Geography: Japan's geography (2023)

to press|vicinity Geography: Japan's geography (1)

A country's geography influences the development of its society and culture in many ways. Its position in relation to other nations affects cross-cultural influences; its size affects demographics, the development of social structures and its position in the international community. Its topography largely determines where and how its people make their living, and its climate affects its agriculture and lifestyle. The following maps show these and other aspects of geography's influence on national development.

composition, position and relative size

Japan is a Shimaguni (island country): The Japanese archipelago (island chain) consists of four main islands - Honsh�, Shikoku, Ky�sh� and Hokkaid� - and thousands of smaller surrounding islands (cfcard 1). It lies off the Pacific coast of mainland Asia; At the closest point, the main Japanese islands are 120 miles from the mainland. (Seecard 2). Compare this to another Shimaguni, UK located at the narrowest point of the English Channel just 21 miles from Europe.

The total land area of ​​the Japanese islands is approximately 142,000 square miles. As you can see fromcard 2andcard 3, it is a very small country compared to the vast mainland of Asia or the United States where it is smaller than the only albeit large state of California. It seems even smaller considering how little of its land is useful for farming or housing, as we'll discuss below. However, China, the United States and some other giants of the world are the unusual ones. Japan doesn't seem that small when compared to some of the nations of Western Europe. It's bigger than Italy, for example. (Seecard 4).


The Japanese islands are covered by mountains, most of which are heavily forested, and crossed by short, swift rivers. Few of the rivers are navigable. Relatively little of Japan's land mass is suitable for agriculture - only about 15 percent, the same land that is also best suited for living (cfcard 5). Population and agricultural land are therefore concentrated together, as you will see when they overlapcard 5ancard 6.

Japan's islands are very beautiful and varied, but they can be treacherous. Earthquakes are common and result from a fault circling the Pacific Ocean that also causes earthquakes on the west coast of North and South America. They are common in Japan and occur more frequently than is felt. Despite this, every three days in T�ky� one occurs that is large enough for scientists to notice. Occasionally they do serious damage. The mountains of Japan are home to 10 percent of the world's most active volcanoes. Mt. Fuji, Japan's most famous mountain and one of the most beautiful and revered, is a dormant volcano that last erupted in 1707. Occasionally, tidal waves are created by underwater earthquakes, and sometimes typhoons hit Japan as they move north from the South Pacific.

The Japanese, however, are more struck by the beauty and wealth of their country than by its dangers. Although its topography presents difficulties, its climate is more benevolent.

(Video) Japan's Geography explained in under 3 Minutes


The Japanese islands are mostly in the temperate zone; How do you lookcard 7, they extend north-south at latitudes similar to that of the eastern United States, from about 45 degrees north to about 20 degrees south. The capital T�ky� is in a similar position to Los Angeles or Washington in the United States (cfcard 7).

But latitude and longitude aren't the only things that affect climate. Ocean currents such as the Kuroshio and Tsushima currents from the south warm the Pacific side of the islands and those near the Korean Strait, particularly southbound, while the cold Kurile current coming south toward Hokkaid brings abundant nourishment of coastal waters and improves fishing (cfcard 8).

On the other hand, cold winds blow eastward from the North Asian continent across the Sea of ​​Japan, dumping deep, heavy snow on the northwestern coasts of Japan. There is a marked contrast between the coastal winters overlooking the Sea of ​​Japan, Japan's "snow country" where people often have to dig under the snow to get from house to house, and the clear, crisp winters of the east coast , with little snow and dry winters on the more populated side of the main islands.

But even the eastern shores experience plenty of rainfall in Japan, as seasonal winds carry moisture into the country from the surrounding waters. In fact, in addition to the four seasons that resemble those of our temperate United States, there is a wet season that lasts about a month in June, followed by a hot summer. This is important for growing rice, Japan's traditional staple.

Geography: Japan's geography (2)

Area: 377,708 square kilometers
(145,834 square miles)
Coastline: 33,986 kilometers
(18,487 miles)

From Japan Today, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan 1983

(Video) Geography Now! Japan

(1) Essay written by Dr. Amy Vladeck Heinrich, Director, C.V. Starr East Asian Library, Columbia University.

card exercises

1.Japan: The IslandsNote on Map 1: The ownership of the islands of Kunashiri, Etorofu, Habomai and Shikotan (islands northeast of Hokkaido) is disputed. The USSR then occupied 1945 and Russia continues to claim sovereignty over them. Japan claims these northern territories as original Japanese territory unaffected by the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty. The problem is an ongoing problem in Russian-Japanese relations.

