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Geography of Japan Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

Japan is a country on the continent of Asia with many special geographic features. In this lesson, we'll take an imaginary trip to this collection of islands, and learn about the different features of the land in Japan.

Field Trip!

Have you ever wanted to travel to the Asian country of Japan? Let's take a virtual field trip and learn about some unique land features of this country located in the Pacific Ocean. When our plane travels over this country, you'll notice that it is not very large. In fact, the state of California is bigger than the entire country. However, there are some pretty amazing features of the land, or geography, packed into this small space. Let's first explore the islands of Japan.

Japan is a collection of islands located in the Pacific Ocean.
satellite image Japan

Island Nation

Japan is considered to be an archipelago, (pronounced ahr-kuh-pel-uh-goh), which is a chain of islands. There are four main islands in Japan:

  • Hokkaido (pronounced hawk-kahy-daw)
  • Honshu (pronounced hon-shoo)
  • Shikoku (pronounced shee-kaw-koo)
  • Kyushu (pronounced kee-oo-shoo)

While these are the largest and most populated islands, there are many more. The smaller islands are grouped together in clusters, which means that Japan has quite a bit of coastline. Let's land our plane and look closely at the Japanese coastlines and other geographic features of the country.

Coastlines and Rivers

When you think of a beach, what comes to mind? Maybe white sand, plenty of space to spread out with a blanket and catch some rays, right? In some areas of Japan, that's exactly what you'll see. However, there are other coastal parts of Japan where the beaches are very rocky. Japan's coastline is often described as being irregular, which means the land is uneven with areas of deep water close to the shore. While an irregular coastline might make swimming a little dangerous, it can provide good harbors for ships.

As we take our field trip past the coast to the interior of Japan, you'll notice that there are quite a few rivers flowing through the islands. Many of these rivers are not easily navigated, which means they cannot be used for transportation. This is mainly because the rivers are very short and have swift currents. However, there are a few rivers like the Sumida, which flows through the capital city of Tokyo (toh-kee-oh), that can be used for transportation.

The Sumida River flows through the city of Tokyo and is one of the few rivers that can be used for travel and transportation.
Sumida River

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