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NARA PREFECTURE (奈良県, _Nara-ken_) is a prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan
Japan
. The capital is the city of Nara . Nara Prefecture has the distinction of having more UNESCO World Heritage Listings than any other prefecture .

CONTENTS

* 1 History

* 1.1 Up to Nara Period * 1.2 Nara in the Heian period
Heian period
* 1.3 Medieval Nara * 1.4 The Sengoku and Edo periods to present

* 2 Geography

* 2.1 Climate * 2.2 Cities * 2.3 Towns and villages * 2.4 Mergers

* 3 Demographics * 4 Politics * 5 Economy

* 6 Culture

* 6.1 Dialect * 6.2 Food culture * 6.3 Traditional arts * 6.4 Museums

* 7 Education

* 7.1 Universities

* 8 Sports

* 9 Tourism

* 9.1 World Heritage sites

* 10 Transportation

* 10.1 Railroad

* 10.2 Bus

* 10.2.1 from Nara and Tenri * 10.2.2 from Yamato Yagi and Gose

* 10.3 Road

* 10.3.1 Expressways and toll roads * 10.3.2 National highways

* 11 Notes * 12 References * 13 External links

HISTORY

See also: Asuka period
Asuka period
, Nara period
Nara period
, and Historic Sites of Nara Prefecture

Nara Prefecture
Nara Prefecture
region is considered one of the oldest regions in Japan
Japan
spanning thousands of years. The present-day Nara Prefecture
Nara Prefecture
as it exists now officially was created in 1887, making it independent of Osaka Prefecture
Osaka Prefecture
.

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

UP TO NARA PERIOD

It is certain that there was a political force established at the foot of Mount Miwa in the east of Nara Basin, seeking unification of most parts in Japan
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.

Ancient capitals of Japan
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
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
Korean peninsula
. The first high civilization with royal patronage of Buddhism
Buddhism
flourished in today's Nara city (710–784 AD).

NARA IN THE HEIAN PERIOD

Kōfuku-ji

In 784, Emperor Kanmu decided to relocate the capital to Nagaoka-kyō in Yamashiro Province
Yamashiro Province
, followed by another move in 794 to Heian-kyō , marking the start of the Heian period
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
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
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
Tōdai-ji
being set on fire, resulting in vast destruction of architectural heritage.

MEDIEVAL NARA

The red autumn leaves in Yoshino

At the rise of the Minamoto to its ruling seat and the opening of Kamakura shogunate
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
Tōdai-ji
, a town was growing again near the two temples.

The Nanboku-chō period
Nanboku-chō period
, starting in 1336, brought more instability to Nara. As Emperor Go-Daigo
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.

THE SENGOKU AND EDO PERIODS TO PRESENT

The restored turret of Kōriyama Castle

Later the whole province of Yamato got drawn into the confusion of the Sengoku period
Sengoku period
. Tōdai-ji
Tōdai-ji
was once again set on fire in 1567, when Matsunaga Hisahide , who was later appointed by Oda Nobunaga
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
Toyotomi Hideyoshi
to the lord, the Tokugawa Shogunate
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
Osaka
, the commercial capital of Japan at the time.

The economic dependency to Osaka
Osaka
even characterizes today's Nara Prefecture, for many inhabitants commute to Osaka
Osaka
to work or study there.

GEOGRAPHY

Map of Nara Prefecture
Nara Prefecture

Nara Prefecture
Nara Prefecture
is part of the Kansai
Kansai
, or Kinki, region of Japan, and is located in the middle of the Kii Peninsula on the western half of Honshu
Honshu
. Nara Prefecture
Nara Prefecture
is landlocked. It is bordered to the west by Wakayama Prefecture
Wakayama Prefecture
and Osaka Prefecture
Osaka Prefecture
; on the north by Kyoto Prefecture and on the east by Mie Prefecture
Mie Prefecture
.

Nara 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
Nara Prefecture
is bisected by the Japan
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
Kansai
region, is Mount Hakkyō
Mount Hakkyō
. To the West, separating Nara Prefecture
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
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.

CLIMATE

Tanzan Shrine in autumn

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 both temperate and beautiful. The mountainous region of Yoshino has been popular both historically and presently for its beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring. In the fall, the southern mountains are equally beautiful with the changing of the oak trees. Hōryū-ji
Hōryū-ji
at cherry blossom, Ikaruga Town

CITIES

There are twelve cities in Nara Prefecture:

* Gojō * Gose * Ikoma * Kashiba

* Kashihara * Katsuragi * Nara (capital) * Sakurai

* Tenri * Uda * Yamatokōriyama * Yamatotakada

TOWNS AND VILLAGES

There are seven districts in Nara, which are further divided into 15 towns and 12 villages as follows:

