In every place where people live, the surrounding environment has a profound effect on the way people act and live. When large amounts of people live in a certain area the environment dictates the development of intricate and unique ways of acting and interacting, and those people can be considered as having their own culture. Everyone has their own culture, and the people of Japan are no different. Ever since the first humans came to the islands now known as Japan, a culture has been developing and the geography of Japan has been shaping that culture. The purpose of this essay is to examine how the oceans surrounding Japan, one of the most prominent geographic features, have affected and molded the Japanese culture in both the past and present.
Since Japan consists entirely of islands, this means that it is completely surrounded by oceans. There are four main oceans: the Sea of Okhotsk to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the east, the East China Sea to the south, and the Sea of Japan to the west. The stretch of sea between Japan’s lower islands and mainland Korea spans roughly 100 miles, and it is roughly 450 miles to reach China (Reischauer and Jansen 1995, 31). In the seas exists two main ocean currents, the warm Kuroshio Current from the south and the cold Oyashio Current from the north. These currents have drastic impacts on weather, causing typhoons in the Sea of Japan, large amounts of precipitation in the north, and spells of warm dry weather in the south (Collcutt et al. 1988, 15).
The surrounding seas have relatively cut off the Japanese from the rest of the world. Towards the east one would encounter the Pacific Ocean, vast and empty; if any contact were to be made with other empires it would have to be made with the West, towards what is now mainland China. While the stretch of water separating Japan from the mainland might seem like an easy passage... [continues]
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