Japan Geography

Japan Geography


The islands of Japan are the tops of a huge chain of mountains that originally formed part of the Asian continent, from which it separated during the Cenozoic.

The main island, Honshū, with a long and narrow shape, has a maximum width of 241 km and a length of about 1,000 km; no point in Japan is more than 161 km from the sea. The coast of Japan is very large in proportion to the surface of the islands and totals, with its multiple bays and accidents, about 29,751 km. The Pacific coast is very rugged, due to the erosive action of the tides and strong coastal storms.

The west coast of Kyūshū, in the East China Sea, is the most irregular part of the Japanese coast. On the east coast, north of Tokyo, there are some navigable inlets, but Japan’s best bays and ports are to the south. Between Honshū, Shikoku and Kyūshū is the Seto-Naikai or Inland Sea, dotted with islands and connected to the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan (East Sea) by three narrow straits through which ocean storms rarely pass.

According to topschoolsintheusa, the western coast of the islands of Japan, in the Sea of Japan (East Sea), where there are almost no tides, is relatively straight and measures less than 4,830 km; the only notable features in this coastal area are Honshū’s Wakasa and Toyama Bays. Japan has a landscape of high mountains and deep valleys, with many small plains. Due to the alternating mountain and valley sequence and the majority of the soil being rocky, it is estimated that only 12.9% of the Japanese territory is cultivated.

See Geography of Japan

Weather and Seasons

It is a rainy country with high humidity, it has a temperate climate with 4 different well-defined seasons, thanks to its distance from the equator. In any case, the climate of the north is slightly cold temperate (Hokkaidō) with strong summers and great snowfalls in winter, the center of the country is hot, humid summers and short winters and in the south slightly subtropical (Kyūshū) with long, hot and cold summers. humid and short, mild winters.

The climate is sometimes affected by the seasonal winds produced by the cyclonic and anticyclonic centers that form on the continent and in the Pacific (anticyclone or Hawaiian cyclone), generating winds from the continent to the Pacific in winter and from the Pacific to the continent in summer. Typhoon Yagi, passed near the Pacific coast of Japan in September 2006. It reached category 5.

There are two primary factors in the climatological influence: the proximity to the Asian continent and the ocean currents. The weather from June to September is hot and humid due to tropical wind currents that come from the Pacific Ocean and from Southeast Asia. These currents precipitate large amounts of water when they touch land, so that summer is a time of significant rains, which begin in early June and last for about a month.

This is followed by a hot season and from the beginning of August to the beginning of September, a period of typhoons, in which five or six of them pass through Japan and cause significant damage. The annual precipitation of rains is 100 to 200 centimeters, but between 70 and 80 percent of these are concentrated in June and September.

In winter, the high pressure centers of the Siberian area and the low pressure centers of the northern Pacific Ocean generate cold winds that cross Japan from west to east, producing significant snowfalls on the Japanese coast of the Sea of Japan.

As the winds collide with the central mountain ranges, the high altitudes end up precipitating the humidity of these winds in the form of snow and when passing through the Pacific coast of the country they arrive without carrying significant amounts of humidity, so they are not the factor. Main snowfall on the Pacific coast. [citation needed] In addition, this causes that on this coast, the weather in winter is dry and days without clouds, unlike winter on the west coast.

There are two ocean currents that affect the climate model: the warm Kuroshio current and the cold Oyashio current. The Kuroshio Current flows through the Pacific from Taiwan and passes through Japan well north of Tokyo, it is a current that carries a lot of heat to the east coast.

Flora and fauna

The fauna includes 132 species of mammals, 583 species of birds and 66 species of reptiles, batrachians and fish. There are still black and brown bears, foxes and deer. The only primate is the red-faced ape (the Japanese macaque) that inhabits the entire territory of Honshu.

The great variety of Japanese vegetation (about 17,000 species) is due to the climate and relief. The forests cover 67% of the country’s surface and are made up mostly of leafy and coniferous trees: chestnut, beech, maple, thuya, red and black pine, along with birch and ash.

To the west dominates a coniferous forest that grows next to bamboos, magnolias and green chestnut trees. White and red plums, early flowering cherry trees, as well as bamboo and pine trees have become traditional symbols of the country.

Japan Geography