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 is a prefecture of Japanmarker located in the Tohokumarker region on Honshūmarker island. Its capital is Yamagata.


History

The aboriginal Ezo people (蝦夷) once inhabited the area now known as Yamagata. During the Heian Period (794–1185), the Fujiwara (藤原) family ruled the area. Yamagata City flourished during the Edo Period (1603–1867) due to its status as a castle town and post station, famous for beni (red safflower dye used in the production of handspun silk). In 1649, the famous haiku poet, Matsuo Bashō visited Yamagata during his five-month trip to the northern regions of Japan. Yamagata, with Akita Prefecturemarker, composed Dewa Provincemarker until the Meiji Restoration.

Geography

Map of Yamagata Prefecture
Ubayu Hot Spring, Yamagata


Yamagata Prefecture is located in the southwest corner of Tohoku, facing the Sea of Japanmarker. It borders Niigata Prefecturemarker and Fukushima Prefecturemarker on the south, Miyagi Prefecturemarker on the east, and Akita Prefecturemarker on the north. All of these boundaries are marked by mountains, with most of the population residing in a limited central plain.

Cities

Thirteen cities are located in Yamagata Prefecture:

Towns and villages

Towns and villages in each district:
Yuzamarker
Nakayamamarker
Yamanobemarker
Kawanishimarker
Takahatamarker
Mikawamarker
Shōnaimarker
Ōishidamarker
Funagatamarker
Kaneyamamarker
Mamurogawamarker
Mogamimarker
Ōkuramarker
Sakegawamarker
Tozawamarker
Asahimarker
Kahokumarker
Nishikawamarker
Ōemarker
Iidemarker
Ogunimarker
Shiratakamarker
‡ Scheduled to be dissolved following mergers.

Mergers

Climate

The climate of Yamagata Prefecture is characterized by long hot humid summers and long snowy winters. Both spring and autumn are short, the former often cold, the latter often warm, but both quite dry and sunny. Winter temperatures rarely fall below -10C in populated areas; they frequently rise above 30C in July and August. Precipitation falls all year round and the remnants of one or perhaps two typhoons usually pass through between August and October. The winters see heavy snowfall especially at higher elevations, though the Japan Sea coast (Sakata) is milder and has more rain. Snowfall for Shinjo is typical of populated mountaneous areas, snowfall for Yamagata City typical of the valleys. The central mountains around Gassanmarker may see as much as 3000 cm of snow in a season with depths up to 8 metres at higher elevations.

Economy

Fruit

Yamagata Prefecture is the largest producer of cherries and pears in Japan. A large quantity of other kinds of fruits such as grapes, apples, peaches, melons, persimmons and watermelons are also produced here.

Demographics

As of October 2004, Yamagata Prefecture had a population of 1,223,000 [27299]. This represented a 5.3% decrease on the previous year, giving Yamagata the equal-fourth highest depopulation rate in Japan [27300]. This figure consists of a 2.2% natural decrease in the population, and a net 3.1% emigration to other prefectures, again one of the highest rates in Japan.

The prefecture also has one of the oldest populations in Japan. As of 2004, 12.8% of the population was aged between 65 and 74, and 12.1% was over 75 (the fourth and third highest in Japan, respectively) [27301]. Over 40% of households in Yamagata contain one or more relatives aged 65 or over (one of the three highest in Japan) [27302].

Culture

Festivals and events

Yamagata Prefecture has a number of annual festivals and events.

The largest is the hanagasa matsuri (花笠祭り) which takes place in Yamagata City on the first weekend in August, when thousands of people perform the hanagasa dance in the city centre and attracts up to 300,000 spectators. Yamagata City is the home of the bi-annual Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival in October.

In February, a snow lantern festival is held in Yonezawa at the Uesugi Shrine. Hundreds of candle-lit lanterns light pathways dug into the snow around the shrine. Yonezawa is also the site of the Uesugi Festival (上杉祭り, uesugi matsuri) in mid-spring. The festival's highlight is a re-enactment of the 'Battle of Kawanakajima' on the banks of the Matsukawa River.

In September, Yamagata Prefecture is famous for its imoni, a potato stew popular in Northern Japan during the autumn. Imonikai, potato soup parties, are very popular during this season, and many tourists come to Yamagata Prefecture specifically for its particular style of imoni.

Art

Beginning in 2003, Yamagata city officials with the aid of Tohoku University of Art and Design began a three-year project in which the Buddhist art of the city’s temples would be catalogued and compared to a set of guidelines in order to identify “cultural assets.” One hundred and ninety temples have had their works of art examined and several significant examples of Buddhist sculpture have been discovered. At Heisenji Temple, in the Hirashimizu district, a particularly rare statue, a seated Vairocana Buddha made from zelkova wood, was found. Other significant works include sculptures from the Heian Period (794–1185) and Kamakura Period (1192–1333).

The Yamagata Museum of Art, located in Yamagata City, was opened in 1964 through the efforts of a foundation led by Yoshio Hattori, the president of Yamagata Shimbun and Yamagata Broadcasting Co, Ltd. The permanent collection consists of three types of art: Japanese and Asian, regional, and French. Special exhibitions are held periodically.

Language

Yamagata Prefecture is also known for its local dialect Yamagata-ben, sometimes thought of as backward sounding and the butt of jokes in other parts of Japan. The 2004 movie Swing Girls (スウィングガールズ), co-written and directed by Shinobu Yaguchi, is set in Yamagata and makes use of Yamagata-ben for comedic purposes.

Sports

The sports teams listed below are based in Yamagata.

Football (soccer)



Volleyball



Transportation

Airports

  • Yamagata Airport(Tokyo,Osaka,Nagoya,Sapporo byJAL)
  • Shonai Airport(Tokyo,Osaka,Sapporo byANA)


Railways (JR East)





Tourism

Yamedera, Yamagata Prefecture.
The temple of Yamaderamarker, carved into the mountainside near Yamagata City, is a major attraction.

The Dewa Sanzanmarker are three holy mountains that form a traditional pilgrimage for followers of the Shugendo branch of Shinto. The famous Gojudo (five-story pagoda) is at the base of Mt.marker Haguromarker, the lowest of the three mountains.

Mount Zaomarker is a famous winter ski resort, also known for its snow monsters (frozen snow covered trees) in the winter, and the Okama crater lake, also known as the Goshiki Numa (Five Color Swamp) because its colour changes according to the weather.

Media

Newspapers

  • Yamagata Shimbun [27303]
  • Yonezawa Shimbun
  • Shonai Nippo
  • Okitama Times [27304]


TV and radio



Film

  • Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival [27305]


References



External links




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