Home‎ > ‎Articles‎ > ‎

Former Provinces of Japan

Former Provinces of Japan
The below map shows the pre-Meiji provinces of Japan.  Utagawa Hiroshige III (1842–1894) in his 1877 series Dai Nippon Bussan Zue (Products of Japan) used these pre-Meiji names to identify the provinces whose industrial activities he depicts.  Though the majority of Japan's former provinces were converted into prefectures by the Meiji government between 1870 and 1876, it was not unusual for these "ancient" names to continue to be used.

click on image to enlarge

The Old/Ancient Provinces in the time of Ieyasu, c. 1600
These provinces were largely in tact until 1871 when they were superseded by prefectures.
click on image to enlarge

Summary Descriptions of the Former Provinces Appearing in the Series
Dai Nippon Bussan Zue (Products of Japan)

Source: Wikipedia entries for each Former Province.

18. Aki Province (安芸国 Aki no kuni) or Geishū (芸州) wasa province in the Chūgoku Region of western Honshū, comprising the western partof what is today Hiroshima Prefecture.

59. Awa Province (安房国 Awa no kuni) was a province of Japan inthe area of modern Chiba Prefecture. It lies on the tip of the BosoPeninsula (房総半島), whose name takes itsfirst kanji from the name of Awa Province and its second from Kazusa and Shimōsa Provinces.Its abbreviated form name was Bōshū (房州) or Anshū (安州). Awa Province in Shikoku phoneticallyhas the same name, but is written with different kanji (阿波国). Awa is classified as one of the provinces of the Tōkaidō. Underthe Engishiki classification system, Awa was ranked as a "middlecountry" (中国) and a "farcountry" (遠国).

14. Awa Province (阿波国 Awa no kuni) was an old province of Japan inthe area that is today a part of Tokushima Prefecture on Shikoku. Awawas bordered by Tosa, Sanuki, and Iyo Provinces. It wassometimes called Ashū (阿州).

26. Awaji Province (淡路国 Awaji no kuni, formerly 淡道) was an old province of Japan covering Awaji Island, between Honshū and Shikoku. Today it is part of Hyōgo Prefecture. It is sometimes called Tanshu (淡州).

20. Bingo Province (備後国 Bingo no kuni) was a province of Japan on the InlandSea side of western Honshū, comprising what is today the eastern part ofHiroshima Prefecture. It was sometimes called Bishū (備州),with Bizen and Bitchu Provinces. Bingo bordered Bitchū, Hōki, Izumo, Iwami, andAki Provinces.

23. Bizen Province (備前国, Bizen no kuni) was a province of Japan on theInland Sea side of Honshū, in what is today the southeastern part of OkayamaPrefecture.  Bizen borders Mimasaka, Harima, and Bitchū Provinces. Bizen's original center was in the modern city of Okayama. From an early timeBizen was one of Japan's main centers for sword smithing.

6. Chikuzen Province (筑前国 Chikuzen no kuni) was an old province of Japaninthe area that is today part of Fukuoka Prefecture in Kyūshū. Itwas sometimes called Chikushū (筑州) or Chikuyō (筑陽), with Chikugo Province. Chikuzen bordered Buzen, Bungo, Chikugo,and Hizen Provinces.

Chishima Province (千島国 Chishima no kuni) was a province of Japan created during the Meiji Era. It originally contained the Kuril Islands from Kunashiri northwards, and later incorporated Shikotan as well. Its original territory is currently occupied by Russia, and its later territory was renounced in the San Francisco Treaty (see Kuril Island conflict) except the southernmost four islands. After 1869, the northern Japanese island was known as Hokkaido; and regional administrative subdivisions were identified, including Chishima Province. The Hokkaido provinces were dissolved in 1882, and replaced with Hakodate Prefecture, Sapporo Prefecture and Nemuro Prefecture. In 1886, the three prefectures were replaced with Hokkaidō-chō (北海道庁).

65. Echigo Province (越後国Echigo no kuni) was an old province in north-central Japan, on the Sea ofJapan side, northernmost part of the Hokurikudō (北陸)Circuit. It bordered on Uzen, Iwashiro, Kōzuke, Shinano, and Etchū Provinces.Today the area is part of Niigata Prefecture, which also includes the islandwhich was the old Sado Province.

