The Beautiful and Serene Sea of Japan

Surrounded by bodies of water all around, the Japanese archipelago is embraced by many seas of the world. Because of this, the country of Japan is among the most beautiful places to visit in the world. One of the many seas that border the Land of the Sun is known to many as the Sea of Japan. Bearing the name of the country, this body of water can be said to be pretty special to the country of Japan.

Facts: Map, Depth, Fish, Islands, Flora and Fauna, and Climate

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A marginal sea, the Sea of Japan is a body of water along the borders of the Japanese archipelago, the Korean Peninsula, Sakhalin, and Russia. It is the Japanese archipelago that serves as the separation between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean. Similar to the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Japan contains almost no tides because of its almost complete enclosure from its neighbor, the Pacific Ocean.

The fauna species, as well as the salinity of the water, is also comparably lower in comparison to the ocean due to this isolation. The Sea of Japan also consists of no bays, capes, or huge islands. Its balance of water is dependent on the inflow and outflow via the straits that are in connection to the Pacific Ocean and the seas beside the Sea of Japan. Moreover, only a few rivers are able to discharge into the Sea of Japan with the water exchange contribution amounting to 1 percent at most.

The water in the Sea of Japan contains an increased concentration of dissolved oxygen. As a result, there is high biological productivity in the sea. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the leading economic activity in this region is fishing. While the number of shipments across the Sea of Japan is not exactly at its peak due to political issues, this number is slowly but surely increasing due to the growing economies of East Asia.

The limits of the Sea of Japan are defined by the International Hydrographic Organization. On the southeast part of the sea, its limits end in Simonoseki Kaikyo. There is a line the runs from Nagoya Saki located in the region of Kyushu through the islands of Muture Sima and Uma Sima to Murasaki Hana located in the region of Honshu.

On the eastern part of the sea, its limits end in the Tsugaru Kaiko starting from the extremity of Siriya Saki and ending in the extremity of Esan Saki. On the northeastern part of the sea, its limits end in La Perouse Strait, also known as Soya Kaikyo. There is a line that joins Nishi Notoro Misaki and Soni Misaki. Lastly, on the northern part of the sea, its limits run from Cape Tuik to Cape Sushcheva.

The climate in the sea is defined by warm waters as well as monsoons. Due to this combination, the sea experiences strong evaporation, which is especially apparent between the months of October and March. This is due to the dry and cold continental air brought about by the strong northwestern monsoon wind. This evaporation, as it is blown further to the southern direction, instigates snowfall in the mountain region of the western coasts of Japan.

In addition, storms and typhoons are also brought about by this winter monsoon. The waves caused reach about 8 to 10 meters, which causes erosion in the western coasts of the Land of the Sun. The sea has also experienced tsunami waves through the years. Moreover, the surface water convection is also enhanced by the monsoon, even reaching the depth of 30 meters, which is equivalent to 98 feet.

The Sea of Japan experiences its coldest temperature in the months of January and February. During this time, the average air temperature in the area is -20 degrees Celsius in the north and 5 degrees Celsius in the south. A quarter of the northern area of the sea, specifically the Strait of Tartary and the Siberian coast, experiences freezing for around 4 to 5 months.

How long does it stays frozen differ every year. Hence, ice may begin to form in the bays as early as the month of October. If the freezing is a little late, it may even still be seen in the month of June. A continuous cover of ice is only in the bays with floating patches in the open sea. The ice begins to melt in the spring, which causes the cold currents in the northern parts.

By Clementina (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Come summertime, the intensity of the wind decreases to about 2 to 7 meters per second, which is about 6.6 to 23 feet per second. There is also a reversal of the direction of the wind during this time, with warm blows of humid air coming from the North Pacific to the direction of the Asian mainland. The sea experiences its warmest temperature on the month of August. At this time, the average air temperature is 15 degrees Celsius in the north and 25 degrees Celsius in the south, which is about 77 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, there is also an increase in annual precipitation from 310 to 500 mm in the northwest to 1,300 to 2,000 millimeters in the southeast.

The currents in the sea move in the counterclockwise direction. Three currents carry warmer and more saline water to the north side of the sea, namely, the Kuroshio or Japan Current, the East Korea Warm Current, and the Tsushima Current. Upon reaching the north, these three currents combine together into the Tsugaru Current, which carries water through the Tsugaru Strait and into the Pacific Ocean.

