Driving Directions Japan
JAPAN, a constitutional monarchy, consists of a series of over 1,000 islands in East Asia. There are four principal, large islands running from north to south: Hokkaido, Honshu (the largest and known as the mainland), Shikoku, and Kyushu. These four islands, all near one another, make up 98 percent of the total area of Japan.
In the north, the La Perouse Strait (Sea of Okhotsk) separates Hokkaido from the island of Sakhalin (Russia). In the northwest, Hokkaido is similarly separated from the Kuril Islands by the narrow Nemura Strait. (The Kuril Islands have been occupied by Russia since the end of the Second World War but are also claimed by Japan.)
In the southwest, the Western Channel of the Korea Strait separates the Japanese island of Tsushima from South Korea. In the far southwest, the southernmost of the Japanese Ryukyu Islands lie about 201 kilometers or 125 miles east of Taiwan while the remainder is separated from China to the west by the broad expanse of the East China Sea.