In Japanese, Japan is called Nippon-koku or Nihon-koku and this is an island state located in the Pacific Ocean. In practical terms, these are 6,852 islands that together form the country of Japan, but it is the four largest islands, Honshu, Hokkaidō, Kyushu and Shikoku that make up the vast majority of the country. With a total area of 377,923 km², Japan is a fairly small country and therefore it is remarkable that it has more than 127 million inhabitants, which ranks the country as the world’s tenth most densely populated country. In the country’s capital alone, which has an area comparable to Skåne, there are about 36 million people living there.
Geography and climate
Japan’s four main islands are located in the western part of the Pacific Ocean, the northernmost being Hokkaidō from which you reach the Okhotsk Sea, which also has a coast to Russia. Farthest to the south are the Ryukyu Islands. Japan’s form and terrain have been strongly influenced by the fact that the country lies between the Eurasian tectonic plate and the Pacific plate. This can be seen through the rock formations that exist on the islands and that there are also several volcanoes here. A known volcano is Mount Fuji, which is practically classified as an active volcano but which is considered dormant and is therefore often referred to as inactive. In Japan, you have four seasons, but according to BRIDGAT, the climate can look a little different depending on where in the country you are. In the north, the climate is temperate, while in the south it offers a subtropical climate. Winters can be long and cold in the north and you often get snowfall with northwest winds. If you instead head south during the winter, you get a warm temperature that is really hot during the summer.
The capital of Japan is called Greater Tokyo and is Tokyo’s collective metropolitan area. This metropolitan area is located on Honshu Island. More than 35 million people live here and thus Stortokyo can be crowned as the world’s most populous metropolitan area.
Earthquakes and tsunamis
As the land lies at the junction between two tectonic plates, the seismic activity is very high. The whole of Japan is regularly hit by earthquakes. In addition, tsunami waves occur and here the historic Great Canoe Earthquake should be mentioned which in 1923 led to more than 140,000 people dying when Tokyo was destroyed by a tsunami wave. In 2011, it was again exposed to a huge tsunami wave after the earthquake at Tōhoku, which despite warning systems managed to surprise the Japanese and which had catastrophic consequences, including a nuclear accident.
The important forest
A large part of Japan’s surface is forest that grows in the mountainous regions of the islands. The forest is important to Japan in several ways. Partly you need it as a raw material to build and partly it helps to bind water so that lower parts of the country are not flooded after heavy rains. However, Japan imports a lot of timber as it is too difficult to access its own forest and exploit it. The country has introduced national forest conservation programs to replant deforested forests. In Japan, there is coniferous forest, temperate forest and coniferous forest and there are areas where you can see a mixture of coniferous and deciduous trees, which has arisen in a completely natural way. Large parts of the forests are private and this means that you are not allowed to move in them freely without a permit.