Japan’s storied history stretches back far before recorded history. The islands were a prime spot for early humans to find all manner of food and resources. There are some unique features that made this location ideal for early settlers.
Firstly, there are over 100 active volcanoes across Japan. This is about 10% of all the active volcanoes on the planet. This is due to the fact that Japan is situated upon the meeting point of two massive tectonic plates that form a horseshoe shape. This area is referred to as the Pacific Ring of Fire. It is known for earthquakes and volcanic activity which may sound like it would dissuade humans from visiting, much less settling there. However, there is a major benefit to living in a location like this. As we see in other volcanically formed archipelagos like Hawaii, the ash distributed by eruptions improved the fertility of the soil. Ash contains minerals that weather into the soil and nourish plants. Subsequently, a variety of edible plants for humans and animals alike flourished. The forests that grew here also provided a habitat for a variety of wild game which humans could hunt for food, hides, and other useful resources.
Secondly, Japan is an island chain. This provided natural protection from invasion as well as access to fishing in the bountiful seas surrounding the islands. Fish would become an important staple for Japan’s earliest humans.
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