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Geography, Weather, & Wildlife of Japan

Geography

Japanese Geography - Mt. Fuji
Mt. Fuji

Japan is a nation that consists of a number of islands off the east coast of mainland Asia. On its west is the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. To its east is the Pacific Ocean. Japan's closest neighbors are South Korea to the west, Taiwan to the south, and its closest geographic neighbor, Russia to its north.

Most of Japan's land area is contained on the islands of Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Hokkaido, the most northerly of these islands is hilly, but also very fertile, although it contains no true mountains. Honshu is where most of the population lives, including the city of Tokyo and this island consists of numerous plateaus and volcanoes, including the famous Mt. Fuji. Both Shikoku and Kyushu are more mountainous and hence more isolated, although the coasts are still home to numerous cities.

Weather

Japanese Geography - Oirase River
Oirase River

Japan is a very seasonally and regionally diverse country as it stretches north to south and contains every landscape from mountains to near tropical islands. Summers in the south and southern islands are tropical in nature with high humidity, with possible typhoons hitting in late summer. Meanwhile, the most northerly islands and mountains are cool, while Tokyo falls in the middle with average highs of about 85° F (30° C). Winters are just as diverse as the south gets cooler, but still remains in the 70s° F (21-26° C), while most of the northern islands and mountains are covered with snow and temperatures rarely get above freezing. Again, Tokyo falls in the middle, but the ocean keeps the city somewhat warm as the average temperature only tends to fall to around the 40s° F (4-9° C). The fall experiences falling temperatures and the spring experiences increasing tourists.

Wildlife

Japanese Geography - Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms

Japan runs a long ways north and south, adding to the variety of species on the islands. This variety begins with the mammals; there are a few large mammals like bears, deer, boar, along with some smaller mammals like the macaque monkey, fox, and many rodents. There are also some mammals in the surrounding seas, such as the whale and porpoise. Other sea life includes both freshwater fish like carp and ayu as well as salt water fish like bream, parrotfish, shark and tuna.

In the air there are plenty of birds, both birds that make the island home year round and the migrating birds. Some of the more impressive or common of these birds are cranes, woodpeckers, pheasants, thrush, swans, geese, and more. Japan also has a number of reptiles and amphibians. Among these are snakes, turtles, and salamanders. The islands are also filled with insects, including hornets, butterflies, and dragonflies among many more.

This page was last updated: March, 2013