Never in the history of mankind has there been so much information about Japan as there is today thanks to the internet. However, this access to everything related to Japan is not always easy. Saturation, poor usability, and the difficulty to discern between correct and incorrect information about Japan are often difficult to overcome. That's what motivated us to create a reliable, safe and effective site.
It was clear to us that in order to achieve our goal, it was not enough to have correct and verified information about Japan. Everything we had collected about Japan also had to be presented in a clear, readable way, in a structure that facilitated the user experience, with a clean and efficient design, and that prioritised loading speed. We are confident that we have achieved this, although we are always working to make small improvements. If you have found what you have found useful about Japan and you have felt comfortable, we will be very happy if you come back to wikious.com whenever you want and need to.
The name for Japan in Japanese is written using the kanji日本 and is pronounced Nippon or Nihon. Before 日本 was adopted in the early 8th century, the country was known in China as Wa (倭, changed in Japan around 757 to 和) and in Japan by the endonymYamato.Nippon, the original Sino-Japanese reading of the characters, is favored for official uses, including on banknotes and postage stamps.Nihon is typically used in everyday speech and reflects shifts in Japanese phonology during the Edo period. The characters 日本 mean "sun origin", which is the source of the popular Western epithet "Land of the Rising Sun".
The name "Japan" is based on Chinese pronunciations of 日本 and was introduced to European languages through early trade. In the 13th century, Marco Polo recorded the early Mandarin or Wu Chinese pronunciation of the characters 日本國 as Cipangu. The old Malay name for Japan, Japang or Japun, was borrowed from a southern coastal Chinese dialect and encountered by Portuguese traders in Southeast Asia, who brought the word to Europe in the early 16th century. The first version of the name in English appears in a book published in 1577, which spelled the name as Giapan in a translation of a 1565 Portuguese letter.
Japan first appears in written history in the Chinese Book of Han, completed in 111 AD. Buddhism was introduced to Japan from Baekje (a Korean kingdom) in 552, but the development of Japanese Buddhism was primarily influenced by China. Despite early resistance, Buddhism was promoted by the ruling class, including figures like Prince Shōtoku, and gained widespread acceptance beginning in the Asuka period (592–710).
The far-reaching Taika Reforms in 645 nationalized all land in Japan, to be distributed equally among cultivators, and ordered the compilation of a household registry as the basis for a new system of taxation. The Jinshin War of 672, a bloody conflict between Prince Ōama and his nephew Prince Ōtomo, became a major catalyst for further administrative reforms. These reforms culminated with the promulgation of the Taihō Code, which consolidated existing statutes and established the structure of the central and subordinate local governments. These legal reforms created the ritsuryō state, a system of Chinese-style centralized government that remained in place for half a millennium.
Tokugawa Ieyasu served as regent for Hideyoshi's son Toyotomi Hideyori and used his position to gain political and military support. When open war broke out, Ieyasu defeated rival clans in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. He was appointed shōgun by Emperor Go-Yōzei in 1603 and established the Tokugawa shogunate at Edo (modern Tokyo). The shogunate enacted measures including buke shohatto, as a code of conduct to control the autonomous daimyō, and in 1639 the isolationist sakoku ("closed country") policy that spanned the two and a half centuries of tenuous political unity known as the Edo period (1603–1868). Modern Japan's economic growth began in this period, resulting in roads and water transportation routes, as well as financial instruments such as futures contracts, banking and insurance of the Osaka rice brokers. The study of Western sciences (rangaku) continued through contact with the Dutch enclave in Nagasaki. The Edo period gave rise to kokugaku ("national studies"), the study of Japan by the Japanese.
Japan comprises 6852 islands extending along the Pacific coast of Asia. It stretches over 3000 km (1900 mi) northeast–southwest from the Sea of Okhotsk to the East China Sea. The country's five main islands, from north to south, are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu and Okinawa. The Ryukyu Islands, which include Okinawa, are a chain to the south of Kyushu. The Nanpō Islands are south and east of the main islands of Japan. Together they are often known as the Japanese archipelago. As of 2019, Japan's territory is 377,975.24 km2 (145,937.06 sq mi). Japan has the sixth-longest coastline in the world at 29,751 km (18,486 mi). Because of its far-flung outlying islands, Japan has the eighth largest Exclusive Economic Zone in the world, covering 4,470,000 km2 (1,730,000 sq mi).
