Japan's current prefecture system was established by the Meiji government in July 1871. Although there were initially over 300 prefectures, this number was reduced to 72 in the latter part of 1871, and 47 in 1888. The Local Autonomy Law of 1947 gave more political power to prefectures, and installed prefectural governors and parliaments. Launched in 2008, the series already includes Hokkaido, Kyoto, Shimane, Nagano and Niigata.
Nara is featured on the sixth Prefecture coin. The design pictures the ancient ball game of Kemari being played before the former Imperial Audience Hall at Heijo Palac--which is celebrating its 1300th Anniversary in 2010. This building is now being restored; it has been preserved as a national historic site and has been named a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Also shown is the official flower of Nara--a type of cherry blossom called "Nara-no-yaezakura."
Kemari is a ball game that is said to have come from China to Japan approximately 1,400 years ago and was played by aristocrats during ancient times in Japan. It has been passed down through the generations and is still played today. There are no winners or losers in this game, as the objective is simply to pass the ball to fellow players.
High Res picture of coin available at: http://www.pandaamerica.com/
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