46. Echizen Province (越前国 Echizen no kuni) was an old provinceof Japan,which is today the northern part of Fukui Prefecture. It wassometimes called Esshū (越州),with Etchū and Echigo Provinces.

49. Etchū Province (越中国 Etchū no kuni) was an old province in centralHonshū, on the Sea of Japan side. It was sometimes called Esshū (越州), with Echizen and Echigo Provinces. It bordered Echigo,Shinano, Hida, Kaga, and Noto provinces. The area is now called ToyamaPrefecture. The ancient provincial capital was Takaoka, but by the SengokuPeriod the area was usually held by lords from neighboring provinces likeEchigo and Kaga.

27. Harima Province (播磨国 Harima no kuni) or Banshū (播州) was a province of Japan in the partof Honshū that is the southwestern part of present-day HyōgoPrefecture. Harima bordered on Tajima, Tamba, Settsu, Bizen,and Mimasaka Provinces. Its capital was Himeji.

50. Hida Province (飛騨国 Hida no kuni) is an old province locatedin the northern part of Gifu Prefecture. It was sometimes called Hishū (飛州). The province was in the Tōsandō area ofcentral Honshu.

9. Higo Province (肥後国 Higo no kuni) was an old province ofJapan in the area that is today Kumamoto Prefecture on theisland of Kyūshū.[1] It was sometimes called Hishū (肥州), with Hizen Province. Higo bordered on Chikugo, Bungo, Hyūga, Ōsumi,andSatsuma Provinces.

62. Hitachi Province (常陸国, Hitachi no kuni) was an old province ofJapan in the area of Ibaraki Prefecture.  Hitachi Province bordered onIwashiro, Iwaki, Shimousa, and Shimotsuke Provinces.

8. Hizen Province (肥前国 Hizen no kuni) was an old province ofJapan inthe area of Saga and Nagasaki prefectures. It wassometimes called Hishū (肥州),with Higo Province. Hizen bordered on the provinces of Chikuzen and Chikugo.The province was included in Saikaidō. It did not include the regions of Tsushima and Iki thatare now part of modern Nagasaki Prefecture.

3. Hyūga Province(日向国 Hyūga no kuni) was an oldprovince of Japan on the east coast of Kyūshū, corresponding to the modernMiyazaki Prefecture. Hyūga bordered on Bungo, Higo, Ōsumi, and SatsumaProvinces. The ancient capital was near Saito.

41. Iga Province wasa province in the area that is today Mie Prefecture. Iga bordered on Ise, Ōmi, Yamatoand Yamashiro Provinces.

10. Iki Province (壱岐国 Iki no kuni) was a province of Japan whichconsisted of the Iki Islands, now a part of modern NagasakiPrefecture. Its abbreviated name was Isshū (壱州). Iki is classified as one of the provinces of the Saikaidō.Under the Engishiki classification system, Iki was ranked as a“inferior country” (下国) and a "farcountry" (遠国).

42. Ise Province (伊勢国 Ise no kuni) was a province of Japan inthe area of Japan that is today includes most of modern Mie Prefecture. Isebordered on Iga, Kii, Mino, Ōmi, Owari, Shima,and Yamato Provinces. Its abbreviated form name was Seishū (勢州).

68-d. Iwaki Province (磐城国 Iwaki no kuni) was an old province in thearea that is today Fukushima Prefecture and Miyagi Prefecture. It wassometimes called Banshū (磐州).

68-e. Iwashiro Province (岩代国 Iwashiro no kuni) is an old province inthe area of Fukushima Prefecture. It was sometimes called Ganshū (岩州). The province occupies the western half of the centralpart of Fukushima Prefecture; the eastern half is Iwaki Province. Moreprecisely, Date and Adachi Districts in the north belong toIwashiro and Higashishirakawa and Nishishirakawa Districts inthe south belong to Iwaki. The border between the two provinces is the AbukumaRiver.

12. Iyo Province (伊予国, Iyo no kuni) was an old province of Japan inthe area that is today Ehime Prefecture on Shikoku. Iyo bordered on Awa,Sanuki, and Tosa Provinces.

54. Izu Province (伊豆国 Izu no kuni) was a province of Japan in thearea of Shizuoka Prefecture. Izu bordered on Sagami and Suruga Provinces.Its abbreviated form name was Zushū (豆州). The mainland portion of Izu Province, comprising the Izu Peninsula is today theeastern portion of Shizuoka Prefecture and the Izu Islands are now part ofTokyo.

