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  • Writer's pictureHirokazu Kobayashi

Shizuoka is Japan's California!

Updated: 6 days ago

Hirokazu Kobayashi

CEO, Green Insight Japan, Inc.

Professor Emeritus and Visiting Professor, University of Shizuoka


When I see someone named Suzuki-san, I ask them, ”Are you from Shizuoka Prefecture?'' the answer is usually correct. However, when I ask someone, “Are you from Shizuoka?'', they sometimes reply, “No, I'm from Hamamatsu.'' The person asking the question thinks of “Shizuoka Prefecture'' by “Shizuoka'', but they are particular about the difference between Hamamatsu and Shizuoka. Shizuoka Prefecture is long from east to west and has six Shinkansen stations. From west to east, the area was formerly known as Enshu (Totomi), Suruga, and Izu, and it has different climates and features. Regarding annual snowfall days, Hamamatsu City has 7.3 days, Shizuoka City has 3.1 days, and Mishima City has 3.6 days. Looking at the number of snowfall days by prefecture, Miyazaki Prefecture is at the bottom with 3.6 days, excluding Okinawa Prefecture. Hence, Shizuoka City has 3.1 days of snowfall, making it the place in Japan other than Okinawa Prefecture that has the least amount of snow. Annual snowfall days are 10.6 in Tokyo and 19.3 in Nagoya. This becomes clear when I return to Shizuoka on the Shinkansen. Even if I shiver on the Tokyo Station or Nagoya Station platform, it is different when I get off at Shizuoka Station. Shizuoka City is where Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate, spent his later years, making it suitable for the rest of our lives. Although winter does not snow here, we can see Mt. Fuji covered in snow almost daily. It is a luxurious place.

Although Shizuoka is located almost in the center of Japan, it is strange that it snows less than in Miyazaki Prefecture in the south. Geologically, three plates collide around Mt. Fuji: the Eurasian plate, the North American plate, and the Philippine Sea plate. As a result, Mt. Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan, Suruga Bay, the deepest coastal sea in Japan, and the Izu Peninsula were created, and the Southern Alps (Akaishi Mountains) were formed. As a result, central Shizuoka Prefecture has a warm climate, with mountains on three sides blocking northerly winds and warm sea currents. It also produced a wealth of agricultural and marine products. In the first year of the Meiji era, former shogunate retainers settled in Makinohara in Shizuoka Prefecture. They began cultivating tea, making this prefecture the number one tea-producing area in Japan. Shimizu Port flourished as a shipbuilding town, bustling with exports. Due to its proximity to the Tokyo metropolitan area, which is a significant consumption area, it is number one in Japan in producing pharmaceuticals, supplements, medical equipment, air conditioners, printing equipment, etc. In addition, Fuji, Hakone, and Izu became world-class tourist destinations.

In other words, Shizuoka is a great place to live, and for bioproduct development companies like mine, it is easy to find partners, which is a significant advantage. When somebody asks me where in the world I would most like to live, my answer without hesitation is, "Climate-wise, California." In this sense, I advocate that “Shizuoka is Japan's California."

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