Japan Geography 200 Dr. Stavros Constantinou
Japan: Location and Size • Japan is located off the eastern shores of Eurasia. • It is an archipelago,an expanse of water with many scattered islands, extending more than 2,790 km. (1,744 mi.) from NE to SW in the Pacific Ocean. • Its insular location allowed Japan to borrow ideas from China, yet not be absorbed by Chinese culture. • Japan’s relative location (situation) served the country well in terms of industrialization and trade. • Japan has an area of 376,508 sq. km. (145,370 sq. mi.). Japan is smaller than California (156,299 sq. mi.)
Japan: Location and Size • Japan's capital city is Tokyo. • The Meiji Restoration: the return of “enlightened rule,” centered on the Emperor Meiji. In 1868, modernizers took control of Japan and ended the official policies of economic and cultural isolation from European imperialist ambitions and trading ships. They also moved the national capital from Kyoto to Tokyo.
Japan: Physical Geography • The homeland of Japan consists of four main islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu, and several hundred smaller islands. • Japan is formed largely of mountains separated by narrow valleys. • Japan is part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” There are about 60 volcanoes in Japan, of which the best known is Mount Aso. Mount Fuji (12,388 ft) is not active. • Japan is subject to frequent and powerful earthquakes.
Japan: Landforms • The Core Area of Japan is an irregular zone about 1287 km. (800 mi.) long, extending westward from the Kanto Plain through Nagoya to Osaka and thence along both shores of the Inland Sea to northern Kyushu. It includes the following lowlands: • The Kanto (Tokyo) Plain: Is the largest lowland of Japan, 6,450 sq. km.(2,500sq.mi.). On this plain stand the conurbation of Tokyo-Yokohama. South of the Kanto Plain, the Sun-en Coastal Strip runs along the Pacific shore. Rather small, isolated deltas separated by spurs of rocky hills are the dominant features of this lowland. The famous Tokaido Highway traverses this area. The mild winters and heavy precipitation in summer have favored the cultivation of mandarin oranges and tea. Half of all Japanese tea is grown here and is refined, blended and packed in the castle town of Shizuoka. (continued next slide)
Japan: Landforms • The Nobi (Nagoya) Plain: Lies at the head of Ise Bay , 260 km. (160 mi.) west of Tokyo and is second to the Kanto Plain in area. The harbor of Nagoya is the fourth most active seaport in Japan, by value of international trade, after Yokohama, Kobe, and Tokyo. • The Kansai District: Occupies the eastern end of the Inland Sea and includes the second most important industrial region of Japan. It is the site of the cities Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe. Osaka is 370 km (230 mi.) west of Tokyo on the bay head delta of the broad, diked Yodo river. Like Tokyo, Osaka has a network of canals and a shallow, silted harbor. Piles or metal drums support many buildings. Kobe is on deep water, 25 km. (16 mi.) down the bay from Osaka. It is an important manufacturing center specializing in metal industry, especially shipbuilding. Inland, Kyoto has retained its fame as a pilgrim and handcraft center.
Japan: Climate • The climate conditions in Japan are not altogether comparable to those points in corresponding latitudes in the eastern United States. • Winters tend to be colder and annual precipitation heavier. • This may be partially accounted for by the presence of a cold current which extends farther south in winter than in summer on both sides of the Japanese Islands and by their position in the path of the monsoon winds. • Within the islands, differences in latitude produce marked differences in climate, and the great variation in altitude produces much local diversity irrespective of latitude.
Japan: Climate • Humid continental –Cool summers (Dfb): This climate id found in Hokkaido and has rainfall throughout the year. • Humid Continental – Warm summers (Dfa): This climate is found in north central Honshu and is constantly moist. • Humid Subtropical (Cfa): It is found in Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku. It has warm summers and is constantly moist.
Japan: Vegetation • Japan has a wide range of valuable tree species, including broadleaf evergreens in southern Japan, a mixture of broadleaf deciduous and conifers in central and northern Honshu and southern Hokkaido, and conifers in northern Hokkaido and at high elevations further south. • About 2/3 of the entire country is forested and the Japanese make use of wood in almost endless ways,Japan is among the more heavily forested of the advanced industrial countries and unquestionably the most forested of the populous lands.
Japan: Resources • Japan has a very limited resource base. • The country imports as much as 85% of its need for coal. Limited coal deposits are found in certain coastal areas of northern Kyushu and Hokkaido. • Japan has extremely small quantities of scattered iron ore deposits, mainly of low quality. • Japan imports as much as 99% of its oil needs. • Electricity production in Japan is 30% from nuclear power and 1/6 (17%) hydroelectric.
