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Japan 1997 photos index page

Far East, Asia

Japan, Nippon in the Japanese language is constitutional monarchy off shore of East Asia, made up of four large islands of Hokkaido, Honshu (The largest, mainland), Shikoku, Kyushu, the Ryukyu Islands and 1000 or more smaller islands.
Bounded by the Sea of Okhotsk, the Pacific Ocean, the East China Sea, the Korea Strait and the Sea of Japan.
Nippon roughly translates to 'Land of the Rising Sun'.
Due Japan's many high mountains and deep valleys, very little of Japan is arable land.
Many of the nearby islands are in dispute.
Japan is sitting on a volcanic chain and earthquakes happen regularly in some places minor ones occurred more than three times a day.
The western side of the Japanese islands is settling, while the Pacific coast is rising and June to October tropical cyclones, also called typhoons, occur: Agriculture is Japan's most important as it has very limited mineral resources.
Japan has a population of over 126 million and divided into 47 prefectures.
Most important cities are Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto former capital and Kobe.
The main religions are Shinto (based on ancestor and nature worship, banned by the occupying forces after WWII, but was reestablished under the constitutional freedom of religion) and Buddhism.
Japanese is the official language.
Probably an Altaic language and is written with three different characters, Chinese characters and hiragana for phonetic writing of Japanese words and and katakana characters for the foreign words.
Japanese culture evolved from early Chinese and Korean cultures.
Most of Japan's industry was destroyed during WWII.
Japan had to rebuild and modernise its industry the Japanese economy has expanded rapidly.
Fish is a staple food for the Japanese and is second only to rice.
Yen is the official currency.
Executive power is vested in a Cabinet, headed by a prime minister and run on a democratic system.
The Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) and the Nihon shoki or Nihongi (Chronicles of Japan), chronicles Japanese history from about the 7th century BC to the 7th century AD.
Emperor Jimmu unified the country, during this period Korean culture played an important role.
Empress Suiko (593-628) began a reform program, like the Seventeen-Article Constitution and established Buddhism and introduced agrar reform.
Japanese imperial capitals had been moved after the death of each sovereign, to avoid the contamination associated in Shinto with death.
In 784 Emperor Kammu (781-806) established Heian-kyo (Kyoto), as permanent capital until 1868.
In the 9th century the emperors began to withdraw from active government.
Delegating the affairs of state to appointed officials this given rise of the Fujiwara, the leading family of court nobles, who became virtual masters of Japan and controlled the imperial family by marrying their daughters to emperors.
In 884 Fujiwara Mototsune became the first official civil dictator (kampaku).
During the Fujiwara period Japanese culture was flowering and the spread of civilisation taken a great leap, until Michinaga's death in 1028, when the first samurais emerged to administer and defend the estates for their wealthy owners.
The first ones mainly belonged to the Taira and Minamoto clans and one ruled most of the north and the other the south.
These clans were fighting for centuries for power.
In 1274 and again in 1281 the Mongols tried to invade Japan, unsuccessfully.
In 1338 Takauji became Shogun, and set up his own bakufu (Tent imperial court) in Kyoto.
St Francis Xavier, the Jesuit missionary, brought Christianity to Japan in 1549.
In the 16th century in the Azuchi-Momoyama period Japan of the Warring States was finally reunified.
In 1600 Tokugawa Ieyasu won the Battle of Sekigahara and became unchallenged ruler of the whole country.
In 1603 appointed himself Shogun and made his bakufu at Edo (Tokyo = mixed up Kyoto) his capital.
Defeating most of his rivals brought Japan over 250 years of peace.
Shogun supremacy and feudalism established by Ieyasu and Tokugawa s endured till the 19th century.
Bushido, the code of the feudal warriors, became the standard of conduct for the great lords and the gentry-class of samurai who served as their retainers and administrators.
Later under Meiji leaders, the Japanese managed to remain uncolonise by the European imperialism that, was engulfing other Asian countries.
By imitation of Western civilization, they set out to make Japan itself a world power, under the slogan fukoku kyohei ("enrich the country, strengthen the army").
French officers were engaged to remodel the army; British seamen reorganized the navy; and Dutch engineers supervised new construction in the islands.
Japanese were sent abroad to analyse foreign governments and to select their best features for duplication in Japan.
They also embarked on an aggressive foreign policy like the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and many other wars including the WWII can be included here.
During the WWII the first and second Atom bombs were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Today's Japan is very advanced and prosperous nation.
Tourism one the many assets it possesses.
Japan's culture, architecture the beautiful land and cities and very polite and friendly people make tourist leave with satisfaction.

Hui Chin, Endre and I've found Japan very different, very interesting, very beautiful and exceptionally friendly.

Enjoyed our stay very much.
Hope to go back again soon.

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