Honshu (本州 Honshū, "Main island/Main province" pronounced [hoꜜɲɕɯː] (listen)) is the largest and most populous island of Japan,[3] located south of Hokkaido across the Tsugaru Strait, north of Shikoku across the Inland Sea, and northeast of Kyushu across the Kanmon Straits. The island separates the Sea of Japan, which lies to its north and west, from the North Pacific Ocean to its south and east. It is the seventh-largest island in the world, and the second-most populous after the Indonesian island of Java.[4][5]

Honshu had a population of 104 million as of 2017,[2] mostly concentrated in the coastal lowlands, notably in the Kantō plain where 25% of the total population resides in the Greater Tokyo Area. As the historical center of Japanese cultural and political power, the island includes several past Japanese capitals, including Kyoto, Nara, and Kamakura. Much of the island's southern shore forms part of the Taiheiyō Belt, a megalopolis that spans several of the Japanese islands.

Most of Japan's industry is located in a belt running along Honshu's southern coast, from Tokyo to Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Kobe, and Hiroshima; by contrast, the economy along the northwestern Sea of Japan coast is largely based on fishing and agriculture.[6] The island is linked to the other three major Japanese islands by a number of bridges and tunnels. Its climate is humid and mild.

Native name:
Japan honshu map small
LocationEast Asia
ArchipelagoJapanese archipelago
Area227,960[1] km2 (88,020 sq mi)
Area rank7th
Length1,300 km (810 mi)
Width50–230 km (31–143 mi)
Coastline10,084 km (6,265.9 mi)
Highest elevation3,776 m (12,388 ft)
Highest pointMount Fuji
Largest settlement Tokyo (pop. 13,617,445)
Population104,000,000[2] (2017 estimate)
Pop. density447 /km2 (1,158 /sq mi)
Ethnic groupsJapanese


The island is roughly 1,300 km (810 mi) long and ranges from 50 to 230 km (31 to 143 mi) wide, and its total area is 227,960 km2 (88,020 sq mi),[1] making it slightly larger than Great Britain.[7] Its land area has been increasing with land reclamation and coastal uplift in the north, but global sea level rise has diminished these effects. Honshu has 10,084 kilometres (6,266 mi) of coastline.[3]

Mountainous and volcanic, Honshu experiences frequent earthquakes (the Great Kantō earthquake heavily damaged Tokyo in September 1923, and the earthquake of March 2011 moved the northeastern part of the island by varying amounts of as much as 5.3 m (17 ft)[8][9] while causing devastating tsunamis). The highest peak is the active volcano Mount Fuji at 3,776 m (12,388 ft), which makes Honshu the world's 7th highest island. There are many rivers, including the Shinano River, Japan's longest. The Japanese Alps run the length of Honshu, dividing the northwestern (Sea of Japan) shore from the southeastern (Pacific or Inland Sea) shore; the climate is generally humid subtropical in the southern and coastal parts of the island and humid continental in the northern and inland portions.

Extreme points

The northernmost point on Honshu is the tip of the Shimokita Peninsula in Ōma, Aomori; Cape Kure lies at the southern extreme in Kushimoto, Wakayama. The island's eastern extremity is Todogasaki in Miyako, Iwate, and its western one is Bishanohana in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi. Honshu spans more than eight degrees of latitude and 11 degrees of longitude.

Bridges and tunnels

Honshu is connected to the islands of Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku by tunnels and bridges. Three bridge systems have been built across the islands of the Inland Sea between Honshu and Shikoku (Akashi Kaikyō Bridge and the Ōnaruto Bridge; Shin-Onomichi Bridge, Innoshima Bridge, Ikuchi Bridge, Tatara Bridge, Ōmishima Bridge, Hakata–Ōshima Bridge, and the Kurushima-Kaikyō Bridge; Shimotsui-Seto Bridge, Hitsuishijima Bridge, Iwakurojima Bridge, Yoshima Bridge, Kita Bisan-Seto Bridge, and the Minami Bisan-Seto Bridge), the Seikan Tunnel connects Honshu with Hokkaido, and the Kanmonkyo Bridge and Kanmon Tunnel connects Honshu with Kyushu.


Its population was 104 million people, according to a 2017 estimate. This represents 81.3 percent of the entire population of Japan.[2]

Administrative regions and prefectures

The island is divided into five nominal regions and contains 34 prefectures, including metropolitan Tokyo. Administratively, some smaller islands are included within these prefectures, notably including the Ogasawara Islands, Sado Island, Izu Ōshima, and Awaji Island.

