Fukushima Prefecture (//; Japanese: 福島県, romanized: Fukushima-ken, pronounced [ɸɯ̥kɯɕimaꜜkeɴ]) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Tōhoku region of Honshu. Fukushima Prefecture has a population of 1,810,286 (as of 1 May 2021[update]) and has a geographic area of 13,783 square kilometres (5,322 sq mi). Fukushima Prefecture borders Miyagi Prefecture and Yamagata Prefecture to the north, Niigata Prefecture to the west, Gunma Prefecture to the southwest, and Tochigi Prefecture and Ibaraki Prefecture to the south.
|Subdivisions||Districts: 13, Municipalities: 59|
|• Governor||Masao Uchibori|
|• Total||13,783.90 km2 (5,321.99 sq mi)|
(1 May 2021)
|• Density||130/km2 (340/sq mi)|
|ISO 3166 code||JP-07|
|Bird||Narcissus flycatcher (Ficedula narcissina)|
|Flower||Nemotoshakunage (Rhododendron brachycarpum)|
|Tree||Japanese zelkova (Zelkova serrata)|
Fukushima is the capital and Iwaki is the largest city of Fukushima Prefecture, with other major cities including Kōriyama, Aizuwakamatsu, and Sukagawa. Fukushima Prefecture is located on Japan's eastern Pacific coast at the southernmost part of the Tōhoku region, and is home to Lake Inawashiro, the fourth-largest lake in Japan. Fukushima Prefecture is the third-largest prefecture of Japan (after Hokkaido and Iwate Prefecture) and divided by mountain ranges into the three regions of Aizu, Nakadōri, and Hamadōri.
Classical and feudal periodEdit
The Shirakawa Barrier and the Nakoso Barrier were built around the 5th century to protect 'civilized Japan' from the 'barbarians' to the north. Fukushima became a Province of Mutsu after the Taika Reforms were established in 646.
This region of Japan is also known as Michinoku and Ōshū.
2011 earthquake and subsequent disastersEdit
On Friday, March 11, 2011, 14:46 JST, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture. Shindo measurements throughout the prefecture reached as high as 6-upper in isolated regions of Hama-dōri on the eastern coast and as low as a 2 in portions of the Aizu region in the western part of the prefecture. Fukushima City, located in Naka-dōri and the capital of Fukushima Prefecture, measured 6-lower.
Following the earthquake there were isolated reports of major damage to structures, including the failure of Fujinuma Dam as well as damage from landslides. The earthquake also triggered a massive tsunami that hit the eastern coast of the prefecture and caused widespread destruction and loss of life. In the two years following the earthquake, 1,817 residents of Fukushima Prefecture had either been confirmed dead or were missing as a result of the earthquake and tsunami.
In the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that followed, the outer housings of two of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Ōkuma exploded followed by a partial meltdown and fires at three of the other units. Many residents were evacuated to nearby localities due to the development of a large evacuation zone around the plant. Radiation levels near the plant peaked at 400 mSv/h (millisieverts per hour) after the earthquake and tsunami, due to damage sustained. This resulted in increased recorded radiation levels across Japan. On April 11, 2011, officials upgraded the disaster to a level 7 out of a possible 7, a rare occurrence not seen since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Several months later, officials announced that although the area nearest the melt down were still off limits, areas near the twenty kilometer radial safe zone could start seeing a return of the close to 47,000 residents that had been evacuated.
Fukushima is both the southernmost prefecture of Tōhoku region and the prefecture of Tōhoku region that is closest to Tokyo. With an area size of 13,784 km2 (5,322 sq mi) it is the third-largest prefecture of Japan, behind Hokkaido and Iwate Prefecture. It is divided by mountain ranges into three regions called (from west to east) Aizu, Nakadōri, and Hamadōri.
Fukushima city is located in the Fukushima Basin's southwest area and nearby mountains. Aizuwakamatsu is located in the western part of Fukushima Prefecture, in the southeast part of Aizu basin. Mount Bandai is the highest mountain in the prefecture with an elevation of 1,819 m (5,968 ft). Mount Azuma-kofuji is an active stratovolcano that is 1,705 m (5,594 ft) tall with many onsen nearby. Lake Inawashiro is the 4th largest lake of Japan (103.3 km2 (39.9 sq mi)) in the center of the prefecture.
The coastal Hamadōri region lies on the Pacific Ocean and is the flattest and most temperate region, while the Nakadōri region is the agricultural heart of the prefecture and contains the capital, Fukushima City. The mountainous Aizu region has scenic lakes, lush forests, and snowy winters.
