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Kantō region
Map showing location of Kantō region within Japan
The Kantō region in comparison to the rest of Japan
 • Total32,423.9 km2 (12,518.9 sq mi)
 (October 1, 2010)
 • Total42,607,376
 • Density1,300/km2 (3,400/sq mi)
Gross Regional Product
 • TotalJP¥218.563 trillion
US$2.044 trillion
Time zoneUTC+09:00 (JST)
Geofeatures map of Kantō

The Kantō region (関東地方, Kantō-chihō, IPA: [ka(ꜜ)ntoː tɕiꜜhoː]) is a geographical region of Honshu, the largest island of Japan.[2] In a common definition, the region includes the Greater Tokyo Area and encompasses seven prefectures: Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa. Slightly more than 45 percent of the land area within its boundaries is the Kantō Plain. The rest consists of the hills and mountains that form land borders with other regions of Japan.

As the Kantō region contains Tokyo, the capital and largest city of Japan, the region is considered the center of Japan's politics and economy. According to the official census on October 1, 2010, by the Statistics Bureau of Japan, the population was 42,607,376,[3] amounting to approximately one third of the total population of Japan.

Other definitions[edit]

The Kantō regional governors' association (関東地方知事会, Kantō chihō chijikai) assembles the prefectural governors of Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Nagano, and Shizuoka.[4][5]

The Kantō Regional Development Bureau (関東地方整備局, Kantō chihō seibi-kyoku) of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in the national government is responsible for eight prefectures generally (Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Yamanashi) and parts of the waterways in two others (Nagano and Shizuoka).[6]

The Kantō Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry (関東経済産業局, Kantō keizai-sangyō-kyoku) is responsible for eleven prefectures: Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Niigata, Yamanashi, Nagano and Shizuoka.[7]

In the police organization of Japan, the National Police Agency's supervisory office for Kantō (関東管区警察局, Kantō kanku keisatsu-kyoku) is responsible for the Prefectural police departments of Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Niigata, Yamanashi, Nagano and Shizuoka.[8] Tokyo is not part of Kantō or any NPA region, its police has a dedicated liaison office with the national agency of its own.[citation needed]


Kantō region satellite photo

The surface geology of the Kantō Plain is the Quaternary alluvium and diluvium. The low mountain vegetation at an altitude of about 500 to 900 m in and around the plain is an evergreen broad-leaved forest zone. The distribution height range of laurel forests is 900 m in Hakone, about 800 m in Tanzawa and Takao, about 700 m in Okutama, Oku Musashi and Oku Chichibu, about 600 m in Nishijoshu, Akagiyama, Ashio Mountains and Tsukuba Mountains and about 500 m in Kitage and Nasu Mountains.

Over the evergreen broad-leaved forest are deciduous broad-leaved forests such as beech, birch, and Quercus crispula. In addition, coniferous forests such as Abies veitchii and Betula ermanii spread above the deciduous broad-leaved forest from an altitude of about 1100 m higher than the lower limit of the deciduous broad-leaved forest.

Mountains are spread out such as the Taishaku Mountains, Mt. Takahara, Mt. Nasu, Mt. Yamizo, and Mt. The Kantō Plain, which is the largest plain in Japan. Just north of the Enna Hills is Japan's largest alluvial fan Nasuno at the foot of Mt. The Kujukuri Plain. The southern part of Chiba Prefecture is the Boso hills. The area around Kasumigaura in Ibaraki Prefecture is the Joso plateau and Hitachi plateau. Gunma Prefecture and the Chichibu region of Saitama Prefecture are basins. Rivers such as the Arakawa and Edo rivers pour into Tokyo Bay, and the Kinugawa and Tone rivers flow into the Pacific Ocean in Inubōsaki.

Tokyo Bay is surrounded by the Boso Peninsula and the Miura Peninsula, facing the west side of Chiba Prefecture, a part of Tokyo and the east side of Kanagawa Prefecture, and borders the Pacific Ocean from Uraga Suido. The coastal area is an industrial area. The south side of Kanagawa Prefecture faces Sagami Bay and Sagami Nada. The southern coast of Ibaraki Prefecture faces Kashima Nada. The Sagami Trough, which was the epicenter of the two Kanto earthquakes, passes through Sagami Bay. Efforts are being made to take safety measures against earthquakes in various places.

