Tokyobling's Blog

Infographics – How Big Is Japan?

Posted in Opinion by tokyobling on March 18, 2011

Let me do something I don’t usually do: infographics. I realize that a lot of people, even in this day and age of computers and GPS navigators, have a very weak grasp of basic geography. How many people could place Tokyo on a map of Japan? How many people know how many main islands make up the Japanese archipelago? How many states are the in the US? How many prefectures in Kyushu? Let’s face it, most people, including us, haven’t go a clue.

But I thought I should give you a hint as to how big Japan is. Japan stretches from the subarctic north of Hokkaido and the Sea of Okhotsk to the southern province of Okinawa, a mere few kilometers from Taiwan. So I made maps of Japan compared to the rest of the world (well, to the US and to Europe) for you to have a look at.

In the first map (below) I placed Japan so that Tokyo centered on the city of Vaduz in central Europe. Vaduz is the capital of Lichtenstein, a small country between Switzerland and Austria. With this placement, Japan would reach from the city of Gothenburg in Sweden and way down off the coast of Portugal and Spain.

Yes, look for yourself. Japan would go from Sweden to North Africa. That’s pretty hefty for a single country don’t you think? I colored in the area of Japan affected by the earthquake with red.

Second map shows Japan on top of the US. Well, North America to be honest. If I place Tokyo to correspond with the wonderful city of St Louis, I get Hokkaido all the way up in Ontario, Canada, and Okinawa ending way beyond Chihuahua in Mexico.

I hope this visualization helps you realize just how huge Japan is, and how varied the country is in terms of people, geography and climate.

If you want to test this for yourself (please do, it is important to verify these sorts of things), you can go to the site where I created these maps, at MAPFrappe. I am sure someone can make an even better map mashup, with cities, evacuation zones and reactors and all the bells and whistles. Go ahead, and let us see what you create!


21 Responses

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  1. Julie (JUURI) said, on March 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    This is so great! I didn’t know you made them yourself. How wonderful!


    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:48 am

      Haha… thanks! Well, I do sometimes make stuff, not just press stupid triggers! (^-^;)


  2. Lili said, on March 18, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I’d never realized Japan was so great!
    I knew that for me Japan is GREAT in my heart 🙂


    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:49 am

      Great, big, large! Anyway you put it, I was surprised as well! (^-^)


  3. Ugabuba said, on March 18, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Thank you very much for your work. It finally makes me feel a bit relieved. Unfortunately I found your site a bit too late.

    I agree, it’s time to start to countersteer against these profit oriented and ruthless writers. You might want to check this website I became aware of just one hour ago:

    As for me personally, the damage already has been done.
    I wanted to visit my girlfriend in Tokyo. The flight was scheduled to be on Sunday 13th and we were looking so much forward to meet each other again. It’s been almost half a year since we met last.
    So even if my flight got canceled twice and rescheduled for a third time, I still wanted to fly.

    However, being hammered constantly by a lot of misleading and frightening news on TV, radio and internet (even from official national TV stations in Germany and well known news papers from Switzerland), I started to lose faith.
    I finally panicked when thinking about a scenario of Tokyo being under a state of emergency and my girlfriend would bring herself in danger while trying to pick me up in Narita. My Japanese skills and my knowledge of Tokyo just are not good enough yet. So I decided to reschedule my flight to mid of April.

    Now I feel just sad and guilty because I wasn’t brave enough to fly.

    My thoughts and prayers are with all the people in Japan.


    • tokyobling said, on March 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm

      Dear Ugabuba, thank you for the kind and thoughtful comment. I just have to reply, even though I should be getting some sleep now. I understand your feeling, and I think almost everyone would have acted in exactly the same manner as you did. The media is not a product that we can just refuse to buy if we don’t like it. It has power and reach that we can never match individually, only as a group. Even if I will never ever buy another newspaper in my life, my friends do, and they freak out and then I have to pick up the pieces and clean up the mess. Sometimes I wonder, aren’t these reporters people to? Don’t they have friends and loved ones? Don’t they have any sort of purpose in life except making money?

      But back to you. If I only succeed in making you a little relieved, I have failed. I want you to be totally relaxed about this. And I’ll tell you how to feel better again:

      Even if you had gone to Japan to meet your girlfriend, you wouldn’t have been able to enjoy very much. As we are saving energy most museums and attractions are closed. So, by postponing your trip you just make it so that you can enjoy yourself more when you do come here in April!

