Japan is an archipelago on the eastern edge of Asia. An archipelago is a string of islands. There are four main islands and nearly 4,000 smaller islands, too! Most of Japan’s 100 million residents live on one of the four main islands. That’s lots of people in a small space!

Almost four-fifths of Japan is covered with mountains. The Japanese Alps run down the centre of the largest island, Honshu. The highest peak and Japan’s most famous mountain is Mount Fuji. The Japanese people call their country ‘Nihon’ or ‘Nippon’, which means ‘the origin of the Sun’ in Japanese.

Japan can be a dangerous place. Three of the tectonic plates that form the Earth’s crust meet nearby and often move against each other, causing earthquakes. More than a thousand earthquakes hit Japan every year. Japan also has about 200 volcanoes, 60 of which are still active.

The Japanese are famous for their willingness to work very hard. This was seen by the efforts of some Japanese pupils who support Holy Childhood (Mission Together). Each month these pupils collect and crush aluminium cans to be exchanged for money to be donated to Holy Childhood, to help children in poverty around the world. The task isn’t easy, but the pupils say that it helps them to understand the importance of working hard with and for others, and the joy that comes from sharing our faith and making a difference in the world.