Yamaguchi Prefecture
Japanese transcription(s)
 • Japanese山口県
 • RōmajiYamaguchi-ken
View of Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture from Iwakuni Castle. The famous Kintai Five Bow Bridge can be seen over the Nishiki River.
View of Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture from Iwakuni Castle. The famous Kintai Five Bow Bridge can be seen over the Nishiki River.
Flag of Yamaguchi Prefecture
Official logo of Yamaguchi Prefecture
Anthem: Yamaguchi kenmin no uta
Location of Yamaguchi Prefecture
RegionChūgoku (Sanyo)
Largest cityShimonoseki
SubdivisionsDistricts: 4, Municipalities: 19
 • GovernorTsugumasa Muraoka
 • Total6,112.30 km2 (2,359.97 sq mi)
 • Rank23rd
 (February 1, 2018)
 • Total1,377,631
 • Rank25th
 • Density225.43/km2 (583.9/sq mi)
ISO 3166 codeJP-35
Symbols of Japan
BirdHooded crane (Grus monacha)
FishJapanese puffer (Takifugu rubripes)
FlowerBitter summer mandarin blossom (Citrus natsudaidai)
TreeRed pine tree (Pinus densiflora)

Yamaguchi Prefecture (山口県, Yamaguchi-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūgoku region of Honshu.[1] Yamaguchi Prefecture has a population of 1,377,631 (1 February 2018) and has a geographic area of 6,112 km2 (2,359 sq mi). Yamaguchi Prefecture borders Shimane Prefecture to the north and Hiroshima Prefecture to the northeast.

Yamaguchi is the capital and Shimonoseki is the largest city of Yamaguchi Prefecture, with other major cities including Ube, Shūnan, and Iwakuni.[2] Yamaguchi Prefecture is located at the western tip of Honshu with coastlines on the Sea of Japan and Seto Inland Sea, and separated from the island of Kyushu by the Kanmon Straits.


See also: List of Historic Sites of Japan (Yamaguchi)

Yamaguchi Prefecture was created by the merger of the provinces of Suō and Nagato.[3] During the rise of the samurai class during the Heian and Kamakura Periods (794–1333), the Ouchi family of Suō Province and the Koto family of Nagato Province gained influence as powerful warrior clans. In the Muromachi period (1336—1573), Ouchi Hiroyo, the 24th ruler of the Ouchi family conquered both areas of Yamaguchi Prefecture. The Ouchi clan imitated the city planning of Kyoto. They gained great wealth through cultural imports from the continent and trade with Korea and Ming Dynasty China. As a result, Yamaguchi came to be known as the "Kyoto of the West," and Ouchi culture flourished. Sue Harutaka defeated the 31st ruler of the Ouchi clan. The Sue clan was then defeated by Mōri Motonari, and the Mōri family gained control of the Chūgoku region. Yamaguchi was ruled as part of the Mōri clan domain during the Sengoku period. Mōri Terumoto was then defeated by Tokugawa Ieyasu in the battle of Sekigahara in 1600. He was forced to give up all his land except for the Suō and Nagato areas (current-day Yamaguchi Prefecture), where he built his castle in Hagi. Mōri sought to strengthen the economic base of the region and increase local production with his Three Whites campaign (salt, rice, and paper).

After Commodore Matthew Perry's opening of Japan, clans from Nagato (also called Chōshū) played a key role in the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate and the establishment of the new imperial government. Four years after the Edo Shogunate was overthrown and the Meiji government formed in 1868, the present Yamaguchi Prefecture was established. The Meiji government brought in many new systems and modern policies, and promoted the introduction of modern industry, though the prefecture was still centered on agriculture during this period. In the Taishō period, from 1912 to 1926, shipbuilding, chemical, machinery, and metal working plants were built in Yamaguchi's harbors in the Seto Inland Sea area. During the post-World War II Shōwa Period, Yamaguchi developed into one of the most industrialized prefectures in the country due to the establishment of petrochemical complexes.[4]


As of April 1, 2012, 7% of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks, namely the Setonaikai National Park; Akiyoshidai, Kita-Nagato Kaigan, and Nishi-Chūgoku Sanchi Quasi-National Parks; and Chōmonkyō, Iwakiyama, Rakanzan, and Toyota Prefectural Natural Parks.[5]

