Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Kanto region (関東地方 Kantō-chihō) is a geographical area of Honshu, the largest island in Japan. The region encompasses seven prefectures around Tokyo: Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa. Its boundaries are roughly the same as those of the Kanto plain. The plain itself, however, makes up only slightly more than 40 percent of the region. The rest consists of the hills and mountains that border it except on the seaward side.
The heartland of feudal power during the Kamakura period and again in the Edo period, the Kanto became the center of modern development. Within the Greater Tokyo Area and especially the Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan area, the Kanto houses not only Japan's seat of government but also the 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.
The Kanto 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. Smaller cities, farther away from the coast, house substantial light industry. The average population density reached 1,192 persons per square kilometer in 1991.
Operation Coronet, the proposed Allied invasion of Japan during World War II was scheduled to land at the Kanto plain. Most of the United States military bases on the island of Honshu are situated on the Kanto plain. These include Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Yokota Air Base, Yokosuka Naval Base, and Camp Zama.
The name Kanto is generally considered to mean the region east (東) of the Hakone checkpoint (関所). (The name Kanto literally means "East of the Barrier," referring to the checkpoints or barriers that were erected during the Tokugawa period on the Tokaido highway that linked Edo to Kyoto.)
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