34. Izumi Province (和泉国 Izumi no kuni) was a province of Japan. Itis also referred to as Senshū (泉州). Itlay in Kinai, and its area today composes the south-western part of OsakaPrefecture (south of the Yamato River; not including the city of Osaka itself).Izumi was classified as a lower province in the Engishiki.

47. Kaga Province (加賀国 Kaga no kuni) was an old province in the areathat is today the southern part of Ishikawa Prefecture. Ruled by the Maedaclan, the capital of Kaga was Kanazawa. Kaga bordered on Echizen, Etchū, Hida,and Noto Provinces. It was part of Hokurikudō Circuit.

56. Kai Province (甲斐国 Kai no kuni) was a province of Japan inthe area of Japan that is today Yamanashi Prefecture. Kai bordered on Sagami, Suruga, Shinano and Musashi Provinces.Its abbreviated form name was Kōshū (甲州). Theorigin of its name is uncertain. It lies in central Honshū, west of Tokyo,in a landlocked mountainous region that includes Mount Fuji along itsborder with modern Shizuoka Prefecture.

35. Kawachi Province (河内国 Kawachi no kuni) was a province of Japan inthe eastern part of modern Osaka Prefecture. It originally held thesouthwestern area that was split off into Izumi Province. It was alsoknown as Kashū (河州).

60. Kazusa Province (上総国 Kazusa no kuni) was a province of Japan inthe area of modern Chiba Prefecture. The province was located in themiddle of the Bōsō Peninsula, whose name takes its first kanji fromthe name of Awa Province and its second from Kazusa and Shimōsa provinces.Its abbreviated form name was Sōshū (総州) or Nansō (南総). The borders of Kazusa Province were defined byShimōsa Province to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the east, AwaProvince to the south, and Tokyo Bay to the west. Kazusa wasclassified as one of the provinces of the Tōkaidō.  Under the Engishiki classificationsystem, Kazusa was ranked as a "great country" (大国) and a "far country" in relation to itsdistance from the capital (遠国).

36. Kii Province (紀伊国 Kii no kuni), or Kishū (紀州),was a province of Japan in the part of Honshū that is today Wakayama Prefecture,as well as the southern part of Mie Prefecture.

51. Mikawa Province (三河国 Mikawa no kuni) was an old province in the area thattoday forms the eastern half of Aichi Prefecture. Its abbreviated form name wasSanshū (三州 or 参州).Mikawa bordered on Owari, Mino, Shinano, and Tōtōmi Provinces.   Mikawa is classified as one of the provincesof the Tōkaidō. Under the Engishiki classification system, Mikawa was ranked asa “superior country” (上国) and a “near country” (近国) in terms of its distance from the capital.

45. Mino Province (美濃国 Mino no kuni), one of the old provinces ofJapan, encompassed the southern part of modern-day Gifu Prefecture. Itwas sometimes called Nōshū (濃州).Mino Province bordered Echizen, Hida, Ise, Mikawa, Ōmi, Owari,and Shinano Provinces.

58. Musashi Province (武蔵の国 Musashi no kuni) was a province of Japan,which today comprises Tokyo Metropolis, most of Saitama Prefecture andpart of Kanagawa Prefecture. It was sometimes called Bushū (武州). The province encompassed Kawasaki and Yokohama.Musashi bordered on Kai, Kōzuke, Sagami,Shimōsa, and ShimotsukeProvinces. Musashi was the largest province in the Kantō region.

68. Mutsu Province (陸奥国 Mutsu no kuni) was an old province of Japan inthe area of Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate and Aomori Prefectures andthe municipalities of Kazuno and Kosakain Akita Prefecture.Mutsu Province is also known as Ōshū (奥州) or Michinoku (陸奥 or 道奥). Theterm Ōu (奥羽) is often used torefer to the combined area of Mutsu and the neighboring province Dewawhichmake up the Tōhoku region.

48. Noto Province (能登国 Noto no kuni) was an old province in the areathat is today the northern part of Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan, including theNoto Peninsula (Noto hantō) which is surrounded by the Sea of Japan. Itwas sometimes called Nōshū (能州).Noto bordered on Etchū and Kaga provinces.

