Japanese geographical terms (general)

Some basic terms that you’ll need for discussing geography in Japanese.

Let’s begin with the words for “map” and “geography”:

地図  ちず   map

地理 ちり geography

Now, the four cardinal directions:

    きた   north

    みなみ   south

    ひがし   east

西    にし   west

Some land-related geographical features:

大陸    たいりく continent

半島   はんとうpeninsula

  しま   island

列島   れっとう  archipelago; island chain

Political boundaries and terms:

  くに   nation

国境  こっきょう  national border

隣国  りんごく adjacent country

首都  しゅと  capitol

Geographical features you can see from the ground:

    かわ  river

  みずうみ   lake

  やま   mountain

平原   へいげん   plain; prairie

  うみ   ocean

  りく land

More geographical features found on maps:

地域    ちいき   region

太平洋   たいへいよう  Pacific Ocean

大西洋  たいせいよう    Atlantic Ocean

南極圏   なんきょくけん  Antarctic Circle

北極圏    ほっきょくけん  Arctic Circle

経度     けいど    longitude

緯度    いど    latitude

Tips and tricks:

• The kanji meaning “north” , is included in the words for “north”, and “Arctic Circle”.

• The kanji meaning “nation” , is found in most words that include the meaning of “country”, or national something-or-other.

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