Japan Geographical Setting Japan is an island country in the North Pacific Ocean. It lies off the northeast coast of mainland Asia and faces Russia,Korea, and China. Four large islands and thousands of smaller ones make up Japan. The four major islands- Hokkaido,Honshu,Kyushu and Shikoku form a curve that extends for about 1,900 kilometres. Topography Japan is a land of great natural beauty. mountains and hills cover about 70% of the country. IN fact, Japanese islands consist of the rugged upper part of a great mountain range that rises from the floor of the North Pacific Ocean. Jagged peaks, rocky gorges, and thundering mountain waterfalls provide some of the country's most spectacular scenery. Thick forests thrive on mountansides, adding to the scenic beauty of the Japanese islands. Forests cover about 68% of the country's land. Japan lies on an extremely unstable part of the earth's crust. As a result, the land is constantly shifting. This shifting causes two of Japan's most striking features-- earthquakes and volcanoes. The Japanese islands have about 1500 earthquakes a year. Most of them are minor tremors that cause little damage, but severe earthqaukes occur every few years. Underseaquakes sometimes cause huge, destructive tidal waves, called tsunami, along Japan's Pacific coast. The Japanese islands have more than 150 major volcanoes. Over 60 of these volcanoes are active. Numerous short, swift rivers cross Japan's rugged surface. most of the rivers are too shallow and steep to be navigated. Their waters are used to irrigate farmland, and their rapids and falls supply power for hydroelectric plants. Many lakes nestle among the Japanese mountains. Some lie in the craters of extinct volcanoes. A large number of hot springs gush from the ground throughout the country. The Japanese islands have a total land area of about 337,708 sqkm. The islands , in order of size, are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku.