Japan Geography

The archipelago of Japan contains over 4,000 islands stretching along the Pacific coast of East Asia, with four major islands (sometimes referred to as the "Home Islands"): Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku.

Honshu is the main island of Japan, and largest at 810 miles (1,300 km) in length. Dominated by mountains and volcanoes, the massive earthquake of March 2011 moved Honshu 7.9 ft (2.4 m).

The second largest, Hokkaido, is also the northernmost of Japan's islands; while on the other end, Kyushu is the most southwesterly. Shikoku is the smallest and least populous of the four main islands.

A long ridge of rugged mountains runs through the heart of Japan, punctuated by steep tree-lined slopes, and deep valleys on the Pacific Ocean side, and lower hills and mountains along the Sea of Japan side.

The main interior mountain ranges include the Akaishi, Hido and Kiso, where elevations typically exceed 9,800 ft. (3,000 m). The country's highest point, Mt. Fuji, southwest of Tokyo, is a dormant volcano that rises 12,388 ft. (3,776 m).

The islands of Japan are located on the Ring of Fire, and as a result suffer from frequent, violent earthquakes and some serious volcanic activity. There are a total of 108 active volcanoes within Japan's archipelago, most of which provoke devastating earthquakes and tsunamis several times every century.

A small series of plains are situated along the coastal areas. A notable number of (very short) rivers flow briskly down the mountains into the coastal areas. The largest river in Japan is the Shinano.

Japan prefectures & their capitals

Region Capital
Aichi Nagoya-shi
Akita Akita Shi
Aomori Aomori Shi
Chiba Chiba
Ehime Matsuyama
Fukui Fukui-shi
Fukuoka Fukuoka-shi
Fukushima Fukushima-shi
Gifu Gifu-shi
Gunma Maebashi-shi
Hiroshima Hiroshima-shi
Hokkaido Sapporo
Hyogo Kobe
Ibaraki Mito-shi
Ishikawa Kanazawa-shi
Iwate Morioka-shi
Kagawa Takamatsu-shi
Kagoshima Kagoshima-shi
Kanagawa Yokohama
Kochi Kochi-shi
Kumamoto Kumamoto
Kyoto Kyoto
Mie Tsu-shi
Miyagi Sendai-shi
Miyazaki Miyazaki-shi
Nagano Nagano-shi
Nagasaki Nagasaki-shi
Nara Nara-shi
Niigata Niigata-shi
Oita Oita
Okayama Okayama-shi
Okinawa Naha-shi
Osaka Osaka-shi
Saga Saga-shi
Saitama Saitama
Shiga Otsu-shi
Shimane Matsue-shi
Shizuoka Shizuoka-shi
Tochigi Utsunomiya-shi
Tokushima Tokushima-shi
Tokyo Tokyo
Tottori Tottori
Toyama Toyama-shi
Wakayama Wakayama-shi
Yamagata Yamagata-shi
Yamaguchi Yamaguchi-shi
Yamanashi Kofu-shi
This page was last modified on September 29, 2015.