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Native name:
Satellite image of Honshu in May 2003.png
Satellite image of Honshu
Japan honshu map.svg
Coordinates36°N 138°E / 36°N 138°E / 36; 138Coordinates: 36°N 138°E / 36°N 138°E / 36; 138
ArchipelagoJapanese archipelago
Area227,960[1] km2 (88,020 sq mi)
Area rank7th
Length1,300 km (810 mi)
Width50–230 km (31–143 mi)
Coastline10,084 km (6265.9 mi)
Highest elevation3,776 m (12388 ft)
Highest pointMount Fuji
Largest settlement Tokyo (pop. 14,043,239)
Population104,000,000[2] (2017)
Pop. density447/km2 (1158/sq mi)
Ethnic groupsJapanese
Additional information
Time zone

Honshu (本州, Honshū, pronounced [hoꜜɰ̃ɕɯː] (listen); lit. "main province"), historically called Hondo (本土, mainland), is the largest and most populous main island of Japan.[3][4] It is located south of Hokkaidō across the Tsugaru Strait, north of Shikoku across the Inland Sea, and northeast of Kyūshū across the Kanmon Straits. The island separates the Sea of Japan, which lies to its north and west, from the North Pacific Ocean to the south and east. It is the seventh-largest island in the world, and the second-most populous after the Indonesian island of Java.[5][6][7]

Honshu had a population of 104 million as of 2017, constituting 81.3% of the entire population of Japan,[8] and is mostly concentrated in the coastal areas and plains. Approximately 30% of the total population resides in the Greater Tokyo Area on the Kantō Plain. As the historical center of Japanese cultural and political power,[9] the island includes several past Japanese capitals, including Kyōto, Nara and Kamakura. Much of the island's southern shore forms part of the Taiheiyō Belt, a megalopolis that spans several of the Japanese islands.[9] Honshu contains Japan's highest mountain, Mount Fuji, and its largest lake, Lake Biwa.[10]

Most of Japan's industry is located in a belt running along Honshu's southern coast, from Tokyo to Nagoya, Kyōto, Osaka, Kobe, and Hiroshima;[9] by contrast, the economy along the northwestern Sea of Japan coast is largely based on fishing and agriculture.[11] The island is linked to the other three major Japanese islands by a number of bridges and tunnels. Its climate is humid and mild.


Japan as seen from a satellite. Honshu is the largest, middle island.

The island is roughly 1,300 km (810 mi) long and ranges from 50 to 230 km (31 to 143 mi) wide, and its total area is 227,960 km2 (88,020 sq mi),[1] making it slightly larger than the island of Great Britain 209,331 km2 (80,823 sq mi).[7] Its land area has been increasing with land reclamation and coastal uplift in the north due to plate tectonics with a convergent boundary. Honshu has 10,084 kilometres (6,266 mi) of coastline.[4]

Mountainous and volcanic, Honshu experiences 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)[12][13] while causing devastating tsunamis). The highest peak is the active volcano Mount Fuji at 3,776 m (12,388 ft), which makes Honshu the world's 7th highest island. There are many rivers, including the Shinano River, Japan's longest. The Japanese Alps span the width of Honshu, from the 'Sea of Japan' coast to the Pacific shore. The climate is generally humid subtropical in western Japan and humid continental in the north.

Extreme points[edit]

Bridges and tunnels[edit]

Honshu is connected to the islands of Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku by tunnels and 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 Hokkaidō, and the Kanmonkyo Bridge and Kanmon Tunnel connects Honshu with Kyūshū.


Honshu has a total population of 104 million people, according to a 2017 estimate, 81.3% of the entire population of Japan.[8] The largest city is Tokyo (population: 37,339,804),[14] the capital of Japan and part of the Greater Tokyo Area, the most populous metropolitan area in the world.


Honshu island generates around US$4 trillion or 4/5 of Japan's GDP.[citation needed]

Administrative regions and prefectures[edit]

The island is divided into five nominal regions and contains 34 prefectures, including metropolitan Tokyo. Administratively, some smaller islands are included within these prefectures, notably including the Ogasawara Islands, Sado Island, Izu Ōshima, and Awaji Island.