The highest point is the summit of Mt. Nikko-Shirane (Mt. Oku-Shirane) on the border between Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture and Katashina Village, Gunma Prefecture. It is the eighth highest point in Japan's prefectures. It is also the highest point north of Kanto (Kanto, Tohoku, Hokkaido). The highest points of the prefectures are Mt. Sanpo (2,483 m) in Saitama, Mt. Kumotori (2,017 m) in Tokyo, Mt. Hiru (1,673 m) in Kanagawa, Mt. Yamizo (1,022 m) in Ibaraki, and Mt. Atago (408 m) in Chiba. Atagoyama in Chiba Prefecture is the lowest among the highest peaks in each prefecture.

The region experiences a humid subtropical climate with a summer to fall precipitation maximum (Cfa/Cwa).


Mount Nikkō-Shirane in the Kantō region

The heartland of feudal power during the Kamakura period.[citation needed]

In 1591, Tokugawa Ieyasu gave up control of his five provinces (Mikawa, Tōtōmi, Suruga, Shinano, and Kai) and moved all his soldiers and vassals to his new eight provinces in the Kantō region. The proclamation of this decision happened on the same day Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the de facto ruler of Japan at that time, entered Odawara castle following the surrender of the Hōjō clan after the Siege of Odawara (1590).[9] The moment Ieyasu appointed to rule Kantō, he immediately assign his premier vassals such as Ii Naomasa, Honda Tadakatsu, Sakakibara Yasumasa, and Sakai Ietsugu, son of Sakai Tadatsugu, each to control large area of the former Hōjō clan territories in Kantō. Historian such as Kawamura saw this step was meant to bring order the newly subdued population of the area, while also to guard the eastern domains from the influence or threat from the Satomi clan which was not yet submit to the rule of Toyotomi at that time.[10][11] The governors of Kantō region under Ieyasu rule:

Province Territory Koku Daimyo Notes
Kōzuke Province Minowa(later Takasaki Domain) 120,000 Ii Naomasa[12]
Tatebayashi Domain 100,000 Sakakibara Yasumasa[13]
Maebashi Domain 33,000 Hiraiwa Chikayoshi[14]
Shiroi Domain 20,000 Honda Yasushige[15] The total domain revenue was 33,000. However, the 13,000 of its koku revenue were controlled by the father of Yasushige instead, Honda Hirotaka.
Miyazaki(Obata Domain 30,000 Okudaira Nobumasa[16]
Fujioka 30,000 Yoda Yasukatsu (依田康勝)[17]
Ogo Domain 20,000 Makino Yasunari[18]
Yoshii Domain 20,000 Suganuma Sadatsugu[19]
Sōja Domain 12,000 Suwa Yorimizu[20]
Naba Domain 10,000 Matsudaira Ienobu[20]
Shimotsuke Province Minagawa Domain 10,000 Minagawa Hiroteru[21]
Shimōsa Province Yūki Domain & Tsuchiura Castle 101,000 Yuki Hideyasu[22]
Yahagi Domain 40,000 Torii Mototada[23]
Usui Domain 30,000 Sakai Ietsugu[24]
Koga Domain 30,000 Ogasawara Hidemasa[25][26]
Sekiyado Domain 20,000 koku Matsudaira Yasumoto[27]
Yamasaki Domain 12,000 Okabe Nagamori[28]
Ashido Domain 10,000 Kiso Yoshimasa[29]
Moriya Domain 10,000 Suganuma Sadamasa[30]
Tako Domain 10,000 Hoshina Masamitsu[31]
Sakura Domain 10,000 Miura Shigenari (三浦重成)[32][33][34]
Iwatomi Domain 10,000 Hōjō Ujikatsu
Musashi Province Iwatsuki Domain 20,000 Kōriki Kiyonaga
Kisai Domain 20,000 Matsudaira Yasushige[35]
Kawagoe Domain 10,000 koku Sakai Shigetada[36]
Musashi Komuro Domain 10,000 Ina Tadatsugu [37]
Musashi Matsuyama Domain 10,000 Matsudaira Iehiro (松平家広)[38]
Oshi Domain 10,000 Matsudaira Ietada
Hanyu Domain 20,000 Ōkubo Tadachika[39]
Fukaya Domain 10,000 Matsudaira Yasutada[40]
Tōhō Domain 10,000 Matsudaira Yasunaga[41]
Honjō Domain 10,000 Ogasawara Nobumine (小笠原信嶺)
Aho Domain 10,000 Suganuma Sadamitsu[42]
Hachimanyama Domain 10,000 Matsudaira Kiyomune (松平清宗)
Kazusa Province Ōtaki Domain 100,000 Honda Tadakatsu Initially the capital of Domain were in Mangi castle
Kururi Domain 30,000 Ōsuga Tadamasa
Sanuki Domain 20,000 Naitō Ienaga
Naruto Domain 20,000 Ishikawa Yasumichi
Sagami Province Odawara Domain 45,000 Ōkubo Tadayo
Tamanawa Domain 10,000 Honda Masanobu
Izu Province Nirayama Domain 10,000 Naitō Nobunari