As of April 1, 2012, 13% of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks, namely Bandai-Asahi, Nikkō, and Oze National Parks; Echigo Sanzan-Tadami Quasi-National Park; and eleven Prefectural Natural Parks.
Lake Inawashiro viewed from Mount Bandai
Thirteen cities are located in Fukushima Prefecture:
Towns and villagesEdit
These are the towns and villages in each district:
List of governors of Fukushima Prefecture (from 1947)Edit
The coastal region traditionally specializes in fishing and seafood industries, and is notable for its electric and particularly nuclear power-generating industry, while the upland regions are more focused on agriculture. Thanks to Fukushima's climate, various fruits are grown throughout the year. These include pears, peaches, cherries, grapes, and apples. As of March 2011,[update] the prefecture produced 20.6% of Japan's peaches and 8.7% of cucumbers.
Fukushima also produces rice, that combined with pure water from mountain run-offs, is used to make sake. Some sakes from the region are considered so tasteful that they are served to visiting royalty and world leaders by hosts.
Lacquerware is another popular product from Fukushima. Dating back over four hundred years, the process of making lacquerware involves carving an object out of wood, then putting a lacquer on it and decorating it. Objects made are usually dishes, vases and writing materials.
Legend has it that an ogress, Adachigahara, once roamed the plain after whom it was named. The Adachigahara plain lies close to the city of Fukushima.
Other stories, such as that of a large, strong, red cow that carried wood, influenced toys and superstitions. The Akabeko cow is a small, red papier-mâché cow on a bamboo or wooden frame, and is believed to ease child birth, bring good health, and help children grow up as strong as the cow.
Another superstitious talisman of the region is the Okiagari-koboshi, or self-righting dharma doll. These dolls are seen as bringers of good luck and prosperity because they stand right back up when knocked down.
Kokeshi dolls, while less symbolic, are also a popular traditional craft. They are carved wooden dolls, with large round heads and hand painted bodies. Kokeshi dolls are popular throughout many regions of Japan, but Fukushima is credited as their birthplace.
Notable festivals and eventsEdit
The Nomaoi Festival horse riders dressed in complete samurai attire can be seen racing, chasing wild horses, or having contests that imitate a battle. The history behind the festival and events is over one thousand years old.
During the Waraji Festival, a large (12-meter, 38-ft) straw sandal built by locals is dedicated to a shrine. There is also a traditional Taiwanese dragon dance, or Ryumai, performed by Taiwanese visitors.
The Aizu festival is a celebration of the time of the samurai. It begins with a display of sword dancing and fighting, and is followed by a procession of around five hundred people. The people in the procession carry flags and tools representing well-known feudal lords of long ago, and some are actually dressed like the lords themselves.
- Taimatsu Akashi Fire Festival
A reflection of a long ago time of war, the Taimatsu Akashi Festival consists of men and women carrying large symbolic torches lit with a sacred fire to the top of Mt. Gorozan. Accompanied by drummers, the torchbearers reach the top and light a wooden frame representing an old local castle and the samurai that lived there. In more recent years the festival has been opened up so that anyone wanting to participate may carry a small symbolic torch along with the procession.
- Iizaka's Fighting Festival (けんか祭り, Kenka Matsuri) is held in October
- Nihonmatsu's Lantern Festival (提灯祭り, Chōchin Matsuri) is held from October 4 to 6
- Nihonmatsu's Chrysanthemum doll exhibition (二本松の菊人形, Nihonmatsu no Kiku Ningyō) is held from October 1 to November 23
- Kōriyama City's Uneme Festival (うねめ祭り）is held early August in honor of the legend of Princess Uneme. The festival features a large parade through the city center with thousands of contestants annually, with several festival floats and a giant taiko-drum.
- Date City's Ryozen Taiko Festival (霊山太鼓祭り) is held in August and features multiple troupes of taiko drum players as well as other musical and comedic performances.
Tsuruga castle, a samurai castle originally built in the late 14th century, was occupied by the region's governor in the mid-19th century, during a time of war and governmental instability. Because of this, Aizuwakamatsu was the site of an important battle in the Boshin War, during which 19 teenage members of the Byakkotai committed ritual seppuku suicide. Their graves on Mt. Iimori are a popular tourist attraction.
Kitakata is well known for its distinctive Kitakata ramen noodles and well-preserved traditional storehouse buildings, while Ōuchi-juku in the town of Shimogo retains numerous thatched buildings from the Edo period.
Mount Bandai, in the Bandai-Asahi National Park, erupted in 1888, creating a large crater and numerous lakes, including the picturesque 'Five Coloured Lakes' (Goshiki-numa). Bird watching crowds are not uncommon during migration season here. The area is popular with hikers and skiers. Guided snowshoe tours are also offered in the winter.
