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Chugoku region, Japan.

The Chūgoku region (中国地方 Chūgoku-chihō ?) or San'in-San'yō region (山陰山陽地方 San'in san'yō-chihō ?) is the westernmost region of Honshū, the largest island of Japan. It consists of the prefectures of Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Shimane, Tottori, and Okayama.



The name literally means "middle country", a relic of a historical division of Japan into "near countries" (近国 kingoku, but in modern parlance Kinki), "middle countries" (chūgoku), and "far countries" (遠国 ongoku), based on distance from the capital Nara or Kyoto. Strictly speaking, today's Chūgoku covers only the middle countries to the west of Kyoto, along the San'indō (山陰道) and San'yōdō (山陽道) roads.

In Japanese, the characters 中国 and the reading Chūgoku are also used to mean "China". The same characters are used in Chinese to refer to China, but pronounced Zhōngguó lit. "Middle Kingdom" or "Middle Country" (Wade Giles: Chungkuo).

To avoid confusing "Chūgoku region" with China, the Chūgoku region is also called the "San'in-San'yō region". San'in (yin of the mountain) is the northern part facing the Sea of Japan, which indicates the "north side of the Chūgoku Mountains". San'yō (yang of the mountain) is the southern part facing the Inland Sea, which indicates the "south side of the Chūgoku Mountains". These names originated from the the concept of yin yang, yin means the north of a mountain or the south of a river and yang means the south of a mountain or the north of a river. (See also Yin and yang in place names)


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.

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 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.

Overfishing and pollution reduced the productivity of the Inland Sea fishing grounds, and the area concentrated on heavy industry. San'in, however, is less industrialized and relies on agriculture.

Kyūshū, Shikoku, and Kansai neighbor the Chūgoku region.


In fiction

Lian Hearn used a feudal Chūgoku (translated as the Middle Country) as the setting for her Tales of the Otori trilogy.

See also

External links


Coordinates: 35°03′N 134°04′E / 35.05°N 134.067°E / 35.05; 134.067



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