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
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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