Japan is famous for its traditional culture and technological innovation; it also boasts a variety of famous landforms. From the dramatic coastline to the towering mountain ranges, Japan's geography is a major draw for both domestic and international tourists. Many of the most popular landforms are situated in pristine, well-maintained national parks.

Geographic Origins

Japan's dramatic geography is a testament to its volcanic origins. The island chain is located along the Ring of Fire, where the movement of the tectonic plates causes seismic and volcanic activity. The shifting of the earth causes deadly earthquakes, but also created Japan's mountain ranges, valleys and many hot springs.


Japan's chaotic geological past created dramatic mountain ranges that run the length of the country. The jagged peaks create a scenic landscape and unparalleled opportunities for hiking, snow sports and photography. Perhaps the most famous of Japan's many mountains is Mt. Fuji, a dormant volcano and the tallest mountain in the country. Other famous Japanese mountains are Mt. Haku and Mt. Tate. Ski bums head to Japan's mountains for world-class powder; Hakkoda Honshu and Kiroro Hokkaido are among the highest rated.

Coral Reefs

Travelers to Japan often stick to the main island and miss out on some of the country's most unexpected landforms: the coral reefs near Okinawa. The famously clear ocean around the island of Okinawa and the warm Kuroshio current provide the ideal environment for diving and snorkeling. The coral reefs are home to hundreds of species of fish and coral.


As an island nation, Japan has an overabundance of beaches. The shoreline is diverse, ranging from forested cliffs to white-sand beaches. Some of Japan's most famous beaches are Mizushima on the Tsuruga Peninsula, Shirahama near Shimoda and the white sands of Nishi Himi. At Takenohama, the stands of pine trees contrast dramatically with the beach.