The Kanto ("east of the barrier") region encompasses seven prefectures around Tokyo on 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. Once the heartland of feudal power, the Kanto became the center of modern development. Within 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.
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