Japan

Japan is a sovereign island nation in East Asia. Japan is often referred to by the famous epithet “Land of the Rising Sun” in reference to its Japanese name. Japan is a strata volcanic archipelago consisting of about 6,852 islands. The four largest are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku, which make up about ninety-seven percent of Japan’s land area and often are referred to as home islands. 

Archaeological research indicates that Japan was inhabited as early as the Upper Paleolithic period. The first written mention of Japan is in Chinese history texts from the 1st century AD. Influence from other regions, mainly China, followed by periods of isolation, particularly from Western Europe, has characterized Japan’s history. Japan long period of isolation ended in 1853 when a United States fleet pressured Japan to open to the West. After nearly two decades of internal conflict and insurrection, the Imperial Court regained its political power in 1868 through the help of several clans from Chōshū and Satsuma, and the Empire of Japan was established. 

The country has the world’s third-largest economy by nominal GDP and the world’s fourth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It is also the world’s fourth-largest exporter and fourth-largest importer.

For inbound tourism, Japan was ranked 16th in the world in 2015. In 2009, the Yomiuri Shimbun published a modern list of famous sights under the name Heisei Hyakkei (the Hundred Views of the Heisei period). The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017 ranks Japan 4th out of 141 countries overall, which was the best in Asia. Japan has 20 World Heritage Sites, including Himeji Castle, Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto and Nara. Popular tourist attractions include Tokyo and Hiroshima, Mount Fuji, ski resorts such as Niseko in Hokkaido, Okinawa, riding the shinkansen and taking advantage of Japan’s hotel and hot spring network which attracted 24.03 million international tourists in 2016. Tourism from abroad is one of the few promising businesses in Japan.

Basic Information

Capital: Tokyo
Emperor: Akihito
Prime Minister: Shinzo Abe

Currency

Yen (¥)/ (JPY)

Boundaries

To the east of Japan are three other countries that are part of the Asian continent. These are China, North Korea and South Korea. Russia is also to the east of Japan. Below Japan, in the Pacific Ocean, are other island countries like Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and New Guinea.

Languages

The national language Japan is Japanese whereas Ryukyuan languages are spoken in Okinawa and parts of Kagoshima in the Ryukyu Islands.

Climate

The weather in Japan is generally temperate, with four distinct seasons: in Winter, from December to February, is quite dry and sunny along the Pacific coast and the temperatures rarely drop below 0°C. The temperatures drop as you move north, with the Central and Northern regions experiencing snowfall. Southern Japan is relatively temperate and experiences a mild winter.Spring is from March to May. When temperatures are warm but not too hot. The famous cherry blossoms are out during this time and there are plenty of festivals to enjoy. Summer begins in June and the country experiences a three to four-week rainy season Autumn is from September to November and is characterized by light breezes and cooler temperatures of around 8-10oC.

Major Religions

Shinto and Buddhism are Japan’s two major religions

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