The Japanese archipelago is 67% forests and 14% agricultural. The primarily rugged and mountainous terrain is restricted for habitation. Thus the habitable zones, mainly in the coastal areas, have very high population densities: Japan is the 40th most densely populated country.Honshu has the highest population density at 450 persons/km2 (1200/sq mi) as of 2010, while Hokkaido has the lowest density of 64.5 persons/km2 as of 2016. As of 2014, approximately 0.5% of Japan's total area is reclaimed land (umetatechi).Lake Biwa is an ancient lake and the country's largest freshwater lake.
The climate of Japan is predominantly temperate but varies greatly from north to south. The northernmost region, Hokkaido, has a humid continental climate with long, cold winters and very warm to cool summers. Precipitation is not heavy, but the islands usually develop deep snowbanks in the winter.
In the Sea of Japan region on Honshu's west coast, northwest winter winds bring heavy snowfall during winter. In the summer, the region sometimes experiences extremely hot temperatures because of the foehn. The Central Highland has a typical inland humid continental climate, with large temperature differences between summer and winter. The mountains of the Chūgoku and Shikoku regions shelter the Seto Inland Sea from seasonal winds, bringing mild weather year-round.
The Pacific coast features a humid subtropical climate that experiences milder winters with occasional snowfall and hot, humid summers because of the southeast seasonal wind. The Ryukyu and Nanpō Islands have a subtropical climate, with warm winters and hot summers. Precipitation is very heavy, especially during the rainy season. The main rainy season begins in early May in Okinawa, and the rain front gradually moves north. In late summer and early autumn, typhoons often bring heavy rain. According to the Environment Ministry, heavy rainfall and increasing temperatures have caused problems in the agricultural industry and elsewhere. The highest temperature ever measured in Japan, 41.1 °C (106.0 °F), was recorded on July 23, 2018, and repeated on August 17, 2020.
A large network of national parks has been established to protect important areas of flora and fauna as well as 52 Ramsar wetland sites.Four sites have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for their outstanding natural value.
In the period of rapid economic growth after World War II, environmental policies were downplayed by the government and industrial corporations; as a result, environmental pollution was widespread in the 1950s and 1960s. Responding to rising concern, the government introduced environmental protection laws in 1970. The oil crisis in 1973 also encouraged the efficient use of energy because of Japan's lack of natural resources.
Historically influenced by Chinese law, the Japanese legal system developed independently during the Edo period through texts such as Kujikata Osadamegaki. Since the late 19th century, the judicial system has been largely based on the civil law of Europe, notably Germany. In 1896, Japan established a civil code based on the German Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, which remains in effect with post–World War II modifications. The Constitution of Japan, adopted in 1947, is the oldest unamended constitution in the world. Statutory law originates in the legislature, and the constitution requires that the emperor promulgate legislation passed by the Diet without giving him the power to oppose legislation. The main body of Japanese statutory law is called the Six Codes. Japan's court system is divided into four basic tiers: the Supreme Court and three levels of lower courts.
Japan has close economic and military relations with the United States, with which it maintains a security alliance. The United States is a major market for Japanese exports and a major source of Japanese imports, and is committed to defending the country, with military bases in Japan. Japan is also a member of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (more commonly "the Quad"), a multilateral security collaboration reformed in 2017 aiming to limit Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region, along with the United States, Australia and India, reflecting existing relations and patterns of cooperation.
Japan's relationship with South Korea had historically been strained because of Japan's treatment of Koreans during Japanese colonial rule, particularly over the issue of comfort women. In 2015, Japan agreed to settle the comfort women dispute with South Korea by issuing a formal apology and paying money to the surviving comfort women. As of 2019 Japan is a major importer of Korean music (K-pop), television (K-dramas), and other cultural products.
Japan is engaged in several territorial disputes with its neighbors. Japan contests Russia's control of the Southern Kuril Islands, which were occupied by the Soviet Union in 1945. South Korea's control of the Liancourt Rocks is acknowledged but not accepted as they are claimed by Japan. Japan has strained relations with China and Taiwan over the Senkaku Islands and the status of Okinotorishima.