* Ikoma District

* Ando * Heguri * Ikaruga * Sangō

* Kitakatsuragi District

* Kanmaki * Kawai * Kōryō * Ōji

* Shiki District

* Kawanishi * Miyake * Tawaramoto

* Takaichi District

* Asuka * Takatori

* Uda District

* Mitsue * Soni

* Yamabe District

* Yamazoe

* Yoshino District

* Higashiyoshino * Kamikitayama * Kawakami * Kurotaki * Nosegawa * Ōyodo * Shimoichi * Shimokitayama * Tenkawa * Totsukawa
Totsukawa
* Yoshino

MERGERS

Main article: List of mergers in Nara Prefecture

DEMOGRAPHICS

POPULATION BY DISTRICTS

District Area Size (km²) Population Density per km²

Yamato flat inland plain 837.27 1,282 1,531

(Share in %) 22.7% 89.7%

Yamato highland 506.89 56 110

(Share in %) 13.7% 3.9%

Gojō, Yoshino 2,346.84 92 39

(Share in %) 63.6% 6.4%

Total Prefecture 3,691.09 1,430 387

(Share in %) 100.0% 100.0%

According to the 2005 Census of Japan, Nara Prefecture
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
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
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.

POLITICS

* A governor and members of prefectural assembly is elected by citizens in accordance with the Local Autonomy Law . * As of 2007, there are 44 seats in the Nara Prefectural Assembly, voted through 16 electoral blocks. * There was a clear tendency seen through the results of Lower House election in 2005, that the younger generation executes its voting right much less compared to the older. Only 48.8% of citizens age 20–29 voted, whereas all older generations (grouped by decades) votes more than its younger, reaching the highest voting rate of 86.3% at ages 60–69. The only exception was the 72.1% voting right executed by citizens of 70 or older. The overall average of the prefecture who voted was yet higher, at 70.3%, than that of nationwide average, 67.5%.

ECONOMY

A huge Nara calligraphy brush

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.

* Tourism is treated by the prefectural government as one of the most important features of Nara, because of its natural beauty and historical significance. * Nara is famed for its Kaki persimmon . Strawberry
Strawberry
and tea are some other popular products of the prefecture, while rice and vegetables, including spinach, tomato, eggplants and others are the dominant in terms of amount of production. * Nara is a center for the production of instruments used in conducting traditional Japanese artforms. Brush and ink (_sumi_) are the best known products from Nara for calligraphy . Wooden or bamboo instruments, especially from Takayama area (in Ikoma city) are famous products for tea ceremony . * Goldfish
Goldfish
from Yamatokōriyama in Nara have been a traditional aquacultural product since the 18th century. * 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

Statue at Tōdai-ji
Tōdai-ji

The culture of Nara is tied to the Kansai region
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.

DIALECT

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
Kinki region
, making it a special feature.

FOOD CULTURE

Foods particular to Nara Prefecture
Nara Prefecture
include:

* Narazuke , a method of pickling vegetables * Miwa sōmen , a type of wheat noodle * Chagayu , a rice porridge made with green tea * Kakinoha zushi , sushi wrapped in persimmon leaves * Meharizushi , rice balls wrapped in pickled _takana _ leaves

TRADITIONAL ARTS

The following are recognized by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry as being traditional arts of Nara:

* Takayama Tea Whisk (Bamboo item category, recognized in 1975) * Nara Calligraphy
Calligraphy
Brush (Stationery category, recognized in 1977)

MUSEUMS

* Nara National Museum * Heijō Palace Museum * Nara Prefectural Museum of Art * Kashihara Archaeological Institute Museum

EDUCATION

UNIVERSITIES

* Nara Women\'s University * Nara Medical University * Nara University of Education * Nara University * Nara Prefectural University * Nara Sangyo University
Nara Sangyo University
(Nara Industrial University) * Nara Institute of Science and Technology * Kio University * Tezukayama University * Tenri University

SPORTS

The sports teams listed below are based in Nara.

Football (Soccer)

* Nara Club
Nara Club
(Nara )

Basketball

* Bambitious Nara (Nara )

TOURISM

Many Jinja (Shinto shrines) and Buddhist temples, and kofun exist in Nara Prefecture, and it is a centre for tourism. Moreover, many world heritage sites, such as the temple Tōdai-ji
Tōdai-ji
and Kasuga Shrine , exist in the capital city of Nara.