The regions and its prefectures are:

Natural features


Most of Japan's tea and silk is from Honshu. Fruits, vegetables, grains, rice and cotton are grown in Honshu.[10] Niigata is noted as an important producer of rice. The Kantō and Nōbi plains produce rice and vegetables. Yamanashi is a major fruit-growing area, and Aomori is famous for its apples. Rare species of the lichen genus Menegazzia are found only in Honshu.[11]


Yields of zinc, copper, and oil have been found on Honshu.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b Farjon, Aljos; Filer, Denis (2013). An Atlas of the World's Conifers: An Analysis of their Distribution, Biogeography, Diversity and Conservation Status. BRILL. p. 268. ISBN 9789004211810.
  2. ^ a b c Boquet, Yves (2017). The Philippine Archipelago. Springer. p. 16. ISBN 9783319519265.
  3. ^ a b "Honshu". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  4. ^ Japan Civil Registry Database 2013
  5. ^ See Japan Census of 2000; the editors of List of islands by population appear to have used similar data from the relevant statistics bureaux, and totalled up the various administrative districts that make up each island, and then done the same for less populous islands. An editor of this article has not repeated that work. Therefore this plausible and eminently reasonable ranking is posted as unsourced common knowledge.
  6. ^ Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan
  7. ^ "Islands By Land Area". Islands.unep.ch. Retrieved 2010-08-01.
  8. ^ "Map of Horizontal Land Movement caused by 2011/3/11 M9.0 earthquake" (PDF) (in Japanese). Geospatial Information Authority of Japan. March 19, 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  9. ^ "Quake shifted Japan by over two meters". Deutsche Welle. March 14, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
  10. ^ a b "Honshu". infoplease.com. 2012. Retrieved 2014-11-23.
  11. ^ Bjerke JW (2004). "Revision of the lichen genus Menegazzia in Japan, including two new species". The Lichenologist. 36 (1): 15–25. doi:10.1017/S0024282904013878. ISSN 0024-2829.

Coordinates: 36°N 138°E / 36°N 138°E

2005 Miyagi earthquake

The 2005 Miyagi earthquake struck the east coast of the Japanese island of Honshū at 11.46 am (02:46 UTC) on August 16, causing casualties, building collapses and power outages. The event registered 7.2 on the moment magnitude scale.

Akashi Kaikyō Bridge

The Akashi Kaikyō Bridge (明石海峡大橋, Akashi Kaikyō Ōhashi) is a suspension bridge, which links the city of Kobe on the Japanese mainland of Honshu to Iwaya on Awaji Island. It crosses the busy Akashi Strait (Akashi Kaikyō in Japanese) as part of the Honshu–Shikoku Highway. It was completed in 1998, and has the longest central span of any suspension bridge in the world, at 1,991 metres (6,532 ft; 1.237 mi). It is one of the key links of the Honshū–Shikoku Bridge Project, which created three routes across the Inland Sea.

April 2011 Miyagi earthquake

The April 2011 Miyagi earthquake (Japanese: "2011 Miyagi Prefecture earthquake" (2011年 宮城県沖地震, 2011-Nen Miyagi-ken-oki jishin)) occurred off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture, approximately 66 kilometres (41 mi) east of Sendai, Japan. The Mw 7.1 thrust earthquake was classified as an aftershock of the March 11 Tōhoku earthquake, and occurred at 23:32 JST (14:32 UTC) on Thursday, 7 April 2011.

Several tsunami warnings were issued for the northeastern coast of Honshu; however, they were all canceled 90 minutes later. Over 3 million households in the area were left without power, and several nuclear plants suffered minor inconveniences. There was no major structural damage, but the quake killed at least 4 people and injured 141.

Caloptilia leucothoes

Caloptilia leucothoes is a moth of the family Gracillariidae. It is known from the islands of Hokkaidō, Honshū and Kyūshū in Japan, from the Russian Far East and from Korea.The wingspan is 8.2–11 mm.

The larvae feed on Leucothoe grayana, Menziesia pentandra and Rhododendron species, including Rhododendron albrechti, Rhododendron dauricum, Rhododendron dilatatum and Rhododendron reticulatum. They mine the leaves of their host plant.

Chūbu region

The Chūbu region (中部地方, Chūbu-chihō), Central region, or Central Japan (中部日本) is a region in the middle of Honshū, Japan's main island. Chūbu has a population of 21,715,822 as of 2010. It encompasses nine prefectures (ken): Aichi, Fukui, Gifu, Ishikawa, Nagano, Niigata, Shizuoka, Toyama, and Yamanashi.It is located directly between the Kantō region and the Kansai region and includes the major city of Nagoya as well as Pacific Ocean and Sea of Japan coastlines, extensive mountain resorts, and Mount Fuji.

