Mie Prefecture (三重県, Mie-ken) is our little oddly-shaped slice of home. Many people will make a temporary (or maybe permanent) life here as JETs, ALTs, English teachers, skilled workers, spouses, or perhaps just as a general token ex-pat.
Mie is an all-but-forgettable place to most Japanese people, and you will often find yourself saying that you leave "near Osaka" or "near Nagoya" when talking to people about your new home. However, it provides an unrivaled opportunity to see into everyday, normal Japanese life, and how truly unquotidian and strange this life can be.
- 1 About the Prefecture
- 2 Regions and Municipalities
- 3 Further Reading
About the Prefecture
Geographically, Mie Prefecture is about smack-dab in the middle of Honshu's Pacific coastline, just about halfway between Aomori-ken at the top and Yamaguchi-ken at the bottom. Mie borders six other prefectures: Aichi to the northeast, Gifu to the north, Shiga and Kyoto to the northwest, Nara to the west, and Wakayama to the south. The eastern edge of the prefecture borders water: Ise Bay in the northern part and the Pacific Ocean in the southern part. Historically, what is known Mie Prefecture was made up of four separate provinces: Iga (including Nabari) was its own province, Shima (including Toba) was its own province, Kii-Nagashima and southward was part of Kii Province, and the rest was part of Ise Province. "Ise" can thus refer to either the shrine, the city, or the old province.
Being composed of many, older provinces, each area of Mie has a distinct character, but the character of Mie in general is very average for a Japanese prefecture. Mie is neither as urban as Tokyo or Osaka, nor is it as rural as the prefectures of Honshu's north coast. In both population and area, it ranks right in the middle of the list of all the prefectures in Japan.
Having no major cities, Mie is not the most urbanized prefecture in Japan, however Mie is fairly close to two of Japan's major metropolitan centers: Osaka and Nagoya, so the big city isn't too terribly far away from the smaller cities and tranquil countryside of Mie.
The weather in Mie is much like the rest of Pacific-side Japan. It is hot and extremely humid in the summer. Winters are cold but the temperature rarely drops below freezing and snow is rare. However it is very windy which can make winter much colder for bicycle-bound JETs and the lack of good heating and insulation in houses can make indoors quite cold as well. Spring and fall are quite pleasant tempureture-wise, but tend to be short-lived; the leaves change color in November and the cherry blossoms pop up at the very beginning of April. Also, it can be a bit colder up in the Iga Plateau which is a bit more mountainous, and a bit warmer down in southern Mie which is slightly more tropical than the rest of the prefecture.
The accents of Mie are not as strong as those found in nothern Honshu or southern Kyushu, but are still noticably different from Standard Japanese. Most of the people in Mie speak kansai-ben, a type of Japanese centered around Osaka that is often described as "warmer" and "louder" than standard Tokyo Japanese.
Elderly citizens can have at times almost indecipherable accents.
Though the Deep South Mie is very rural, the coastline along Ise Bay from Nagoya to Ise contains an almost continual band of urban development. The Tokai area (including the industrial area along Ise Bay) has the strongest manufacturing economy in Japan.
On the other hand, southern Mie is economically dominated by agriculture and fishing.
Regions and Municipalities
Note: Cities are labeled in bold