The Inawashiro Lake area of Bandai-Asahi National Park is Inawashiro-ko, where the parental home of Hideyo Noguchi (1876–1928) can still be found. It was preserved along with some of Noguchi's belongings and letters as part of a memorial. Noguchi is famous not only for his research on yellow fever, but also for having his face on the 1,000 yen note.
Fruits. Fukushima is known as a "Fruit Kingdom" because of its many seasonal fruits, and the fact that there is fruit being harvested every month of the year. While peaches are the most famous, the prefecture also produces large quantities of cherries, nashi (Japanese pears), grapes, persimmons, and apples.
Fukushima-Gyu is the prefecture's signature beef. The Japanese Black type cattle used to make Fukushima-Gyu are fed, raised, and processed within the prefecture. Only beef with a grade of 2 or 3 can be labeled as "Fukushima-Gyu" (福島牛）
Ikaninjin is shredded carrot and dried squid seasoned with soy sauce, cooking sake, mirin, etc. It is a local cuisine from the northern parts of Fukushima Prefecture. It is primarily made from the late autumn to winter in the household.
Kitakata Ramen is one of the Top 3 Ramen of Japan, along with Sapporo and Hakata. The base is a soy-sauce soup, as historically soy sauce was readily available from the many storehouses around the town. Niboshi (sardines), tonkotsu (pig bones) and sometimes chicken and vegetables are boiled to make the stock. This is then topped with chashu (thinly sliced barbeque pork), spring onions, fermented bamboo shoots, and sometimes narutomaki, a pink and white swirl of cured fish cake.
Mamador is the prefecture's most famous confection. The baked good has a milky red bean flavor center wrapped in a buttery dough. The name means “People who drink mothers’ milk" in Spanish. It is produced by the Sanmangoku Company.
Creambox is prefecture's second famous confection. It is a sweet bread with a thick milk bread and white milk-flavored cream. It is sold in Koriyama City at many bakery and school purchases . The selling price is usually around 100 yen, and in some rare cases, the dough is round. Since it looks simple and does not change much from normal bread when viewed from above, some processing may be performed on the cream, there are things that put almonds or draw the character's face with chocolate 
Sake. The Fukushima Prefecture Sake Brewers Cooperative is made up of nearly 60 sake breweries. Additionally, the Annual Japan Sake Awards has awarded the prefecture the most gold prizes of all of Japan for four years running as of 2016.
- Aizu Railway
- Fukushima Transportation
- JR East
- Yagan Railway
- National Route 4
- National Route 6
- National Route 13 (Fukushima-Yamagata-Shinjo-Yokote-Akita)
- National Route 49
- National Route 113 (Niigata-Murakami-Nagai-Nanyo-Shiroishi-Soma)
- National Route 114
- National Route 115 (Soma-Fukushima-Inawashiro)
- National Route 118
- National Route 121
- National Route 252
- National Route 288
- National Route 289 (Niigata-Tsubame-Uonuma-Tadami-Shirakawa-Iwaki)
- National Route 294
- National Route 349 (Mito-Hitachiota-Iwaki-Tamura-Nihonmatsu-Date-Shibata)
- National Route 352
- National Route 399
- National Route 400
- National Route 401 (Niigata-Agano-Kitakata-Fukushima-Namie)
- National Route 459
- Onahama Port – International and domestic goods, container hub port in Iwaki
- Junko Tabei, the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, and the first woman to ascend all Seven Summits by climbing the highest peak on every continent
- Takeshi Suzuki, an alpine skier and Paralympic athlete.
- Yoshihide Muroya, an aerobatics pilot and race pilot
- Toshiyuki Nishida, an actor best known for his fishing comedy series, Tsuribaka Nisshi ("The Fishing Maniac's Diary")
- Wakatakakage Atsushi, a professional sumo wrestler competing in sumo's top makuuchi division beginning in 2019.
- Mazie K. Hirono, US Senator and former Lieutenant Governor for Hawaii, was born in Fukushima Prefecture in 1947, and moved to Hawaii in 1955
- Hideyo Noguchi, the doctor who contributed to knowledge in the fight against syphilis and yellow fever. The Japanese government created the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize in his honor. This was first awarded in May 2008
- Seishiro Okazaki (January 28, 1890 – July 12, 1951) was a Japanese American healer, martial artist, and founder of Danzan-ryū jujitsu. Born in Kakeda, Date County in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, he immigrated to Hawaii in 1906
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- Fukushima Prefecture Official Website (in Japanese)
- Fukushima Travel - Official Tourism Information (in English)