Nippon, Or Niphon, the name improperly given by Europeans to the principal island of the Japanese empire. The Japanese call the whole empire Dai Nippon, but had no separate name for the main island till 1873, when in a military geography published by the war department it was called Hondo. So long as Japan was an isolated country, the government dual, the land divided into hundreds of principalities, her best ship a junk, and travel uncommon, there was no need to make the discriminations which modern geography demands. Nippon extends from lat. 33° 26' to 41° 35' N., and is separated on the north from the island of Yezo or Yesso by the strait of Tsugaru; on the south and southeast from the islands of Kiushiu and Shikoku by narrow straits; and on the southwest from Corea by the Corea strait, 120 m. wide. It stretches from N. E. to S. W. in a curved form, being about 800 m. long, with an average breadth of 100 m., the greatest breadth being 250 m.; the total area is about 80,000 sq. m.; pop. 25,000,000. It is divided into 53 provinces, and, besides several other large cities, contains Tokio (formerly Yedo), the present capital, Kioto, the former capital, Ozaka, and Nagoya. The coasts are deeply indented, have many good harbors, on which are the large cities, and are bordered by numerous islets and detached rocks.

There are no large rivers. The mountain ranges have a general trend from N. to S., usually presenting a steep face to the east, and sloping on the W. side. The principal peak is the volcanic cone of Fusiyama. (See Japan).