40. Ōmi Province (近江国 Ōmi no kuni) is an old province ofJapan, which today comprises Shiga Prefecture. It was one of theprovinces that made up the Tōsandō circuit. Its nickname is Gōshū (江州). Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake, is located at thecenter of the province.  The ancientcapital was near Ōtsu, which was also a major castle town.

1. Ōsumi Province (大隅国 Ōsumi no uni) was an old province of Japan inthe area that is today the eastern part of Kagoshima Prefecture. Itwas sometimes called Gūshū (隅州).Ōsumi bordered on Hyūga and Satsuma Provinces. Osumi'sancient capital was near modern Kokubu.

44. Owari Province (尾張国 Owari no kuni) was a province of Japan inthe area that today forms the western half of Aichi Prefecture, includingthe modern city of Nagoya. The province was created in 646. Owaribordered on Mikawa, Mino, and Ise Provinces. Owari and Minoprovinces were separated by the Sakai River, which means "borderriver." Its abbreviated form name was Bishū (尾州).Owari is classified as one of the provinces of the Tōkaidō. Under the Engishiki classificationsystem, Owari was ranked as a “superior country” (上国)and a “near country” (近国), in relation to itsdistance from the capital.

68-b. Rikuchū Province (陸中国 Rikuchū no kuni) was an old province inthe area of Iwate and Akita Prefectures. It was sometimescalled Rikushū (陸州),with Rikuzen and Mutsu Provinces. Rikuchu covered most ofmodern-day Iwate Prefecture: with the exceptions of Ninohe District, Ninohe City,the northern portion of Hachimantai City, and the northern portion of Kuzumaki Town; KesenDistrict,Rikuzentakata City, Ōfunato City, and the southernportion of Kamaishi City; but also including Kazuno Cityand Kosaka Town in Akita Prefecture. Rikuchū was created shortlyafter the Meiji Restoration out of part of Mutsu Province.

69-c. Rikuzen Province (陸前国 Rikuzen-no kuni) is an old province of Japan inthe area of Miyagi Prefecture (excluding Igu, Katta District and Watari Districts)and parts of Iwate Prefecture (specifically Kesen District). Itwas sometimes called Rikushū (陸州),with Rikuchū and Mutsu Provinces.

66. Sado Province (佐渡国 Sado no kuni) was a province of Japan until1871; since then, it has been a part of Niigata Prefecture. It wassometimes called Sashū (佐州) or Toshū (渡州). It lies on the eponymous Sado Island, off thecoast of Niigata Prefecture (or in the past, Echigo Province). Sado wasfamous for the silver and gold mined on the island. Since 2004 Sado city hascomprised the entire island.

15. Sanuki Province (讃岐国 Sanuki no kuni) was an old province ofJapan on the island of Shikoku, with the same boundaries as modern KagawaPrefecture. It faced the Inland Sea and bordered on Awa and Iyo Provinces.Across Naruto strait it bordered Awaji Province too.

33. Settsu Province (摂津国 Settsu no kuni) was a province of Japan,which today comprises the southeastern part of Hyōgo Prefecture andthe northern part of Osaka Prefecture. It was also referred to as TsuProvince (津国 Tsu no kuni) or Sesshū (摂州). Osaka and Osaka Castle were the maincenter of the province. Most of Settsu's area comprises the modern day citiesof Osaka and Kōbe.

43. Shima Province (志摩国 Shima no kuni) was a province of Japan whichconsisted of a peninsula in the southeastern part of modern Mie Prefecture. Itsabbreviated name was Shishū (志州).Shima bordered on Ise Province to the west, and on Ise Bay onthe north, east and south. Shima is classified as one of the provinces of the Tōkaidō,and was the smallest of all provinces. Under the Engishiki classificationsystem, Shima was ranked as an “inferior country” (下国)and a “near country” (近国), in terms of its distancefrom the capital.

61. Shimōsa Province (下総国 Shimōsa no kuni) was a province of Japan locatedin and around the northern part of modern Chiba Prefecture, eastern SaitamaPrefecture, eastern Tokyo (east coast side of Sumida River), and southwesternIbaraki Prefecture. It was also called Sōshū.

