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Chugoku (中国地方[1] Chuugoku-chihoo), also known as San-in San-yo (山陰山陽地方 San-in San-yoo-chihoo)[2], is a region of Japan located on Honshu island. It consists of five administrative areas (prefectures), and is home to the cities of Hiroshima and Okayama, among others.

(CC) Image: Christian Günther
Location of Chugoku.

Chugoku comprises the westernmost region of Honshu, and is also divided between San-in (山陰) in the north, where agriculture dominates, and the more industrial Sanyo (山陽 San-yoo) region in the south.[3] These names mean the 'shady' and 'sunny' sides of the mountains respectively. Chugoku further divides itself into five prefectures: Hiroshima and Okayama (both in the Sanyo region), plus Shimane and Tottori (in the Sanin region); Yamaguchi is shared by the north and south of Chugoku.

The total population of the Chugoku region was 7,654,000 in 2006.[4]


  1. The characters 中国 and the Japanese pronunciation Chuugoku are also used to mean 'China'.
  2. The hyphens in San-in and San-yo show that the n sound is in a separate syllable from the following y, so they should not be pronounced as though they are in the same syllable, as they would be in English.
  3. Japan Times: 'Regional Special: Sanin'. 16th November 1999.
  4. Japan Statistical Yearbook: 'Population by Prefecture 1920-2006'. Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. .xls document.

See also