Administrative unit (prefecture) in the region Chūbu on the main island Honshū(Japan). There is also a city called Yamanashi about 100 kilometers west of Tokyo, the name means "mountain pear". But the seat of the prefectural administration is the city Kōfu. According to legend, in 718 in the city of Katsunuma, Saint Gyoki planted vines given to him by Buddha Nyorai and built the Daizenji Temple. In honour of the Buddha, Gyoki created a statue called Budo Yakushi (Budo = wine, Yakushi = teacher of medicine; wine was long regarded as a healing medicine in Japan). In the Meiji era (1868-1912) Japan began to open up to Western ideas and techniques. In 1877 the Dainihon Yamanashi Wine Company, the forerunner of today's Mercian Katsunuma Winery, was founded. One year later, Masanari Takano (1852-1923) and Ryuken Tsuchiya (1858-1940) were sent to France to acquire knowledge about viticulture. They took their task very seriously, were present during the whole process from pruning the vines to the cellar work and made many sketches. After two years they came back and their knowledge was the basis for the production that is now beginning. This was not very successful due to a lack of quality and finally Dainihon Yamanashi was dissolved in 1886. Nevertheless, this was the beginning of Japanese viticulture.