Aside from this, these currents also feed the Soya Current with water and exit via the La Perouse Strait moving to the Sea of Okhotsk. There is also a returning branch composed of different currents. These include the Liman current, the Central or Mid-Japan Sea current, and the North Korea current. These currents carry cold and fresh water through the Asian coast moving to the south part of the sea.

Due to the high concentration of dissolved oxygen in the waters of the sea, the Sea of Japan contains a rich aquatic life. It houses over 3,500 animal species and over 800 species of aquatic plants. These animal species include over 900 species of crustaceans, about 26 species of mammals, and around 1,000 species of fish. The coastal area of the Sea of Japan also consists of biomass. Pelagic or oceanic fishes that live in the sea include saury, sardines, herring, squid, anchovies, sea bream, mackerel, Jack mackerels, and many species of trout and salmon.

Aside from fishes, there are also mammals inhabiting the Sea of Japan. these include seals and whales. Crustaceans such as crabs and shrimps also live under the Sea of Japan. However, due to the shallow straits that connect the Sea of Japan to the Pacific Ocean, the sea contains no oceanic deep-water fauna. Nonetheless, flora and fauna that are particular to the region located near the sea are called “Japan Sea elements.”

History of the Sea in the East

Maho [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

With a sea as beautiful and magnificent as the Sea of Japan, there is rich history behind this body of water. It has served as protection for Japan for centuries against land invasions. This was especially true in terms of the Mongols trying to invade Japan in the past. Asian, as well as European, ships have navigated the Sea of Japan as far back as the 18th century. A Frenchman by the name of Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse navigated across this sea in the 1780s in the northward direction with his ship moving through the strait that was named after him later on.

A Russian navigator by the name of Adam Johann von Krusenstern was able to explore the Sea of Japan, as well as the eastern shores of the island of Japan, while he was sailing across the world. In his ship called Nadezhda, he explored the sea in passing from the year 1803 to the year 1806.

Another explorer of Russian decent by the name of Gennady Nevelskoy also found out about the strait between Sakhalin and the continent in the year 1849. He made a map of the northern portion of the Strait of Tartary. Russian expeditions were also conducted in the year 1853 to 1854 and the year 1886 to 1889 for the measurement of the surfaces temperatures of the sea as well as to record the tides. Cyclonal character of the sea currents was also documented during this time.

There were also other notable expeditions that were conducted during the 19th century. These include the American North Pacific Exploring and Surveying Expedition from the year 1853 to the year 1856 and the British Challenger Expedition from the year 1872 to the year 1876. Scientific studies of the sea conducted by the Japanese started only in the year 1915. By the 1920s, these studies have become systematic.

Cruising the Sea of Japan for whales between the year 1848 and the year 1892 were French and American whaleships. Most of these whaleships were able to enter the sea by going through Korea Strait and left by moving through La Pérouse Strait. On the other hand, there were also some whaleships that entered and left the sea by going through Tsugaru Strait. Right whales were dominantly targeted though whaleships have started to set their sights on humpbacks as right whales were getting harder to catch.

Its Impact on the Economy and News

It should come as no surprise that the primary economic activity on the Sea of Japan is none other than fishery. Fishing is done mainly on and near the continental shelves. The fishery on the Sea of Japan is focused on Bluefin tuna, herring, and sardines. However, these species have declined after the Second World War. Other marine life caught in the sea are squid near the sea center and salmon near the shores in the northern and southwestern part of the sea. Seaweed production is also progressing.

Serving as a base for the whaling fleet of Russia, Vladivostok works in the northern seas. One of its functions is to be a terminal point of the Trans-Siberian Railway. As a result, various goods are transported to and from this primary port. A regular ferry service also operates across the Strait of Tartary connecting Kholmsk in Sakhalin and the Russian continental port of Vanino.

The sea of Japan also consists of magnetite sands, natural gas, and petroleum fields located near the northern portion of Sakhalin Island. There is only moderate intensity in terms of shipments that are transported across this body of water. This may be attributed to the cold relations between the various countries bordering the Sea of Japan.

Because of this, the biggest Japanese ports are situated on the Pacific coast. The ports on the Sea of Japan that are truly of significance include Niigata, Maizuru, and Tsuruta. As for South Korea, their primary ports are Busan, Pohang, and Ulsan, all of which are located on the southeastern coast of the Korean Peninsula.