Nara Prefecture

Nara Prefecture
Flag of Nara Prefecture

Nara Prefecture

Nara Prefecture (奈良県 – Nara-ken) is located on the island of Honshu. As a land-locked Prefecture it is bordered on all sides. Kyoto Prefecture to the North, Mie to the West, Wakayama on its southern border; and Osaka Prefecture to the west.

Geography

Nara Prefecture
Location of Nara Prefecture

Rivers: The principal rivers of the prefecture are the Yoshinogawa, Yamatogawa and Totsugawa

Mountains: Aside from the Nara Basin which can be found to the north, and the Yamato Kōgen highlands,  mountains encompass most of Nara. Along the west, the Ikoma and Kongō mountains are located, with the Kii Mountains found to the south.1 The three mountains collectively known as Yamato Sanzan can be found here. Traditionally one is said to have descended from Heaven2, and another to be the mountain where the first Emperor, Jimmu, was buried..1 The religion of Shugendo is said to have been founded on Mount Katsuragi by En no Ozunu.4

Tectonic Plates: The Median Tectonic Line run through the centre of the Prefecture towards the east and west along the Yoshinogawa..1

History

Evidence of habitation during the Jōmon period (c.10,000-300BC) and suceeding Yayoi Period (c.300BC-300AD) has shown people to have farmed here for more than 2000 years.

Betwen the 4th and 7th centuried this area was the centre of the Yamato Court, and when the Kokugen System came into effect this area became known as Yamato Province. The city of Nara, then known as Heijōkyō was the capital of Japan up until 784 when it was moved to Nagaokakyō.

The area served for a brief time as the centre for poitical power during the time of the Northern and Southern Courts between 1337 and 1392.

Gagoze from the Bakemono no E.

Its borders were officially established in 1887..1

Farming

Tea is grown on the higlands of the Yamato Kōgen, and persimmons are cultivated in the valley where the Yoshinogawa flows..1

Points of Interest

The oldest road, in Japan, known as the Yamanobe no Michi, can be found in the east of the Nara Basin. The Yoshino-Kumano National Park can also be found here. In addition, a tomb called the Takamatsuzuka Tomb, dating to around 700AD can be found in the village of Asuka.1

Yōkai

The Yōkai known as the Gagoze is said to have lived in the temple of Gango-ji in Nara City, with Kasuga Taisha being reported to have been built by the creatures known as the Hyōsube.3

Footnotes

1. Kodansha. (1993) ”Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia”. Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd.
2. Yasumaro. O, translated by Gustav Heldt. (2014) “Kojiki. An Account of Ancient Matters”. New York: Columbia University Press.
3. Yoda, H. and Alt, M. (2016) “Japandemonium: Illustrated: The Yokai Encyclopaedia of Toriyama Sekien.”. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.
4. Yoda, H & Alt, M. (2012) “Ninja Attack: True Tales of Assassins, Samurai and Outlaws” Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing.
Nara Prefecture

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