Nara Prefecture

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Introduction
Nara Prefecture (奈良県; Nara-ken) is part of the Kinki region on Honshu Island, Japan. The capital is Nara.
History

Historically, Nara Prefecture was also known as Yamato-no-kuni or Yamato Province.

It is certain that a political force established at the foot of Mt. Miwa in the east of Nara Basin succeeded in unifying most parts of Japan from the third century until the fourth century, though the process was not well documented. At the dawn of history Yamato was clearly the political center of Japan.

Due to connections with the southern parts of the Korean Peninsula, many Korean immigrantes were introduced into the metropolitan regions to enhance civilization. The royal court also established relations with Sui and then Tang China and sent students to the Middle Kingdom to learn high civilization. In the eighth century, the royal court, which had been itinerant from place to place, constructed a new capital modelled after the Chinese capital, Chang'an. The first high civilization with royal patronage of Buddhism flourished in today's Nara city (710–784 AD).

Even after the political capital moved to Kyoto, Buddhist temples in Nara remained powerful and continued to enjoy religious fame. In the medieval age, many local samurai clans sprang up and fought with each other. The Tokugawa Shogunate, ultimately unifying warring lords, directly ruled the city of Nara and most parts of Yamato province with a few feudal lords allocated at Koriyama, Takatori and other places. With the commercial economy developping in the eighteenth century, the economy of the province was incorporated into prosperous Osaka, the commercial capital of Japan at that time. The economic dependency to Osaka characterizes even today's Nara Prefecture, for many inhabitants commute to Osaka to work or study there.

Geography

Nara Prefecture is loaced in the middle of the Kii Peninsula on the western half of Honshu, Japan. Nara Prefecture is part of the Kansai, or Kinki, region of Japan. Nara Prefecture is landlocked. The northern plains of the prefecture are bounded by the tallest mountains in the Kansai, located in the south of the prefecture.

Nara is bordered to the west by Wakayama prefecture and Osaka prefecture; on the north by Kyoto prefecture and Aichi prefecture, and on the east by Mie prefecture.

Despite being in the middle of Japan, Nara is one of Japan's warmest prefectures; snow is a rarity in Nara, although there is some accumulation in the southern mountains during the winter. Winter temperatures average about 5°C (with −10°C being a minimum). Summer in Nara is known for being hot and humid, with high temperatures ranging between 25°C in the mountains and 35°C in the northern plains. Nara takes pride in being one of the hottest prefectures in all of Japan.

Spring and fall are both temperate and beautiful. The mountainous region of Yoshino has been popular both historically and presently for its beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring. Yoshino and Omine, in these mountains, recently shared the honor of designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the fall, the southern mountains are equally beautiful with the changing of the oak trees.

Cities Districts
Politics
  • Modern prefectural governemnt was established in 1871. Prefectural governors were appointed by the central government until elected in 1947.
  • Mr. Yoshiya Kakimoto, who long served for the central government, has continued to be elected as governor since 1991. (Central government bureaucrats are the main source of Japanese local governors.)
  • Nara people tend to be very conservative, though the influx of new inhabitants is gradually changing the local political trends. It is surprising that Nara prefecture continued to elect a famous ultra-nationalist Diet member, Seisuke Okuno, for almost half a century.
  • Local politics is dominated by conservative politicans mainly representing business interest groups. Many mayors and city councillors are low educated.
  • Generally speaking Japanese police are clean compared to counterparts in many other countries, but a lot of scandals have daunted Nara Prefectural Police recently. The most notorious involving high police officials came to light in 2001.
Economy
  • Tourism, currently, is one of Nara's largest industries, due to the natural beauty, historical significance, and peaceful yet convenient location in the middle of the Kansai region.
  • Strawberry and watermelon are the dominant agricultural products of the prefecture.
  • Nara is a center for the production of instruments used in conducting traditional Japanese artforms, including calligraphy and tea ceremony.
  • On an equal level with Yamagata Prefecture, Nara is one of the largest national suppliers of goldfish. The industry centers in Yamatokoriyama.
  • Due to its rich history, Nara is also the location of many archeological digs, with many famous ones being located in the village of Asuka.
Culture
Nara is known as a very conservative prefecture, and a bit behind the times of modern Japan. It is the last place where new fads and fashions arrive, and the last place that they leave.
About this article
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