The Government of Japan has been making changes to its security policy which include the establishment of the National Security Council, the adoption of the National Security Strategy, and the development of the National Defense Program Guidelines. In May 2014, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said Japan wanted to shed the passiveness it has maintained since the end of World War II and take more responsibility for regional security. Recent tensions, particularly with North Korea and China, have reignited the debate over the status of the JSDF and its relation to Japanese society.
Japan was the world's fourth-largest exporter and importer in 2021. Its exports amounted to 15.6% of its total GDP in 2020. As of 2019, Japan's main export markets were the United States (19.8 percent) and China (19.1 percent). Its main exports are motor vehicles, iron and steel products, semiconductors and auto parts. Japan's main import markets as of 2019 were China (23.5 percent), the United States (11 percent), and Australia (6.3 percent). Japan's main imports are machinery and equipment, fossil fuels, foodstuffs, chemicals, and raw materials for its industries.
The Japanese agricultural sector accounts for about 1.2% of the total country's GDP as of 2018. Only 11.5% of Japan's land is suitable for cultivation. Because of this lack of arable land, a system of terraces is used to farm in small areas. This results in one of the world's highest levels of crop yields per unit area, with an agricultural self-sufficiency rate of about 50% as of 2018. Japan's small agricultural sector is highly subsidized and protected. There has been a growing concern about farming as farmers are aging with a difficult time finding successors.
Japan ranked seventh in the world in tonnage of fish caught and captured 3,167,610 metric tons of fish in 2016, down from an annual average of 4,000,000 tons over the previous decade. Japan maintains one of the world's largest fishing fleets and accounts for nearly 15% of the global catch, prompting critiques that Japan's fishing is leading to depletion in fish stocks such as tuna. Japan has sparked controversy by supporting commercial whaling.
Japan has a large industrial capacity and is home to some of the "largest and most technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemical substances, textiles, and processed foods". Japan's industrial sector makes up approximately 27.5% of its GDP. The country's manufacturing output is the third highest in the world as of 2019.
Japan is the third-largest automobile producer in the world as of 2017 and is home to Toyota, the world's largest automobile company. The Japanese shipbuilding industry faces competition from South Korea and China; a 2020 government initiative identified this sector as a target for increasing exports.
Japan's service sector accounts for about 70% of its total economic output as of 2019. Banking, retail, transportation, and telecommunications are all major industries, with companies such as Toyota, Mitsubishi UFJ, -NTT, ÆON, Softbank, Hitachi, and Itochu listed as among the largest in the world.
Japan leads the world in robotics production and use, supplying 55% of the world's 2017 total. Japan has the second highest number of researchers in science and technology per capita in the world with 14 per 1000 employees.
The Japanese consumer electronics industry, once considered the strongest in the world, is in a state of decline as competition arises in countries like South Korea and China. However, video gaming in Japan remains a major industry. In 2014, Japan's consumer video game market grossed $9.6 billion, with $5.8 billion coming from mobile gaming. By 2015, Japan had become the world's fourth largest PC game market, behind only China, the United States, and South Korea.
Japan has invested heavily in transportation infrastructure. The country has approximately 1,200,000 kilometers (750,000 miles) of roads made up of 1,000,000 kilometers (620,000 miles) of city, town and village roads, 130,000 kilometers (81,000 miles) of prefectural roads, 54,736 kilometers (34,011 miles) of general national highways and 7641 kilometers (4748 miles) of national expressways as of 2017.
There are 175 airports in Japan as of 2013. The largest domestic airport, Haneda Airport in Tokyo, was Asia's second-busiest airport in 2019. The Keihin and Hanshin superport hubs are among the largest in the world, at 7.98 and 5.22 million TEU respectively as of 2017.
As of 2019, 37.1% of energy in Japan was produced from petroleum, 25.1% from coal, 22.4% from natural gas, 3.5% from hydropower and 2.8% from nuclear power, among other sources. Nuclear power was down from 11.2 percent in 2010. By May 2012 all of the country's nuclear power plants had been taken offline because of ongoing public opposition following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011, though government officials continued to try to sway public opinion in favor of returning at least some to service. The Sendai Nuclear Power Plant restarted in 2015, and since then several other nuclear power plants have been restarted. Japan lacks significant domestic reserves and has a heavy dependence on imported energy. The country has therefore aimed to diversify its sources and maintain high levels of energy efficiency.
