The Largest Islands in Japan

A simple map showing the placement of the four largest islands of Japan.
A simple map showing the placement of the four largest islands of Japan.

Japan is home to one of the most advanced and developed societies in the world. Japan has one of the highest life expectancies in the world and is home to one of the largest and most important cities worldwide, the metropolis of Tokyo. It is also one of the most homogeneous countries on the planet. The five largest islands in Japan are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and Okinawa. 

Japan's Biggest Islands

5. Okinawa (466 square miles)

Okinawa is located between the East China Sea and the North Pacific Ocean, it is the largest and most populated on the 72 islands in the chain that make up the Ryukyu Archipelago. Okinawa is a subtropical island that has an average yearly temperature of around 68° Fahrenheit (20° Celsius). Among the prefectures of Japan, Okinawa actually has the youngest and fastest-growing population, despite the fact that Okinawa's population is known as one of the oldest in the world. There are 34 centenarians (people over 100) per 100,000 people on the island. 

4. Shikoku (7,300 square miles)

Shikoku has a subtropical climate with short mild winters and long hot summers. It also has high mountains and steep slopes, which limit habitability. Shikoku is the smallest of the four main island in the Japanese Archipelago. The island has few natural resources or large scale industry, but it does produce extensive food, beverage, livestock and tobacco industries. It also produces many pulp, paper and chemical products. Shikoku is famous for its 88 temple pilgrimage associated with the priest Kūkai and the Obon festival. The largest city on the island is the capital of the Ehime Prefecture, Matsuyama.

3. Kyushu (13,760 square miles)

Kyushu is a mountainous island, with many signs of tectonic activity, including numerous areas with hot springs and volcanoes. The island houses Japan's most active volcano, Mt. Aso. Major agriculture products the island produces are rice, tea and soy. The island also widely produces silk and is noted for various types of porcelain. Heavy industry is located in the northern part of the island, which includes chemical and metal processing. The largest city on the island is Fukuoka, which is the capital city of Fukuoka Prefecture. 

2. Hokkaido (32,222 square miles)

Hokkaido is the northernmost and largest prefecture in Japan. The island is known for its cool summers and cold winters. The center of the island has a large number of volcanic and mountains, while there are coastal plains in all directions outwards from this center. The island also has a number of National and Semi-national Parks. The island has some light industry, like beer brewing and paper milling, but most of the island's people work in the service sector. Hokkaido also has a major role in agriculture, ranking first in Japan in production on a number of products like corn, beef, and wheat. 

1. Honshu (88,017 square miles)

Honshu is the largest and most populous island in the Japanese archipelago and the seventh-largest island in the world. The island is mountainous and volcanic, with the Japanese Alps running through the length of the island. Honshu features many rivers, including the longest one in Japan the Shinano River. The island's climate is divided between humid subtropical in the south and humid continental in the north.

Japan and Its Varied Islands

Now you know all about the various elements and differences between the biggest islands of Japan. It is very interesting to see the differences between each island's climate, geography, climate, and major cities. Each of Japan's islands clearly has a important role for the country, while having its own uniqueness as well. I hope that you are now more informed on Japan should you ever visit the magical "Land of the Rising Sun".

The Biggest Islands Of Japan

RankIslandArea (Sq miles)
1Honshu 88,017
2Hokkaido 32,222
3Kyushu 13,760
4Shikoku 7,300

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