The most notable feature of Japan is that it is an island country. Being an island is not only about the geography. Some people think living in an island country changes the way people think.
For example, it is said that Japanese people have shimaguni-konjo. We think we are something special and sometimes don’t let other people join our society (Actually, I don’t think so though).
Anyway, we have a unique culture. Some parts of Japanese culture, such as kimono and ninja, are known throughout the world. Many people know about Japanese history from watching movies about samurai.
In 1980, there was a famous book and movie called Shogun. Then, in 2003, The Last Samurai became another popular movie about Japan. These movies were not accurate in every way, but they did help to create a lot of interest in Japan.
Another thing that Japan is famous for is manga (comics) and anime (animated cartoons). In most countries, people lose interest in cartoons when they get older, so most of the stories are for children. But in Japan, many people, even adults, are fans of manga and anime.
For this reason, Japanese manga and anime stories are more mature. This has made manga and anime well known in many countries of the world.
There are also some foods that have made Japan famous. For example, many people have tried such foods as sushi, sukiyaki, tempura, ramen, okonomi-yaki …etc.
Japanese food is popular, not only because it’s unique, but also because it’s healthy.
Japan’s population is about 127 million in 2017. This means that Japan has the ninth-largest population in the world.
Half of the people in Japan live in three big cities: Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. This makes Japan seem like a small country. Japanese live in the cities because most of the country is covered in mountains.
If you get on a train in Tokyo and go to Nagoya or Osaka, most of the way you can see houses and buildings. It makes you think that there is nothing but buildings in Japan.
But if you travel in a car or on a local train line, you will soon see that there are lots of mountains and nature in Japan. In fact, there are many places to go camping, fishing, or hiking only an hour or so away from central Tokyo.
And you know,
Japan is one of the few countries in the world where the population is decreasing. This is because only a million babies are born each year and the number is expected to drop even more.
And currently, the biggest concern about the Japanese population is aging. Although the population is going down, the number of elderly people is growing. It is now estimated that about over 27% of the population is 65 or older.
Compared to China, India, America, Russia, Australia, of course Japan is a small country. However, Japan is not a small country if you compare the figures with Italy or Germany. The main island, Honshu, is slightly larger than the United Kingdom.
There are 4 major islands. They are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. There are also thousands of small islands. In fact, Japan has 7,000 islands, but no people live on most of them.
If you travel around Japan, you can enjoy the differences in local art and cuisine. And some people say that you can judge what part of the country a person comes from by his or her personality.
For example, people from Kyushu and Okinawa are very passionate, and people from Tohoku and Hokkaido are rather patient ☺️
Japan has four seasons. The winter months (December to February) are the coldest, and the summer months (July to September) are the hottest. As Japan is a long, narrow country, the temperature varies a lot from north to south, even on the same day.
Sometimes my friends from America ask what the weather is like in Japan, but it’s difficult question to answer. The northern part can be as cold as Alaska, and the southern part can be as warm as Hawaii ☺️
For most of Japan, there are four distinct seasons.
《 Spring 》
Spring is one of the best times to visit Japan, because you can see beautiful blossoms. Japanese cherry blossoms usually start to bloom in southern Japan at the end of March. The “cherry blossom front” gradually moves north, so although the blossoms only last for one week in each area, the season lasts for nearly three months in total.
Japanese are usually very shy in public. But you may see a different side of the Japanese under the cherry trees. People are sitting on the ground and talking, drinking, and dancing around. If you walk around, a group of people will probably ask you to join them ☺️
《 Summer 》
After the rainy season, it becomes very hot and humid. Recently, the summers are warmer and many people worry about global warming, especially in the big cities. But one way to forget the heat is to go to a festival. There are many festivals in summer. The O-bon dance festivals and firework displays are especially popular.
《 Autumn 》
Many people who come to Japan think autumn is the best season. The weather is mild and the leaves on the trees turn a beautiful red. There are also a lot of autumn festivals from early September to early November, including the “moon viewing festival.
《 Winter 》
Winter is very different in each area. Toward the end of November, cold winds bring rain and snow from Siberia. The most snow falls in the Hokuriku region (Fukui, Ishikawa, Toyama, Niigata prefectures).
Areas on the Pacific Ocean coast have much milder weather. Luckily, there are hot springs almost everywhere you go in Japan. And one of the best things in the world is a hot-spring bath in the middle of the winter ☺️