A Mountain In Every Backyard


Japan is a very mountainous country. About 73% of its land is mountains, which means that there is very little flat land for people to live on. Japanese farming, urban design and culture have all adapted to this landscape. Read more about how the mountains have shaped Japanese day-to-day life.

What makes this environment special or different?:

Japan is located at the intersection of the Pacific and Eurasian tectonic plates. Tectonic plates are pieces of the earth's surface that float on lava and, over millions of years, collide with each other to create mountains, volcanoes and islands. Therefore, Japan is not only an extremely mountainous country, but it also has over 6,000 islands. However, these tectonic plates also give rise to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes. In fact, Japan is part of the Ring of Fire, which consists of regions around the Pacific Ocean, including California and Mexico, that are especially prone to earthquakes.

What parts of this environment help people to live here?:

The mountains in Japan give rise to rivers, which are used for both water and energy. The rivers in Japan flow rapidly from mountain to sea, creating waterfalls and deep valleys along the way. The mountains also shape weather systems. For example, when clouds pass over mountains, they tend to rise, which creates rain.