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Home > Government Partners > Japan
Overview Key Facts Geography Web Site

Geography

Area and geographical features

Japan consists of four main islands and a number of smaller ones together covering 142,000 sq miles, and stretching between latitudes 24 degrees and 46 degrees north and longitudes 129 degrees and 146 degrees east. The four main islands from the north to south are Honkkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. About 80% of Japan's land area is mountainous, with heights rising to over 10,000 feet; and the famous Mount Fuji, near Tokyo, rises in isolated splendor to 12,388 feet.

The whole country lies within an earthquake belt, and quakes of minor intensity are frequent in the Tokyo area. Earthquakes are however rare in western Japan, although the city of Kobe was devastated by a major earthquake in January 1995. The country is also subject to typhoons in the latter part of the summer and early autumn Tokyo is on latitude 35 degrees north, about equivalent to southern Greece, and Osaka is on latitude 34 degrees north.

Major business cities and towns

Tokyo
On the main island of Honshu

Yokohama
Seaport 21 miles south of Tokyo

Osaka
Important industrial and commercial centre of western, Japan and seaport; textiles, pharmaceuticals and consumer electronics

Nagoya
Seaport and industrial centre (especially aircraft, motor and ceramics industries)

Sapporo
In Hokkaido, a centre of the lumber and fish canning industries; also important agricultural interests

Kobe
Seaport and industrial centre

Kyoto
The country's former capital, but also now with high-tech research

Fukuoka
Seaport and commercial centre of Kyushu

Kawasaki
Heavy and motor industry

Kita-Kyushu
Important industrial area; steel and rubber industries

Hiroshima
Motor industry, shipping and engineering

Climate
The four main islands of Japan experience a wide variety of climatic conditions ranging from intense cold in the north during the winter to a subtropical climate in the south.

In Tokyo summer temperatures can rise to about 35 degrees C (95 degrees F) and in the winter fall to about -1 degree C (30 degrees F).

The seasons are well defined. Early autumn can be very wet as it is subject to typhoons, but there are also good sunny spells. The winter is mainly very dry with long spells of bright sunny weather in most of Honshu (including Tokyo) and Kyushu.

There are usually light snowfalls in these areas in January and February, whereas northern Honshu and Hokkaido experience very heavy snows. The spring comes fairly early and April and May can have many beautiful days, but there are also periods of rain and wind. By mid May warm weather usually prevails. June is the rainy season with long, warm, wet periods. July, August and early September can be very oppressive with hot, humid weather.

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