2.Japan and Asia

3.Japan and California (comparison)

4.Japan and Italy (comparison)


(Video) Japan: History, Geography, Economy & Culture

6.population density

7.Latitudes / Japan and the USA

8.winds and currents

9.Japan: A Quiz

1) Lookcard 2. Given Japan's relative proximity to China and Korea, what can you imagine about Japan's traditional relationship with these two countries?

2) In pre-modern times, when travel and communication were difficult because of Japan's mountainous landscape, the Japanese did not consider their country small. Look again at a href="map2.jpeg" onClick="return popitup('map2.jpeg')">map 2,card 3, andcard 4. What modern developments and requirements make it seem small today?

3) Examine and comparecard 7andcard 8. Based on what you can see about the relative latitudes of Japan and the eastern United States and what you have read about the warm and cold seas and wind currents that affect Japan, discuss the climate zones you found in the A , B, and C

4) acard 9, paste the names of:

(Video) Why Japan's Geography Is Absolutely Terrible

    a) the four large islands (denoted by ====)
    b) the six major cities (denoted by);
    c) the great sea and wind currents (shown by -----) and
    d) the surrounding oceans and seas (represented by ^^^^^).

    Try to do this exercise without consulting the other cards.

5) Imagine you are a tourist in Japan: It's January. First you travel to T�ky� and Kyoto to spend a week there. Then it's off to the northwest coast of the island of Honsh� for a week.

Write a postcard to your family back home and describe the weather during your week in Tuky and Kyoto.

In your second week, write another postcard describing the weather on the northwest coast of Honsh�.

6) Japan is about the same size as California in terms of land area, but ranks sixth in the world in terms of population (behind China, India, the United States, Indonesia and Brazil).

How would you describe Japan's greatness?

Why is it important to know both the land area and the population of a country?

(Video) Japan Geography/Country of Japan

7) Use the following information to compare Japan and the United States:

Japan United States
Total land area 145,946 square miles 3,615,054 square miles
population See current estimate for Japan See current estimate for US
Percent of land that can be cultivated for grain 15 percent 46 percent
  • How many times larger than Japan is the United States in land area?
  • How much larger is the US population?
  • How many people live in one square kilometer in Japan? (people divided by square miles) In the United States?
  • How many people are there per area of ​​land that can be cultivated in Japan? In the United States?
  • What conclusions can you draw about the population density (people per square mile) in Japan and the United States?
  • What conclusions can you draw for agriculture in the two countries?

Contemporary Japan: A Teaching Workbook | „Columbia University, East Asian Curriculum Project

Asia for Educators |

to press|vicinity


What are 3 important geographical features of Japan? ›

The terrain is mostly rugged and mountainous with 66% forest. The population is clustered in urban areas on the coast, plains and valleys. Japan is located in the northwestern Ring of Fire on multiple tectonic plates. East of the Japanese archipelago are three oceanic trenches.

What are the geography of Japan? ›

Located in the Circum-Pacific "ring of fire", Japan is predominantly mountainous - about three-fourths of the national land is mountains - and long mountain ranges form the backbone of the archipelago. The dramatic Japan Alps, studded with 3,000-meter peaks, bisect the central portion of Honshu, the main island.

What geographical term best describes Japan's geography? ›

Japan is an archipelago, or string of islands, on the eastern edge of Asia. There are four main islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu.

What are the 5 themes of geography of Japan? ›

Inform students that the Five Themes of Geography consist of: Location, Place, Human Environment Interaction (HEI), Movement, and Regions.

What are 4 major geographical features? ›

Mountains, hills, plateaus, and plains are the four major types of landforms. Minor landforms include buttes, canyons, valleys, and basins.

Why was Japan's geography important? ›

The terrain is mountainous, which means there is not a lot of good land for farming. Because of the geography, the Japanese relied on the sea for many aspects of daily life. Trade with China and Korea became important to get the resources they needed.

What is Japan's geography and climate? ›

Japan has four distinct seasons with a climate ranging from subarctic in the north to subtropical in the south. Conditions are different between the Pacific side and the Sea of Japan side. Northern Japan has warm summers and very cold winters with heavy snow on the Sea of Japan side and in mountainous areas.

What is Japan's geography like quizlet? ›

Japan is an archipelago made up of thousands of islands spreading around 1,800 miles (north to south) and 1,000 miles (west to east). The largest Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Hokkaido.