The region is the widest part of Honshū and the central part is characterized by high, rugged mountains. The Japanese Alps divide the country into the Pacific side, sunny in winter, and the Sea of Japan side, snowy in winter.

Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Expressway Company

The Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Expressway Company Limited (本州四国連絡高速道路株式会社, Honshū-shikoku-renraku-kōsoku-dōro-kabushikigaisha), abbreviated as JB本四高速 (JB honshi-kōsoku) in Japanese or HSBE in English, operates the Kobe-Awaji-Naruto, Nishiseto, and Seto-Chūō expressways and their respective bridges between the islands of Honshu and Shikoku, Japan. It is headquartered in Chūō-ku, Kōbe, Hyōgo Prefecture.The company was established on October 1, 2005 as a result of the privatization of its predecessor, the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Authority, itself a successor to the Japan Highway Public Corporation. The company is responsible for maintaining the three expressways and bridge systems between Honshu and Shikoku, as well as the management of the Seto-Ōhashi railway line.

Ikonnikov's bat

Ikonnikov's bat (Myotis ikonnikovi) is a species of vesper bat. An adult Ikonnikov's bat has a body length of 4.2-5.1 cm, a tail of 3.1-4.0 cm, and a wing length of 3.3-3.6 cm. It is found in eastern Siberia, the Ussuri region, Sakhalin, Hokkaido and Honshu (Japan), and the Korean Peninsula.

Japanese wolf

The Japanese wolf (Japanese: ニホンオオカミ(日本狼 ー, Hepburn: Nihon ōkami) (Canis lupus hodophilax) is an extinct subspecies of the gray wolf that was once endemic to the islands of Honshū, Shikoku, and Kyūshū in the Japanese archipelago. It is also known as the Honshū wolf. Its binomial name derives from the Greek Hodos (path) and phylax (guardian), in reference to Japanese folklore, which portrayed wolves as the protectors of travellers. It was one of two subspecies that were once found in the Japanese archipelago, the other being the Hokkaidō wolf.

List of airports in Japan

This is a list of airports in Japan, grouped by classification and sorted by location. As of February 2012, the country has a total of 98 airports, of which 28 are operated by the central government and 67 by local governments.

List of capitals in Japan

A prefectural capital is a city where a prefectural government and assembly is located.

List of islands of Japan

The four main islands of Japan are:


Honshu, the largest island, on which the capital, Tokyo, is located.


KyushuJapan also has over 6,000 smaller islands, of which only approximately 430 are inhabited.

List of large volcanic eruptions

This is a sortable summary of the pages Timeline of volcanism on Earth, List of Quaternary volcanic eruptions, and Large volume volcanic eruptions in the Basin and Range Province. Uncertainties as to dates and tephra volumes are not restated, and references are not repeated. Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) values for events in the Miocene epoch sometimes lack references. They are given as VEI-equivalent, as orientation of the erupted tephra volume.

List of regions of Japan

The regions of Japan are not official administrative units, but have been traditionally used as the regional division of Japan in a number of contexts. For instance, maps and geography textbooks divide Japan into the eight regions, weather reports usually give the weather by region, and many businesses and institutions use their home region as part of their name (Kinki Nippon Railway, Chūgoku Bank, Tōhoku University, etc.). While Japan has eight High Courts, their jurisdictions do not correspond to the eight regions below.

Municipalities of Japan

Japan has three levels of government: national, prefectural, and municipal. The nation is divided into 47 prefectures. Each prefecture consists of numerous municipalities, with 1,719 in total (January 2013 figures) [1]. There are four types of municipalities in Japan: cities, towns, villages and special wards (the ku of Tokyo). In Japanese, this system is known as shikuchōson (市区町村), where each kanji in the word represents one of the four types of municipalities. Some designated cities also have further administrative subdivisions, also known as wards. But, unlike the Special wards of Tokyo, these wards are not municipalities.

Northeastern Japan Arc

The Northeastern Japan Arc, also Northeastern Honshū Arc, is an island arc on the Pacific Ring of Fire. The arc runs north to south along the Tōhoku region of Honshū, Japan. It is the result of the subduction of the Pacific Plate underneath the Okhotsk Plate at the Japan Trench. The southern end of the arc converges with the Southwestern Japan Arc and the Izu-Bonin-Mariana Arc at the Fossa Magna (ja) at the east end of the Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line (ITIL). This is the geologic border between eastern and western Honshū. Mount Fuji is at the point where these three arcs meet. To the north, the Northeastern Japan arc extends through the Oshima Peninsula of Hokkaidō. The arc converges in a collision zone with the Sakhalin Island Arc and the Kuril arc in the volcanic Ishikari Mountains of central Hokkaidō. This collision formed the Teshio and Yubari Mountains.