The regions and its prefectures are:

Natural features[edit]


Fruit, vegetables, grains, rice and cotton make up the main produce grown in Honshu.[15] The Tohoku region, spanning the north-eastern part of the island, is notable for its rice production, with 65% of cultivated land being rice paddy fields – almost a quarter of all paddy fields in Japan.[16] Chiba Prefecture is famous for its peanuts, also being the largest producer in Japan.[17] Rare species of the lichen genus Menegazzia are found only in Honshu.[18]


Most of Japan's tea and silk is from Honshu.[15]

Minerals and fuels[edit]

Honshu is home to a large portion[19] of Japan's minimal mineral reserves,[20] also housing small deposits of oil and coal. Several coal deposits are also located in the northern part of the island,[21] concentrated in Fukushima Prefecture and Niigata Prefecture, though Honshu's coal production is negligible in comparison to Hokkaido and Kyushu.[22] Most of Japan's oil reserves are also located in northern Honshu, along the west coast, spanning Niigata, Yamagata and Akita Prefectures.[23]

In terms of mineral resources, Honshu houses the majority of Japan's copper, lead, zinc and chromite. Smaller deposits of gold, silver, arsenic, sulphur and pyrite are also scattered across the island.[24]

Flora and fauna[edit]

These are notable flora and fauna of Honshu.