How was Japan formed geography? ›

Japan was originally attached to the eastern coast of the Eurasian continent. The subducting plates, being deeper than the Eurasian plate, pulled Japan eastward, opening the Sea of Japan around 15 million years ago. The Strait of Tartary and the Korea Strait opened much later.

How did Japan form geographically? ›

Geohistorically, Japan had been built by the subduction tectonics including accretionary tectonics, large scale metamorphism, magmatism and volcanism. Its geology is composed mainly of accretionary complex, metamorphic rocks, plutonic and volcanic rocks and surface sediments.

What are the 5 geographical terms? ›

Geographers study the processes that cause changes like these. To help you understand how geographers think about the world, consider geography's five themes—location, place, region, movement, and human-environment interaction.

What questions do the 5 themes of geography answer? ›

The five themes of geography help answer these questions: • Location: Where is it located? Place: What's it like there? Human/Environment Interaction: What is the relationship between humans and their environment • Movement: How and why are places connected with one another?

How many regions are there in Japan? ›

Japan is divided into 9 regions, which are split into 47 smaller prefectures.

What are the 7 types of geography? ›

Learn about the different branches of geography in this article.
Here are some example of disciplines in human geography:
  • cultural geography.
  • economic geography.
  • health geography.
  • historical geography.
  • political geography.
  • population geography.
  • rural geography.
  • social geography.
Apr 16, 2022

What are the 3 types of geography? ›

There are three main strands of geography:
  • Physical geography: nature and the effects it has on people and/or the environment.
  • Human geography: concerned with people.
  • Environmental geography: how people can harm or protect the environment.

What are 3 examples of physical geography? ›

These include the study of landform features and processes (geomorphology); rock types and natural resources (geology); soils (pedology); rivers, lakes and oceans (hydrology); weather and climate (meteorology); and flora and fauna (biogeography).

How did geography shape Japanese society? ›

How did Japan's geography shape its society? Being surrounded by sea made it easy to travel from island to island for merchants to trade. The mountains and terrain forced the Japanese to turn to the sea to live and rely on fish and seafood for diet.

What is one advantage of Japan's geography? ›

Advantage: The mild temperatures and heavy rainfall is an advantage of Japan's geography because it is a flat plain and provides fertile land, plus central location.

How does Japan's geography influence food? ›

Rice was abundant, mainly because of the mild and humid climate, perfect for growing rice. However, only a mere 15% of the land is flat enough for farming. The mountainous terrain not only made it hard to farm and travel, but it also separated the Japanese civilizations.

Does Japan have 4 seasons? ›

Experience All 4 Season in Japan

There are four seasons in Japan, spring, summer, fall, and winter. Each season has specific sceneries and experiences to offer. For each season, there are many different ways to enjoy places in Japan and a new discovery always awaits.

What is Japan's best known for? ›

Japan is known for everything from onsen hot springs and kabuki baths (dating to the 6th and 16th centuries, respectively) to all-night neon-lit dance parties, anime, and sushi boat restaurants, all of which are decidedly more modern.

What are the 4 seasons like in Japan? ›

The period from March to May is spring, June to August is summer, September to November is autumn, and December to February is winter. Depending on the season, the temperature and climate vary significantly.

Where is Japan located geography? ›

Japan, island country lying off the east coast of Asia. It consists of a great string of islands in a northeast-southwest arc that stretches for approximately 1,500 miles (2,400 km) through the western North Pacific Ocean.

What was Japan's real name? ›

Historians say the Japanese called their country Yamato in its early history, and they began using Nippon around the seventh century. Nippon and Nihon are used interchangeably as the country's name.

What are 20 facts about Japan? ›

Unusual facts about Japan
  • Late-night dancing was illegal until 2015. ...
  • Nearly all smartphones sold are waterproof because people use them even in the bath. ...
  • The world's oldest company was from Japan. ...
  • Japan consists of 6852 islands. ...
  • Japan has a festival dedicated to the phallus. ...
  • Taking a power nap at work is socially acceptable.
Jun 11, 2020

How old is Japan geologically? ›

The geological history of Japan commenced with the breakup of the Rodinia super continent, at about 750 Ma.

What is the climate of Japan? ›

The climate of Japan is cold in the north (where snow and ice dominate in winter), temperate in the central regions, and almost tropical on the small southern islands. The rains are abundant almost everywhere, and between summer and autumn the country is hit by torrential rains and typhoons.

