Honshu is the largest island of the Japanese archipelago, its length is 1300 km and width varies from 50 to 230 km.
Honshu Island in Japan
Honshu is the largest of the 4 main islands of the Japanese archipelago. Honshu is home to 80% of Japan’s population, and it occupies about 60% of the country’s total land area.
A large part of the island is covered by mountains, among which there are many extinct and about 20 active volcanoes. Honshu, like the rest of the Japanese archipelago, lies in a zone of high seismic hazard. During the year more than a thousand earth shocks and ground shaking are registered on the island, moreover 5-6 magnitude earthquakes are frequent, therefore all the buildings in those places are built on the earthquake resistant technologies.
Such specific natural conditions have not only produced a peculiar way of life of the Japanese, but also influenced the formation of the mentality: the Japanese are highly resilient to the difficulties of life, patient, industrious and philosophical attitude towards the world.
Honshu’s supremacy is already expressed in its name: in Japanese the name of the island means “the main province”. The largest and most famous Japanese cities are located on this island: the ancient capital of Kyoto, the modern Tokyo, the largest port Yokagama, the infamous Hiroshima.
The most famous landmark of Honshu, no doubt, is Mount Fujiyama, located 90-at the south-west of the capital.
In the northern part of Honshu is the active volcano Osorema, one of the three holy mountains in Japanese mythology. A literal translation of “Osoreyama” means “mountain of fear.” The appearance of the mountain and its surroundings is quite consistent with this name: in the cracks of the rocks can be seen clobbering crimson-yellow or blood-red mass, you can constantly smell the pungent smell of sulfur, over the nearby lake Osorei scary-calm steam swirls from hot springs. The numerous figures of stone jidos, good deities meant to ward off demons from this gloomy place, do not improve the impression either. Because of the mountain’s terrifying appearance, Osoreyama has long enjoyed a notoriety, the Japanese consider it a “gateway to the underworld”. According to legend, for several days a year the mountain opens an exit from the other world, allowing the deceased to meet the living.
Every year in mid-July, peculiar “festivals” take place near the ominous mountain at which Itako, local shamans, hold séances with the souls of the dead.
Still, there are many more beautiful and awe-inspiring places on Honshu. One of them is Nikko National Park. It is difficult to describe in words the beauty and grandeur of this place, which occupies a huge space, where dozens of Buddhist and Shinto temples and monasteries are scattered among centuries-old dense forests, mountain slopes, lakes and waterfalls.
The city of Hakone, with its magnificent seventeenth-century castle, is located on the shores of Lake Biwa, which is the most beautiful city in the world. On the shore of the lake is the town of Hakone, whose main pride is its magnificent 17th-century castle. The castle is still open to visitors, but to get to it is not easy: to get to the entrance, you have to overcome an incredibly high staircase consisting of steps of irregular shape and different height.
Kobe city can be proud of interesting architecture monument: there is the only one in Japan completely preserved ancient castle – White Heron Castle.
This grandiose construction is the intricate complex that consists of 38 buildings, 21 towers, defensive moats, gardens, and many auxiliary constructions with secret passages and labyrinths.
On a mountain plateau near Osaka is a unique city of monasteries Koya-san. The first monastery in this area was founded in the early ninth century. Today in this wonderful city there are 120 working monasteries and also the Higher spiritual school of great importance for world Buddhism.
On Honshu there are also many Shinto temples built in the architectural traditions of the original Japanese style not influenced by Buddhism. The most striking example of such a construction is the country’s oldest temple, Izumo-taishya. The temple is also interesting because for many centuries priests from the Senge family have served there, which can compete even with the Imperial House in the continuity of tradition and antiquity of lineage.
The real “tourist mecca” of Japan is considered the ancient city of Nara. There are a huge number of temples and shrines, many of which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The most famous of them are Tōdai-ji Temple (the largest wooden building in the world), a 15-meter tall Buddha statue, the Kasuga-Taisha Shinto shrine, and Kofuku-ji Temple, famous for its three golden pavilions.
Nara is also famous for its park, home to 1,200 spotted wild deer. These animals were once officially recognized as divine messengers; after World War II, the deer were stripped of their divine status and relegated to national treasures.
Honshu Island is the largest of the four main islands of the Japanese archipelago (Kyushu, Shikoku, Honshu and Hokkaido). The area of the island is 227,962.59 km², which is almost 60% of Japan. The length of Honshu is 1300 km and width is 230 km; the length of the coastal strip is 5450 km. The island is home to most of the population and the main cities of the Land of the Rising Sun – Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka, Yokohama and Tokyo.
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The second name of the island is Hondo, a name rarely used today. Hon in Japanese means main, SJ and DO in the word means administrative division. SJ means province, DO means region, i.e., Honshu means main province and Hondo means main region.
The island has a mountainous topography, dominated by volcanoes. The largest of these is Mount Fujiima. The holy Mount Fuji reaches a height of 3.7 km. This makes Honshu the seventh highest island in the world.
The Shinano River feeds vast areas of the island. At the same time the climate of Honshu is variable and varied. The fact is that it stretches northward for 1.3 km. Mountains play a key role in shaping the climate. While in the south the climate is subtropical, in the north it is continental.
There is one more natural peculiarity: the island is located at the junction of the giant formation plates. Because of their deformation, destructive earthquakes occur in Japan.
Climate and weather
The climate on Honshu Island is oceanic, monsoonal, temperate in the north of the island, and subtropical in the south. The average temperature in July is 20-25 Celsius, and in winter – in January the average temperature is from minus 2 to 5 Celsius. The rainy season is in June-July, and autumn in Japan is usually rich in typhoons.
Honshu is magnificent in early spring, when azaleas and peonies bloom, of which there are a huge variety of species, and also admire the chrysanthemums, which are devoted to the festival of flowers in autumn.
Attractions of Honshu
The island is considered the home of skilled artisans, home to serene mountain settlements as well as bustling megacities. The western part of Honshu is known to history as the only inhabited area that was subjected to atomic bombing. Thus, in August 1945, the United States decided to remind the world of its military power and dropped two bombs with atomic warheads on Japan. One of the atomic bombs hit Hiroshima on the island of Honshu.
But this shameful event in the history of mankind is not all that this part of Japan can tell you about. Hiroshima Prefecture is home to striking nature reserves renowned for their pottery, limestone caves, and authentic restaurants serving the poisonous delicacy of fugu fish.
Revitalized Nagoya is a modern urbanized city, the true economic engine of Japan. The Pacific Coast is dotted with small towns where you can explore the ancient culture of the samurai, other military and social orders. Shirakawa and Gokayama attract classic Japanese architecture, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Kanazawa boasts winding city streets where geishas and samurai could be seen in the past.
A special attraction of the island is Mount Fuji, or Mount Fuji-san, located 90 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. Also of interest is the volcano-mountain Osoreyama (literally, the mountain of fear), which is located in the northern part of the island. This mountain is associated with many horror stories and myths, it is called the gate to the underworld, the mountain constantly smells of sulfur and the very sight of the terrain inspires fear. Twice a year there are festivals in which local shamans itako help those who wish to meet with the souls of the dead.
The north of the island is attractive for ecotourism. Pristine lakes, the shore of the Sea of Okhotsk, unique parks, small houses in the Japanese style.
Every tourist visiting Honshu Island must try the delicacy of the poisonous fugu fish, which is found near the shores of the island, and take a souvenir – a figurine of fukurumu, a Buddhist monk, which is arranged on the principle of matryoshka, but appeared much earlier than the Russian souvenir.