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The Nature of Japan

by Mark Brazil

The Nature of Japan
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Long isolated from the neighbouring Asian continent lies a seemingly inscrutable, but fascinating island chain. The Japanese Archipelago is a treasure trove of natural wonders, ranging from coral reefs and tropical fish to sea-ice and fur seals. Lt rises to alpine meadows home to high altitude butterflies and birds, and falls through rich waters to one of the deepest ocean trenches in the world. It is washed by great ocean currents, one cold from the north, one warm from the south, which connect Japan to the Bering Sea and the tropical Pacific.

These islands witness nature at its most calamitous, with avalanches, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunami, typhoons and blizzards as frequent events. The thousands of islands that make up this diverse chain vary from tiny rocky islets supporting rare and endemic seabirds to a great arcing crescent of land rising to alpine peaks over 3000 m in altitude that are home to endemic giant salamanders and Asiatic black bears. Migrant birds further connect Japan with distant lands as far away as Australia and New Zealand, northeast Russia and Alaska, and South and Southeast Asia.



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