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[OT] What's a prefecture?




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kk



Joined: 09 Jan 2005
Posts: 109
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 6:10 pm Reply with quote
I know this is completely off topic, but I've seen many places in Japan that have prefecture in their names like Saitama Prefecture. I've looked up the definition for prefecture on the web, but I still don't really understand it at all. So, I'm just wondering what's exactly a prefecture?


Again, really sorry for being off topic.
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Cassandra



Joined: 13 May 2002
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 6:56 pm Reply with quote
from dictionary.com:

prefecture

n 1: the district administered by a prefect (as in France or Japan or the Roman Empire) 2: the office of prefect

prefect

n : a chief officer or chief magistrate; "the prefect of Paris police"

Therefore a prefecture would be the district administered by a chief officer.
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Bruce Lee



Joined: 04 Feb 2003
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 7:31 pm Reply with quote
In more understandable terms, it's sort of like a state/province or a county.
Wikipedia wrote:

In the Japanese system, the word prefecture is used for translating references to an administrative district, which is about the area of a county in the United States but, on average, about half the population of a state.

The local self-governing system of Japan consists of 2 classes: prefectures as the large area local governing units and municipalities the basic local governing units. In the Eastern sense, the administrative segregation of a unified nation is usually trifold: the nation, large area local governing units, and basic local governing units. Japan fits this pattern.

Japan is divided into 47 prefectures and each prefecture is further divided into municipalities. These prefectures and municipalities have no overlapping districts or uncovered areas. In short, all the residents in Japan are sure to belong to one prefecture and one municipality.

These prefectures and municipalities are not merely set up as the nation's administrative section, but also as corporate bodies independent from the country that possesses their own basic governing areas and local residents as their constituents. They hold administrative power within the districts in question. In Nagasaki and Hokkaido, subprefectures are used as special administrative units, due to peculiarities of governmental evolution and the difficulty in centrally governing certain large or remote areas.

The current prefectural system in Japan was settled in the Meiji era after the new government abolished feudal clans or Han. This is called the "Abolition of the Han system". See Meiji era in History of Japan for historical background of this event.
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pythos



Joined: 19 Aug 2003
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Location: Denver, CO
PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 10:10 am Reply with quote
Yes, prefectures are more like states.

In fact several US states have Japanese sister states. Two examples I know of are Colorado and Yamagata-ken, and Oklahoma and Kyoto-ken.
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The Ramblin' Wreck



Joined: 07 Apr 2003
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 11:09 am Reply with quote
For those of you who care/are curious:

The 47 Prefectures of Japan:

Aichi, Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Ehime, Fukui, Fukuoka, Fukushima, Gifu, Gumma, Hiroshima, Hokkaido, Hyogo, Ibaraki, Ishikawa, Iwate, Kagawa, Kagoshima, Kanagawa, Kochi, Kumamoto, Kyoto, Mie, Miyagi, Miyazaki, Nagano, Nagasaki, Nara, Niigata, Oita, Okayama, Okinawa, Osaka, Saga, Saitama, Shiga, Shimane, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Tokushima, Tokyo, Tottori, Toyama, Wakayama, Yamagata, Yamaguchi, Yamanashi

(per The CIA World Factbook)
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abunai
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 11:46 am Reply with quote
Or you could just go to the Rahmens for the full story... Wink

- abunai
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kk



Joined: 09 Jan 2005
Posts: 109
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 7:34 pm Reply with quote
Oh, okay, so prefectures are like states.
Well, thanks for all the replies and helping me out. Hmmm... I had no idea Tokyo and Kyoto were considered prefectures.
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Tempest
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 10:47 am Reply with quote
Many Japanese prefectures are named after their biggest city, like New York and New York State.

So there is the City of Tokyo, and the Prefecture of Tokyo.

Also, Prefectures are MUCH smaller than states. (Think about it, as large as it s, the USA has 48 mainland states, Japan is much smaller and has 47 prefectures).

-t
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dormcat
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 1:12 pm Reply with quote
tempest wrote:
Many Japanese prefectures are named after their biggest city, like New York and New York State.

That's basically correct, but...

tempest wrote:
So there is the City of Tokyo, and the Prefecture of Tokyo.

You picked the only exception. Anime smallmouth + sweatdrop Tōkyō-to (東京都), officially translated as "Tokyo Metropolitan Government," has no prefecture named after it. It has 26 cities, 23 sectors (but also translated as "cities" on their respective homepages), 1 county, 5 townships, and 8 villages. "To" (都) literally means "capital."

As far as I know, there is only one "" (道), which is Hokkaidō (北海道), and two "fu" (府), Ōsaka-fu (大阪府) and Kyōto-fu (京都府). While all three are translated as "prefecture" officially, "" is more like "territory" while "fu" is more like "municipality." The rest are "ken" (県), which are the most numerous type.
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The Ramblin' Wreck



Joined: 07 Apr 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 2:28 pm Reply with quote
tempest wrote:
Many Japanese prefectures are named after their biggest city, like New York and New York State.

So there is the City of Tokyo, and the Prefecture of Tokyo.

Also, Prefectures are MUCH smaller than states. (Think about it, as large as it s, the USA has 48 mainland states, Japan is much smaller and has 47 prefectures).

-t


Considering Japan is slightly smaller than the State of California, I always visualize the prefectures as counties.
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abunai
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 4:31 pm Reply with quote
In fact, the word we usually translate as "prefectures", todoufuken (都道府県) would be better translated as "administrative divisions", since Tokyo-to, Hokkai-dou, Osaka-fu and Kyoto-fu are not strictly prefectures (ken). The rest are, though.

To (都) = "metropolis" or "capital"
Dou (道) = "district"
Fu (府) = "urban prefecture"
Ken (県) = "prefecture"

Think of Tokyo as an equivalent to NYC or London, with a number of internal subdivisions like the boroughs of those cities. Think of Osaka and Kyoto as state-like cities (like Lübeck in Germany, or perhaps a bit like Washington, D.C.)

BTW, notice that todoufuken is just an amalgam of to, dou, fu and ken.

- abunai
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Abarenbo Shogun



Joined: 19 Jul 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 6:19 pm Reply with quote
pythos wrote:
Yes, prefectures are more like states.

In fact several US states have Japanese sister states. Two examples I know of are Colorado and Yamagata-ken, and Oklahoma and Kyoto-ken.


There's also:

Iowa - Yamanashi
Delaware - Miyagi
Ohio - Saitama
Maryland - Kanagawa

Also, Hawaii has an emotional relationship with Ehime Prefecture due to the incident with the Fishing Training Vessel Ehime-Maru capsizing due to a collision of the USS Greeneville while demonstrating an "Emergency Blow" done for donors of the USS Missouri Memorial. To be specific, they refer to it as sister "municipalities".

US Cities also have Sister Cities with Japan.

Honolulu, HI has Sister City relationships with Uwajima and Hiroshima.
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pythos



Joined: 19 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 7:30 pm Reply with quote
Abarenbo Shogun wrote:


Actually, it depends. I'm just using the terminology that most of the officials (both American and Japanese) used when I interviewed them for my research project. They called the relationship "sister states" in English and ""shimaishuu" in Japanese. When speaking about their sister city relationships they used "sister city" in English and "shimaitoshi" in Japanese.

Just because the Japan Times calls them sister "municipalities" does not mean it is the "official" term. It's just one of many that can be and is used for these types of relationships.
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