According to ancient Japanese mythology, Japan came into existence with the formation of Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture. It is said that two Japanese Gods named Izanagi and Izanami pulled a pike from the ocean, and the sea water that dripped from it became consolidated, forming Awaji, the first of the Japanese islands. This legend demonstrates Hyogo’s considerable contribution to the formation of Japanese culture in ancient times.
Historically, Hyogo has long played a key role in contribution to transportation routes on land and by sea. It was for this reason that in the 12th century, Hyogo’s capital, Kobe, was chosen to be the site of the national capital of Japan.
Hyogo Prefecture, which has progressively developed centring around the international city of Kobe since the opening of the Port of Kobe in 1868, is a large area that accounts for about 20% of the Kansai Region. Hyogo’s population is about 5.5 million, and the gross prefectural product is over 18 trillion yen, the second largest in Kansai after Osaka.
Due to its proximity to the ancient city of Kyoto, and as a place where many historically significant events occurred, Hyogo has been left with a diversity of historical sites, shrines, and temples, many of which have been designated National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties. A few of the well-known sites in the Hyogo Prefecture include Himeji Castle, which was designated by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage site, Engyoji Temple, and Kakurinji Temple.
In terms of modern attributes, Hyogo Prefecture, with its world-class transportation infrastructure, serves as an international base for research projects that cover a wide range of areas. Research facilities that have been established in Hyogo include the world’s largest synchrotron radiation facility (Spring-8), the International EMECS Centre for the environmental management of enclosed coastal seas, and the WHO Kobe Centre, which conducts human health studies.
As a result of the variety of activities being carried out in Hyogo, the Prefecture is playing a leading role in the formation of a World Metropolis, Kansai” an international exchange base in the Asia-Pacific Region covering various fields such as culture, the economy, and academia.