Japan: The Perfect Geography Case Study | Teachers' Corner | The Dragon Trip

Japan: The Perfect Geography Case Study | Teachers’ Corner

In this post we focus on Japan’s relevance as a destination for Geography students, particularly those who have reached Key Stages 4 and 5. We have picked out some of the topics that come up in the Geography GCSE and A-Level syllabuses, for which Japan makes an ideal case study.  We pride ourselves on tailoring our educational tours to the needs of each group that travels with us.  Paramount to a successful school trip are the learning outcomes teachers can hope to achieve in bringing a group of students to study in the field and in a new context. 

Tropical Storms

Between May and October, Japan experiences a Typhoon Season with, on average, around ten of these tropical cyclones striking the Japanese mainland and Okinawan Islands per year.  While the Japanese have become used to these annual weather events, they do cause a fair amount of disruption, particularly to the country’s transport systems.

Geography, sea, Japan, coastal management
Key questions for students
  • How do tropical storms affect the people and environment in Japan?
  • As an HIC, how is Japan better equipped to respond to typhoons than an LIC?
  • What are the weather conditions that lead to Japan experiencing typhoons?

Coastal Management Strategies

As a country prone to earthquakes and tsunamis, Japan’s coastal engineering schemes are longstanding and extensive. In the wake of the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake, in which 60% of the seawalls protecting the affected region’s coastline were destroyed, the Japanese government is being forced to reconsider its management of the coastline. 56% of Honshu’s (Japan’s main island) coastline has been engineered and the heavy use of concrete in these projects has been criticised by environmentalists and local citizens.

tetrapods, coastal management, geography, Japan
Key questions for students
  • What effects are coastal management projects having on the environment in Japan?
  • How could the Japanese government more effectively manage its coastline? 

Earthquakes and tsunamis

As many as 1500 earthquakes occur in Japan each year and 10% of the world’s active volcanoes are located there. The Japanese archipelago lies on top of, or close to, the boundaries of the North American, Pacific, Eurasian and Philippine plates, hence the large amount of seismic activity it experiences.  The margin between the Pacific Plate and the Philippine Plate is what is known as a destructive plate margin – meaning that one plate is being pushed under the other.  Major earthquakes – which can sometimes trigger tsunamis – are rare, though minor tremors happen somewhere in the country on most days.

Key questions for students
  • Which safety measures has the Japanese government instated to try and protect its citizens?
  • Which factors contribute to the likelihood of an earthquake triggering a tsunami?
  • How do destructive plate margins lead to the formation of volcanoes?

Urbanisation and rural depopulation

The Tokyo Metropolitan Area is one of the most densely populated cities in the world and can be classed as a megacity – meaning a city with a population of over 10 million.  Japan has experienced dramatic rural to urban migration, caused by the push and pull factors that influence people to migrate to cities. In the Japanese countryside, there exist a growing number of so-called ghost villages – towns or villages with drastically declining populations.

Key questions for students
  • What are some of the push factors that lead people in Japan to leave rural areas?
  • What are some of the pull factors that lead people in Japan to migrate to urban areas?
  • Japan – like the UK – has an ageing population – how is the Japanese government working to solve this issue?

For more information on how The Dragon Trip can meet your specific educational requirements, get in touch by emailing info@thedragontrip.com or calling our London office on +44 (0)20 3817 5974



About Poppy Cosyns

Poppy is a born and bred Londoner but her heart belongs in Tokyo. She recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Japanese Studies and hopes that she can share her love for Japan through her work at The Dragon Trip.


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