Chūgoku region

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Chūgoku region

Chugoku Region in Japan.svg
The Chūgoku region in Japan
Geofeatures map of Chugoku Japan ja.svg
Geofeatures map of Chugoku
  Total31,922.26 km2 (12,325.25 sq mi)
 (1 October 2010) [1]
  Density240/km2 (610/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+9 (JST)

The Chūgoku region (Japanese: 中国地方 , Hepburn: Chūgoku-chihō, pronounced  [tɕɯːɡokɯtɕiꜜhoː] ), also known as the San'in - San'yō (山陰山陽地方, San'in-San'yō-chihō) region, is the westernmost region of Honshū, the largest island of Japan. It consists of the prefectures of Hiroshima, Okayama, Shimane, Tottori, and Yamaguchi. [2] In 2010, it had a population of 7,563,428. [1]



Chūgoku literally means "middle country", but the origin of the name is unclear. Historically, Japan was divided into a number of provinces called koku, which were in turn classified according to both their power and their distances from the administrative center in Kansai. Under the latter classification, most provinces are divided into "near countries" ( , kingoku), "middle countries" (中国, chūgoku), and "far countries" ( , ongoku). Therefore, one explanation is that Chūgoku was originally used to refer to the collection of "middle countries" to the west of the capital. However, only five (fewer than half) of the provinces normally considered part of Chūgoku region were in fact classified as middle countries, and the term never applied to the many middle countries to the east of Kansai. Therefore, an alternative explanation is that Chūgoku referred to provinces between Kansai and Kyūshū, which was historically important as the link between Japan and mainland Asia.

Historically, Chūgoku referred to the 16 provinces of San'indō (山陰道) and San'yōdō (山陽道), which led to the region’s alternative name described below. However, because some of the easternmost provinces were later subsumed into prefectures based primarily in Kansai, those areas are, strictly speaking, not part of the Chūgoku region in modern usage.

In Japanese, the characters 中国 and the reading Chūgoku began to be used to mean "China" after the founding of the Republic of China. The same characters are used in Chinese to refer to China, but pronounced Zhōngguó, lit. "Middle Kingdom" or "Middle Country" (Wade Giles: Chung1-kuo2). It is similar to the use of the West Country in English for a region of England.

The city of Hiroshima, the "capital" of the Chūgoku region, was rebuilt after being destroyed by an atomic bomb in 1945, and is now an industrial metropolis of more than one million people.

Primarily in the tourism industry, in order to avoid confusing the Chūgoku region with China, the Chūgoku region is also called the "San'in‐San'yō region". San'in ("yīn of the mountains") is the northern part facing the Sea of Japan. San'yō ("yáng of the mountains") is the southern part facing the Seto Inland Sea. These names were created using the yīnyáng‐based place‐naming scheme.

Overfishing and pollution reduced the productivity of the Inland Sea fishing grounds; and San'yo is an area concentrated on heavy industry. In contrast, San'in is less industrialized with an agricultural economy.


Chugoku region and Shikoku seen from the International Space Station Chugoku-Region-Shikoku-Japan-ISS-Space.png
Chūgoku region and Shikoku seen from the International Space Station

The Chūgoku region consists of the following prefectures: Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Shimane, and Tottori. Okayama is also included, although only Bitchū Province was considered a Middle Country; Mimasaka Province and Bizen Province, the other two components of modern-day Okayama, were considered Near Countries. Kyūshū, Shikoku, and Kansai neighbor the Chūgoku region.

The Chūgoku region is characterized by irregular rolling hills and limited plain areas and is divided into two distinct parts by mountains running east and west through its center.


The two largest metropolitan areas in Chūgoku region are Hiroshima and Okayama whose total population of the two metropolitan areas amount to 2.808 million as of 2020. [3] [4] Their Urban Employment Area amounts to around 3 million people for the Chūgoku region. The rest of Chūgoku region is sparsely populated and very rural.

Per Japanese census data, [5] and, [6] Chūgoku region has had negative population growth since 1992 with some prefectures within the region experiencing negative population growth since 1985.

Historical population
1920 4,971,000    
1930 5,341,000+7.4%
1940 5,718,000+7.1%
1950 6,797,000+18.9%
1960 6,944,000+2.2%
1970 6,997,000+0.8%
1980 7,586,000+8.4%
1990 7,746,000+2.1%
2000 7,732,499−0.2%
2010 7,563,428−2.2%
2020 7,328,339−3.1%


Designated cities
Core cities
Other major cities



See also

Related Research Articles

Hiroshima Prefecture Prefecture of Japan

Hiroshima Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūgoku region of Honshu. Hiroshima Prefecture has a population of 2,811,410 and has a geographic area of 8,479 km². Hiroshima Prefecture borders Okayama Prefecture to the east, Tottori Prefecture to the northeast, Shimane Prefecture to the north, and Yamaguchi Prefecture to the southwest.

Okayama Prefecture Prefecture of Japan

Okayama Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūgoku region of Honshu. Okayama Prefecture has a population of 1,906,464 and has a geographic area of 7,114 km². Okayama Prefecture borders Tottori Prefecture to the north, Hyōgo Prefecture to the east, and Hiroshima Prefecture to the west.

