The variety of plant aspects of the country is due to the division of the archipelago into different climatic domains, one subtropical and the other temperate. The climatic fluctuations of past eras have also contributed to this variety, due to the introduction of species of still different domains. The subtropical forest is, like the Sinic one, characterized by evergreen species represented by bamboo, oak, camphor trees, etc. These and other species often form, in the South, a sort of scrubor sparse scrub (genya) derived from the degradation of the primary forest and in which dwarf bamboo (sasa) in close association; the subtropical species go north to the coast of central Honshū. The temperate forest is the largest and is represented by broad-leaved trees (poplars, oaks, ash trees, chestnuts, beeches) and various conifers, with a prevalence of red pine. In the elevated areas and in the Hokkaidō there are conifers of boreal environment (various fir trees) which in the colder areas and at higher altitudinal levels give way to the prairies (at the same levels there are also shrubs of pines) and to the tundras of a nival environment. In a populated country like Japan, the natural vegetable mantle has been largely altered by man; however, given the mountainous nature of the islands and the prevalence of the population along the coasts, the woodland is still very extensive, accounting for as much as 64% of the entire surface of the archipelago; in the less accessible inland mountainous areas there are extensive intact wooded areas. The density of the population has also influenced the Japanese fauna, but the existing species remain numerous and variously distributed on the territory. The mountainous areas are inhabited by wild boars, tanuki, foxes, deer, antelopes, etc. There is no shortage of monkeys, in particular the macaque Japanese that also populates the island of Honshū: this is the only primate, besides man, to live at such high latitudes. Among the reptiles of the country, the Aodaisho (or Elaphe climacophora), a characteristic snake that lives in almost all the islands of the archipelago, is worth mentioning; among the amphibians, the giant salamander of Japan is remembered, which can reach 1.5 m in length. The archipelago is home to around 600 bird species. Visit vaultedwatches.com for Asia flora and wildlife.
The confluence of cold and warm ocean currents has also produced a sea full of life: the waters are inhabited by whales, dolphins, porpoises, salmon, tuna and a wide variety of crustaceans and molluscs. The country is subject to numerous earthquakes (the most disastrous were that of 1923, which struck Tōkyō and Yokohama and caused the death of about 200,000 people, and that of 1995, which hit Kobe and caused the death of about 5000 people) and tsunamis; there are also numerous active volcanoes. This instability is typical of the Pacific area called the “ring of fire”, of which the archipelago is one of the most active areas. Japan suffers from the environmental problems typical of industrialized countries, aggravated by the intensive exploitation of space. Air pollution is high especially in the metropolises of Tōkyō, Ōsaka and Yokohama. Sulfur dioxide emissions have been significantly reduced thanks to environmental regulations, but nitrogen oxides, which contribute to acid rain, are still a problem. Water quality has steadily improved since the 1970s, but the acidification of lakes and reservoirs has threatened numerous habitats. L’ The increase in household waste in the 1980s was among the highest in the world and Japan now faces a severe shortage of landfill sites. Furthermore, this is the first country to record cases of heavy metal poisoning (cadmium and mercury), which resulted in hundreds of deaths. Finally, the location of the numerous nuclear power plants poses environmental and safety risks in the event of an earthquake. In Japan, the relationship with nature also includes sacral elements. Since the introduction of Buddhism in the country in the sixth century BC. C., the ethics of environmental conservation are cultivated, with protected areas and special hunting reserves present for several centuries. In 2007, protected areas occupy 9.4% of the territory, but the percentage rises to 14% if we consider the area protected in various ways: national parks, areas for the protection of the wild environment, nature conservation areas of the state, plus a wide range of wildlife reserves and special sanctuaries (regional nature conservation areas alone are 643). Shiretoko Peninsula (2005) which is home to the country’s largest bear population.