II. Ancient and Classical Periods, 3500 B.C.E.–500 C.E. > C. Early Civilizations and Classical Empires of South and East Asia > 7. Japan, to 527 C.E.
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
7. Japan, to 527 C.E.
a. Geography
 
Japan proper consists of a group of islands running eastward from south of the Korean Peninsula for about 700 miles and then turning abruptly to the north for about the same distance, approaching the Asian mainland once more off the coast of the Russian Maritime Province. It is the most geographically isolated of the principal four East Asian countries. Although, like England, Japan is an island country off the coast of a continent, Japan's closest point to the mainland at the Straits of Tsushima is 115 miles, while the English Channel is only 21 miles. The cold Sea of Japan enclosed by this island chain gives the inner side of the archipelago a cold, damp climate, but because of the current from the Pacific Ocean off the southwest coast, that part of Japan enjoys a warm, temperate climate.  1
The four main islands of Japan are: Honsh, the largest; Hokkaid, the second largest and northernmost; Kysh, at the southwestern extremity; and Shikoku, east of Kysh. Among the many lesser islands, Tsushima and Iki are the most significant, for they lie in the straits between Japan and Korea. The three main plains are: Kinai (500 sq. mi.) at saka Bay, with Kyoto and Nara forming part of this area; the plain (600 sq. mi.) at Ise Bay; and the Kant plain (5,000 sq. mi.) by Tokyo Bay. The Inland Sea, as an artery of communications, and northern and western Kysh, which face the Asian mainland, are also important regions.  2
The rivers are short and shallow. Mountains cover almost the entire area and are especially high in central Honsh. Many are volcanic, and eruptions and earthquakes are frequent. The climate is generally temperate throughout the country, and rain is plentiful. Rice has been the principal crop since antiquity.  3
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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