Japan Is an Island Nation Just Like the Philippines

Get to know its five main islands and what makes each one distinct from the other.

Illustration Andrea Sangco


Made up of different islands like the Philippines, Japan is also known as an island nation. It is usually split into five main islands:
Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. In fact, Japan is made up of a long string of islands, which is why Japan has four distinct seasons with climates ranging from subarctic in the north to subtropical in the south. 


On the basis of geography and culture, Japan is divided into eight regions and 47 prefectures. Each region has its own dialect, eating habits, and local culture.


This article will introduce the location of each region and some interesting facts about them.


HOKKAIDO ISLAND


Illustration Andrea Sangco


Hokkaido Region


Hokkaido is located in the northernmost part of Japan
and is the largest of the country’s 47 prefectures, consisting of 22% of the total land area of the country. 


In winter, the average temperature can go as low as -7.5°C
 and snow is everywhere. Numerous ski resorts and the Sapporo Snow Festival attract visitors from all over the world. Even in the summer, it is rare that the highest temperatures go higher than 25°C, making Hokkaido a popular destination for summer vacation, too. 



The night view from Mt. Hakodate is said to be one of the best in the world. Many people come to Hokkaido for its fresh seafood, especially crabs, but it is also famous for its delicious dairy products.


Illustration Andrea Sangco


HONSHU ISLAND


Tohoku Region


The Tohoku Region consists of six prefectures. The most famous and largest city in this region is Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. Aomori Prefecture boasts the highest production and great quality of apples in Japan. It is also famous for being the hometown of the prominent novelist Osamu Dazai, who wrote
The Setting Sun (Shayō) and No Longer Human (Ningen Shikkaku), both considered modern-day classics in Japan.



Akita, next to Aomori, produces rice which is unrivaled throughout Japan. But for many Japanese, the first impression of Akita may be
Akita Bijin or beauty of Akita, usually characterized by a woman’s round face, clear skin, and high-pitched voice. This has become the standard of Japanese beauty.


Illustration Andrea Sangco


Kanto Region


The Kanto Region is the most populated area in Japan. The region includes the Greater Tokyo Area and is comprised of seven prefectures. Yokohama, the second largest city of Japan, is the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture. Tokyo Disneyland is actually in Chiba Prefecture. The very famous Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma Prefecture and World Heritage Site Nikko Toshogu shrine in Tochigi Prefecture are all located in the region.

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Illustration Andrea Sangco


Chubu Region


The Chubu Region encompasses nine prefectures. The biggest city in this region is Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture, which is also the fourth biggest city of Japan. Aichi Prefecture is also home to Toyota Motor Corporation. Mt. Fuji, the symbol of Japan, one of the most world-renowned mountains is also inside the region. Not to mention the World Heritage site Shiragawa-go, which is famous for its historic traditional farmhouses. In winter, Nagano is one of the most popular destinations for ski and snowboard lovers. 



Illustration Andrea Sangco


Kansai or Kinki Region


The Kinki Region consists of seven prefectures. It is also known as Kansai Region if Mie Prefecture is excluded. Kinki Region may be the best place to discover Japan for first-time visitors because all of the must-see destinations like Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Kobe and Himeji Castle are in the region. It boasts numerous precious National Treasures and World Heritage sites. You can also find most of traditional Japanese food here. While Osaka is known as the nation’s kitchen, Kyoto sweets and Kobe beef are also highly acclaimed representative Japanese food in their own right.



Illustration Andrea Sangco


Chugoku Region


The Chugoku Region encompasses five prefectures. The most popular destination here probably is Hiroshima City, which suffered terrible damage from atomic bombing. Considered as one of Japan’s must-sees, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum attracts over a million people each year. Tottori Prefecture is famous for its sand dunes. It is also well known among manga fans as the birthplace of Gosho Aoyama, who is the author of manga Detective Conan



Illustration Andrea Sangco


Shikoku Region


The Shikoku Region consists of four prefectures. Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage is a famous spot, which attracts pilgrims from both within and outside Japan. One of the most popular destinations in this region may be Dogo Onsen in Ehime Prefecture, whose bathhouse is said to have inspired Hayao Miyazaki film
Spirited Away. While Kagawa Prefecture is the smallest prefecture of Japan, it has some big names, too. Naoshima, an island of modern art in the Seto Inland Sea, is a part of Kagawa Prefecture. Udon, one of the most well-loved Japanese food, is especially delicious in Kagawa, being the soul food of local people. 



Illustration Andrea Sangco


Kyushu Region


The Kyushu Region literally means Nine Provinces. Historically, there were nine provinces situated on the island. Today, Kyushu Region comprises seven prefectures, including Okinawa Prefecture (some people count Okinawa as a separate region by itself). Kyushu is blessed with plenty of amazing natural scenery. It has beautiful beaches, volcanoes, hot springs. It is also the origin of representative Japanese food tonkotsu (pork bone) ramen. You can also enjoy Yatai food stalls in Fukuoka, socializing with locals. The most famous character in the region perhaps is Kumamon, a cute black bear mascot created by the government of Kumamoto Prefecture. Okinawa is a subtropical island. Even in winter, the temperatures are above 10°C
. It boasts many of the most beautiful beaches in Japan, attracting many tourists to explore the crystal-clear water and colorful coral reefs.

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 (30 September 2019)

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