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The Two Best Travelling Spots: Yosemite National Park and Japan

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Driving past the fields or running through the park, one never really stops and looks at how the leaves are changing colors or how dry the grass can be. Having a busy schedule, we tend to forget about the little things in life such as nature. Every single city, country, state is surrounded by different climates, animals, and even natural disasters. Living in a small chaotic town, I had to go out and explore. I wanted to find a place that filled me with a serene mind and a harmonious atmosphere. As I drove and drove, I stumbled upon Yosemite National Park in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. On average, about four million people visit Yosemite each year, and most spend the majority of their time in the seven square miles of Yosemite Valley. Most of the park is high country, but the anchors of its geography are two staggering river valleys draining from the Sierras westward to the Central Valley. Yosemite National Park covers nearly 1,200 square miles in the Sierra Nevada, with elevations ranging from about 2,000 feet to 13,000 feet. Yosemite receives 95% of its precipitation between October and May and over 75% between November and March. (Barry, R. G. 1992) Most of Yosemite is blanketed in snow from about November through May. Yosemite’s physical geography has so much to show. When a bird’s-eye view of Yosemite Basin is obtained from any of its upper domes, it is as if one was looking at black patches, which is the dark forest surrounded by two bald gray rocks. The very first time I visited, it was snowing and the weather was extremely cold. All the rocks surrounding the mountains were covered in snow and piles of brown dirt. There were wet pine cones everywhere as well as little plants that were barely standing up due to how many feet high the snow was. I made the decision to go in the summer, which was a completely different story, a completely different scenery. The sun was beaming and all I heard was water crashing against rocks which turned out to be an immense waterfall surrounded by humongous brown trees blowing from side to side. I noticed squirrels running around, going on trees and hiding in tiny holes. According to “Yosemite Glaciers”, John Muir stated, the great valley itself, together with all its domes and walls, was brought forth and fashioned by a grand combination of glaciers, acting in certain directions against granite of peculiar physical structure. All of the rocks and mountains and lakes and meadows of the whole upper Merced basin received their specific forms and carvings almost entirely from this same agency of ice.

Traveling all around the world, the one place I would like to make a stop at would be Japan. Japan is a long island chain between the Sea of Okhotsk, the Sea of Japanand, the Philippine Sea. It is in the Pacific Ocean, East Asia and North East Asia. In 2019, Japan’s population is estimated to be at about 126,860,301 people at mid year. Over the last 400 million years there have been four major periods of mountain building, each of which, notwithstanding the contrary effect of erosion, including glaciers, has contributed features to the present day Japanese landscape. Some elements I would be exploring would be its location’s weather patterns, the type of landscape, the type of flora and fauna that live there. Japan is predominantly mountainous and about three-fourths of the national land is mountains and long mountain ranges form the backbone of the archipelago. The dramatic Japan Alps, studded with 3,000-meter peaks, bisect the central portion of Honshu, the main island. In the winter, Japan is both dry and sunny along the Pacific Coast and the temperatures rarely drop below 0°C. (Hirano, J., & Mikami, T. 2015) The temperatures drop as you move North, with the Central and Northern regions which results in snowfall. Southern Japan is more on the moderate side and experiences a gentle winter. Summer in Japan begins in June and the country experiences a three to four-week rainy season. It is both hot and humid during this time and temperatures are often in the high 30’s. Japan is covered in about seventy percent of mountains and those mountains are covered in forests. Some of the common flowers and plants found in Japan are maples, magnolias, and daphnes. The Sea of Japan doesn’t exactly have a water fauna. Although some of the mammals found are seals and whales. Other mammals found vary from the Japanese serow, sika deer, and wild boar. One of their most famous mammals are the sika deer and wild boars.

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My local environment can have many similarities as well as differences from Japan. Japan in fact, is affected by natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Japan sits on four tectonic plates. They are called the Pacific, North American, Eurasian and Filipino plates. These massive slabs of earth’s crust are endlessly moving around, sliding, locking, and then jolted again. As these plates bump into each other, the pressure continues to build. After being built and built up, unexpectedly that pressure releases. The release of the tension causes earthquakes, and the sudden lifting of the seabed triggers the tsunamis in Japan. In Japan the forces which power such mountain building processes are the same as those which account for continental drift. Sea floor spreading pushes oceanic plates into less dense continental plates at the continental margins. The denser oceanic plates are driven under the continental plates, and the resultant friction causes earthquakes and volcanic activity. Japan is located in an area where two oceanic plates collide with the Eurasian continental plate, on the ring of fire. One of the natural disasters Yosemite National Park has would be it’s rockfalls. Triggering mechanisms like water, ice, earthquakes, and vegetation growth are among the final forces that cause unstable rocks to fall in Yosemite. If the water enters cracks or holes in the bedrock, it can build up pressure behind unstable rocks and cause them to fall. Water can also seep into cracks in the rock and freeze, causing those cracks to grow. This process is called ‘frost wedging’ or ‘freeze-thaw’ and can incrementally lever loose rocks away from cliff faces. Muir asserted that it was carved out by the work of glaciers, mighty rivers of ice that rushed over the surface of the earth. In Yosemite, tornadoes and tsunamis tend to not occur. The climate overall is similar in both Yosemite in Japan since they both go through different seasons every other month. Climate change in 4.54 billion years, earth was subject to profound variations of its climate going through at least five major ice ages and through periods of extreme heat. The main concepts that seem to shape and influence climates with a direct and indirect impact on human lives is the temperature which is connected by the built environment and human activities.

In class one of the topics we have learned about are cyclones. A cyclone is a generic term to refer to a low-pressure system. Typhoons and other types of low pressure systems are all cyclones. There are many tropical cyclones in the world, although the typhoon is the most frequent and the strongest tropical cyclone there is. A typhoon is a large low pressure system, originating over the Northwest Pacific Ocean. It is accompanied by strong winds of up to around 200 km/h, a rise of the sea level and torrential rainfalls. Over the Atlantic Ocean, typhoons are known as hurricanes. About 30 typhoons form each year over the Northwest Pacific Ocean. Most typhoons hit Japan between May and October with August and September being the peak season. Typhoons later in the season tend to be stronger than typhoons earlier in the season. There is a rainy season in early summer, and typhoons hit parts of the country every year during late summer. The earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions occurring in Japan wistfully destroy hundreds of thousands of properties. Typhoons do not occur in Yosemite National Park, therefore Yosemite is bound to be a more safe landscape. Expanding on landscapes, Yosemite National Park is seen as one of the most beautiful glaciated landscapes. It’s glaciers have carved the smooth domes of Tuolumne Meadows and the dramatic walls of Yosemite Valley. This scenery was what stood out to me when I visited Yosemite’s preservation as a national park.

In conclusion, Yosemite and Japan both have different physical geographies, weather patterns, the type of landscape, and hydrologic features which is what makes them unique. They are surrounded by different flora and fauna which creates a glorifying atmosphere in every change of season. Both Yosemite and Japan are surrounded in humongous dark green forests with the breeze whipping the leaves back and forth. Once the season changes, the snowfall drops all throughout the mountains and both Japan and Yosemite have a substantial amount of snowfall full of different animals running around or climbing up trees or even digging holes in the moist brown soil. Yosemite National Park and Japan have their own natural disasters, which one can’t simply avoid, but it doesn’t change the reality that in either Yosemite or Japan there is somebody living their who considers it “home”.

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