Japan – Modern Nation of Ancient Traditions
Japan is made up of a string of islands that stretches for nearly 1,500 miles along the coast of northeastern Asia in the Pacific Ocean. The four main islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku. Honshu is the largest of them.
Japan’s capital is Tokyo, one of the world’s largest cities.
Mountains cover most of the land. Some mountains are active volcanoes.
The country’s main language is Japanese. Shinto and Buddhism are the major religions.
People lived in Japan at least 10,000 years ago. According to legend, the emperor Jimmu founded the Japanese state in 660 BC.
In 1185 a samurai named Minamoto Yoritomo took control of Japan. In 1192 he took the title of shogun. His military government was called a shogunate. Japan had an emperor, but he held less power than the shogun.
In 1941 Japan attacked U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack pulled the United States into the war. In 1945 the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Every year on February 11 Japanese celebrate National Foundation Day.
Japan is also one of the most developed countries in the world. It is a leading maker of ships, automobiles, watches, and electronics – especially cell phones, television sets, computers, cameras, photocopiers, and robots.
This mix of ancient and modern culture makes Japan an exciting place to live or visit.
– Mount Fuji (Fujiyama) is an active volcano though it hasn’t erupted since 1707. It is the highest mountain in Japan (3,776 meters). It is considered the sacred symbol of Japan.
– Japanese cherry trees (sakura) are famous for their spring blossoms.
– The summer rains are called baiu, which means “plum rain”.
– There are about 1,000 earth tremors in Japan every year. Most are minor tremors, but major earthquakes can result in thousands of deaths. The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 was one of the most destructive of all time that destroyed most of Tokyo and Yokohama, with a loss of more than 100,000 lives. On January 17, 1995 earthquake at Kobe killed 5,100 people and destroyed 102,000 buildings. Undersea earthquakes often expose the Japanese coastline to dangerous waves, known as tsunamis.
– The longest river, the Shinano, is only 367 kilometers long and the second longest is the Tone, 322 kilometers.
– Tsujunkyo Bridge is Japan’s largest stone-arch aqueduct bridge.
– The Seikan Submarine Tunnel, completed in March 1988, is the longest tunnel in the world. The length of the tunnel is 53.85 kilometers with 23.3 kilometers of it underwater.
– The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is currently the world’s longest suspension bridge.
– Colonel Sanders is one of the major symbols of Christmas in Japan as Coca-Cola in the United States. On Christmas Eve, the Japanese go to KFC and eat a large portion of chicken wings.
– The school year begins on April 1 and is divided into trimesters.
– The only reason for the delay of the train is a suicide under its wheels.
– There is the death penalty in this country. In 2013, 8 criminals were executed in Japan.
– Okunoshima is a small island which has become a tourist attraction. The reason is a huge population of rabbits. According to one version, the rabbits were brought to the island during the Second World War, when the island (and rabbits) was used to test the poison gas.
– Aoshima is a cat island and there are a lot of foxes in Zao Fox Village.
– The main attractions of Nara are not many churches and popular tourist monuments, but deer live there. About 1200 animals live on the streets. According to an ancient legend the local deer are the descendants of the mythical deer, which came down from heaven, the first emperor of Japan.
British artist Ella Du Cane (1874-1943) is known for her wonderful landscape watercolors. In 1905 the artist was invited to illustrate the book Italian Lakes. She was inspired with the success and decided to make a book of illustrations with text written by her sister, Florence Du Cane. The book The Flowers and Gardens of Japan was published in 1908.