Japan , island country lying off the east coast of Asia. It consists of a great string of islands in a northeast-southwest arc that stretches for approximately 1, miles 2, km through the western North Pacific Ocean. Honshu is the largest of the four, followed in size by Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku. In addition, there are numerous smaller islands, the major groups of which are the Ryukyu Nansei Islands including the island of Okinawa to the south and west of Kyushu and the Izu , Bonin Ogasawara , and Volcano Kazan islands to the south and east of central Honshu. The Japanese landscape is rugged, with more than four-fifths of the land surface consisting of mountains. Abundant precipitation and the generally mild temperatures throughout most of the country have produced a lush vegetation cover and, despite the mountainous terrain and generally poor soils, have made it possible to raise a variety of crops.
Japan consists of several thousands of islands, of which Honshu, Hokkaido , Kyushu and Shikoku are the four largest. Japan's closest neighbors are Korea, Russia and China. The Sea of Japan separates the Asian continent from the Japanese archipelago. Japan's area is comparable to that of Germany or California.