Japan – October 28th, 2008
Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, People’s Republic of China, Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south.
Japan comprises over 3,000 islands, making it an archipelago. The largest islands are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku, together accounting for 97% of Japan’s land area. Most of the islands are mountainous, many volcanic; for example, Japan’s highest peak, Mount Fuji, is a volcano.
Japan has the world’s tenth largest population, with about 128 million people. The Greater Tokyo Area, which includes the de facto capital city of Tokyo and several surrounding prefectures, is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 30 million residents.
Tokyo is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan and located on the eastern side of the main island Honshū. The twenty-three special wards of Tokyo, each governed as a city, cover the area that was once the city of Tokyo in the eastern part of the prefecture, and total over 8 million people. The population of the prefecture exceeds 12 million. Tokyo is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family.
Tokyo lies in the humid subtropical climate zone, with hot humid summers and generally mild winters with cool spells. Annual rainfall averages 1,380 mm (55 inches), with a wetter summer and a drier winter. Snowfall is sporadic, but does occur almost annually.Tokyo is an example of an urban heat island; the city’s population is a significant contributor to its climate. Tokyo also often sees typhoons each year, though few are strong.
Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776 m (12,388 ft). An active volcano with an exceptionally symmetrical cone that last erupted in 1707–08, it straddles the boundary of Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures just west of Tokyo, from which it can be seen on a clear day. It is located near the Pacific coast of central Honshū. Three small cities surround it: Gotemba (east), Fujiyoshida (north) and Fujinomiya (southwest).
Mt. Fuji stands at 3,776 m (12,388 ft) high and is surrounded by five lakes: Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Yamanaka, Lake Sai, Lake Motosu and Lake Shoji. The climate is very cold due to the altitude and the cone is covered by snow for several months of the year.