Shimane Prefecture Prefecture of Japan

Shimane Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūgoku region of Honshu. Shimane Prefecture is the second-least populous prefecture of Japan at 665,205 and has a geographic area of 6,708.26 km². Shimane Prefecture borders Yamaguchi Prefecture to the southwest, Hiroshima Prefecture to the south, and Tottori Prefecture to the east.

Seto Inland Sea Japanese inland sea

The Seto Inland Sea, sometimes shortened to the Inland Sea, is the body of water separating Honshū, Shikoku, and Kyūshū, three of the four main islands of Japan. It serves as a waterway connecting the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Japan. It connects to Osaka Bay and provides a sea transport link to industrial centers in the Kansai region, including Osaka and Kobe. Before the construction of the San'yō Main Line, it was the main transportation link between Kansai and Kyūshū.

Japan National Route 2 Road in Japan

National Route 2 is a major highway on the islands of Honshū and Kyūshū in Japan. It follows the old Sanyōdo westward from the city of Osaka, Osaka Prefecture in the Kansai region to the city of Kitakyūshū in Fukuoka Prefecture, passing through the San'yō region en route. Between Hyōgo Prefecture and Yamaguchi Prefecture it parallels the Sanyō Expressway; it crosses the Kanmon Straits through the Kanmon Roadway Tunnel. Its total length is 533.2 km. At its Osaka terminus, it meets Route 1; at its western terminus, it links with Routes 3 and 10.

Sanyō region

The San'yō Region is an area in the south of Honshū, the main island of Japan. It consists of the southern part of the Chūgoku region, facing the Seto Inland Sea. The name San'yō means "southern, sunny () side of the mountains" and contrasts with the San'in or "northern, shady (in) side of the mountains".

This page lists Japan-related articles with romanized titles beginning with the letter K. For names of people, please list by surname. Please also ignore particles when listing articles.

Sanin region Region

The San'in Region is an area in the southwest of Honshū, the main island of Japan. It consists of the northern part of the Chūgoku region, facing the Sea of Japan.

Japan National Route 9

National Route 9 is an important highway in the Kansai and Chūgoku regions. It connects the prefectural capitals of Kyoto, Tottori, Matsue, and Yamaguchi. Other significant cities along the route include Yonago, Tottori and Shimonoseki. National Route 9 also passes through parts of Hyōgo Prefecture.

The Chūgoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage is one of a number of traditional Buddhist pilgrimage routes in Japan. The route includes 33 sites sacred to the boddhisattva Kannon, across the Chūgoku region. The 33 Kannon were selected in 1981.


San'yōdō (山陽道) is a Japanese geographical term. It means both an ancient division of the country and the main road running through it. The San'yōdō corresponds for the most part with the modern conception of the San'yō region. This name derives from the idea that the southern side of the central mountain chain running through Honshū was the "sunny" side, while the northern side was the "shady" side.

<i>Chugoku Shimbun</i>

The Chugoku Shimbun or Midland News is a Japanese local daily newspaper based in Hiroshima. It serves the Chūgoku region of Japan with a market share in Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Shimane, Okayama and Tottori Prefectures. The newspaper publishes morning paper and evening editions. The morning paper has a daily circulation of 646,908. And the evening paper has a daily circulation of 40,648.


San'indō (山陰道) is a Japanese geographical term. It means both an ancient division of the country and the main road running through it. San'in translates to "the shaded side of a mountain", while , depending on the context, can mean either a road, or a circuit, in the sense of delineating a region. This name derives from the idea that the northern side of the central mountain chain running through Honshū was the "shaded" side, while the southern side was the "sunny" side. The pre-modern region corresponds for the most part with the modern conception of the San'in region.

Chūgoku Mountains

Chūgoku Mountains is a mountain range in the Chūgoku region of western Japan. It runs in an east-west direction and stretches approximately 500 km (311 mi) from Hyōgo Prefecture in the east to the coast of Yamaguchi Prefecture. The range also reaches under the Pacific Ocean.

Chūgoku dialect

The Chūgoku dialect is a group of the Japanese dialects spoken in most of the Chūgoku region and in the northwestern Kansai region. It may be separated into two groups according to the form of the copula.

The Chūgoku Soccer League (中国サッカーリーグ) is a Japanese football league covering the five prefectures of the Chūgoku region; Tottori, Shimane, Okayama, Hiroshima and Yamaguchi. It is one of the nine Japanese Regional Leagues, the fifth league level in the Japanese association football league system.

Chūgoku proportional representation block

The Chūgoku proportional representation block (比例中国ブロック) is one of eleven proportional representation (PR) "blocks", multi-member constituencies for the House of Representatives in the Diet of Japan. It consists of the prefectures of Tottori, Shimane, Okayama, Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi. Following the introduction of proportional voting, Chūgoku elected 13 representatives by PR in the 1996 general election, and 11 since the election of 2000.


  1. 1 2 Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications Statistics Bureau (26 October 2011). "平成 22 年国勢調査の概要" (PDF). Retrieved 6 May 2012.
  2. Chugoku Regional Tourism Promotion Association "Overview of Chugoku Region" Archived 2016-08-07 at the Wayback Machine , Chugoku Regional Tourism Portal Site: Navigate Chugoku. Accessed 15 September 2013.
  3. Hiroshima metro
  4. Okayama metro
  5. Hiroshima 1995-2020 population statistics
  6. Chūgoku region 1920-2000 population statistics


Coordinates: 35°03′N134°04′E / 35.050°N 134.067°E / 35.050; 134.067