WORLD HERITAGE SITES

_BUDDHIST MONUMENTS IN THE HōRYū-JI AREA _

Hōryū-ji
Hōryū-ji
法隆寺

Hokki-ji (Hōki-ji) 法起寺

_HISTORIC MONUMENTS OF ANCIENT NARA _

Tōdai-ji
Tōdai-ji
東大寺

Kōfuku-ji 興福寺

Kasuga Shrine 春日大社

Gangō-ji
Gangō-ji
元興寺

Yakushi-ji
Yakushi-ji
薬師寺

Tōshōdai-ji 唐招提寺

Heijo Palace
Heijo Palace
remains 平城宮跡

Shōsō-in 正倉院

_SACRED SITES AND PILGRIMAGE ROUTES IN THE KII MOUNTAIN RANGE _

_Area_

Mt. Yoshino Kinpusen-ji

Yoshino Mikumari Shrine

Kinpu Shrine

Yoshimizu Shrine

Mount Omine Ominesan-ji

BUDDHIST TEMPLES

Asuka-dera 飛鳥寺

Chūgū-ji
Chūgū-ji
中宮寺

Hase-dera 長谷寺

Hōrin-ji 法輪寺

Murō-ji 室生寺

Saidai-ji
Saidai-ji
西大寺

Shin- Yakushi-ji
Yakushi-ji
新薬師寺

Southern Hokke-ji 南法華寺

Taima-dera 当麻寺

SHINTO SHRINES

Isonokami Shrine 石上神宮

Kashihara Shrine
Kashihara Shrine
橿原神宮

Danzan Shrine 談山神社

Ōmiwa Shrine 大神神社

Ōyamato Shrine 大和神社

KOFUN AND HERITAGE

Monuments of Asuka-Fujiwara
Asuka-Fujiwara
, proposed for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List

Ishibutai Tomb 石舞台古墳

Kitora Tomb キトラ古墳

Takamatsuzuka Tomb 高松塚古墳

Hashihaka Tomb 箸墓古墳

Umami Kofun
Kofun
Group 馬見古墳群

Sakafuneishi Heritage 酒船石遺跡

HOT SPRINGS

Dorogawa 洞川温泉

Shionoha 入之波温泉

Kamiyu 上湯温泉

Totsukawa
Totsukawa
十津川温泉

MOUNTAINS

Yamato Sanzan * 大和三山

Mount Wakakusa
Mount Wakakusa
若草山

* "Three Mountains of Yamato"

OTHER ATTRACTIONS

Nara Park
Nara Park
奈良公園

Yoshino-Kumano National Park 吉野熊野国立公園

Kongō-Ikoma-Kisen Quasi-National Park 金剛生駒紀泉国定公園

Kōya-Ryūjin Quasi-National Park 高野龍神国定公園

Murō-Akame-Aoyama Quasi-National Park 室生赤目青山国定公園

Yamato-Aogaki Quasi-National Park 大和青垣国定公園

World Heritage Sites in Nara

TRANSPORTATION

RAILROAD

* JR West

* Yamatoji Line
Yamatoji Line
* Kansai
Kansai
Line * Manyo Mahoroba Line * Wakayama Line
Wakayama Line

* Kintetsu

* Nara Line * Keihanna Line
Keihanna Line
* Kyoto
Kyoto
Line * Kashihara Line
Kashihara Line
* Ikoma Line * Ikoma Cable Line * Tenri Line * Osaka
Osaka
Line * Tawaramoto Line * Minami Osaka
Osaka
Line * Gose Line * Yoshino Line
Yoshino Line

BUS

from Nara And Tenri

* Shinjuku
Shinjuku
, Tokyo * Tokyo Station
Tokyo Station
* Yokohama
Yokohama
* Tokyo Disneyland
Tokyo Disneyland
in Urayasu
Urayasu
* Makuhari , Chiba Prefecture
Chiba Prefecture
* Nagoya
Nagoya
* Osaka
Osaka
International Airport * Kansai
Kansai
International Airport

from Yamato Yagi And Gose

* Shinjuku, Tokyo * Shingu * Totsukawa
Totsukawa

ROAD

Expressways And Toll Roads

* Nishi-Meihan Expressway * Meihan Road * Keinawa Expressway * Second Hanna( Osaka
Osaka
-Nara) Road * South Hanna Road

National Highways

* Route 24 * Route 25 (Osaka-Tenri- Nabari
Nabari
- Yokkaichi ) * Route 163 * Route 165 * Route 166 * Route 168 ( Hirakata
Hirakata
-Ikoma-Kashiba-Gojo-Totsukawa-Shingu) * Route 169 (Nara-Tenri-Oyodo-Yoshino-Shingu) * Route 308 * Route 309 * Route 310 * Route 311 * Route 368 * Route 369 * Route 370 * Route 371 * Route 422 * Route 425

NOTES

* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ "金魚・アユ・アマゴを「奈良県のさかな」に – MSN産経west" . _ Sankei Shimbun
Sankei Shimbun
_ (in Japanese). June 27, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-27. * ^ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Nara-ken" in _Japan Encyclopedia, p. 699_, p. 699, at Google Books
Google Books
; "Kansai" at _p. 477_, p. 477, at Google Books
Google Books
. * ^ Nussbaum, "Nara" at _p. 698_, p. 698, at Google Books
Google Books
. * ^ "Nara". GoJapanGo . Retrieved June 19, 2012. * ^ Nussbaum, "Yamato" at _p. 1046_, p. 1046, at Google Books
Google Books
. * ^ 奈良文