The Ōu Mountains form the volcanic part of the inner arc. The volcanic front consists of Quaternary volcanoes, which extend the length of the range. It also includes the Quaternary volcanoes of southwestern Hokkaidō. The Dewa Mountains and the Iide Mountains are non-volcanic uplift ranges that run parallel to the west of the Ōu Mountains.

The outer arc ranges are the Kitakami and the Abukuma Mountains. These mountains are made from pre-tertiary rock. The mountains rose in the Cenozoic and have since been worn smooth by erosion.

Prefectures of Japan

Japan is divided into 47 prefectures (都道府県, Todōfuken), forming the first level of jurisdiction and administrative division. They consist of 43 prefectures (県, ken) proper, two urban prefectures (府, fu, Osaka and Kyoto), one "circuit" or "territory" (道, dō, Hokkaido) and one "metropolis" (都, to, Tokyo).

The Meiji Fuhanken sanchisei administration created the first prefectures (urban -fu and rural -ken) from 1868 to replace the urban and rural administrators (bugyō, daikan, etc.) in the parts of the country previously controlled directly by the shogunate and a few territories of rebels/shogunate loyalists who had not submitted to the new government such as Aizu/Wakamatsu. In 1871, all remaining feudal domains (han) were also transformed into prefectures, so that prefectures subdivided the whole country. In several waves of territorial consolidation, today's 47 prefectures were formed by the turn of the century. In many instances, these are contiguous with the ancient ritsuryō provinces of Japan.Each prefecture's chief executive is a directly-elected governor (知事, chiji). Ordinances and budgets are enacted by a unicameral assembly (議会, gikai) whose members are elected for four-year terms.

Under a set of 1888–1890 laws on local government until the 1920s, each prefecture (then only 3 -fu and 42 -ken; Hokkai-dō and Okinawa-ken were subject to different laws until the 20th century) was subdivided into cities (市, shi) and districts (郡, gun) and each district into towns (町, chō/machi) and villages (村, son/mura). Hokkaido has 14 subprefectures that act as branch offices (総合振興局, sōgō-shinkō-kyoku) and branch offices (振興局, shinkō-kyoku) of the prefecture. Some other prefectures also have branch offices that carry out prefectural administrative functions outside the capital. Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is a merged city-prefecture; a metropolis, it has features of both cities and prefectures.

Seto Inland Sea

The Seto Inland Sea (瀬戸内海, Seto Naikai), also known as Setouchi or often shortened to Inland Sea, is the body of water separating Honshū, Shikoku, and Kyūshū, three of the four main islands of Japan. The region that includes the Seto Inland Sea and the coastal areas of Honshū, Shikoku, and Kyūshū is known as the Setouchi Region. It serves as a waterway, connecting the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Japan. It connects to Osaka Bay and provides a sea transport link to industrial centers in the Kansai region, including Osaka and Kobe. Before the construction of the San'yō Main Line, it was the main transportation link between Kansai and Kyūshū.

Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Okayama, Hyōgo, Osaka, Wakayama, Kagawa, Ehime, Tokushima, Fukuoka, and Ōita prefectures all have coastlines on the Seto Inland Sea; the cities of Hiroshima, Iwakuni, Takamatsu, and Matsuyama are also located on it.

The Setouchi region is known for its moderate climate, with a stable year-round temperature and relatively low rainfall levels. The sea is also famous for its periodic red tides (赤潮, akashio) caused by dense groupings of certain phytoplankton that result in the death of large numbers of fish.

Since the 1980s, the sea's northern and southern shores have been connected by the three routes of the Honshū–Shikoku Bridge Project, including the Great Seto Bridge, which serves both railroad and automobile traffic.


Shikoku (四国, literally "four provinces") is the smallest (225 km or 139.8 mi long and between 50 and 150 km or 31.1 and 93.2 mi wide) and least populous (3.8 million as of 2015) of the four main islands of Japan, located south of Honshu and east of the island of Kyushu. Shikoku comprises 3.1 percent of the entire population of Japan. Its ancient names include Iyo-no-futana-shima (伊予之二名島), Iyo-shima (伊予島), and Futana-shima (二名島). The current name refers to the four former provinces that made up the island: Awa, Tosa, Sanuki, and Iyo.

Tōhoku region

The Tōhoku region (東北地方, Tōhoku-chihō), Northeast region, or Northeast Japan consists of the northeastern portion of Honshu, the largest island of Japan. This traditional region consists of six prefectures (ken): Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, and Yamagata.Tōhoku retains a reputation as a remote, scenic region with a harsh climate. In the 20th century, tourism became a major industry in the Tōhoku region.

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