The changes in demographic structure have created a number of social issues, particularly a decline in workforce population and increase in the cost of social security benefits. The government of Japan projects that there will be almost one elderly person for each person of working age by 2060.Immigration and birth incentives are sometimes suggested as a solution to provide younger workers to support the nation's aging population. On April 1, 2019, Japan's revised immigration law was enacted, protecting the rights of foreign workers to help reduce labor shortages in certain sectors.
Japan's constitution guarantees full religious freedom. Upper estimates suggest that 84–96 percent of the Japanese population subscribe to Shinto as its indigenous religion. However, these estimates are based on people affiliated with a temple, rather than the number of true believers. Many Japanese people practice both Shinto and Buddhism; they can either identify with both religions or describe themselves as non-religious or spiritual. The level of participation in religious ceremonies as a cultural tradition remains high, especially during festivals and occasions such as the first shrine visit of the New Year.Taoism and Confucianism from China have also influenced Japanese beliefs and customs.
Christianity was first introduced into Japan by Jesuit missions starting in 1549. Today, 1% to 1.5% of the population are Christians. Throughout the latest century, Western customs originally related to Christianity (including Western style weddings, Valentine's Day and Christmas) have become popular as secular customs among many Japanese.
About 90% of those practicing Islam in Japan are foreign-born migrants as of 2016. As of 2018 there were an estimated 105 mosques and 200,000 Muslims in Japan, 43,000 of which were ethnically Japanese. Other minority religions include Hinduism, Judaism, and Baháʼí Faith, as well as the animist beliefs of the Ainu.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) coordinated by the OECD ranks the knowledge and skills of Japanese 15-year-olds as the third best in the world. Japan is one of the top-performing OECD countries in reading literacy, math and sciences with the average student scoring 520 and has one of the world's highest-educated labor forces among OECD countries. It spent roughly 3.1% of its total GDP on education as of 2018, below the OECD average of 4.9%. In 2020, the country ranked third for the percentage of 25 to 64-year-olds that have attained tertiary education with 52.7%. Approximately 61.5% of Japanese aged 25 to 34 have some form of tertiary education qualification, and bachelor's degrees are held by 31.3% of Japanese aged 25 to 64, the second most in the OECD after South Korea. Japanese females are more highly educated compared to their male counterparts, as 59% of Japanese women possess a university degree, compared to 52% of Japanese men.
Health care in Japan is provided by national and local governments. Payment for personal medical services is offered through a universal health insurance system that provides relative equality of access, with fees set by a government committee. People without insurance through employers can participate in a national health insurance program administered by local governments. Since 1973, all elderly persons have been covered by government-sponsored insurance.
Japan spent 10.74% of its total GDP on healthcare in 2019. In 2020, the overall life expectancy in Japan at birth was 84.62 years (81.64 years for males and 87.74 years for females), the highest in the world; while it had a very low infant mortality rate (2 per 1,000 live births). Since 1981, the principal cause of death in Japan is cancer, which accounted for 27% of the total deaths in 2018—followed by cardiovascular diseases, which led to 15% of the deaths. Japan has one of the world's highest suicide rates, which is considered a major social issue. Another significant public health issue is smoking among Japanese men. However, Japan has the lowest rate of heart disease in the OECD, and the lowest level of dementia among developed countries.
The history of Japanese painting exhibits synthesis and competition between native Japanese esthetics and imported ideas. The interaction between Japanese and European art has been significant: for example ukiyo-e prints, which began to be exported in the 19th century in the movement known as Japonism, had a significant influence on the development of modern art in the West, most notably on post-Impressionism.
Japanese architecture is a combination between local and other influences. It has traditionally been typified by wooden or mud plaster structures, elevated slightly off the ground, with tiled or thatched roofs. The Shrines of Ise have been celebrated as the prototype of Japanese architecture.Traditional housing and many temple buildings see the use of tatami mats and sliding doors that break down the distinction between rooms and indoor and outdoor space. Since the 19th century, Japan has incorporated much of Western modern architecture into construction and design. It was not until after World War II that Japanese architects made an impression on the international scene, firstly with the work of architects like Kenzō Tange and then with movements like Metabolism.