Why is Japan geologically active? ›

The Geology of Japan

The Japanese Islands are situated across four tectonic plates: the Pacific, Eurasian, North American and Philippine Sea plates. There is active, ongoing subduction between these plates, resulting in the intense seismic and volcanic activity experienced across the islands of Japan.

What are the 2 types of location? ›

Geographers can describe the location of a place in one of two ways: absolute and relative. Both are descriptives of where a geographic location is. Let's learn about the difference between absolute and relative location.

What are the 4 types of geography? ›

Different Types of Geography
  • Human Geography.
  • Physical Geography.
  • Environmental Geography.
  • Cartography.
Mar 26, 2019

What are the 10 types of geography? ›

  • Physical geography can be divided into many broad categories, including:
  • Biogeography.
  • Climatology and meteorology.
  • Coastal geography.
  • Environmental management.
  • Geomorphology.
  • Glaciology.
  • Hydrology and hydrography.

What is Japan's main culture? ›

Deeply rooted in Japan's unique Shinto religion and traditional agrarian lifestyle, Japan is a country with a vibrant “matsuri” culture. Matsuri is the Japanese word for festival.

What 3 cultures influenced Japan? ›

The influence of Buddhism, Confucianism, and other elements of Chinese culture had a profound impact on the development of Japanese culture.

What are Japan traditions? ›

Some of the interesting traditions that surprise foreigners are: Taking off shoes when entering someone's house. Wearing a mask when sick. Not shaking hands and not hugging when meeting with loved ones. Bowing 45 degrees to show respect.

What are the 2 main questions geography tries to answer? ›

Hypotheses guide the search for information. Geography is distinguished by the types of questions it asks—the “where” and “why there” of an issue or problem.

What are the 5 Themes of Geography 6th grade test? ›

You can make the task easier by using the five themes of geography: location, regions, place, movement, and human-environment interaction.

What is a fun way to remember the 5 Themes of Geography? ›

MR HELP is a mnemonic device that can be used to help remember what the 5 Themes of Geography are. Take the first letter of each Theme to create the word MR HELP. Movement. Region. Human-Environment.

What was Japan's religion? ›

Shinto and Buddhism are Japan's two major religions. Shinto is as old as the Japanese culture, while Buddhism was imported from the mainland in the 6th century.

Is Mount Fuji volcanic? ›

Mount Fuji, or Fuji-san in Japanese, is actually comprised of several overlapping volcanoes that began erupting in the Pleistocene Epoch (1.8 million to approximately 10,000 years ago). The currently active volcano, known as Younger Fuji, began forming approximately 11,000 to 8,000 years ago.

What culture region is Japan a part of? ›

Japan (Japanese: 日本, Nippon or Nihon, and formally 日本国, Nihonkoku) is an island country in East Asia.

What are 5 common geographic features? ›

They include land forms, bodies of water, climate, soils, natural vegetation, and animal life.

What is Japan best known for? ›

Japan is known for everything from onsen hot springs and kabuki baths (dating to the 6th and 16th centuries, respectively) to all-night neon-lit dance parties, anime, and sushi boat restaurants, all of which are decidedly more modern.

What are the 6 types of geography? ›

Geographers have identified six essential elements of geography.
  • The World in Spatial Terms.
  • Places and Regions.
  • Physical Systems.
  • Human Systems.
  • Environment and Society.
  • Uses of Geography.
Dec 20, 2021

What is the geography and climate of Japan? ›

The winter is mild and the summer is hot and humid. There is a rainy season in early summer, and typhoons hit parts of the country every year, especially during late summer. The climate of the northern island of Hokkaido and the Sea of Japan coast is colder, and snow falls in large amounts.

How many islands in Japan? ›

Japan is an island country which has nearly 7000 islands, of which only 421 islands are inhabited.

What are 10 facts about Japan? ›

10 Fun Facts About Japan
  • Japan is mostly mountains. ...
  • There's a Rabbit Island in Japan. ...
  • The number four is extremely unlucky. ...
  • There's a bizarre naked festival. ...
  • 7. Japanese trains are some of the most punctual in the world. ...
  • The Japanese love wacky flavours. ...
  • Everyone has their own seal. ...
  • Anti-ninja floors are a thing.
Sep 1, 2017


1. Why Japan's Geography Sucks
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6. Prefectures of JAPAN (Geography Now!)
(Geography Now)


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