Japan: Population Geography • “Honshu, the largest island, has an area which is a little less than the combined areas of New York and Pennsylvania but with [two and one-half times] their population. Hokkaido, lying in about the same latitude as Maine, has approximately the same area and [more than five] times the population. Shikoku, in the general latitude of South Carolina, has less than one fourth the area, but [nearly] double the population. Kyushu, between the same parallels as Georgia, has one fourth the area and [more than three] times the population.” (Army Service Forces Manual M 1-3=2) 1944,pp.125-131
Japan: Population Geography • Japan had 127,500,000 people in 2003. • Japan is approximately 3.5 times larger than Ohio and has approximately 11 times as many people. Japan has about six times the number of residents of Australia and New Zealand combined. • The rate of natural increase among the Japanese people is 0.1%. • The GNI, PPP per capita is $25,550 • The arithmetic density is 337 persons/sq. km. (874 persons/sq. mi.) • The physiologic density is the highest in the world, 2,900 persons/sq. km. (7,512 persons/sq. mi.)
Japan: Urban Geography • The degree of urbanization in Japan is very high, 78%, which is comparable to the U.S. (79%) and higher than Europe (73%). • The Japanese population is characterized by a high degree of homogeneity. • Despite a lack of natural resources and a very limited agricultural base, the Japanese enjoy a high standard of living. This is primarily due to Japan’s industrial prosperity – a result of its highly educated and technically skilled population.
Japan: Agriculture • Japanese agriculture relies heavily upon small scale implements. • It has attained higher rice yields per acre than the U.S. • Agriculture is highly protected by the government and takes place on small farms. • Only about 16% of the land of Japan is used for agriculture with 11% of the labor force employed in farming, including fishing. Nearly 9/10 of all cultivated land is devoted to food crops. • Irrigated rice, which occupies more than ½ of all cultivated land, is the basic crop nearly everywhere, including most parts of the northern island of Hokkaido.
Japan: Agriculture • Wherever environmental conditions permit (south of 38º N.) double cropping, or the planting of a second crop on the same field following the rice harvest, is practiced. • In most areas, rice is followed by wheat or winter barley and in some cases by vegetable or white potatoes. • Crops grown in irrigated field include grains, mostly wheat and barley. • Second to grains in acreage are white potatoes (northern Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku) followed by beans and peas, among which soybeans are very important.
Japan: Agriculture • Another technique of intensive farming employed by the Japanese is intertillage, the growing of two or more crops simultaneously in alternate rows in the same field. • Fruits include mandarin oranges along the Pacific and Inland Sea south of about 37º N. Apples, pears, peaches grapes and persimmons are also significant. • Specialty crops include mulberry trees and crops such as tea, sugarcane, tobacco, peanuts, flax, hemp, pyrethrum, and peppermint. Sugar beets are grown in Hokkaido. • Along the Inland Sea seeds are grown which are used to make the mats which provide the floor covering in most homes throughout Japan.
Japan: Agriculture • Livestock products are of minor, but growing, importance. They include dairy cattle, pigs and chickens. • Fish are the principle source of protein and, along with rice, are an important element in most Japanese meals. • The annual fish catch of Japan ranked first in the world in both tonnage and value until 1962, when Peru assumed leadership in tonnage, but not in value. • Types of fish include sardines, herring, tuna,and mackerel in warmer waters; and cod, salmon and halibut in the seas to the north. • Along Japan’s coasts there are 4,000 fishing villages. • Aquaculture: the raising of freshwater fish in artificial ponds and flooded paddy fields, seaweeds in home aquariums and oysters, prawns and shrimp in shallow bays.
Japan: Manufacturing Regions • Tokyo District: • Located in the Kanto Plain, centered on Tokyo and Yokohama. • Emphasis is on the production of steel • Iron ore is imported from the Philippines, Malaya, Australia, and even Africa. • Coal is shipped from Hokkaido and imported from Australia and America. • Petroleum is imported from Southwest Asia and Indonesia. • Yokohama is Japan’s chief shipbuilding center. • Kobe-Osaka-Kyoto Triangle (Kansai District) • Located at the eastern end of the Seto-Naika (Inland Sea). • Osaka is a major textile center, second after Nagoya. • Kyoto is a city of small workshops. • The Nagoya or Nobi Plain • Nagoya is Japan’s leading textile center. • Northern Kyushu • Yawata is a steel production center because of its location in the coalfields. Its relative location is excellent for business with China and Korea.
Japan: Problems and Prospects • Dependence on imports presents problems of possible interruptions. • Problems of congestion and overcrowding. • Industrial pollution and pressure on a limited environment. • Japanese emphasis on trade presents problems with many countries. • Rural-to-urban migration is causing a breakdown in the traditional extended family system.