Current municipalities

See also: List of cities in Yamaguchi Prefecture by population

Shimonoseki and Kanmon Strait
Yamaguchi Prefecture is located in Yamaguchi Prefecture
Hagi 萩市
Hikari 光市
Hōfu 防府市
Iwakuni 岩国市
Kudamatsu 下松市
Mine 美祢市
Nagato 長門市
San'yō-Onoda 山陽小野田市
Shimonoseki 下関市
Shūnan 周南市
Ube 宇部市
Yamaguchi (capital) 山口市
Yamaguchi (capital)
Yanai 柳井市
Abu 阿武町
Hirao 平生町
Kaminoseki 上関町
Suō-Ōshima 周防大島町
Tabuse 田布施町
Waki 和木町
Municipalities in Yamaguchi Prefecture      City      Town


Main article: List of mergers in Yamaguchi Prefecture

Economic development

For the purposes of development analysis, Yamaguchi is construed to be part of Northern Kyushu. Although Yamaguchi is not part of the island of Kyushu, it has become a functional satellite of the Kanmon Straits metropolitan area.[6]


Yamaguchi prefecture population pyramid in 2020

Per Japanese census data,[7][8] Yamaguchi prefecture has had negative population growth from 1955 to 1973 and 1985–onwards, today at edge of having less than 1940 population leaving elderly behind.

Historical population
1920 1,041,000—    
1930 1,136,000+9.1%
1940 1,294,000+13.9%
1950 1,541,000+19.1%
1960 1,602,000+4.0%
1970 1,511,000−5.7%
1980 1,587,000+5.0%
1990 1,573,000−0.9%
2000 1,527,964−2.9%
2010 1,451,338−5.0%
2020 1,368,495−5.7%
2023 1,301,479−4.9%
as of june 2023


The most popular place for tourism is Shimonoseki, which has the Karato Fish Market and a large fireworks festival in summer.

Another attraction is the Kintai Bridge in the town of Iwakuni. This five-arched wooden structure is considered a symbol of Western Honshū. The area on the banks of the Nishiki river close to the bridge is considered among the best places in Japan for Hanami, when groups of family and friends gather in early April to view cherry blossoms.

Hagi City is in the north of Yamaguchi. It is a very traditional city. The usual color of Japanese post boxes is red, but in Hagi they are painted green or brown. The Hagi Museum is modeled after a traditional samurai residence. The exhibits are detailed and realistic, and are changed every year. The permanent collection is data about Hagi's history and collections about Takasugi Shinsaku. Hagi also contains a reverberatory furnace which has been designated a World Heritage Site.[9]

Kawara soba (hot tile noodles) is a popular dish in Yamaguchi. It was developed during the Seinan Rebellion when soldiers cooked wild grass and meat on hot tiles. Today people in Yamaguchi create this dish by frying green tea noodles on a hot tile, and arranging a thin fried egg, stewed beef, green onions, and grilled liver on top.

Akiyoshidai Quasi-National Park, which includes Japan's longest cave, the Akiyoshido (秋芳洞), is another popular destination.

Famous festivals and events


High schools



Ferries from Shimonoseki Port International Terminal

Two ferry services provide regular sea transport from the Shimonoseki Port International Terminal: Kanpu Ferry provides round-trip service to Busan, South Korea; the Orient Ferry provides round-trip service to Qingdao and Shanghai, respectively.

Other ferry routes





Toll roads

National highways

Prefectural symbols





Notable people from Yamaguchi Prefecture

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (March 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Sister districts

Yamaguchi Prefecture has alliances with the following five districts.[13][14]


Since the Meiji Restoration in which lower-rank nobility from Chōshū played a major role, many politicians from Yamaguchi have held important positions in national politics. In the post-war era, the most prominent political family from Yamaguchi is the Kishi-Abe/Satō prime ministerial dynasty, and Yamaguchi is leaning solidly towards the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Delegation to the National Diet

Since the electoral reform of the 1990s, Yamaguchi elects four members directly to the House of Representatives. Three of the new single-member districts have been held exclusively by Liberal Democrats as of 2013, the easternmost district bordering Hiroshima was initially won by Shinji Satō (Eisaku Satō's son) in 1996, but went to Democrat Hideo Hiraoka in several later elections. Currently, following the 2021 general election, Yamaguchi's directly elected delegation to the lower house consists of former LDP vice president Masahiko Kōmura (1st district, 12th term), the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, Nobuo Kishi (2nd district, 2nd term, former two-term member of the House of Councillors), and the chairman of the House of Representatives rules committee (as of 190th Diet, January 2016),[15] Yoshimasa Hayashi (3rd district, 1st term). The seat for the 4th district was held by former prime minister Shinzo Abe until his assassination in 2022, and is currently vacant. For the proportional representation segment of the House of Representatives, Yamaguchi forms part of the Chūgoku block.

