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Located in the Far East, Japan is an archipelago of more than 6,800 islands stretching about 1,800 miles from northeast to southwest. Its latitudinal range is the same as Quebec, Canada, all the way to Key West, U.S.A. Its land mass is slightly smaller than the state of California or Sweden, with almost 75% of the land consisting of mountains.
There are four major islands: Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Honshu, the largest and most populated and home to Tokyo, Kyoto, and other major cities, is subdivided into five geographical regions. From north to south, they are Tohoku, Kanto, Chubu, Kinki, and Chugoku. Hokkaido, in the north, is subarctic and boasts spectacular mountain scenery and wide open plains, while southern Kyushu is subtropical and is famous for its balmy weather, beaches, and hot-spring resorts. Shikoku, connected to Honshu via three bridges yet off the beaten path for most foreign tourists, is known for its many Buddhist temples and views of the Seto Inland Sea.