      So in the end, you were not so unlucky anyway. You’ll have more fun in April than in March, and better weather too! All in all, a win-win situation for both of you!

      But please take care of your girlfriend. Most likely she is scared and confused but the difference she is seeing in reporting and in her daily life. Most likely she doen’t have many Japanese friends. Most likely she is being very very brave right now. So please assure her that everything is ok and nothing bad will happen her. Tell her the media is lying and tell her not to watch the news any more. Even in Japan, there is only one reliable source, and that is NHK. This I have learned the hard way.

      Stay safe!


    • akatora said, on March 18, 2011 at 8:14 pm

      Dear Ugabuda,
      please don’t feel too bad! I think the way you reacted is only natural with all the media madness going on right now. So please take good care of your girlfriend until you see here, talk to here (via instant messaging, skype and the like) she probably needs this right now.
      As for your situation I can (kind of) now how you feel, since I am currently applying for an semester abroad in Japan and everybody around me keeps saying “No you can’t go” “It’s dangerous” and the like. They all are talking like the Japanese are doomed and half dead.
      So I figure one of the few things we can do now is not giving up our plans to go to Japan. I will not give up on my semester abroad and I hope that you will go and see your girlfriend in April!


      • Ugabuba said, on March 21, 2011 at 3:44 pm

        Tokyobling and akatora, thank you very much for your tips and your kind words.
        Yes, we’re using Skype and other communication as much as possible. I’m looking very forward to be with her again.

        Tokyobling, please keep up the great work on your blog. It’s a very useful source for information on Japan. And akatora, all the best for your semester abroad.


        • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 10:03 am

          Thanks Ugabuba! I’ll continue doing my best!!!


      • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:51 am

        Thanks for backing me up there Akatora! (^-^)/


  4. larry said, on March 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    THANK YOU VERY !!!!!! for you information and for keep us knowig and learning about thats awesome country !!!!


    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:49 am

      Thanks Larry, for the kind words and support! So glad you like my blog!!!

      *Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been swamped with work and other communications, so much that I haven’t had time to reply to most comments on the blog. I’ll work harder from now on! I read all your comments as they came in and they all meant a lot to me. I wish I had had more time to reply to all of them, personally and in real time.


  5. amblerangel said, on March 18, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I love this!


    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:50 am

      Infographics rule, doesn’t it? (^O^)/


  6. kes said, on March 18, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    geeze… the affected area is almost as big as Denmark 😦

    Kinda scary when you place japan and ‘Denmark’ side by side.
    I’ve always knew that JApan was big, but it never realized it was so big 😀 (when comparing to tiny Denmark)

    Oh and Ugabuba response and your reply was great to read.
    It’s always nice to read something good 😀


    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:51 am

      Thanks Kes! Yes, Denmark is pretty small, but much more populated than the affected area, so don’t feel too bad about it! Thanks for the kind words!!!


  7. Andrew said, on March 19, 2011 at 1:46 am

    Interestingly I was with a friend in Roppongi the other day and ABC News was doing street interviews with English speakers they could find there. They interviewed my friend who told them “I don’t really trust what the government is saying, but I don’t trust the media either.”
    His quote was used, sort of. The broadcast quoted him saying “I don’ trust what the government is saying.”


    • tokyobling said, on March 28, 2011 at 9:54 am

      Haha… that is such a great comment Andrew! It shows just what the media are doing. Twisting and editing everything to show maximum fear. Disgusting, every time. Glad I wasn’t there. I would have chased them out…! (^-^;)


  8. Odds and Ends « Escaping Debt said, on March 19, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    […] How Big Is Japan? @ Tokyobling’s Blog – Neat graphic with Japan overlaid over Europe and the United States. […]


  9. gem said, on March 21, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Good! I was looking for that and you do it. How long the nuclear site to the population of Tokio, in comparion to our countries?
    Grettings from barcelona,


    • tokyobling said, on March 31, 2011 at 12:52 am

      Hi Gem! Thanks for the kind comment. Tokyo is a huge city, 12.5 million people just in the city center, which is about 250km from the nuclear site. I can’t make maps for this, but in your case that would be like the distance from “Ciudad del Motor de Aragón” to Barcelona, or well up in France.


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