Meanwhile, Ieyasu himself establish his personal new seat of power on Edo town, which at that time was an underdeveloped town in Kantō.[43] [a]

In the Edo period, Kanto became the center of modern development. Within the Greater Tokyo Area and especially the Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan area, Kanto houses not only Japan's seat of government but also the nation's largest group of universities and cultural institutions, the greatest population and a large industrial zone. Although most of the Kanto 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.[citation needed]

In between January 1918 and April 1920, Japan was afflicted by Spanish flu pandemic, which claimed more than 400,000 Japanese lives.[citation needed]

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

Operation Coronet, part of Operation Downfall, the proposed Allied invasion of Japan during World War II, was scheduled to land on the Kantō Plain.

The name Kanto literally means "East of the Barrier". The name Kanto is nowadays generally considered to mean the region east (東) of the Hakone Barrier (箱根関). An antonym of Kanto, "West of the Barrier" means the Kansai region, which lies western Honshu and was the center of feudal Japan.[citation needed]

After the Great Kanto earthquake (1923), many people in Kanto started creating art with different varieties of colors. They made art of earthquake and small towns to symbolize the small towns destroyed in the quake.[citation needed]


North and South[edit]

The most often used subdivision of the region is dividing it to "North Kantō" (北関東, Kita-Kantō), consisting of Ibaraki, Tochigi, and Gunma prefectures, and "South Kantō" (南関東, Minami-Kantō), consisting of Saitama (sometimes classified North),[citation needed][by whom?] Chiba, Tokyo Metropolis (sometimes singulated),[citation needed] and Kanagawa prefectures.[citation needed] South Kantō is often regarded as synonymous with the Greater Tokyo Area. As part of Japan's attempts to predict earthquakes, an area roughly corresponding to South Kantō has been designated an 'Area of Intensified Observation' by the Coordinating Committee for Earthquake Prediction.[46]

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

Keirin's South Kantō (南関東, Minami-Kantō) consists of Chiba, Kanagawa, and Shizuoka prefectures.

East and West[edit]

This division is not often but sometimes used.

  • East Kantō (東関東, Higashi-Kantō): Ibaraki, Tochigi, and Chiba prefectures.
  • West Kantō (西関東, Nishi-Kantō): Gunma, Saitama, Tokyo, Kanagawa (and sometimes Yamanashi) prefectures.

Inland and Coastal[edit]

This division is sometimes used in economics and geography. The border can be modified if the topography is taken for prefectural boundaries.

  • Inland Kantō (関東内陸部, Kantō nairiku-bu): Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama (and sometimes Yamanashi) prefectures.
  • Coastal Kantō (関東沿岸部, Kantō engan-bu): Ibaraki, Chiba, Tokyo, and Kanagawa prefectures.

