Japan Table of Contents
The northeastern part of Honshu, called Tohoku (literally, "the northeast"), includes six prefectures. Tohoku, like most of Japan, is hilly or mountainous. Its initial historical settlement occurred between the seventh and ninth centuries A.D., well after Japanese civilization and culture had become firmly established in central and southwestern Japan. Although iron, steel, cement, chemical, pulp, and petroleum-refining industries began developing in the 1960s, Tohoku was traditionally considered the granary of Japan because it supplied Sendai and the Tokyo-Yokohama market with rice and other farm commodities. Tohoku provided 20 percent of the nation's rice crop (see Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing , ch. 4). The climate, however, is harsher than in other parts of Honshu and permits only one crop a year on paddy land.
The inland location of many of the region's lowlands has led to a concentration of much of the population there. Coupled with coastlines that do not favor port development, this settlement pattern resulted in a much greater than usual dependence on land and railroad transportation. Low points in the central mountain range fortunately make communications between lowlands on either side of the range moderately easy. Tourism became a major industry in the Tohoku region, with points of interest including the islands of Matsushima Bay, Lake Towada, the Rikuchu Coastline National Park, and the Bandai-Asahi National Park.
Data as of January 1994