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Native name: 本州
Japan honshu map small.png
Honshu is located in Japan
Honshu (Japan)
Location East Asia
Archipelago Japanese archipelago
Area 227,962.59 km2 (88,016.85 sq mi)
Area rank 7th
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
Prefectures Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Niigata, Toyama, Ishikawa, Fukui, Yamanashi, Nagano, Gifu, Shizuoka, Aichi, Mie, Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyōgo, Nara, Wakayama, Tottori, Shimane, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi.
Largest settlement Tokyo (pop. 12,570,000)
Population 103,000,000 (as of 2005 Census)
Density 447 /km2 (1,158 /sq mi)
Ethnic groups Japanese

Honshu (本州 Honshū?, literally "Main Island" or "Main Province") ([hoɴꜜɕɯᵝː]) is the largest and most populous island of Japan.[1] The nation's main island, it is south of Hokkaido across the Tsugaru Strait, north of Shikoku across the Inland Sea, and northeast of Kyushu across the Kanmon Straits. It is the seventh largest island in the world, and the second most populous after Java.[2][3]

It had a population of 103 million in 2005[citation needed], mostly concentrated in the available lowlands, notably in the Kantō plain where 25% of the total population resides in the Greater Tokyo Area, which includes Tokyo and Yokohama, Kawasaki, Saitama and Chiba cities.[citation needed] Most of the nation's industry is located along the belt running from Tokyo along Honshu's southern coastal cities, including Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Kobe, and Hiroshima, part of the Taiheiyō Belt.[citation needed]

The economy along the northwestern coast by the Sea of Japan is largely based on fishing and agriculture;[4] 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.[citation needed]

Eminent historical centers include Kyoto, Nara, and Kamakura.[citation needed]


The island is roughly 1,300 kilometres (810 mi) long and ranges from 50 to 230 km (31 to 143 mi) wide, and its total area is 227,962.59 km2 (88,016.85 sq mi), 60% of the total area of Japan.[citation needed] It is slightly larger than Great Britain.[5] Its area has been expanding with land reclamation and coastal uplift in the north, but global sea level rise has diminished these effects[citation needed]. Honshu has 5,450 kilometres (3,386 mi) of coastline.[6]

Mountainous and volcanic, Honshu has 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)[7][8] while causing devastating tsunamis); the highest peak is the active volcano Mount Fuji at 3,776 m (12,388 ft), which makes it the world's 7th highest island. There are many rivers, including the Shinano River, Japan's longest. The climate is temperate, but has marked difference between the eastern or southern (Pacific or Inland Sea coast) side, and the western or northern (Sea of Japan coast) side. A mountain range runs along the length of Honshu from end to end. In addition to Mt. Fuji, the Japanese Alps are a feature of Honshu.[citation needed]

Honshu is connected to the islands of Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku by tunnels or 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.[citation needed]

Regions and prefectures

The island is nominally divided into five regions and contains 34 prefectures, including metropolitan Tokyo. The regions are Chūgoku (western), Kansai (southern, east of Chūgoku), Chūbu (central), Kantō (eastern), and Tōhoku (northern). Some smaller islands are included within these prefectures, prominently including Ogasawara Islands, Sado Island, Izu Ōshima, and Awaji Island.[citation needed]

The regions are:

Extreme points

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 is bounded on the east by Todogasaki in Miyako, Iwate and on the west by Bishanohana in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi. It spans more than eight degrees of latitude and 11 degrees of longitude.[citation needed]

Natural features


Yields of zinc, copper, and oil have been found on Honshu.[9]


Most of Japan's tea and silk is from Honshu. Fruits, vegetables, grains, rice and cotton are grown in Honshu.[9]


  1. Honshu
  2. Japan Civil Registry Database 2013
  3. See Japan Census of 2000; The editors of List of islands by population appear to have used similar data from the relevant statistics bureaux, and totalled up the various administrative districts that make up each island, and then done the same for less populous islands. An editor of this article has not repeated that work. Therefore this plausible and eminently reasonable ranking is posted as unsourced common knowledge.
  4. Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan
  5. "Islands by land area". UN SYSTEM-WIDE EARTHWATCH. Retrieved 17 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Honshu". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 22 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Map of Horizontal Land Movement caused by 2011/3/11 M9.0 earthquake" (PDF) (in Japanese). Geospatial Information Authority of Japan. March 19, 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2012.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Quake shifted Japan by over two meters". Deutsche Welle. March 14, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Honshu". infoplease.com. 2012. Retrieved 2014-11-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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