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  • Japanese: 黒潮 (kuroshio)

The Kuroshio (lit. "black tide") current is a jetstream current which brings warm water from the East China Sea (near Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands) up along the eastern coast of Japan. While extremely beneficial for the climate of large sections of the Japanese archipelago, over the centuries the Kuroshio also carried countless vessels far northward from their origins or destinations in the south, to become shipwrecked or castaway in the Japanese islands.

Beginning near Taiwan, the current flows between Taiwan and Yonaguni Island, flowing north along the west side of the Ryukyu Island chain before turning eastward, crossing over between Amami Ôshima and the Tokara Islands. This section of the current, known as the Shichitô-nada (lit. "seven islands sea"), historically created some difficulties for trade and migration between the two island groups, and forms a natural barrier with differences in flora and fauna between the two island groups.[1]

Continuing northwards towards "mainland" Japan, the current splits in two, with its main strength flowing up along the eastern, Pacific, coast of Kyushu, Shikoku, and Honshu, while a weaker portion encounters colder waters in the Genkai Sea between Fukuoka and Korea, forming a vibrant region for maritime species but also an end to a significant northward flowing warmth before reaching the Sea of Japan.[2]


  1. Gregory Smits, Maritime Ryukyu, University of Hawaii Press (2019), 17.
  2. Arne Kalland, Fishing Villages in Tokugawa Japan, University of Hawaii Press (1995), 99.