The Outlines of Japan

Where in the World is Japan?

Japan is located on the west end of the Pacific Ocean, east of Eurasian continent. In latitude, it stretches out 1,875 miles from 45.31 degrees to 26.59 degrees north, which is equivalent to that from Quebec, Canada to Key West, Florida. In longitude, Japan lies between 128.06 degrees to 145.49 degrees east on the Pacific "Ring of Fire".

If you can't get the picture, let's look at the globe. First, look for New York, U.S.A.. Did you find it? After you've found out where New York is, now turn the globe half way ( approximately 180 degrees ) around clock-wise. Now, find the Australian continent on the lower half of the globe. Look straight up northward on the globe from the Australian continent, and you'll find Japan right next to China.

Land of Japan

Japan is an archipelago formed by 4 main islands, Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, with hundreds of smaller islands.

Capital of Japan

Tokyo, the capital of this country, is found on the Pacific (east) coast of Japan.

Land Size

The total land area of this country is approximately 143,000 square miles, which is roughly about the same size as countries such as Italy and U.K.. But in fact, more than 80% of this land consists of mountainous regions, leaving less than 20% of its land suitable for settled residence.

Geographic Features

As the Japanese archipelago lies in the volcano and earthquake belt along the west end of the Pacific Ocean, the country consequently suffers from frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity.

Tens of thousands of years ago, off the eastern shores of Japan ( one ofthe deepest areas of the Pacific ), volcanoes on the floor of the ocean erupted and formed the Japanese Islands. This part of the ocean floor is still unsettled, and causes frequent earthquakes from time to time. But because of this volcanic activity, Japan is also blessed with a large number of hot springs, which turned out to be a pleasant side-effect.

Japan is a mountainous country, with more than 80% of its land covered by forested mountains. And above them all is Mt.Fuji (12,375 feet high ), the highest mountain in Japan. I think many of you may already know this famous mountain. Since Japan is such a mountainous country, rivers in Japan have the characteristsics of running short in distance and having rapid streams. Among such rivers, the longest one is the Shinano River, which runs 229 miles long.

Climate

Japan has a mild climate, moderately warm and moist in general. But the country goes from sub-arctic to semi-tropical, bearing the hallmarks of the lengthwise land which stretches from north to south. In parts of Hokkaido located on the northern part of Japan, winter temperature sometimes drop down to 20 degrees below zero or more, while in the southern islands of Okinawa, the temperature seldom goes below 15 degrees ( centigrade ) even in the dead of winter.

Japan also has an average rainfall of about 40 to 100 inches anually. This comes from the fact that there are two ocean currents, meeting along the eastern coast of Japan. One is the Japan Current called Kuroshio flowing northward from the South Pacific carrying warm air. The other is called Oyashio, which flows down south from the Bering Sea off the Siberian coast, and through the east coast of Hokkaido, bringing cool air on its cold belt of water. When these two currents meet, the warm air and cold air run into each other and create low atmospheric pressure, which brings fairly high humidity throughout the year.

Season

Japan has four seasons spring, summer, fall and winter, each of them clearly defined with its own features and attractions. Though the beginning of each season or how long it lasts differ slightly in each district, generally spring lasts from March to May, summer from June to August, fall from September to November, and winter from December to February.

Web Links

Anything about weather from forecast to meteorological data
Japan Meteorological Agency ( Japanese ) : http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/index.html

Weather informations in English
Japan Meteorological Agency ( English ) : http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html

This season's special sightseeing informations of Tokyo
Tokyo Metro ( Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, German, Italian, Spanish version available ) : http://www.kanko.metro.tokyo.jp/