Are you interested in learning some of the geographical facts of Japan? The Land of the Rising Sun is an endless source of fascination, because it really does seem at times to be like no other country on earth but it has interesting geography too. Join me to explore the geographical facts of Japan.
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One of the most commonly known geographical facts of Japan is that it is an island nation, but did you know that it is actually an archipelago of 6,852 islands? Of those, however, just four of them make up 97% of the total land mass – these islands are Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku and Hokkaido.
Highest Mountain in Japan
A glorious and iconic symbol of the country, Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan. Located on Honshu and standing 12,389 feet (3,776 m) tall, Mount Fuji is classed as an active volcano even though it hasn’t erupted since 1708. It is a much photographed image, being beautiful, often topped with snow and has a delicious reflection in Lake Yamanaka. On a clear day, the mountain can be seen from Tokyo, 62 miles away.
Longest River in Japan
The general geography of Japan is mountainous with lots of narrow valleys. This topography means that rivers are short and rapid-flowing rather than long and wide, but there is also a mass of them - Hokkaido island alone has 316 rivers. The longest river in Japan, however, is on Honshu and is the Shinano. It runs for 228 miles, which is about the same as the River Severn in England and Little River in Arkansas.
The human geography of Japan is very much influenced by the physical geography. Japan’s total land area (all islands) covers 145,925 square miles, but more than 70% is considered unsuitable for use. This is because it is mountainous, forested or just not good for building on. This has resulted in the majority of the population, which is around 125 million, living in coastal areas and because of the lack of usable land, Japan is one of the most densely populated countries on earth.
Biggest Lake in Japan
The title of the largest lake in Japan goes to Lake Biwa. It is a freshwater lake on Honshu Island, northwest of Kyoto. It covers 640.7 square kilometers and more than 400 small rivers flow into it. Lake Biwa is one of the world’s 20 oldest lakes, with its formation dating back to over 4 million years ago. It’s a busy lake – there are beaches on its shores, it acts as a reservoir for Kyoto and Otsu, supports a fishing industry and also cultured pearl farming.
The Volcanoes of Japan
One of the most significant features of Japanese geography is the large number of volcanoes. The number of active volcanoes in Japan is recorded at 108. These volcanoes are a force of destruction, not only on land – the 1923 earthquake centered around Tokyo killed more than 140,000 people – but they also generate Tsunamis, such as the devastating one that hit north Japan on March 11, 2011. This massive tidal wave was caused by the strongest earthquake recorded in Japan’s history.
The Climate of Japan
Visitors to Japan can expect the weather to be different according to which of six zones you find yourself in. In the major cities, you’ll experience a four season year with mild winters and hot and humid summers. Early summer is rainy season but late summer brings typhoon season to most of the country. In the north (Hokkaido) and along the coastline of the Sea of Japan, it’s colder and there are heavy snowfalls in winter. In the south, however, in places like Okinawa, you can enjoy January temperatures of 17 degrees C.
Japan is such a fascinating and glorious country that most travelers are so in awe of the visual, spiritual, and historical attractions that the scenery doesn’t get much of a look in. Admittedly, some of the places that make up the geographical facts of Japan are not as awe-inspiring as parks awash with pink cherry blossoms, gleaming temples, and the neon lights of downtown Tokyo, but they are a big thing of what makes Japan so amazing. What do you think?
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