Honshu or Honshiu (本州 Honshū / Honsyū, "Main Island" or "Main Province"), pronounced [hoꜜɴɕɯː] ( listen), is the largest and most populous island of Japan, 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.
Honshu had a population of 103 million as of 2005, 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 culture 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 (East Sea) coast is largely based on fishing and agriculture. 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: 本州|
|Area||225,800 km2 (87,200 sq mi)|
|Length||1,300 km (810 mi)|
|Width||50–230 km (31–143 mi)|
|Coastline||5,450 km (3,386 mi)|
|Highest elevation||3,776 m (12,388 ft)|
|Highest point||Mount Fuji|
|Largest settlement||Tokyo (pop. 13,617,445)|
|Population||104,000,000 (2010 Census)|
|Pop. density||447 /km2 (1,158 /sq mi)|
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 225,800 km2 (87,200 sq mi), 60% of the total area of Japan, making it slightly larger than Great Britain. 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 5,450 kilometres (3,386 mi) of coastline.
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) 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, also called East Sea) 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.
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.
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.
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:
Most of Japan's tea and silk is from Honshu. Fruits, vegetables, grains, rice and cotton are grown in Honshu. 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.
Yields of zinc, copper, and oil have been found on Honshu.