Japan

Japan consists of four major islands and several thousand smaller ones. More than half of the country is steep mountainous areas covered with forest. Because Japan is located in a region where several continental plates meet, the country experiences frequent earthquakes. There are also many active volcanoes.

Wildlife species native to Japan include bear, raccoon dog, mink, red fox, sika deer and numerous bird species. The only indigenous primate is the Japanese macaque, a small monkey found in the north. Surrounded by sea, the waters of Japan are also home dugong, finless porpoise and Steller’s sea lion.

Air and water pollution, especially in urban centres, have improved compared to several decades ago. Today, global warming and climate change are of great concern.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / WWF-Japan / Mima Junkichi
Satoyama Aichi-Seto 'Kaisho Forest'. 'Satoyama' means secondary forests, having been used sustainably. Japan
© WWF-Canon / WWF-Japan / Mima Junkichi

Country Eco-tips

Energy and Water
  • Japan tops most global comparisons of energy efficiency in wealthy nations, and is a leader in producing low-energy washing machines and televisions, high-kilometre cars and hybrid vehicles.
  • In general, you can drink the tap water in Japan though taste varies from region to region; tap water in Tokyo is safe and clean..
 
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Recycling
  • In Japan, garbage is separated into three sections: burnable, non-burnable and recyclable. Refuse must be sorted into a number of different categories, which vary by locality.
  • Recycling is being carried out on a full scale for steel cans, aluminum cans and glass bottles.
 
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Transport
  • Japan’s high speed trains, known as bullet trains, connect Tokyo with most of the island’s major cities and Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu.
  • Not all trains in Japan are bullet trains, but they are the most convenient way to get across towns and between cities.
  • Many of Japan’s major cities have efficient subways, including Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe, Osaka, Sapporo and Nagoya.
  • Japan has a ferry network that links many of the country’s islands. The major islands are connected by bridges or tunnels.
  • Bicycles in Tokyo are common, but bicycle lanes are rare.
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Food
  • Japan is the largest seafood importer in the world and the country with the highest rate of per capita fish consumption. Strong demand for tuna, especially Mediterranean bluefin tuna, is contributing to declining fish stocks.
  • A growing number of supermarkets in Japan are displaying the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) eco-label, indicating that the seafood products come from well-managed fisheries. Look for the label when buying seafood in Japan.
 
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Souvenirs
  • It is advisable to avoid buying souvenirs in Japan made from ivory, like chopsticks, which can not be brought back to your home country – export of ivory is prohibited by CITES.
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Green Spots
  • Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park: Climbers and tourists the world over come to this national park to visit Mt Fuji, the dormant volcano and highest mountain in Japan (3776m). The park also consists of the five Fuji lakes, the forested region of Hakone, and the Izu islands and peninsula.
  • Joshin'etsu Kogen National Park: This is the second largest national park in Japan, extending through Gunma, Nagano and Niigata prefectures. It features a number of volcanoes including Mt Asama, Mt. Myoko and Mt. Tanigawa - all over 2,000m.
  • Nikko National Park: With its impressive peaks, ancient forests, wide expanses of moorland, lakes and waterfalls, this is one of the most visited regions in Japan. The Toshogu Shrine, a World Cultural Heritage Site, is located within the park.
  • Chubu-Sangaku National Park: Known as the Japan Alps, this park in the centre of Honshu contains the highest peaks after Mt Fuji. The mountains attract large numbers of walkers and climbers in summer and skiers in winter.
  • Ueno Koen Park: This is the largest park in Tokyo. Here you’ll find temples, shrines and pagodas, a zoo and some of Japan’s finest museums and galleries. It is also famous for cherry trees and lotuses.
  • Ogasawara National Park: A marine protected area 1,000km southeast of Tokyo, the national park is made up of many islands scattered in the northwest Pacific Ocean. From winter through to spring, migrating dolphins and whales swim close to the islands' coasts, while green turtles land the shores to lay eggs from spring into summer.
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Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the above information. However, WWF makes no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding errors or omissions and assumes no legal liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use.
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