Japan - Introduction
Japan, an island in East Asia, is located in the North Pacific Ocean off the coast of the Asian mainland. Japan consists of four main islands – Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu – and several smaller islands. Japan is otherwise known as Nihon or Nippon, which means “origin of the sun.” The dominant religions in Japan are Buddhism, and Shinto – a religion founded in Japan. Japan is especially prone to earthquakes, as it rests on the boundaries of the Philippine, Pacific and Eurasian plates. 40 of the country’s 188 volcanoes are active, which accounts for 10% of all of the world’s active volcanoes. Japan is a highly mountainous region, with 75 to 80% being covered by mountains.
The point in the Asian mainland closest to Japan is the Korean Peninsula, which is about 200 kilometres (100 miles) away at its nearest point, which is South Korea. To the northwest of Japan – across the Sea of Okhotsk – is eastern Russian, located to the west, across the Korea Strait, is North and South Korea; and China and Taiwan, found southwest of Japan, across the East China Sea.
Japan’s total area is 377,837 sq km (145,884-sq mi). Of the four main islands, Honshu is the largest, followed by Hokkaido, Kyushu, and finally Shikoku. Those four islands constitute for 95% of Japan’s total area, while the remaining 5% consist of over 3,000 smaller islands.