Japan is an island country in the North Pacific Ocean. It lies off the northeast coast of mainland Asia and faces Russia,Korea, and China. Four large islands and thousands of smaller ones make up Japan. The four major islands- Hokkaido,Honshu,Kyushu and Shikoku form a curve that extends for about 1,900 kilometres.
Japan is a land of great natural beauty. mountains and hills cover about 70% of the country. IN fact, Japanese islands consist of the rugged upper part of a great mountain range that rises from the floor of the North Pacific Ocean. Jagged peaks, rocky gorges, and thundering mountain waterfalls provide some of the country's most spectacular scenery. Thick forests thrive on mountansides, adding to the scenic beauty of the Japanese islands. Forests cover about 68% of the country's land.
Japan lies on an extremely unstable part of the earth's crust. As a result, the land is constantly shifting. This shifting causes two of Japan's most striking features-- earthquakes and volcanoes. The Japanese islands have about 1500 earthquakes a year. Most of them are minor tremors that cause little damage, but severe earthqaukes occur every few years. Underseaquakes sometimes cause huge, destructive tidal waves, called tsunami, along Japan's Pacific coast. The Japanese islands have more than 150 major volcanoes. Over 60 of these volcanoes are active.
Numerous short, swift rivers cross Japan's rugged surface. most of the rivers are too shallow and steep to be navigated. Their waters are used to irrigate farmland, and their rapids and falls supply power for hydroelectric plants. Many lakes nestle among the Japanese mountains. Some lie in the craters of extinct volcanoes. A large number of hot springs gush from the ground throughout the country. The Japanese islands have a total land area of about 337,708 sqkm. The islands , in order of size, are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. The sea of Japan washes the country's west coast and the Pacific ocean lies to the east.
Regional climates in Japan can be compared to those of the East Coast of the United States. Kyushu and Shikoku have a climate much like that of Perth. They have long hot summers and mild winters. The island Honshu's generally has warm,humid summers. Winters are mild in the south and cold and snowy in the north. Honshu has balmy, sunny autumns and springs. Hokkaido has cool summers and cold winters much like Tasmania.
Two Pacific Ocean currents--the Japan Current and the Oyashio Current--influence Japan's climate. The warm, dark-blue Japan Current flows northward along the country's south coast and along the east coast as far north as Tokyo. The Japan current has a warming effect on the climate of theses regions. The cold Oyashio Current flows southward along the east coasts of Hokkaido and northern Honshu, cooling these areas.
Seasonal winds called monsoons also affect Japan's climate. In winter, monsoons from the northwest bring cold air to northern Japan. These winds, which gather moisture as they cross the Sea of Japan, deposit heavy snows on the country's northwest coast. During the summer, monsoons blow from the southeast , carrying warm, moist air from the pacific ocean. Summer monsoons cause hot, humid weather in central and southern Japan.
Rain is abundant through most of Japan. All the areas of the country--except eastern Hokkaido--recieve at least 100 centimetres of rain yearly. Japan has two major rainy seasons--from mid-June to early July and from September to October. Several typhoons strike the country each year, mainly in late summer and early Autumn. The heavy rains and violent winds of these storms often do great damage to houses and crops
The Extended Family
Family life has always been important in Japan. Before 1945, many Japanese lived in large family units that included grandparents, parents, children, and sometimes uncles and their families. Japanese...
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