Nearly three quarters of Japan is mountainous, with a heavily forested mountain range running through each of its major islands. The Japanese islands themselves are the summits of mountain ridges rising from the outer edge of the continental shelf. Three mountain chains, namely the Hida, Kiso, and Akaishi Mountains, converge in Central Japan to form the Japanese Alps.
Japan’s highest mountain is Mount Fuji with an elevation of 12,388 feet, and it is located on Honshu Island. The rest of the country’s major summits can be found in Chubusangaku National Park and Minami Alps National Park, otherwise known as Japan’s Northern and Southern Alps. The Northern Alps are primarily characterized by Mount Hotakadake and its satellite peaks, namely Mounts Okuhotaka, Kitahotaka, Karasawa, and Obami, as well as Mount Yari. The great peaks of the Southern Alps include Mount Akaishi, Mount Kita, Mount Aino, and Mount Warusawa, also known as Mount Higashi.
Economic Benefits of Mountain Tourism
Mount Fuji is the most well-known natural attraction in all of Japan. Mount Fuji's beautifully symmetrical, snow-capped cone, visible all the way from Tokyo, has inspired artists, poets and photographers, and has been attracting pilgrims, sightseers and climbers for centuries. Hundreds of thousands of people climb the mountain each year, typically in July and August, and patronize the many hospitality facilities along the mountain trail. The area is also home to 25 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Hot springs are abundant in the mountain regions, and they play a major role in Japan's leisure and tourism industry. Holidays such as the newly-inaugurated Mountain Day add much-needed revenue to the economy, particularly in the sectors of international tourism, hospitality, transportation, and retail.
Mountains loom just as large in Japan's cultural and spiritual life as they do in its geography. Buddhist and Shinto temples and shrines can be found dotting many a mountain slope, particularly on and around Japan's three "Holy Mountains", which are Fuji, Tate, and Haku. It is believed that Mount Fuji is a holy being, home to the goddess Sengen-sama, and the incarnation of the earth spirit itself. Tens of thousands of pilgrims climb to Mount Fuji's summit every year. Yamabushi, Japanese for "one who prostrates himself on the mountain", are followers of a long tradition of Japanese mountain ascetic hermits and holy men. Yamabushi are said to have spiritual, mystical and supernatural powers gained through their asceticism.
Japan’s national territory also includes several volcanic Islands, including Iwo Jima. Following World War II, territorial disputes with Russia over Kuril Islands Etorofu and Kunashiri, Shikotan Island and the Habomai Islands caused a political tension between the two countries that remains to this day.
Habitats and Biodiversity
An incredible variety of alpine plants grow on the mountaintops of Japan. Japan's length and diversity of climactic zones has resulted in a high diversity of wildlife. In the north, there are many subarctic species, while the south is home to many south-east Asian species. Japan is also home to many endemic species of rodents, birds, monkeys, insects and bears.
As Japan's population has slowly encroached upon mountainous terrain, increased pressure is being placed on these delicate environments. The Japanese Alps often see heavy winter snowfall, which can cause landslides, flooding, and avalanches. Sub-alpine coniferous forests are being cut down due to agricultural and industrial development, creating habitat loss and degradation. Sport hunting and vehicular collisions are severely impacting bears and other large animal populations, and the sable population is also declining because of poaching. However, the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and other environmental groups are taking steps to protect at-risk animal populations. The threatened Japanese red-crowned crane population is on the rise with the establishment of winter feeding stations and conspicuous marking of utility lines.
The Highest Mountains In Japan
|Rank||Highest Mountains in Japan||Elevation|
|1||Mount Fuji||12,388 feet|
|2||Mount Kita||10,476 feet|
|3||Mount Okuhotaka||10,466 feet|
|4||Mount Aino||10,463 feet|
|5||Mount Yari||10,433 feet|
|6||Mount Warusawa||10,305 feet|
|7||Mount Akaishi||10,236 feet|
|8||Mount Karasawa||10,203 feet|
|9||Mount Kitahotaka||10,190 feet|
|10||Mount Obami||10,174 feet|