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History Tohoku

In ancient Japan the government was centralized in Kinai (modern-day Kyoto) while Northeastern Japan or Tohoku was divided into two provinces, Dewaand Mutsu. Dewawas located along the western coast of Tohoku (modern-day Yamagata and Akita Prefectures) and could be reached by ship from Kinai, whileMutsu was located along the eastern coast of Tohoku (modern-day Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate and Aomori Prefectures) but was considered landlocked by the government because it was necessary to walk from Dewathrough the Ou Mountain Range to reach there. During this time there were many disputes over the actual boarders of Dewa and Mutsuand the Ou Mountain Range made it even more difficult to draw clear boarder lines between the two provinces. It was not until the first Bakufu (Shoganate Government) was established in Kamakura (near modern-day Tokyo) in 1185 and relationships with Mutsu improved because of proximity did both provinces unite into one known as Ohshu.

After the end of the Kamakura Bakufuin 1333 the government was reestablished in the Kinki region(modern-day Kyoto) and during this period various rulers came to power such as the Emperor, MuromachiBakufuandToyotomiAdministrations, but because of the long distance from northeast Japan the relationship with Ohshuweakened. During this period, Ohshu started to act more as an independent government and separated itself from the central government in Kinki, but with the establishment of the EdoBakufu(modern-day Tokyo) in 1603 as the center for government and then the Meiji Government in 1868Ohshu became more subordinate to central powers again. After theMeiji period beganthe economics and demographics of Tohoku started to worsen when many of the intellectual class of samurai were killed fighting the new modern military, Nobiruchikuko(modern-day Sendai / Ishinomaki Harbor, Miyagi Prefecture), Japan’s first modern harbor of the Meiji period, was destroyed in a typhoon, and many of the farmers started tomove to the south to avoid thepoor farming conditions of the cold northeast. Tohoku was not considered an important market in the development of the new modern Japan.

Today the Tohoku area has increased its population and is the only region in Japan that has access to the Shinkansen (high-speed rail) in allprefectures and has built modern infrastructure including expressways, airports and ports to support the development of its economy. Unfortunately, despite these developments the Tohoku region still suffers from the flight of young people to major cities such Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture resulting in a decrease of population in the more rural areas of Tohoku.

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