About a Place Name "Wakayama."
What does the place name "Wakayama" mean?
The first phrase "waka" means a type of a Japanese traditional poetry style called "waka." It consists of 31 syllables (5-7-5-7-7). And the second phrase "yama" means "mountain" or "hill." So, "Wakayama" means "a hill of waka," or "a hill related to waka poetry."
Who named the place "Wakayama"?
In the 16th century, there was a very powerful samurai called Hideyoshi Toyotomi. He succeeded in unifying the whole country of Japan. When he built a castle in present Wakayama City in 1585, he named the castle "Wakayama Castle" after a holy place of waka poetry in Waka-no-ura in present Wakayama City. In Waka-no-ura, a deity of waka poetry has been enshrined at Tamatsu-shima Shrine. Actually, the place name "Waka-no-ura" means "inlet of waka."
When did people generally begin to use the place name "Wakayama"?
In the Edo period until 1867, the fuedal domain named "Ki-shu," which was dominated by the lords of Wakayama Castle, seems to have been called "Wakayama Han (Domain)."
And in 1871, when the new Meiji Government of Japan abolished domains (called "han") and installed a new prefectures (called "ken"), they officially began to call the area in the western part of the Kii Peninsula "Wakayama Prefecture" ("Wakayama Ken" in Japanese). And then, in 1889, when a new organization of municipality began, Wakayama City officially started.
About Wakayama City
What is the geographical condition of the city?
Wakayama City is located in a flat area in the mouth of a big river called Ki-no-kawa. The river flows from a central part of the Kii Peninsula.
How many people live there?
About 360,000 people lives in the city now. It is about as much as 39 % of the prefectural population.
In 1889, when Wakayama City started, the population was the 12th largest in Japan. Currently, it is merely the 55th largest. However, it might mean it has a rich background in history.
About Wakayama Prefecture
How much does Wakayama Prefecture occupy in Japan?
The next table shows the proportion of various things concerning Wakayama Prefecture to the whole of Japan. (This summary is based on a report published in 2020)
|Rice Paddy Area
|Manufacturing Shipment Value
||¥ 2,640 billion
||¥ 112 billion
||¥ 7.6 billion
||¥ 70.2 billion
||¥ 5.9 billion
|Japanese Apricot Fruit Crop Yield
||Satsuma Mandarin Crop Yield
||Persimmon Crop Yield
What can be said from the table?
Wakayama Prefecture shares 1.3% of the whole land of Japan. And only 0.7% of the whole population live there. It is because the area is so mountainous that habitable areas are limited for its size. And flat areas are concentrated only in mouths of big rivers.
Consequently, rice paddy areas and rice production are not as much as in other similar-sized prefectures.
On the other hand, thanks to efforts of the local people who have focused on fruit growing, the prefecture has become abundant in groves and orchards for citrus fruits, Japanese apricot fruits (ume), persimmons, peaches and others.
Several big factories for iron manufacturing, oil refining, chemical production, industrial machines and others are located in the northern seashore.