The area now known as Shizuoka in southcentral Japan has been populated since ancient times. However, it first became significant during the Nara period (710 – 794) when it was called Suruga Province. In the Kamakura period (1185 – 1333), the land was ruled by the Hōjō clan and subsequently the Imagawa clan until the end of the 16th century. Then it was dominated by the Tokugawa shogunate from 1602 until 1868. In 1871, it became the Shizuoka Prefecture and Shizuoka was given city status in 1889. The name means “calm hills.” Today, Shizuoka-shi is the capital of Shizuoka Prefecture with 700,000 residents. In 2003, it merged with neighboring Shimizu City, becoming one of Japan’s largest municipalities with an area encompassing 545 square miles. Across from the inner moat of Sunpu Castle are the headquarters for Shizuoka Prefectural. On the left are the main offices with a spectacular free observation platform on the 21st floor. On the right is the Shizuoka Prefectural Office Annex.