The land area of Japan is about 378,000 square kilometers, which is one twenty-fifth that of the United States (a little smaller than California), one-twentieth that of Australia, and 1.5 times that of Britain. Three-quarters of the country is mountainous, with plains and basins covering the remaining area. Japan consists of a long series of islands stretching for 3,000 kilometers from north to south. The four main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu.
Japan is surrounded by sea. Warm and cold currents flow through the seas around it, creating an environment that supports a variety of fish species.
Most of Japan is in the Northern Temperate Zone of the earth and has a humid monsoon climate, with southeasterly winds blowing from the Pacific Ocean during the summer and northwesterly winds blowing from the Eurasian continent in the winter.
The country has four well-defined seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Two of the most beautiful sights in Japan are the cherry blossoms in spring and the vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows of the autumn leaves. The Japanese people enjoy these signs of the changing seasons and track their progress with weather reports, which feature maps showing where the spring blossoms and autumn leaves are at their best. The far north and south of Japan have very different climates. In March, for example, you can go sunbathing in the south and skiing in the north!
The country often suffers such serious natural disasters as typhoons, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes. Although these disasters can claim many lives, as in the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of January 1995 and the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011, the Japanese have been working hard for years to minimize their damage. Japan uses state-of-the-art technologies to design quake-resistant structures and to track storms with greater precision.