • Kanmon Bridge
  • Yamaguchi Ube Onoda Road
  • Ogori Hagi Road
  • Kanmon Road Tunnel

National highways[edit]

Prefectural symbols[edit]





Notable people from Yamaguchi Prefecture[edit]

Sister districts[edit]

Yamaguchi Prefecture has alliance with the following five districts.[13][14]


Since the Meiji Restoration in which lower-rank nobility from Chōshū played a major role, many politicians from Yamaguchi have held important positions in national politics. In the post-war era, the most prominent political family from Yamaguchi is the Kishi-Abe/Satō prime ministerial dynasty, and Yamaguchi is leaning solidly towards the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Delegation to the National Diet[edit]

Since the electoral reform of the 1990s, Yamaguchi elects four members directly to the House of Representatives. Three of the new single-member districts have been held exclusively by Liberal Democrats as of 2013, the easternmost district bordering Hiroshima was initially won by Shinji Satō (Eisaku Satō's son) in 1996, but went to Democrat Hideo Hiraoka in several later elections. Currently, following the 2014 general election, Yamaguchi's directly elected delegation to the lower house consists of LDP president Shinzō Abe (4th district, 8th term), LDP vice president Masahiko Kōmura (1st district, 12th term), the chairman of the House of Representatives rules committee (as of 190th Diet, January 2016),[15] Takeo Kawamura (3rd district, 9th term), and the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, Abe's brother Nobuo Kishi (2nd district, 2nd term, former two-term member of the House of Councillors). For the proportional representation segment of the House of Representatives, Yamaguchi forms part of the Chūgoku block.

In the House of Councillors, Yamaguchi is represented by two members, making it one of the currently 31 winner-take-all single-member districts. As of 2013, the two members are Yoshimasa Hayashi (LDP, 4th term, up in 2019), agriculture minister in the 2nd Abe Cabinet, and following the April 2013 by-election to replace Nobuo Kishi, Kiyoshi Ejima (LDP, 1st term, up in 2016), former mayor of Shimonoseki city.


The current governor of Yamaguchi is former MIC bureaucrat Tsugumasa Muraoka. He won the gubernatorial election in February 2014 with more than 60% of the vote against other two candidates, and succeeded Shigetarō Yamamoto who had been hospitalized since October 2013 and resigned in January 2014.

Elected governors of Yamaguchi have been:

  1. Tatsuo Tanaka, 1947–1953 (2 terms, resigned mid-term to enter national politics), the son of pre-war prime minister Baron Giichi Tanaka
  2. Tarō Ozawa, 1953–1960 (2 terms, resigned mid-term to enter national politics), Tanaka's son-in-law
  3. Masayuki Hashimoto, 1960–1976 (4 terms), previously member of the House of Representatives from Yamaguchi for the LDP
  4. Tōru Hirai, 1976–1996 (5 terms), previously Home Affairs Ministry bureaucrat and vice-governor of Yamaguchi under Hashimoto
  5. Sekinari Nii, 1996–2012 (4 terms), previously Home Affairs Ministry bureaucrat and treasurer of Yamaguchi under Hirai
  6. Shigetarō Yamamoto, 2012–2014 (1 term, resigned for health reasons), former LDP candidate for the House of Representatives in Yamaguchi's 2nd district


The prefectural assembly of Yamaguchi has 47 members, elected in unified local elections in 15 electoral districts: 5 single-member districts, four two-member districts and six districts that elect each between four and nine members.[16] In the 2015 election, the LDP won a majority. Liberal Democrats form several parliamentary groups together with independents. As of June 8, 2015, the assembly is composed as follows: LDP 24 members, LDP Shinseikai 5, Kōmeitō 5, DPJ/Rengō no Kai 4, LDP Kensei Club 2, JCP 2, SDP/Citizens League 2, and the independent "groups" shinsei club, mushozoku no kai and kusa no ne have one member each.[17]


  1. ^ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Yamaguchi-ken" in Japan Encyclopedia, pp. 1039-1040, p. 1039, at Google Books; "Chūgoku" at p. 127, p. 127, at Google Books.
  2. ^ Nussbaum, "Yamaguchi" at p. 1039, p. 1039, at Google Books.
  3. ^ Nussbaum, "Provinces and prefectures" in p. 780, p. 780, at Google Books.
  4. ^ The History of Yamaguchi Prefecture
  5. ^ "General overview of area figures for Natural Parks by prefecture" (PDF). Ministry of the Environment. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  6. ^ Sakamoto, Hiroshi. (2011). "CGE Analysis of Regional Policy in the Northern Kyushu Area." Kitakyushu: The International Centre for the Study of East Asian Development (ICSEAD), Working Paper Series Vol. 2011-03
  7. ^ Yamaguchi 1995-2020 population statistics
  8. ^ Yamaguchi 1920-2000 population statistics
  9. ^ "HAGI Sightseeing Guide". Burari HAGI aruki_HAGI Sightseeing Guide. Retrieved 2016-05-31.
  10. ^ Kantei bio notes
  11. ^ Tsuchida, Akihiko (6 November 2016). エヴァ新幹線 あすから運行 徳山駅でも出発式 /山口 [EVA Shinkansen starts operating tomorrow]. Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Japan: The Mainichi Newspapers. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  12. ^ 代表取締役会長兼社長 柳井 正 [Managing Director & President Tadashi Yanai]. Nippon Shacho (in Japanese). Japan: Ishin. 2003. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  13. ^ "Yamaguchi Prefecture's International Exchange". Yamaguchi Prefecture official website (in Japanese). Japan: Yamaguchi Prefecture. 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  14. ^ "Thông tin quan hệ hợp tác hữu nghị giữa tỉnh Bình Dương với các địa phương kết nghĩa". songoaivu.binhduong.gov.vn (in Vietnamese). October 31, 2019. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  15. ^ House of Representatives: Leadership, committee chairs and other officials (in Japanese)
  16. ^ Yamaguchi Prefectural Assembly: Electoral districts and district magnitudes (in Japanese)
  17. ^ Yamaguchi Prefectural Assembly: Composition by group (in Japanese)


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°4′N 131°30′E / 34.067°N 131.500°E / 34.067; 131.500