The Rich and Diverse Flora of Japan
7,000 native plants in Japan
Japan is located on a long, narrow island archipelago with a wide range of climates, from the subarctic region of Hokkaido in the north to the subtropical region of Okinawa in the south, and is characterised by clearly defined seasons and plentiful rainfall. The country is surrounded on all sides by the ocean, and its inland geography is varied and complex, with many rugged mountainous areas.
This great diversity in climate and geography has given rise to countless species of plants. The Japan archipelago was spared from the ravages of the glaciers and the resulting massive extinction of plant life that has taken place on many continents. At the same time, the process of repeated invasion by and isolation from other plant species that resulted from recurring connection to and separation from the Asian continent over millions of years has contributed to the richness of Japan’s natural flora.
Traditionally, the lives of Japanese people - from the essentials of food, clothing, and housing to their spiritual lives - have been characterised by harmony with nature, and the land maintained with great care over many generations has become an essential part of the natural environment. This type of "controlled" natural environment has become the habitat for many species of wild plants in Japan.
There are about 7,000 species of "vascular plants" (seed plants, ferns, and other plants with vascular systems) in Japan, and about 40% of these (approximately 2,900 species) are recognised as being endemic to Japan. Japan’s diverse and unique flora was created through a combination of human efforts and ideal natural conditions.