Prefectures (provinces) of Japan
The words “ken”, “-to”, “–do”, “–fu” get removed from the end of each prefecture’s name when being translated in English. Except for Hokkaido.
e.g Saitama-ken = Saaitama prefecture, Tokyo-to = Tokyo prefecture, Kyoto-fu = Kyoto Prefecture
One thing to be aware of is that some cities* (*-shi in Japanese) are the same as its prefecture. For example, Saitama-shi (city) in Saitama-ken (prefecture).
Depicted on the map are Japan’s main islands, from north to south: Hokkaido (北海道), Honshu (本州), Shikoku (四国), and Kyushu (九州).
When you look at a map of Japan, you can see the Japanese archipelago is the result of subducting tectonic plates over several 100 millions of years from the mid-Silurian (443.8 Mya) to the Pleistocene (11,700 years ago). Approximately 15,000 km (9,300 mi) of oceanic floor has passed under the Japanese archipelago in the last 450 million years, with most being fully subducted. It is considered a mature island arc.
Tectonic plate movements created the Japanese islands
- Tohoku (the upper half of Honshu), Hokkaido, Kuril islands & Sakhalin are located on the Okhotsk Plate. This is a minor tectonic plate bounded to the north by the North American Plate. The Okhotsk Plate is bounded on the east by the Pacific Plate at the Kuril–Kamchatka Trench and the Japan Trench. It is bounded on the south by the Philippine Sea Plate at the Nankai Trough. On the west it is bounded by the Eurasian Plate and possibly on the southwest by the Amurian Plate. The northeastern boundary the Ulakhan Fault.
- The southern half of Honshu, Shikoku and most of Kyushu are located on the Amurian Plate.
- The southern tip of Kyushu and the Ryukyu islands are located on the Okinawa Plate.
- The Nanpo Islands are on the Philippine Sea Plate.
The Pacific Plate and Philippine Sea Plate are subduction plates. They are deeper than the Eurasian plate. The Philippine Sea Plate moves beneath the continental Amurian Plate and Okinawa Plate to the south. The Pacific Plate moves under the Okhotsk Plate to the north. These subduction plates have pulled Japan eastward and opened the Sea of Japan by back-arc spreading around 15 million years ago. The Strait of Tartary and the Korea Strait opened much later. La Pérouse Strait formed about 60,000 to 11,000 years ago closing the path used by mammoths which had earlier moved to northern Hokkaido.
The subduction zone
The subduction zone is where the oceanic crust slides beneath the continental crust or other oceanic plates. This is because the oceanic plate’s litosphere has a higher density. Subduction zones are sites that usually have a high rate of volcanism and earthquakes. Additionally, subduction zones develop belts of deformation The subduction zones on the east side of the Japanese archipelago cause frequent low intensity earth tremors. Major earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis occur several times per century. It is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Northeastern Japan, north of Tanakura Shear Zone (fault), had high volcanic activity 14–17 million years before present.
Map of Japan Quiz
Thank you for reading this. But don’t forget to try the Map of Japan Quiz above, if you haven’t already tried it.