Introduction to Akita Prefecture


Profile of Akita Prefecture

Located in the northeast part of Honshu Island on the Japan sea side,Akita Prefecture shares the same latitude with Beijing,Madrid and New York.Nestled in steep,high mountains,Akita is bordered on the north by Aomori Prefecture,the east by Iwate Prefecture and on the south by Miyagi and Yamagata Prefectures.The Sea of Japan borders Akita on the west,with the Oga Peninsula jutting off into the sea.In the eastern part of the prefecture the Ou Sanmyaku mountain range runs north to south averaging 1000 meters in height.Off the sea of Japan in the eastern part of Akita Prefecture,also running north to south are the Dewa Sanchi Mountains averaging 400 meters in height.In between the Dewa Sanchi Mountains and the Sea of Japan ,the three large rivers of Akita,the Yoneshiro River,the Omonogawa River and the Koyoshi River,run into the Japan Sea through a coastal plain which they created.

The sixth largest prefecture in Japan with an area of 11,612.95 square kilometers,Akita has 9 cities and 60 towns and villages.According to the latest census (October 1,1995) the population is 1,213,655 people.However,when compared to the 1982 census,the figures show the overall population decreasing while the elderly population is increasing.This population problem has become a basic problem for Akita Prefecture.

The climate in Akita is characteristically marked by long winters and short summers.The coastal regions of Akita tend to be mild,with a warm current circulating around the area.The Oga Peninsula and the Yuri Region in the southwest do not receive much snow and are said to be “easily bearable.”Compared to the coast,the interior regions of Akita Prefecture are hotter in the summer and colder in the winter with lots of snow fall.In particular the Yokote Basin is a region well known for its overwhelming snowfall.

Industry in Akita has primarily centered around rice farming,but while the farming industry continues,lumber and wood products and nonferrous metal industries are also continuing to develop with the addition of new processing machines.Recently,the Bionic Center,the General Food Products Research Institute,the Akita Research Institute for Advanced Technology and the Institute of Advanced Wood Processing Technology are all enthusiastically pursuing research in their respective fields.These institutes aim to modernize and bring new technology to the industries in Akita by researching the resources that Akita has to offer.

The arrangements for a high speed transportation system in Akita are also continuing at a rapid pace.The International Terminal at Akita Airport is now completed;a large section of the Akita Expressway is already open;the bullet train (Shinkansen) will run from Tokyo to Akita in 1997;the Noshiro/Odate Airport will open in 1998.By the 21st century,Akita will have realized its goal of offering roundtrip transport to anywhere in the country within one day.

Akita’s Beatiful Countryside

Akita is known for its beautiful scenic contrasts between the sea,the mountains,and the lakes.Towada/Hachimantai National Park embraces the mystic Lake Towada and the natural beauty of the Hachimantai Area.The stark,jagged,rough beauty of Akita’s coast,the volcanic lakes and the rolling grass covering Mt.Kanpuzan can all be seen in the Oga Peninsula Semi-National Park.In the Kurikoma Semi-National Park lie such beatiful sights as the Sukawa Highlands,the Kawarage Jigoku,and the Oyasukyo Hot Geysers.And,in the Chokai Semi-National Park,rises the “Mount Fuji of the North,”the most famous mountain in the Tohoku region,Mt.Chokai.Outside of these 4 National and Semi-National Parks are such beautiful places as the legendary Lake Tazawako,and the Shirakami Mountain Range,where the largest registered Virgin Beech Tree forest grows.Akita truly a nature treasure house.With its natural beauty and clear demarkation of the four seasons,people who have visited Akita are often deeply moved by its charm.

In the midst of the bountiful green,both the old and the new exist in harmony.From the cultureal city center of Akita City,the old and traditional in Kakunodate Town,to the rural in Omagari City,you can have peace of mind wherever you go in Akita Prefecture.Farm villages,with long cultural heritages and kind-hearted people,grow up in the middle of this beautiful,but sometimes harsh,natural environment.Mountains,rivers,the sea,towns;the feelings of the people who live in this environment;Akita can truly be called the Beautiful Country.

The History of Akita

The first mention of “Akita”in Japanese history books comes in the year 658 when it was written that the Yamato Chyotei’s influence had extended to this land.Under the ancient provincial system (kokugun system),Akita Prefecture was the Ugo section of the Dewa Province (present day Akita and Yamagata prefectures).Construction of Akita Castle began in 733 to replace an earlier outpost located farther south on a site that is now the city of Akita.Akita castle was one of a series of outposts in the Dewa province used between the 8th and 10th centuries for the pacification of the Ezo tribesman.In the latter part of the 8th century the governor of Dewa moved his headquarters here and Akita become the Yamato Chotei’s political and economical center of the north.Akita castle was abandoned sometime after the 9th century but a replacement was built nearby and the area always remained strategically important.The area was rules by the Satake Family during the Edo period for 260 years,until the Meiji Era.During this time Akita was especially known for its developing farming,forestry and mining enterprises.In 1871,the area previously known as the Haihan Area became Akita Prefecture.

Onward Toward the 21st Century

Presently in Akita Prefecture,there remain problems concerning the decreasing population and the income difference with bigger cities.However,what the big cities lack is the beautiful nature and traditional culture,the steady warmth of the people and the abundant natural resources which still run strong in Akita Prefecture. Four years ago ,the Akita New General Development Plan,was implemented to improve Akita and halt the aforementioned problems.This plan has varying purposes as these catch phrases showF”The realization of a healthy,individual,bountiful life,””the formation of a charming community where young people can settle down.””the development of industry with a strong foundation,and”lively exchange in and out of the coutry.”

Akita is especially active in the field of international exchange,from continuing friendship exchanges with Russia,China,Hungary and the United States (Minnesota) on the one hand,to hosting technical research students from developing countries on the other.In October of 1995,the Akita International Exchange Network was established which links the people of Akita Prefecture,in all the cities,towns and villages to the activities of various international exchange groups.This new network has spurred internationalization in Akita even more.Akita Prefecture aims to be a window for the world with its opening on the Japan Sea.With the cooperation of the government and citizens,Akita Prefecture is actively advancing forward with its exchanges and joint effort with the various countries of the world.