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Japan

Autor: Monika
E-mail: vaskovicova@pobox.sk


CONTENT

Geography 2
Government 3
Economy 4
Money & Costs 5
People 5
Language 6
Way of life 6
Clothing 7
Food and drink 7
Religion 7
Literature 8
Tourism 9
Mt Fuji 10
Kyoto 10
Daisetsuzan National Park 10
Nagasaki 11
Festivals 11
Sources 13
Quotation 14
Enclosure 15
The map of the Japan’s islands. 15
The Japan national flag. 15


Geography

Japan is an island country in the North Pacific Ocean. Four large islands and thousands of smaller ones make up Japan. The four major islands – Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku – has about 1, 200 miles about 125 million people are crowded on these islands making Japan one of the most populated countries in the world. The capital city is Tokyo.
Japan with area about 145,870 sq.mi (377,801 km2) has the highest mount Fuji 12,388 ft. (3,776 m) above see level, which has last erupted in 1707.
The Japanese call their country Nippon or Nihon, which means source of the sun. The name may have come from Zipangu, the Italian name given to the country by Marco Polo, a Venetian traveler of the late 1200´s. Polo had heard of the Japanese islands while traveling through China. Mountains and hills cover most of Japan, making it a country of great beauty. But the mountains and hills take up so much land and great majority of the people live on narrow plains along the coasts.
Japan is situated within one of the Earth's most geologically active zones. The country thus experiences violent volcanic eruptions--at least 60 volcanoes have been active within historic times. Tsunamis (huge sea waves) often accompany offshore tremors and may cause severe damage along the Pacific coast.
Japan's five largest river basins are the Tone on Honshu; the Ishikari on Hokkaido; and the Kitakami, the Shinano, and the Kiso also on Honshu. Lake Biwa in central Honshu is Japan's largest lake; all other major lakes are in the northeast. .
Japan's temperatures are generally mild because of the warming effects of the Kuroshio (Japan Current) and the Tsushima Current. Winter and summer temperatures vary widely from north to south.

Government

Japans present constitution was drawn up by the Allied occupation forces and went into effect on May 3, 1947. 1
Now it’s considered to be the democratic constitution, which guarantees the people many human liberties, such as freedom of speech, of religion, of the press...
Nowadays all Japanese citizens 20 years may vote (1947- Constitution guaranteed women the right vote)
The politics here is similar to the other democratic countries - there are several parties. The most successful, conservative party (since 1955 has the most seats in the diet) is Democratic Party, which represents rural areas. The chief opposition parts is the Japan Socialist Party.
The other: Komeito (clean government party), the Democratic Socialist Party, Japan Communist Party...

Economy

The Japan economy is tightly joined with the arrival of the firs Europeans during the mid – 1500´s. Japan’s isolation lasted until 1853, when Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the USA sailed his warships into Tokyo Bay. As a result of Perry’s show off force, Japan agreed in 1854 to open two ports to U.S. trade.2
It s one of the world s giant s - since the WW2.The countries factories have some of the most advanced equipment in the world.
Japan is one of the world s leading trading nations, as measured by exports - its imports and exports was about 525$ in 1999.
Japan export a lot of goods like for example passenger car, steel, electronic equipment. However is Japan export higher than import, Japan has to import many of the raw materials. It import petroleum (35% of the total value of imports) Japan also imports coal, chemicals, iron, meat, natural gas...
Japans main trading partner is USA (Japan is second to Canada as the principal trading partner of USA). Japans other leading trading partners include: Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, United Arab Emirates...
Japan has the world second largest economy in terms of it s gross domestic product (GDP)-first is USA.3
28% of Japan gross makes manufacturing. It has height quality and standards and first of all, what s really important in the world markets it has competitive prices. Japanese products are in great demand on the world market.
Japan s economy belongs to the top not only because of prices. It s also the world s leading shipbuilding country, produce about 6 million cars each year, produce heavy electrical and no electrical machines and equipment...
Money & Costs
Currency: Yen (¥)
Exchange rate: US$1 = ¥138
Relative costs:
1. Budget meal: US$5-8
2. Restaurant meal: US$12-70
3. Budget room: US$18-25
4. Mid-range hotel: US$35-45
Japan is probably the most expensive country in the world to travel, but there are ways of keeping the outlays to an almost bearable level. A skeleton daily budget, assuming you stay in the cheapest hostels, eat modestly and travel short distances, would work out to US$50.
Cash is still king in Japan, although the use of credit cards is pretty widespread in major cities. The Japanese are used to a very low crime rate and often carry wads of cash for the almost sacred ritual of cash payment. 4 Foreign travellers can safely copy the cash habit, but should still take the usual precautions.

