The mountainous islands of the Japanese Archipelago form a crescent off the eastern coast of Asia. They are separated from the mainland by the Sea of Japan, which historically served as a protective barrier.
The country consists of four principal islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu; more than 3,000 adjacent islands and islets.
A long chain of mountains runs down the middle of the archipelago, dividing it into two halves, the "face," fronting on the Pacific Ocean, and the "back," toward the Sea of Japan.
The highest point in the country is Mount Fuji (Fujisan, also called Fujiyama in the West but not in Japan), a volcano dormant since 1707 that rises to 3,776 meters above sea level in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Tokyo is the capital city. Other important cities - all on Honshu, the largest of the islands - are Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto and Yokohama.
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