Kōfu has been reputed through the years as a center where politics, economics, and culture have flourished. Rich in historical landmarks related to Takeda Shingen, the city also boasts museums, cultural centers, the famed and historic Yumura Onsen, and precious gem museums which display many examples from Kōfu's world famous jewelry industry. The city is well-known for its natural splendor; two-thirds of the city area comprises mountains and forests.
The origin of the name of Kōfu is related to the ancestral name of Yamanashi Prefecture, as well as to the city's geographical location. Centuries ago, the area which today is referred to as Yamanashi Prefecture, was once known as Kai Province. At that time, the geographical denominations of ken (prefecture), were not yet in use, and instead, the area was categorized as a fu. Located in the center of Kai, Kōfu's name was derived from a combination of kanji used in both Kai and fu. Alternate pronunciation of the characters resulted in the modern name of Kōfu.
Archaeologists have discovered evidence of human settlement in the Kōfu area dating back as far as 6000 years BCE. However, the town of Kōfu was not formally established until 1519.
Kōfu is designated as the one of the special cities of Japan. The city once had only 193,795 people due to the population decline, but after the amalgamation of Nakamichi and Kamikuishiki(northern) on March 1, 2006, the population went back up to 201,184.