Kantō region

Kantō region

The nihongo|Kantō region|関東地方|Kantō-chihō is a geographical area of Honshū, the largest island of Japan. The region encompasses seven prefectures which overlaps the Greater Tokyo Area: Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa. Within its boundaries, slightly more than 40 percent of the land area is the Kantō plain. The rest consists of the hills and mountains that form the land borders.


The heartland of feudal power during the Kamakura period and again in the Edo period, the Kantō became the center of modern development. Within the Greater Tokyo Area and especially the Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan area, the Kantō houses not only Japan's seat of government but also the largest group of universities and cultural institutions, the greatest population, and a large industrial zone. Although most of the Kantō plain is used for residential, commercial, or industrial construction, it is still farmed. Rice is the principal crop, although the zone around Tokyo and Yokohama has been landscaped to grow garden produce for the metropolitan market.

A watershed moment of Japan's modern history took place in the late Taisho period: The Great Kantō earthquake of 1923. The quake, which claimed more than 100,000 lives and ravaged the Tokyo and Yokohama areas, occurred at a time when Japan was still reeling from the economic recession in reaction to the high-flying years during World War I.

Operation Coronet, the proposed Allied invasion of Japan during World War II was scheduled to land at the Kantō plain. Most of the United States military bases on the island of Honshū are situated on the Kantō plain. These include Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Yokota Air Base, Yokosuka Naval Base, and Camp Zama.

The name Kantō literally means "East of the Barrier." The name "Kantō" is nowadays generally considered to mean the region east (東) of the Hakone checkpoint (関所).

Subdivisions and greater Kantō


North and South

The most often used subdivision of the region is dividing it to nihongo|"North Kantō"|北関東|Kita Kantō consisting of Ibaraki, Tochigi, and Gunma Prefectures and nihongo|"South Kantō"|南関東|Minami-Kantō consisting of Saitama (sometimes classified North), Chiba, the Tokyo Metropolis (sometimes singulated) and Kanagawa Prefectures. South Kantō is often regarded as synonymous with the Greater Tokyo Area.

The Japanese House of Representatives' divides it into the nihongo|North Kantō|北関東|Kita Kantō electorate which consists of Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Saitama Prefectures, Tokyo electorate, and the nihongo|South Kantō|南関東|Minami Kantō electorate which consists of Chiba, Kanagawa and Yamanashi Prefectures. (Note that Yamanashi is out of Kantō region in the orthodox definition.)

East and West

This division is not often but sometimes used.
*: Ibaraki, Tochigi and Chiba Prefectures.
*: Gunma, Saitama, Tokyo, Kanagawa (and sometimes Yamanashi) Prefectures.

Inland and Coastal

This division is sometimes used in economics and geography. The border can be modified if the topography is taken for prefectural boundaries.
*: Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama (and sometimes Yamanashi) Prefectures.
*: Ibaraki, Chiba, Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefectures.

Greater Kantō

Due to influence from Tokyo and partly Nagoya's remoteness from Yamanashi, Nagano and Niigata Prefectures of Kō-shin-etsu subregion and Shizuoka Prefecture in Chūbu region some organisations define multiple versions of "greater Kantō" with their own names for their convenience. The Japanese national government defines the nihongo|National Capital Region|首都圏|Shuto-ken as Kantō region plus Yamanashi Prefecture. Japan's national public broadcaster NHK uses nihongo|Kantō-kō-shin-etsu|関東甲信越| involving Yamanashi, Nagano and Niigata Prefectures for regional programming and administration.


The Kantō region is the most highly developed, urbanized, and industrialized part of Japan. Tokyo and Yokohama form a single industrial complex with a concentration of light and heavy industry along Tokyo Bay. Other major cities in the area include Kawasaki (in Kanagawa Prefecture); Saitama (in Saitama Prefecture); and Chiba (in Chiba Prefecture). Smaller cities, farther away from the coast, house substantial light and automotive industries. The average population density reached 1,192 persons per square kilometre in 1991.

See also

*Geography of Japan
*List of regions in Japan

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