Japan: Overview

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Updated: 2017-03-15.

Nippon-koku | Nihon-koku

Japan is an island nation in eastern Asia that is located in the Pacific Ocean. To its west lies the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, to the north is the Sea of Okhotsk, and at its south is the East China Sea and Taiwan. Further to its south is the Philippine Sea, and it is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on its east coast. The capital and largest city is Tokyo, one of the largest and most important cities in the world, and also the largest metropolitan area in the world. Japan is an archipelago, which is a group of islands, and this country contains almost 7,000 islands. The four largest islands are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku, which make up about 97% of the country’s land area.

The Japanese have an interesting culture and numerous customs and traditions that are quite fascinating. One of the common themes throughout the country, especially with the traditional and older Japanese people, is the pursuit of perfection in all things. Food, even at many of the most inexpensive establishments, is elevated to an art form; electronics and technology, the same. The people, if we may be allowed to generalize just a bit, are disturbingly polite throughout the country. Shinto is the ancient religion of Japan traditionally, though it is really more a set of guidelines and life principles; Buddhism is slightly more recent, and the second-largest religion of the nation.

Japan is one of those countries where the people usually set the trends for people of other countries to pick up later. Some common exports are karaoke, anime, Japanese gardens and zen gardens, kimono garments, sushi and sashimi, ikebana (Japanese art of flower arrangement), and many of the martial arts. And who can forget ninjas? It’s quite probable that you’ve heard of most or all of the above Japanese influences.

Japan has four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The rainy season starts towards the beginning of summer, while typhoons are common in early fall.

The flag of Japan is a white rectangular flag with a large red circle representing the sun in the center. This flag is officially called Nisshōki (“sun-mark flag”) in Japanese, but is commonly known as Hinomaru (“circle of the sun”).

flag of Japan

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