Michinoku region

Michinoku region

Michinoku (道奥?)[1] is a geographical region of northern Honshu, Japan.[2]



The use of Michinoku as a descriptive term is first recorded in Hitachi-no-kuni Fudoki (常陸国風土記?) (654).

The usage and meaning of the term has evolved along with Japanese expansion northward in the 7th and 8th centuries. The ambit of the region expanded beyond what is today Miyagi Prefecture; and it eventually encompassed all of northern Honshu.

Poetic allusion

Michinoku or the "interior road" alluded to the "end of the line"[3] — virtually the end of the world in Heian times.[4]

    omoi wa michinoku ni
    koi wa suruga ni kayounari
    misomezariseba nakanaka ni
    sora ni wasurete yaminamashi

My longing goes as far as Michinoku,
as my love wanders Suruga;
if it had not been love at first sight,
it would be easy to forget, fading into the distant air.[4]

Modern usage

Modern usage varies, referring refer either to Mutsu Province alone (which at its largest covered present-day Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate and Aomori prefectures)[5] or to both Mutsu and neighboring Dewa Province, which covered all of the Tōhoku region.


  1. ^ The region's name can also be written as 陸奥, which is a cognate of Mutsu.
  2. ^ Hanihara, Kazuro. "Emishi, Ezo and Ainu: An Anthropological Perspective," Japan Review, 1990, 1:37 (PDF p. 3).
  3. ^ Pacific Island Travel, Tohoku
  4. ^ a b Kim, Yung-Hee. (1994). Songs to Make the Dust Dance: the 'Ryōjin hishō' of Twelfth-century Japan, p. 129 at Google Books
  5. ^ McCullough, Helen Craig. (1988). The Tale of the Heike, p. 81 at Google Books; excerpt, "Furthermore, in the old days, the two famous eastern provinces, Dewa and Michinoku, were a single province made up of sixty-six districts, of which twelve were split off to create Dewa."