Please complete this required component first. When you have finished this component, you may move to the next required component, East Asian History.
Follow these instructions completely.
This lesson has two interconnected goals. The first is to begin to understand the physical geographies of Japan and China. The second is to understand how the landscape influences the location of economic activities and encourages certain types of economic activities.
Physical geography can be defined as the occurrence of natural phenomena (e.g., rivers, weather, land forms) on the earth’s surface. Human geography can be viewed as the location of human activities across the earth’s surface. The former can be impacted by the latter and vice-versa.
This lesson looks at the landscapes of Japan and China. In both countries, physical landscapes influence human activities. In Japan, the population must adapt to an island that is primarily mountainous terrain. In China, the population has faced flooding of the Yangtze River for centuries and has attempted to harness its power. China’s recent, meteoric economic growth has brought this challenge to the forefront.
Please look at the following online maps and readings.
Go to the CIA World Factbook and calculate the population densities for Japan, Canada, and the United States. Population density (PD) can be calculated as:
PD = total population / total land area
You should receive an answer in persons per square mile (or per square kilometer).
Look at this relief map of Japan and note how mountainous the country is. Also, note where the major cities are located on this map.
Read this story about rice and specifically, the centrality of rice to Japanese culture.
Read the two stories below about the crisis among rice farmers in Japan and debates on whether this type of farming is efficient:
After looking at the above materials, respond in 250 words or fewer to the following questions. Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- In what ways have these readings increased your understanding of the influences that the physical geographies of Japan and China affect settlement patterns, economic activities, and transportation routes?
- What do these readings say about the importance of water and land that is suitable for human activities? Moreover, how could land use impact the environment?
- How can you share these materials with your students and how can these materials be integrated into your lesson plans?
When addressing the above questions for this lesson, consider the following:
- Looking at the relief map of Japan, where are most of the cities located? Considering that Japan is roughly 80% mountainous, what kind of premium does this place on land use (and prices)?
- How does the relatively high population densities of Japan make high-speed rail transportation economically viable or, if nothing else, practical?
- For years, Narita International Airport in Tokyo has wanted to build a second runway that can handle wide-body, long-distance flights (i.e. a runway of at least 12,000+ feet). Why isn’t this proposed construction an easy task?
- For numerous cultural and political reasons, Japan continues to grow almost 100 percent of its rice. How can this be problematic, given the physical geography of Japan?
- What was the original goal of the Three Gorges Dam project?
- Beyond the original goal, what are the other potential benefits?
- Much of China’s economic growth has been located along its coast. The Three Gorges Dam can potentially open the city of Chongqing to oceangoing ships. How could this project benefit China’s interior?
- What are the potential drawbacks to the Three Gorges project? Explain their impacts on the landscape.
- China demand for electrical power has increased steadily during the past few decades. Many observers from the West have criticized the dam’s construction. With regard to power generation, what other alternatives would China have? Would these have potential environmental impacts?