People

There are about 125 million people. What’s interesting that during the period from 1870 to 1970 Japans population more than tripled, and now its one of the most populated countries in the world. Tokyo is the fourth largest city.
Ancestry
The scientists believe that the first culture on the Japan islands were so-called Jomon. The scientist think, that they came there, when the Asia continent was put together with the Japan islands. Jomon means cord pattern - the people made pottery that was decorated with ropelike designs.200 BS the culture called Yayoi replaced the Jomon.
In Japan are a lot of minority groups and the largest is Ainu group. There are Chinese and Koreans and they live on Hokkaido. Ainu comes from villages traditionally associated with such tasks as the execution of criminals and the slaughter of cattle.5
Language
Japanese is the official language of Japan. Spoken Japanese has many local dialects. The Tokyo dialect is the standard form of spoken Japanese.
Many Japanese can also speak English to some extent. A number of Japanese words, such as aisu kuriimu (ice cream) and guruupu (group) are based on the English language.
Written Japanese is considered to be one of the most difficult in the world. Japanese have taken their writing system from China.
Way of life
About three-fourths of the Japanese people live in urban areas like Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka and Nagoya - all on the island of Honshu. In many ways, Japans big cities are similar to the western cities. There are numerous restaurants, which serve everything from hamburgers to sushi. There are a lot of traditional shops, which are usually on narrow side streets specialize in traditional items, such as straw mats called tatami, which are used as floor coverings. 6 The shops sell not only the latest electronic games but also sticks of ink and special brushes for Japanese calligraphy (the art of fine handwriting)
Clothing
The Japanese have always placed great importance on their clothes, although especial in the home, is casual Western clothes becoming more and more popular. The traditional Japanese clothing of both men and women is the kimono. It is tied around the waist with a sash called an obi. Almost all Japanese wear kimonos during festivals, on holidays or other special occasion. Traditional Japanese footwear are wooden clogs called geta and flat sandals known as zori.
Food and drink
Japanese food and drink influenced also western civilization. A lot of people appreciate their food because of its low fat.
The main food is rice, which is usually being served with vegetables and at almost every meal. Fish provides the chief source of protein in the Japanese diet. A favorite method of preparing fish is to salt it and then broil it over open flame. The people also enjoy sashimi - thin slices of raw fish. A popular Japanese dish called sushi consist of rice flavored with vinegar and topped with raw fish, sliced vegetable, shell fish, or other ingredients. 7
Soybeans are another major source of protein in Japan. Many dishes contain miso (soybean paste) or tofu (soybean curd cake).
Popular alcoholic drinks include sake, a wine like beverage made from rice, and beer.
The Japanese take great care to arrange food attractively. They serve each kind of food on the separate dish to emphasize the foods color, shape. The Japanese eat with chopsticks.
Religion

Japans oldest religion is Shinto, which means the way of the gods. It is the native religion of Japan and dates from prehistoric times. Shintoists worship many gods called kami, which are found in mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, and other parts of nature. Shintoism tolds that all aspects of the natural environment-the plants and animals, hills and mountains, wins and rivers – are expressions of the divine spirit.8
The gods live in all of nature. At the entrance to many Shinto temples is a gate with two posts supporting a top piece with a straight crossbar below. The cross pieces symbolize the earth and the pillars represent supports for the heavens. These torii gateway separate the holy grounds of the shrine from the outside world.
About 60% of the Japanese people practice Buddhism. Many of these also follow Shinto. In fact, most Shintoists and Buddhists in Japan observe elements of both religions.
Christians make up about 3% of Japan s population. Spanish and Portuguese missionaries first brought Christianity to Japan about 1550.
Since WW2, religious sects called New Religions have developed in Japan. The largest of the New Religions is the Soka Gakkai, a Buddhist sect.
Confucianism, a Chinese religion, has also great influence in Japan.

Literature

Japanese literature ranks as one of the world’s great literatures. It reflects many characteristic of the Japanese people, such as their appreciation of tradition and their sensitivity to nature. The Japanese probably produces their first written literature during A.D. 500´s. But Japan has been for many years isolated from the rest of the world, and its written language was difficult to master. Therefore, Japanese literature remained almost unknown outside Japan until the 1900´s.
The oldest works of Japanese literature are two histories, The Record of Ancient Maters, and The Chronicles of Japan. These works contents the courageous deeds of the imperial family, but they also include folk tales, legends, myths, and songs.
The earliest collection of Japanese poetry, the Man´yoshu, also appeared during the 700´s. It contains more than 4,500 poems by hundreds of poets. These poets consist of 31 – syllable poems called tanka, which deal with friendship, love, and nature.
Much of Japan's early literature was written by women, partly because men wrote in imported Chinese characters while women wrote in Japanese script. Among these early female authors is Murasaki Shikibu, who wrote perhaps Japan's most important work of literature, The Tale of Genji, about the intrigues of early Japanese court life.
The revered poet, Matsuo Basho, invented just-so haiku poetry in the 17th century. More modern literati include controversial Yukio Mishima, provocative Murakami Ryu and cool cat Banana Yoshimoto. Many people consider Natsume Soseki the greatest Japanese novelist. As a novelist and literary critic of the early 1900´s, he established the modern novel as a respected form of literature.
Although the western literature influenced Japanese, the Japanese literature will be still a treasure in the world’s literature, because no literature in the world can write about the nature and human beings in so beautiful and respectful way.
Tourism