In the House of Councillors, Yamaguchi is represented by two members, making it one of the currently 31 winner-take-all single-member districts. As of 2013, the two members are Yoshimasa Hayashi (LDP, 4th term, up in 2019), agriculture minister in the 2nd Abe Cabinet, and following the April 2013 by-election to replace Nobuo Kishi, Kiyoshi Ejima (LDP, 1st term, up in 2016), former mayor of Shimonoseki city.


The current governor of Yamaguchi is former MIC bureaucrat Tsugumasa Muraoka. He won the gubernatorial election in February 2014 with more than 60% of the vote against other two candidates, and succeeded Shigetarō Yamamoto who had been hospitalized since October 2013 and resigned in January 2014.

Elected governors of Yamaguchi have been:

  1. Tatsuo Tanaka, 1947–1953 (2 terms, resigned mid-term to enter national politics), the son of pre-war prime minister Baron Giichi Tanaka
  2. Tarō Ozawa, 1953–1960 (2 terms, resigned mid-term to enter national politics), Tanaka's son-in-law
  3. Masayuki Hashimoto, 1960–1976 (4 terms), previously member of the House of Representatives from Yamaguchi for the LDP
  4. Tōru Hirai, 1976–1996 (5 terms), previously Home Affairs Ministry bureaucrat and vice-governor of Yamaguchi under Hashimoto
  5. Sekinari Nii, 1996–2012 (4 terms), previously Home Affairs Ministry bureaucrat and treasurer of Yamaguchi under Hirai
  6. Shigetarō Yamamoto, 2012–2014 (1 term, resigned for health reasons), former LDP candidate for the House of Representatives in Yamaguchi's 2nd district


The Yamaguchi Prefectural Assembly [ja] has 47 members, elected in unified local elections in 15 electoral districts: 5 single-member districts, four two-member districts and six districts that elect each between four and nine members.[16] In the 2015 election, the LDP won a majority. Liberal Democrats form several parliamentary groups together with independents. As of June 8, 2015, the assembly is composed as follows: LDP 24 members, LDP Shinseikai 5, Kōmeitō 5, DPJ/Rengō no Kai 4, LDP Kensei Club 2, JCP 2, SDP/Citizens League 2, and the independent "groups" shinsei club, mushozoku no kai and kusa no ne have one member each.[17]


  1. ^ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Yamaguchi-ken" in Japan Encyclopedia, pp. 1039-1040, p. 1039, at Google Books; "Chūgoku" at p. 127, p. 127, at Google Books.
  2. ^ Nussbaum, "Yamaguchi" at p. 1039, p. 1039, at Google Books.
  3. ^ Nussbaum, "Provinces and prefectures" in p. 780, p. 780, at Google Books.
  4. ^ "The History of Yamaguchi Prefecture". Archived from the original on 2013-05-19. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
  5. ^ "General overview of area figures for Natural Parks by prefecture" (PDF). Ministry of the Environment. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  6. ^ Sakamoto, Hiroshi. (2011). "CGE Analysis of Regional Policy in the Northern Kyushu Area." Kitakyushu: The International Centre for the Study of East Asian Development (ICSEAD), Working Paper Series Vol. 2011-03
  7. ^ Yamaguchi 1995-2020 population statistics
  8. ^ Yamaguchi 1920-2000 population statistics
  9. ^ "HAGI Sightseeing Guide". Burari HAGI aruki_HAGI Sightseeing Guide. Retrieved 2016-05-31.
  10. ^ Kantei bio notes
  11. ^ Tsuchida, Akihiko (6 November 2016). エヴァ新幹線 あすから運行 徳山駅でも出発式 /山口 [EVA Shinkansen starts operating tomorrow]. Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Japan: The Mainichi Newspapers. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  12. ^ 代表取締役会長兼社長 柳井 正 [Managing Director & President Tadashi Yanai]. Nippon Shacho (in Japanese). Japan: Ishin. 2003. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  13. ^ "Yamaguchi Prefecture's International Exchange". Yamaguchi Prefecture official website (in Japanese). Japan: Yamaguchi Prefecture. 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  14. ^ "Thông tin quan hệ hợp tác hữu nghị giữa tỉnh Bình Dương với các địa phương kết nghĩa". songoaivu.binhduong.gov.vn (in Vietnamese). October 31, 2019. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  15. ^ House of Representatives: Leadership, committee chairs and other officials (in Japanese)
  16. ^ Yamaguchi Prefectural Assembly: Electoral districts and district magnitudes (in Japanese)
  17. ^ Yamaguchi Prefectural Assembly: Composition by group (in Japanese)


34°4′N 131°30′E / 34.067°N 131.500°E / 34.067; 131.500