Japanese philosophy has historically been a fusion of both foreign, particularly Chinese and Western, and uniquely Japanese elements. In its literary forms, Japanese philosophy began about fourteen centuries ago. Confucian ideals remain evident in the Japanese concept of society and the self, and in the organization of the government and the structure of society. Buddhism has profoundly impacted Japanese psychology, metaphysics, and esthetics.
Japanese music is eclectic and diverse. Many instruments, such as the koto, were introduced in the 9th and 10th centuries. The popular folk music, with the guitar-like shamisen, dates from the 16th century. Western classical music, introduced in the late 19th century, forms an integral part of Japanese culture.Kumi-daiko (ensemble drumming) was developed in postwar Japan and became very popular in North America. Popular music in post-war Japan has been heavily influenced by American and European trends, which has led to the evolution of J-pop.Karaoke is a significant cultural activity.
The four traditional theaters from Japan are noh, kyōgen, kabuki, and bunraku. Noh is one of the oldest continuous theater traditions in the world.
Popular Japanese beverages include sake, which is a brewed rice beverage that typically contains 14–17% alcohol and is made by multiple fermentation of rice. Beer has been brewed in Japan since the late 17th century.Green tea is produced in Japan and prepared in forms such as matcha, used in the Japanese tea ceremony.
Japan has one of the oldest and largest film industries globally.Ishirō Honda's Godzilla became an international icon of Japan and spawned an entire subgenre of kaiju films, as well as the longest-running film franchise in history. Japanese comics, known as manga, developed in the mid-20th century and have become popular worldwide. A large number of manga series have become some of the best-selling comics series of all time, rivalling the American comics industry. Japanese animated films and television series, known as anime, were largely influenced by Japanese manga and have become highly popular internationally.
Sumo wrestlers form around the referee during the ring-entering ceremony
Traditionally, sumo is considered Japan's national sport. Japanese martial arts such as judo and kendo are taught as part of the compulsory junior high school curriculum.Baseball is the most popular spectator sport in the country. Japan's top professional league, Nippon Professional Baseball, was established in 1936. Since the establishment of the Japan Professional Football League in 1992, association football has gained a wide following. The country co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup with South Korea. Japan has one of the most successful football teams in Asia, winning the Asian Cup four times, and the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2011. Golf is also popular in Japan.
^In English, the official name of the country is simply "Japan". In Japanese, the name of the country as it appears on official documents, including the country's constitution, is 日本国 (Nippon-koku or Nihon-koku), meaning "State of Japan". Despite this, the short-form name 日本 (Nippon or Nihon) is also often used officially.
^ abcdefgHenshall, Kenneth (2012). "Of Courtiers and Warriors: Early and Medieval History (710–1600)". A History of Japan: From Stone Age to Superpower. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 24–52. ISBN978-0-230-36918-4.
^Iwashita, Akihiro (2011). "An Invitation to Japan's Borderlands: At the Geopolitical Edge of the Eurasian Continent". Journal of Borderlands Studies. 26 (3): 279–282. doi:10.1080/08865655.2011.686969.
^Anderson, Mark (2019). "Language shift in the Ryukyu Islands". In Heinrich, Patrick; Ohara, Yumiko (eds.). Routledge Handbook of Japanese Sociolinguistics. Routledge. pp. 370–388. ISBN978-1-315-21337-8.
^Ishihara, Masahide (2016). "Language Revitalization Efforts in the Ryukyus". In Ishihara, Masahide; Hoshino, Eiichi; Fujita, Yoko (eds.). Self-determinable Development of Small Islands. Springer. pp. 67–82. ISBN978-981-10-0132-1.
^Hudson, Mark (2014). "The ethnohistory and anthropology of 'modern' hunter-gatherers: north Japan (Ainu)". In Cummings, Vicki; Jordan, Peter; Zvelebil, Marek (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology and Anthropology of Hunter-Gatherers. Oxford University Press. p. 1058. ISBN978-0-19-955122-4.
^Lo, Patrick (2016). "Katsu Watanabe, Akane Oki, and Yasushi Ishii, Librarians of the NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo". Conversations with the World's Leading Orchestra and Opera Librarians. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 156–167.