Japan is one of the most attractive touristy countries. It’s favorite because of beautiful virgin nature, old and mysterious history, oriental and colorful festivals that entice many tourists from Europe and other countries.
Most of the tourist are used to going to Tokyo, the capital city that is situated on the biggest island – Honshu. Magical memories of Tokyo don't consist of regular sightseeing, as this isn't a city of architectural brilliance flooded with monuments. Ginza is the most famous shopping area in Tokyo: it's opulent, vital and popular, and is the place to be seen emptying your wallet. . The Tokyo National Museum holds the world's largest selection of Japanese art; the National Science Museum is a massive free-for-all packed with scientific goodies.
Mt Fuji
Japan's highest mountain (3776m/12,385ft) is the only natural feature most visitors to Japan are sure they want to check out. Fuji-san is a perfectly symmetrical volcanic cone, which last blew its top in 1707, covering the streets of Tokyo 100km (62mi) away with volcanic ash.9 The Fuji Five Lakes arched around the northern side of the mountain are popular with Japanese day-trippers from Tokyo. They offer water sports, amusement parks, and ice caves and good views of Mt Fuji. The quickest way to get to the Fuji area is by bus from Tokyo's Shinjuku terminal. There's a comprehensive bus network in the area servicing the lower hill region and the lakes area.
Kyoto
Kyoto, with its hundreds of temples and gardens, was the imperial capital between 794 and 1868, and it continues to function as the major cultural center of Japan. The Imperial Palace is one of the few sights in central Kyoto.
Daisetsuzan National Park
Japan's largest national park (2309 sq km/1432 sq mi) is in central Hokkaido, the northernmost and second largest of Japan's islands. The park, which consists of several mountain groups, volcanoes, lakes and forests, is spectacular hiking and skiing territory. It's almost insanely popular in Nagasaki.
Nagasaki
Nagasaki is a busy and colorful city but its unfortunate fate as the second atomic bomb target obscures its fascinating early history of contact with the Portuguese and Dutch.10 Ukrami, the epicenter of the atomic explosion, is today a prosperous, peaceful suburb which encompasses the chilling A-Bomb Museum, an evocative reminder of the horror of nuclear destruction; and the Hypocenter Park, which has a black stone column marking the exact point above which the bomb exploded plus relics and ruins from the blast. A bell in the turtle-shaped Fukusai-ji Zen Temple tolls at 11.02 am daily, the time of the explosion. One of the world's biggest Foucault Pendulums (a device which demonstrates the rotation of the earth) hangs inside the temple, summer and early autumn when you really need a few days to get away from the crowds.
Festivals
Very popular are also the Japanese festivals. The Japanese celebrate many festivals during the year. One of the most popular celebrations is the New Year’s Day, which begins on January 1. On this day the Japanese dress in their most colorful kimonos. People visits their friends and relatives and exchange gifts. On 17 July is Giou Matsarai celebrated. Is the most renowned of all Japanese festivals – the climax is parade of massive man – dragged floats decked out in incredible finny. The bizarre that is following up to Valentines Day is the Knickers Giving Day. Man are supposed to give a gift of panties to their lady. Very interesting is an Yah Matsuri Festival that is an argument contest. The competitors yell “Yah, yah!” and try to look fearsome.
The national anthem is called kimigayo (the Reign of our Emperor), and the main holidays are: Emperors Birthday-April 29, New Years Day – January, Constitution Day – May 3.
Of course, it’s difficult to write down every single tourist attraction, because Japan is full of interesting things, which sometimes seemed to be for the tourist from other countries very strange and mysterious. But that’s the reason, what makes Japan to be the most beautiful countries in the world. Country full of contrasts. Wonderful nature and deep traditions, roots into the hectic and smoggy towns. Everything live together on the islands called Japan – the mysterious country where is western civilization mixed up with the oriental culture.


Sources


1,The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 11, USA : Scott Fetzer company, 1993.
2,Danzer, Gerald and Albert J. Larson. Land and People – A World Geography. Glenview, Illinois : Scott Foresman and Company, 1982.
3, http.// www.britanica.com.Japan
4, http://gojapan.about.com/travel/gojapan/cs/government/index.htm
5, National Geographic, Volume 180, no.5, Japan’s Sun Rises Over the Pacific – Arturo Zich, Washington, D.C., November 1991

Quotation


1. The World Book Encyclopedia, p.36
2. The World Book Encyclopedia, p. 33
3. Land and People, p.323
4. www.britanica.com.Japan
5. National Geographic, p.43
6. The World Book Encyclopedia, p. 39
7. The World Book Encyclopedia, p.40
8. Land and People, p.376
9. http://gojapan.about.com/travel/gojapan/cs/government/index.htm
10. www.britanica.com.Japan


Enclosure

The map of the Japan’s islands.

The Japan national flag.

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