63. Shimotsuke Province (下野国 Shimotsuke no kuni) was a province ofJapan in the area of Japan that is today Tochigi Prefecture. Shimotsukewas bordered by Kōzuke, Hitachi, Mutsuand Shimōsa Provinces.Its abbreviated form name was Yashū (野州).Under the Engishiki classification system, Shimotsuke was ranked as one ofthe 13 "great countries" (大国) interms of importance, and one of the 30 "far countries" (遠国) in terms of distance from the capital. The provincialcapital is located in what is now the city of Tochigi.

57. Shinano Province (信濃国 Shinano no kuni) or Shinshū (信州) is an old province of Japan thatis now present-day Nagano Prefecture. Shinano bordered on Echigo, Etchū, Hida, Kai, Kōzuke, Mikawa, Mino, Musashi, Suruga,and Tōtōmi Provinces. The ancient capital was located near modern-day Matsumoto,which became an important city of the province.

16. Suō Province (周防国 Suō no kuni) was a province of Japan inthe area that is today the eastern part of Yamaguchi Prefecture. Itwas sometimes called Bōshū (防州). Suōbordered on Aki, Iwami, and Nagato Provinces.

53. Suruga Province (駿河国 Suruga no kuni) was an old province in thearea that is today the central part of Shizuoka prefecture. Suruga bordered onIzu, Kai, Sagami, Shinano, and Tōtōmi provinces; and had access to the PacificOcean through Suruga Bay.

28. Tajima Province (但馬国 Tajima no kuni) was an old province of Japan in the area that is today northern Hyōgo Prefecture. It was sometimes called Tanshū (但州). Tajima bordered on Harima, Inaba, Tamba, and Tango provinces. Tajima is the birthplace of Kobe beef, known locally as Tajima beef. Also well-known are its many onsens, beaches, and small ski resorts. Its main industries are forestry, fishing, farming, and tourism.

32. Tanba Province (丹波国 Tanba no kuni) was an old province of Japan.The ambit of its borders encompassed both the central part of modern KyotoPrefecture and the east-central part of Hyōgo Prefecture. It andthe neighboring Tango Province were collectively known as Tanshū (丹州). Besides Tango, Tanba bordered on Harima, Ōmi, Settsu, Tajima, Wakasa,and Yamashiro Provinces.

31. Tango Province (丹後国 Tango no kuni) was an old province inthe area that is today northern Kyoto Prefecture facing the Seaof Japan. Together with Tamba Province, Tango was sometimes called Tanshū (丹州). Tango bordered on Tajima, Tamba, and Wakasaprovinces.

13. Tosa Province (土佐国 Tosa no kuni) is a former province of Japanin the area that is today Kōchi Prefecture on Shikoku. Tosa wasbordered by Iyo and Awa Provinces. It was sometimes called Doshū (土州).

11. Tsushima Province (対馬国 Tsushima no kuni) was an old province ofJapan on Tsushima Island which occupied the area correspondingto modern-day Tsushima, Nagasaki. It was sometimes called Taishū (対州).

67-a. Ugo Province (羽後国 Ugo no kuni) is an old province ofJapan in the area of Akita Prefecture and some parts of YamagataPrefecture (specifically Akumi District). It was sometimescalled Ushū (羽州), with Uzen Province.

39. Wakasa Province (若狭国 Wakasa no kuni) was an old province ofJapan in the area that is today southern Fukui Prefecture. It isalso known as Jakushū (若州) or Reinan (嶺南). Wakasa bordered on Echizen, Ōmi, Tamba, Tango,and Yamashiro Provinces.

38. Yamashiro Province (山城国 Yamashiro no kuni) was a province of Japan,located in Kinai. It overlaps the southern part of modern KyotoPrefecture on Honshū. Aliases include Jōshū (城州), the rare Sanshū (山州),and Yōshū (雍州). It is classified as anupper province in the Engishiki. Yamashiro Province included Kyoto itself,as in 794 AD Yamashiro became the seat of the imperial court, and, duringthe Muromachi Period, was the seat of the Ashikaga Shogunate aswell. The capital remained in Yamashiro until its de facto move to Tokyo inthe 1870s.

37. Yamato Province (大和国 Yamato no kuni) was a province of Japan, locatedin Kinai, corresponding to resent-day Nara Prefecture in Honshū. It was alsocalled Washū (和州).