Flora and Vegetation. – The flora of Japan has great similarities with that of the forest area of the Atlantic basin (Europe, North America) and with that of the Tertiary sector in Europe. However, given the longitudinal extension (20 ° latitude) of the islands, abrupt changes are observed ranging from the boreal flora of the far north and high mountains to the tropical flora of the far south. In fact, in northern Japan there are woody formations similar to the Siberian taiga; instead in the region around Tōkyō the Chamaerops excelsa and the Cycas revoluta they give an almost tropical character. In the mountains the woods are confined, inferiorly of broad-leaved trees and superiorly of conifers, while the valleys and plains are cultivated.
In the Japanese vegetation a high percentage of woody plants (shrubs and trees) is observed in comparison with the herbaceous ones and precisely the proportion is 1 to 4. Conifers are abundant, including Sciadopytis thujopsis, the genera Cunninghamia, Cryptomeria and Biota, numerous pine (20 species) including Pinus signature, P. tsuga, P. leptolepis ; Ginkgo biloba, the only living remnant of the Ginkgoaceae family, is also characteristic of the Gymnosperms. There are numerous Bambusee (14 species) and Lauraceae (24 species): some genera of European and Mediterranean woody plants such as Fagus and Castanea have species characteristic of Japan (Fagus Sieboldi, Castanea japonica). The maples are also rich in species (13) which in autumn give the vegetation that beautiful and characteristic red color. Among the evergreen shrubs we remember the camellias (Camellia japonica, in Japanese tsubaki, with varieties with red, white and variegated flowers), the rhododendrons (12 species), several Rubiaceae, Mirsinaceae, Stiracaceae, Aquifoliaceae (the gen. Ilex has 13 species), Cornaceae (of which Aucuba japonica is characteristic). Another plant to remember also for the very gratifying scent of the flowers is the Osmanthus fragrans.
Among the most characteristic cultivated plants: cherry (sakura), wild peach tree (momo), wisteria (fuji), azaleas (tsutsuji), iris (sh ō bu); in summer the lakes and streams are covered by Nelumbium (hasu) and in autumn chrysanthemums bloom. Other kinds of plants very represented in the Japanese flora are: Carex (156 species), Lilium (19 species), Prunus (12 species), Rubus (15 species), Hydrangea (12 species).
Zuccarini found 44 endemic genera, almost all monotypic. The most numerous families are: Compounds 6%, Grasses 5-6%, Ferns 5%, Ciperaceae 4-5%, Rosaceae 4%, Liliaceae 3-4%, Leguminosae 3-4%, Conifers almost 3%, Labiate 2- 3%, Ericaceae 2-3%, Orchidaceae 2-3%. According to recent statistical data, the Japanese flora includes 17,087 plant species of which: 9000 phanerogams, 700 ferns, 2000 mosses, 3500 mushrooms, 700 lichens, 690 marine algae, 324 freshwater algae, 173 myxomycetes.
Gardening and flower growing are highly developed in Japan and held in great honor: the centuries-old dwarf woody plants, obtained by Japanese gardeners with special procedures, are famous.
Fauna. – Japan has a rich and varied fauna: of about 42 species of mammals, no less than 27 are particular to it and of about 20 bird species no less than 17 have Japan as their homeland.
According to Recipesinthebox, the monkeys, represented by the Cercopiteci family, reach the Hondo and Shikoku islands: a sort of macaque, the Inuus speciosus, there is characteristic. Insectivores possess moles and shrews, but not hedgehogs, although hedgehogs are widespread throughout the old world. Carnivores are numerous: wolves, bears, badgers, foxes, wild cats are found everywhere. The tiger, on the other hand, lives in Sakhalin, but does not go down to the other islands of the archipelago, despite the more favorable climatic conditions. The hares and mice, belonging to various species, represent the gnawing family in Japan; in Shikoku, however, a kind of dormouse also lives. A particular species of wild boar inhabits Hondo and the southern islands; the antelopes have the same distribution, while the deer also reach the island of Sakhalin; among the deer we point out the Japanese deer (Cervus sika),
Of the numerous bird species, most of them belong to groups that are widespread in the near Asian coasts. Therefore there is no lack of forms of groups widespread elsewhere and missing in the portion of the Asian continent facing the Japanese archipelago: such are the treronids (a sort of doves). The forests are home to grouse and, except in Yezo and Sakhalin, also pheasants. Reptiles are in short supply. Some vipers are found in Sakhalin; in the other islands the vipers are absent, but the poisonous snakes, except in Yezo, are represented by the elapids. Among the amphibians, the famous gigantic salamander of Japan should be mentioned, which can exceed the length of one meter: it lives in the rivers and inland lakes of the island of Hondo but has also been found in China. Lake and river fish are abundant.