JAPAN: THE BASICS IN A BENTO BOX

Geography & Climate
36 00 N, 138 00 E

Japan is situated in the Far East with Korea, Russia and China as its closest neighbors. Japan consists of thousands of islands with Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu and Hokkaido as its four main islands. The northern islands are on the same latitude as Milan and the southern islands are the same as the Bahamas. The area of Japan is similar to that of California or Germany. 70 % of the country is mountainous and nourished by abundant waters. The climate is moderate with four distinct seasons.

People
126,804,433 (July 2010)

Japan 's population in July 2010 was just under 127,000,000 people making it the 10th most populous country in the world. 

Here are some details about the People.

Age Breakdown
0-14 years: 13.5%
15-64 years: 64.3%
65 years and over: 22.2%

Ethnic Groups
Japanese 98.5%
Koreans 0.5%
Chinese 0.4%
Other 0.6%

Religious Beliefs
Shinto 83.9%
Buddhist 71.4%
Christian 2%
Other 7.8% 

As you can see from the numbers, many Japanese identify themselves as both Shinto and Buddhist.

Modern History
Since the Tokugawa Shogunate

In 1603, after decades of civil warfare, the Tokugawa military-led, dynastic government orchestrated a period of political stability and isolation from foreign influence. For more than two centuries this policy enabled Japan to enjoy a flowering of its indigenous culture. 

Japan opened its doors after signing the Treaty of Kanagawa with the United States  in 1854 and began to intensively modernize and industrialize. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Japan became a regional power that was able to defeat the forces of both China and Russia. After its defeat in World II Japan recovered to become an economic  power and an ally of the United States . While the emperor retains his throne as a symbol of national unity, elected politicians hold actual decision-making power.
Historical Periods
From Jomon to the Present


 Jomon


 10,000 BC - 300 BC


 Yayoi


 300 BC - 250 AD

 Kofun

 250 - 538


 Asuka


 538 - 710


 Nara


 710 - 794


 Heian


 794 - 1185


 Kamakura


 1185 - 1333


 Muromachi


 1333 - 1568


 Momoyama


 1568 - 1603


 Tokugawa


 1603 - 1868


 Meiji


 1868 - 1912


 Taisho


 1912 - 1926


 Showa


 1926 - 1989


 Heisei


 1989 - present
Government

The Diet & the Emperor

Japan is ruled by a parliamentary government with a constitutional monarchy. The capital is Tokyo with over



If you click on the name of the prefecture above you will be directed to the official website in a new browser window.
Language

Nihongo (Japanese)

Japanese is currently spoken by about 130 million people worldwide. Despite ranking as the 9th most popularly spoken language in the world, the Japanese language has a controversial history that scholars are still debating to this very day. The earliest known evidence of proto-Japanese peoples dates back to 3 AD. These early Chinese writings describe the consolidation of Japanese tribes under the Yamato Clan.

Over the centuries, the Chinese, as well as Koreans and the Portuguese, have had a major influence on the development and history of the Japanese language.
Japanese has three different alphabets from which to choose for writing. The oldest of these is Kanji (above right - NIHONGO - meaning Japanese language) which was developed out of Chinese characters first used in Japan about 1,500 years ago. Kanji characters, which have been simplified over time, are used to represent abstract concepts, names and everyday words.

The two other Japanese alphabets are called Katakana (above) and Hiragana (below) which the Japanese invented in the seventh and eighth centuries AD. Each has 46 letters and are syllabic, meaning each letter represents a different sound. 


Innovation
Resource Poor: Innovate or Die

Throughout history, Japan has been seen as the great innovator in a wide range of fields. When looking to its neighbors Korea and China it obtained great knowledge, but was forced to adapt its new found information to suit the particular needs of the Japanese. This is most apparent in art, architecture and design.

Defining innovation as "the application of knowledge in a novel way, primarily for economic benefit," the Economist Magazine Intelligence Unit study ranks Japan , Switzerland , the United States and Sweden as the top four innovators among the 82 economies observed from 2002 to 2006. For 2007 to 2011, the study predicts that all four leading innovators will retain their rankings, but that China , which has already overtaken Japan to become the world's second-largest investor after the United States in research and development in absolute terms, is a country to watch in terms of acceleration in the innovation market.

Transportation
Planes, Trains & Ships

There are a total of 176 airports in Japan, but only a handful handle international traffic. The major international airports are Tokyo Narita (NRT), Tokyo Haneda (HND), Nagoya (NGO), Kansai (KIX), and Fukuoka (FUK).

Japan operates one of the most advanced railway networks in the world with over 26,000 km of tracks including the famous Shinkansen Bullet Train. Travel time from Tokyo to Kyoto on the Nozomi is on average 2 hours and 20 minutes. The new JR-Maglev train (above) which is under development in central Japan on the Yamanashi Tracks has reach speeds up to 581kmh (361mph) and will usher in a whole new generation of travel in the future.

One can still travel to Japan by sea using one of the main seaports at Chiba, Kawasaki, Kobe, Mizushima, Moji, Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo, Tomakomai, and Yokohama.
Helpful Links to Get Started
Places to go before you go...



Insider Japan at Gregory Howell
- Art
- Design
- TOKU10

For personal and customized itinerary development assistance, consider becoming a Premium Content Member and subscribing now. APPLY HERE
Jump to the GH Mobile App in the Android Marketplace
FREE DOWNLOAD
Stay connected with Gregory Howell with the GH Mobile App. Learn about Travel & Media and follow Gregory via social media on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

AndroidBada | Blackberry | iPhone & iPad | Nokia | Web | Windows 7 | Browser App
 


Visit Gregory Howell - Private Journeys, become a Fan!  See what Gregory Howell - Private Journeys is tweeting about!  See Gregory Howell - Private Journeys videos on YouTube! Listen to Japan Private Journeys by Gregory Howell on iTunes   Gregory Howell on Pinterest 
© Gregory Howell. All rights reserved. 2008-2012

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software