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  (also spelled Honshu) is the largest island of Japanmarker. The nation's main island, it is south of Hokkaidōmarker across the Tsugaru Straitmarker, north of Shikokumarker across  the Inland Seamarker, and northeast of Kyūshūmarker across the Kanmon Straitmarker. It is the seventh largest island in the world, and the second most populous after Javamarker in Indonesia.

The island is roughly 1,300 km long and ranges from 50 to 230 km wide, and its total area is 227,962.59 km², 60% of the total area of Japan. It is larger than the island of Great Britainmarker, and slightly larger than the state of Minnesotamarker. Its area has been expanding with land reclamation and coastal uplift in the north, but global sea level rise have diminished these effects. Honshū has 5,450 km of coastline.

Mountainous and volcanic, Honshū has frequent earthquakes (the Great Kantō earthquakemarker heavily damaged Tokyomarker in September 1923); the highest peak is the active volcano Mount Fujimarker at 3,776 m, which makes it the world's 7th highest island. There are many rivers, including the Shinano Rivermarker, Japan's longest. The climate is temperate, but has marked difference between the eastern or southern (Pacific or Inland Sea coast) side, and the western or northern (Sea of Japan coast) side. A mountain range runs along the length of Honshū from end to end. In addition to Mt. Fuji, the Japanese Alpsmarker are features of Honshū.

It has a population of 103,000,000 in 2005, (98,352,000 as of 1990; in 1975 it was 89,101,702), mostly concentrated in the available lowlands, notably in the Kantō plain where 25% of the total population reside in the Greater Tokyo Areamarker, which includes Tokyomarker and Yokohama, Kawasaki, Saitama and Chiba cities. Most of the nation's industry is located along the belt running from Tokyo along Honshū's southern coastal cities, including Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Kobe, and Hiroshima, part of the Taiheiyo Belt.

The economy along the northwestern coast by the Sea of Japanmarker is largely fishing and agriculture; Niigatamarker is noted as an important producer of rice. The Kantō and Nōbi plains produce rice and vegetables. Yamanashi is a major fruit-growing area, and Aomori is famous for its apples.

Eminent historical centers include Kyoto, Nara, and Kamakura.

The island is nominally divided into five regions and contains 34 prefectures, including metropolitan Tokyo. The regions are Chūgokumarker (western), Kansaimarker (southern, east of Chūgoku), Chūbumarker (central), Kantō (eastern), and Tōhoku (northern). Some smaller islands are included within these prefectures, most prominently Ogasawara Islandsmarker, Sado Island, Izu Oshima and Awaji Islandmarker.

The prefectures are:

Honshū is connected to the islands of Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku by tunnels or bridges. Three new bridge systems have been built across the islands of the Inland Sea between Honshū and Shikokumarker (Akashi-Kaikyo Bridgemarker and the Ohnaruto Bridgemarker; Shin-Onomichi Bridge, Innoshima Bridgemarker, Ikuchi Bridge, Tatara Bridgemarker, Ohmishima Bridge, Hakata-Ohshima Bridgesmarker, and the Kurushima-Kaikyo Bridgemarker; Shimotsui-Seto Bridgemarker, Hitsuishijima Bridgemarker, Iwakurojima Bridgemarker, Yoshima Bridgemarker, Kita Bisan-Seto Bridgemarker, and the Minami Bisan-Seto Bridgemarker), and the Seikan Tunnelmarker connects Honshū with Hokkaidōmarker.

Extreme points

The northernmost point on Honshū is the tip of the Shimokita Peninsulamarker in Ōma, Aomori. At the southern extreme lies Cape Kure in Kushimoto, Wakayamamarker. The island is bounded on the east by Todogasaki in Miyako, Iwate and on the west by Bishanohana in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi. It spans more than eight degrees of latitude and 11 degrees of longitude.


  1. Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan

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