The Longest Rivers In Japan

The Shinano River in Japan.
The Shinano River in Japan.

The Shinano, or Chikuma, on the island of Honshu is the longest river in Japan. The Tone is the only other 200-mile-long river in the country. The mountainous topography of Japan allows for steep gradient streams. Most of the rivers originate from the mountains down to the cultivated farms and drain to the sea. Japan is abundantly watershed, but almost all the rivers have streams. The rivers vary in size depending on the season. In the winter the rivers thaw, overflow in the summer, and become small streams in the dry weather. Other important rivers in the country include the Abukuma, Kitakami, and Mogami.


The Shinano River, at 228 miles long, is the longest river in Japan. The river rises from the Japanese Alps in Mount Kobushi, flows northwest to meet the Sai River from Matsumoto and drains into the Sea of Japan. The junction of Chikuma and Sai is famous as the historical site where the Kawanakajima Battles broke. The river provides water for irrigation schemes in Niigata rice plains. In fact, Shinano provides a port for this town. The Okozu Canal establishment built in 1922 protects the plains of Niigata from floods and brings the needed water in the rice fields. The Bandai Bridge offers magnificent city views across the blue waters.


The Tone River has the largest watershed among Japanese rivers, and it is the second-longest river in Japan at 200 miles. The river is located in Kanto, Honshu Island. The river rises from Echigo Mountains in Mount Ominakami and empties into the Pacific Ocean. It has a drainage basin of around 16,840 square kilometers. The river serves more than 30 million inhabitants of Tokyo.


The Ishikari River starts from the Taisetsu Mountain range on the Ishikari Mountain. Located in Hokkaido, the Ishikari River is the third-longest river in the country with 167 miles and a drainage area of 14,330 square kilometers. It flows through Sapporo and Asahikawa.


The Teshio River is 159 miles long. The river originates from Mount Teshiodake in Hokkaido and from there travels to its mouth at the Sea of Japan. It has a basin of 5,590 square kilometers. Forests surround the upper parts of the river. As it flows into the lowlands, meanders increase giving it the winding snake look. The river offers sporting grounds for people who love canoe travel, and from Nayoro to the estuary, there is a 157-kilometer stretch perfect for canoeing. The river also provides camping grounds and water sporting activities.


The Kitakami is 155 miles long and its drainage basin covers an area of around 10,150 square kilometers. The river starts from Mount Nanashiruge, north of Iwate, and flows south between the Ou Mountains and Kitakami Mountains and breaks to two mouths one draining into the Pacific Ocean and the other in Ishinomaki Bay. The river flows through rural areas of Miyagi and Iwate. Historically it offered transportation in the Edo and the Meiji period. 

The Longest Rivers In Japan

RankLongest Rivers in JapanLength (miles)
1Shinano (or Chikuma)228

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