Greater Kantō[edit]

The Japanese national government defines the National Capital Region (首都圏, Shuto-ken) as the Kantō region plus Yamanashi Prefecture. Japan's national public broadcaster NHK uses 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 kilometer in 1991.


The Kantō region largely corresponds to the Tokyo Metropolitan Area with the exception that it does not contain Yamanashi prefecture.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Area has the largest city economy in the world and is one of the major global center of trade and commerce along with New York City, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Paris, Seoul, and London.

Greater Tokyo Area 2005[edit]

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
  • 2005 average exchange rate (1 U.S. Dollar = 110.22 Yen)[47]
Prefecture Gross Prefecture Product
(in billion Yen)
Gross Prefecture Product
(in billion US$)
Tokyo 92,269 837
Kanagawa 31,184 282
Saitama 20,650 187
Chiba 19,917 180
Ibaraki 10,955 99
Tochigi 8,195 74
Gunma 7,550 68


GDP (purchasing power parity)[edit]

Tokyo Tower

The agglomeration of Tokyo is the world's largest economy, with the largest gross metropolitan product at purchasing power parity (PPP) in the world according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers.[49]

Kanto Region Metropolitan Employment Area[edit]

Year 2010 1995 1980
Employed Persons 000's 16,234 16,381 12,760
Production (billion USD) 1,797 1,491 358
Production Manufacturing (billion USD) 216 476 159
Private Capital Stock (billion USD) 3,618 2,631 368
Social Overhead Capital (billion USD) 1,607 1,417 310
1 U.S. Dollar (Japanese yen) 87.780 94.060 226.741

Sources:,[50] Conversion rates - Exchange rates - OECD Data


The population of Kantō region is very similar to that of the Greater Tokyo Area[51][better source needed] except that it does not contain Yamanashi Prefecture and contains the rural populations throughout the region.

Per Japanese census data,[52] and the Kantō region's data,[53] population has continuously grown but the population growth rate has slowed since early 1992.

The Kantō region at 2019 had a population at around 43.23 million people.[54]

Historical population
1920 11,127,000—    
1930 13,773,000+23.8%
1940 16,866,000+22.5%
1950 18,241,000+8.2%
1960 23,003,000+26.1%
1970 29,496,000+28.2%
1980 34,896,000+18.3%
1990 38,542,000+10.4%
2000 40,433,711+4.9%
2010 42,607,376+5.4%
2018 43,300,000+1.6%

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Historian Adam Sadler saw this step as the riskiest move Ieyasu ever made—to leave his home province and rely on the uncertain loyalty of the formerly Hōjō clan samurai in Kantō. In the end however, it worked out brilliantly for Ieyasu. He reformed the Kantō region, controlled and pacified the Hōjō samurai and improved the underlying economic infrastructure of the lands. Also, because Kantō was somewhat isolated from the rest of Japan, Ieyasu was able to ally with daimyos of north-east Japan such as Date Masamune, Mogami Yoshiaki, Satake Yoshishige and Nanbu Nobunao; he was also able to maintain a unique level of autonomy from Toyotomi Hideyoshi's rule. Within a few years, Ieyasu had become the second most powerful daimyo in Japan. It was said by anecdotal proverb that: "Ieyasu won the Empire by retreating."[44] Historian Watanabe Daimon stated that the general opinion usually though Ieyasu was reluctant about his transfer to Kantō. However, Daimon stated the statement of Ieyasu's reluctance were opinions of the later era. Thus Daimon suspected that Ieyasu actually though this transfer positively as he saw huge undeveloped potential by making Edo as his seat of power.[45] Historian Andō yūichirō further added, the true intention of Hideyoshi transfering Ieyasu to Kantō was to weaken the power of Tokugawa clan by moving them from their ancestral land in Mikawa, as he expected the former Hōjō vassals in Kantō would rebel against Ieyasu. However, this proven backfire as Ieyasu not only doubled the territories he control, but he also further added the bulk of new vassals in Kantō to the already impressive political and military power of Tokugawa regime as they already absorbed the army of Imagawa clan and Takeda clan before.[9]


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External links[edit]