Japan is an island country in East Asia.
Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south.
Japan consists of a great string of islands in a northeast-southwest arc that stretches for approximately 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles) through the Pacific Ocean.
The stratovolcanic archipelago has five main islands: Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and Okinawa which make up about 97% percent of Japan’s land area.
It is the 61st largest country in the world, with a total area of 377,973 square kilometers (145,936 square miles).
Japan is the world’s 4th largest island country and encompasses about 6,852 islands.
It has the 6th longest coastline in the world – 29,751 km (18,486 mi) .
As of October 2019, the population of Japan was estimated to be about 126 million people. It is the 11th most populous country in the world.
The official language is Japanese.
Tokyo, officially Tokyo Metropolis, is the capital and most populous city in Japan. As of October 2019, the population of Tokyo is almost 14 million people.
The Japanese word for Japan is 日本, which is pronounced Nihon or Nippon and literally means “the origin of the sun”. The character nichi (日) means “sun” or “day”; hon (本) means “base” or “origin”. The compound therefore means “origin of the sun” and is the source of the popular Western epithet “Land of the Rising Sun.”
About 73% of Japan is forested, mountainous and unsuitable for agricultural, industrial or residential use. As a result, the habitable zones, mainly located in coastal areas, have extremely high population densities. Japan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
There are many active and dormant volcanoes, including Mount Fuji [Photo below], which, at an elevation of 3,776 meters (12,388 feet) above sea level, is Japan’s highest mountain.
Japan has 23 UNESCO world heritage sites – 19 cultural sites and 4 natural sites.
Japan is home to thousands of temples, but the oldest of them all is the Sensō-ji Temple [Photo below] in Tokyo. Dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of compassion, the temple’s history dates back to the year 645, making it over 1,400 years old. During the Second World War, much of the temple was destroyed, but it was rebuilt afterwards in the original style. This makes Sensō-ji Temple a reminder of the resiliency of the Japanese people and an example of new beginnings.
Kinkaku-ji officially named Rokuon-ji is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the most popular attractions in Japan. The name Kinkaku-ji literally means the Temple of the Golden Pavilion and the official name Rokuon-ji literally means the Deer Garden Temple.
One of the main attraction in Japan is the Imperial Palace, the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan. It is a large park-like area located in the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo and contains buildings including the main palace, the private residences of the Imperial Family, an archive, museums and administrative offices. Many of the outer gardens are open and free to the public, allowing you to stroll through green parks, admiring the water-filled moat and cherry trees all around you.
Osaka Castle is a Japanese castle in Chūō-ku, Osaka. The castle is one of Japan’s most famous landmarks and it played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century of the Azuchi-Momoyama period.
Fushimi Inari-taisha is the head shrine of the kami Inari, located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto. The shrine sits at the base of a mountain also named Inari which is 233 metres (764 ft) above sea level, and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines which span 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) and take approximately 2 hours to walk up.
Tokyo Skytree is a broadcasting, restaurant, and observation tower in Sumida, Tokyo. Standing 634 meters (2,080 feet) tall, the Tokyo SkyTree is the tallest structure in Japan. It is also the tallest tower in the world and the second tallest structure in the world after the Burj Khalifa (829.8 m/2,722 ft).
Tokyo Tower is a communications and observation tower in Tokyo. At 332.9 meters (1,092 feet), it is the second-tallest structure in Japan. Looking to the Western world for inspiration, architect Tachū Naitō based his design on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
The Great Buddha of Kamakura is a monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amitabha Buddha located at the Kotoku-in Temple in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture. Cast in bronze, the Great Buddha stands at 13.35 meters (43.8 ft) high and weighs 121 tonnes (133 US tons).
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a memorial park in the center of Hiroshima, Japan. It is dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack, and to the memories of the bomb’s direct and indirect victims (of whom there may have been as many as 140,000). The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is visited by more than one million people each year.
Jigokudani Monkey Park is a famous hot spring area near Nagano. It is famous for its large population of wild Japanese macaques, more commonly referred to as snow monkeys, that go to the valley during the winter, foraging elsewhere in the national park during the warmer months. The monkeys descend from the steep cliffs and forest to sit in the warm waters of the onsen (hotsprings), and return to the security of the forests in the evenings.
Japan has over 100 active volcanoes, more than almost any other country and accounts alone for about 10% of all active volcanoes in the world.
There are over 1,500 earthquakes in Japan each year, though most of them are very minor.
Archaeological research indicates that Japan was inhabited as early as the Upper Paleolithic period (50,000 and 10,000 years ago).
The first written mention of Japan is in Chinese history texts from the 1st century AD.
From the 12th century until 1868, Japan was ruled in the name of the Emperor by successive feudal military shōguns.
Japan entered into a long period of isolation in the early 17th century, which was ended in 1853 when a United States fleet pressured Japan to open to the West.
Shinto and Buddhism are Japan’s two major religions. Shinto is as old as the Japanese culture, while Buddhism was imported from the mainland in the 6th century.
Zen Buddhism is the most common form of Buddhism in Japan.
Christianity was first introduced into Japan by Jesuit missions starting in 1549. Today, about 1% to 2.3% are Christians, most of them living in the western part of the country, where the missionaries’ activities were greatest during the 16th century.
Japan is home to many different forms of martial arts. Karate, Sumo, Judo, Ninjutsu, Kendo, Aikido, and Jujutsu to name a few.
Ancient warriors of Japan were known as Samurai. They were very skilled fighters and swordsman. Their main weapon was the Katana, a sharp sword with a slight curve to it.
Sumo is a Japanese style of wrestling and Japan’s national sport. It originated in ancient times as a performance to entertain the Shinto deities. Many rituals with religious background, such as the symbolic purification of the ring with salt, are still followed today.
Immigration in Japan is very low. The population is 98% ethnic Japanese.
Japanese cuisine has become popular around the world. Some well-known dishes are sushi, tempura, sashimi and soba.
There is a popular Japanese dish called Basashi that consists of slices of raw horse meat with onions and ginger.
Also there is fugu (pufferfish) that is a Japanese delicacy, after some highly poisonous parts have been removed.
Cherry blossom is unofficial national flower of japan.
Jindai Sakura, Japan – oldest cherry blossom tree in the world – age about 1800-2000 years.
The Robotics industry is more important in Japan than any other country in the world.
Karaoke is a Japanese word for “empty orchestra.”
Over two billion manga, Japanese comic books or graphic novels, are sold in Japan each year.
“Haiku” is a traditional form of Japanese poetry. Haiku poems consist of 3 lines. The first and last lines of a Haiku have 5 syllables and the middle line has 7 syllables.
Japan is the world’s largest consumer of Amazon rain-forest timber.