Notable flora and fauna[25]
Name Type Notes
Japanese black bear Fauna A subspecies of the Asian Black Bear. It is typically herbivorous and lives in Honshu and Kyushu.
Japanese macaque Fauna (Macaca fuscata or snow monkey), is a terrestrial Old World monkey species that is native to Japan.
Japanese golden eagle Fauna (Aquila chrysaetos japonica), a subspecies of the Golden Eagle, inhabits Honshu and Hokkaido all year round.
Japanese wolf Fauna Aka Honshu Wolf is an extinct subspecies of the wolf.
Sika Deer Fauna Cervus nippon (Japanese deer), is overabundant in Honshu.
Japanese dwarf flying squirrel Fauna (Nihon momonga) is one of two species of Old World flying squirrels in the genus Pteromys.
Japanese raccoon dog Fauna (Nyctereutes viverrinus, also called tanuki), is a species of canid endemic to Japan.
Japanese giant salamander Fauna (Andrias japonicus) this fully aquatic salamander is endemic to Japan and called Ōsanshōuo (Giant Salamander)
Takydromus tachydromoides Fauna The Japanese grass lizard, is a wall lizard species of the genus Takydromus.
Japanese serow Fauna (kamoshika, lit. "coarse pelt deer"): (Capricornis crispus) is a Japanese goat-antelope found in dense woodland primarily in northern and central Honshu.
Japanese giant flying squirrel Fauna (musasabi, Petaurista leucogenys) is native to Japan where it inhabits sub-alpine forests and boreal evergreen forests on Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu.
Japanese boar Fauna (Sus scrofa leucomystax, aka white-moustached pig, Nihon-inoshishi (ニホンイノシシ)), is a subspecies of wild boar native to all of Japan, save for Hokkaido and the Ryukyu Islands.
Japanese bush warbler Fauna (uguisu (鶯), is an Asian passerine bird more often heard than seen. It's a year-round resident of Japan (except Hokkaido where it is only in summer).
Sasakia charonda Fauna National butterfly of Japan (ō-murasaki, "great purple")
Copper pheasant Fauna (Syrmaticus soemmerringii) a large pheasant with a rich coppery chestnut plumage is endemic to Japan.
Green pheasant Fauna (Phasianus versicolor), aka Japanese green pheasant, is an omnivorous bird native to the Japanese archipelago, to which it is endemic.
Grey Heron Fauna (Ardea cinerea) Long legged wading bird.
Japanese scops owl Fauna (Otus semitorques) is a resident breeder in Japan and found in other countries in East Asia.
Doryrhamphus japonicus Fauna Doryrhamphus japonicus, or the Honshu pipefish, is a species of flagtail pipefish
Brahmaea japonica Fauna (Japanese owl moth) a species of moth of the Brahmaeidae family native to Japan.
Japanese spider crab Fauna (Macrocheira kaempferi) a marine crab with the largest leg-span of any arthropod. They live off the southern coasts of Honshū from Tokyo Bay to Kagoshima Prefecture.
Chum salmon Fauna (aka white salmon (白鮭 シロサケ) is native to middle and northern Honshu, Hokkaido and the North Pacific.
Oncorhynchus kawamurae Fauna A species of landlocked Pacific trout in Japan. It's endemic to Lake Tazawa, Akita Prefecture, but was translocated to Lake Saiko.
Akita Inu Fauna (秋田犬, Akita-inu) is a historic dog breed of large size originating from the mountains in Akita Prefecture (northern Honshu).
Kai Ken Fauna The Kai Ken (甲斐犬) is a rare breed of dog native to Japan. It is originally from Kai Province in Yamanashi Prefecture.
Kishu Fauna Kishu Ken are a rare dog breed that was selectively bred for the hunting of wild boar and deer in the mountainous Mie prefecture and Wakayama prefecture.
Shiba Inu Fauna The Shiba Inu (柴犬, is an original and distinct spitz breed hunting dog, native to Japan.
Japanese rose Flora (Rosa rugosa), a species of rose native to eastern Asia and Japan.
Hydrangea hirta Flora A species of flowering plant in the family Hydrangeaceae that is native to East Asia and common in the Pacific side of Honshu.
Tsuga sieboldii Flora (Tsuga sieboldii or simply tsuga (栂)), is a conifer native to the Japanese islands of Honshū, Kyūshū, Shikoku and Yakushima.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Farjon, Aljos; Filer, Denis (2013). An Atlas of the World's Conifers: An Analysis of their Distribution, Biogeography, Diversity and Conservation Status. BRILL. p. 268. ISBN 9789004211810.
  2. ^ a b "Tokyo Metropolis' Population overview – Reiwa 3 January 1" (in Japanese). Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Retrieved October 22, 2021.
  3. ^ "離島とは(島の基礎知識) (what is a remote island?)". MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism) (in Japanese). Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. 22 August 2015. Archived from the original (website) on 2007-07-13. Retrieved 9 August 2019. MILT classification 6,852 islands(main islands: 5 islands, remote islands: 6,847 islands)
  4. ^ a b "Honshu". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  5. ^ Japan Civil Registry Database 2013
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b "Islands By Land Area". Islands.unep.ch. Retrieved 2010-08-01.
  8. ^ a b Boquet, Yves (2017). The Philippine Archipelago. Springer. p. 16. ISBN 9783319519265.
  9. ^ a b c Dolan, Ronald; Worden, Robert (1992). Japan: a country study. Federal Research Division, Library of Congress.
  10. ^ "Honshu | Facts, History, & Points of Interest". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-04-14.
  11. ^ Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ "Quake shifted Japan by over two meters". Deutsche Welle. March 14, 2011. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
  14. ^ "Tokyo Population 2021 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs)". worldpopulationreview.com. Retrieved 2021-10-22.
  15. ^ a b "Honshu". infoplease.com. 2012. Retrieved 2014-11-23.
  16. ^ "Regions of Japan" (PDF). Web Japan. Retrieved 2021-10-22.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ "Peanuts | Authentic Japanese product". japan-brand.jnto.go.jp. Retrieved 2021-10-22.
  18. ^ Bjerke JW (2004). "Revision of the lichen genus Menegazzia in Japan, including two new species". The Lichenologist. 36 (1): 15–25. doi:10.1017/S0024282904013878. ISSN 0024-2829. S2CID 85436634.
  19. ^ Natural Resources of Japan. General Headquarters, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, Natural Resources Section. 1947. pp. 42–48.
  20. ^ "Japan - Resources and power". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-10-22.
  21. ^ "Catalogue of Geological Maps|Geological Survey of Japan/ AIST". www.gsj.jp. Retrieved 2021-10-22.
  22. ^ Natural Resources of Japan. General Headquarters, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, Natural Resources Section. 1947. p. 44.
  23. ^ Natural Resources of Japan. General Headquarters, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, Natural Resources Section. 1947. p. 43.
  24. ^ Natural Resources of Japan. General Headquarters, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, Natural Resources Section. 1947. pp. 44–45.
  25. ^ Japanese Wiki page ja:北海道

External links[edit]

  • Honshu travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • Media related to Honshu at Wikimedia Commons