Wakayama Prefecture

Wakayama Prefecture (和歌山, Wakayama-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Kansai region of Honshu.[1]: 1026  Wakayama Prefecture has a population of 944,320 (as of 1 October 2017) and has a geographic area of 4,724 square kilometres (1,824 sq mi). Wakayama Prefecture borders Osaka Prefecture to the north, and Mie Prefecture and Nara Prefecture to the northeast.

Wakayama is the capital and largest city of Wakayama Prefecture, with other major cities including Tanabe, Hashimoto, and Kinokawa.[2]: 1025  Wakayama Prefecture is located on the western coast of the Kii Peninsula on the Kii Channel, connecting the Pacific Ocean and Seto Inland Sea, across from Tokushima Prefecture on the island of Shikoku.

Present-day Wakayama is mostly the western part of the province of Kii.[3]

On July 17–18, 1953, a torrential heavy rain occurred, followed by collapse of levees, river flooding and landslides in a wide area. Many bridges and houses were destroyed. According to an officially confirmed report by the Government of Japan, 1,015 people died, with 5,709 injured and 7,115 houses lost.[citation needed]

As of 31 March 2020, 13 percent of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks, namely the Setonaikai and Yoshino-Kumano National Parks; Kongō-Ikoma-Kisen and Kōya-Ryūjin Quasi-National Parks; and Enju Kaigan, Hatenashi Sanmyaku, Hikigawa, Jōgamori Hokodai, Kōyasanchō Ishimichi-Tamagawakyō, Kozagawa, Nishiarida, Oishi Kōgen, Ōtōsan, Ryūmonzan, Shiramisan-Wadagawakyō, and Shirasaki Kaigan Prefectural Natural Parks.[4]

Since 1996, population of Wakayama Prefecture has kept declining, and since 2010, it has been the only prefecture in Kansai region with population below 1,000,000. In 2017, Wakayama is ranked 40th by population in Japan with a population of 944,320.

Mount Kōya (高野山, Kōya-san) in the Ito District is the headquarters of the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism. It is home to one of the first Japanese style Buddhist temples in Japan and remains a pilgrimage site and an increasingly popular tourist destination as people flock to see its ancient temples set amidst the towering cedar trees at the top of the mountain. The extend for miles throughout the prefecture and together have been recognized as Japan's 11th UNESCO World Heritage Site.[5]

The Kumano Shrines are on the southern tip of the prefecture. Tomogashima (a cluster of four islands) is part of the prefecture.

Wakayama Prefecture ranks first in the production of oranges in Japan. Wakayama has its own brand of oranges, which is produced in Arida District and called 'Arida-Orange'. Arida District, where oranges have been produced for more than 400 years,[6] yields about half of the orange crops in Wakayama today.[7] Furthermore, the yield of Arida-Oranges accounts for about 10 percent of Japanese domestic production of oranges.[8]

According to the survey by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, Wakayama stands first in the production of Japanese apricots (, Ume) in Japan. As of 2016, Wakayama made up about 70 percent of Japanese domestic production of Japanese apricots.[9]

Wakayama Prefecture has friendship and sister relationships with seven places outside Japan:[10] Richmond, Canada; Shandong, People's Republic of China; Pyrénées-Orientales, France; Florida, United States; Sinaloa, Mexico; Bakersfield, California and Galicia, Spain.

Wakayama Prefecture has hot springs such as Shirahama, Kawayu, and Yunomine Onsen.