Since our recently presented article required us to travel a bit to the East and drop by to our Chinese friends, why don’t we just savor this Marco Polo-like expedition of ours by exploring more of this side of the globe. Information gathering thru simple “virtual” visits such as these are good ways in bringing people much closer to one another. Various cultures, traditions and practices distinct from one another are more than enough to satisfy our never-ending thirst for information. What really make our quests more enjoyable and exciting are the interesting and odd realities that we exclusively discover apart from the usual ones. Discovering such interesting and funny facts somewhat makes us the modern day Marco Polo.
As we momentarily bid farewell to our Chinese friends, let us take a step towards our new and exciting destination. A visit more to our Eastern counterparts, to the land of the rising sun, Japan is our next stop. Fun and interesting facts about Japan are our next oriental quest.
I. Geography – Japan is considered as an “island country” or an archipelago. It is composed of four main islands namely Honshû, Shikoku, Kyûshû and Hokkaidô. Small islands surrounding them also comprise the country (approximately around 3,000). Additionally, Japan’s characters in its name would mean “sun-origin” that is why it is sometimes referred to as the Land of the Rising Sun. Japan is located in the Pacific coast of the Asian mainland. Japan is a small country. It has an area of 145,946 square miles. It can even be comparatively similar (or a bit larger) to the size of California of the US but obviously larger than Italy. The countries that surround it are the North and South Korea, Russia and Taiwan. The islands of Japan are mostly covered with mountains and forests. This fact can be attributable to Japan’s land mass being less ready for agricultural purposes. One of Japan’s features and an interesting fact about Japan is its perilous location. Experts say that Japan is one of those countries lies beneath that fault circle in the Pacific Ocean. This would further spell earthquakes and other related nature happening in Japan more than the usual. This is aside from the reality that Japan in its entirety comprises 10% of world’s most active volcanoes.
Being the tenth of the world’s largest in terms of population, Japan boasts of its 128 million people. One cannot simply belittle this small country as is actually a giant in more ways than one. Currently, Japan is considered a major economic power. Some of the facts about Japan that can be worth mentioning is that it is armed to have the second largest economy in terms of nominal GDP (Gross Domestic Product figure that is not yet attuned to inflation considerations). Japan is likewise known to have attained the following feats: the third largest purchasing power, the fourth world’s largest exporter and the world’s sixth in terms of imports. Japan also has the world’s largest budget in the defense department. And if all these aren’t enough to satisfy, this little giant is also an active member of the United Nations, G8 and other “Elite” groups.
Apart from the other facts about Japan, the same also takes pride of its high living standards. It currently ranks the highest 8th HDI (Human Development Index), and is widely known as one of the principals in the world of technology and robotics.
II. History – The distinct rich culture and ancient history of civilization are obviously abundant in the eastern part of the globe and Japan is among those who share and has the same background.
Japan, just like the beautiful Australia, was first inhabited by hunters. Early accounts of these were recorded to be as early as 30,000 B.C. These periods were best described by our experts to have occurred during the Jomon period. The facts and history of Japan also tells that during these periods, various cultures began to emerge such as the Paleolithic and the Neolithic cultures. They were believed to be the ones who started pottery. Visitors and migrants from neighboring countries such as china and Korea brought Japan new cultures such as rice planting, iron and bronze making. It was also during this era that Buddhism was first introduced in Japan by those who came from the Korean Peninsula but the sculptures then were mostly influenced by Chinese Buddhist. Buddhism became popular and its acceptance reached all the way as early as Japan’s Asuka period. It was during the Nara period that Japan began to slowly rise. The Japanese have adopted some Chinese practices and were able to come up with their own written literature. Japan then was also ruled by Emperors.
It was during Emperor Kammu’s reign that Japan’s national anthem was written. His reign also marked the flourish of Japan’s art. Japanese historical facts would relate that the battles that existed then in Japan was brought about by the existence Tom Cruise’s pals – the samurai. They have gathered a large number of resistances during Japan’s Kamakura period. These feudal wars continued and lasted until 1467.
Foreign visitors were again present in Japan’s shore during the sixteenth century as it was now trading culture and commercials amongst its neighboring countries. Despite the growing battles in Japan’s political statute, it was during the Edo period that Japan declared its “closed country” policy which actually lasted two and a half century. This policy according to experts, gave more impact on the economic strength that Japan has right now.
It was in 1854 that Japan opened its doors again to the world. As more agreements and treaties were offered, Japan later opted in developing the style and has come to acquire western civilizations’ influences. The western adaptation gave Japan more power and obviously more conflicts as various wars were accounted during those times. Japan strength more intensified as he hungered for more invasion that later made alliance with the Nazi Germany. Because of all the turmoil that Japan has caused, it somewhat backfired as World War II became its furious end. Japan declared its unconditional surrender in 1945 against US and the Soviet Union. Since then Japan slowly climbed to recovery and became a member of the United Nations in 1956.
III. Made in Japan – There are lots of information as well as funny facts that are distinctly Japanese. Within the Japanese culture lie its uniqueness and that is really Japanese in nature and origin. One of which is in the world of Art. The Japanese are famous for their “Origami” or the Art of Paper folding. Also famous worldwide is the “Ikebana” or the Art of flower arrangements. Also noteworthy as purely Japanese in the world of art are the “Kabuki” and “Noh” plays. The most influential so far of these Japanese cultures amongst those classified above is the popular “Karaoke”. Far from anything else, there is the Koto (musical instrument), the distinctly flavorful Japanese cuisine (sushi, sashimi and maki), the swift warriors in the embodiments of ninjas and the historically-embedded samurai swords.
IV. Fun and Interesting Facts – Above anything else, there is of course, everybody’s favorite – the fun facts about Japan:
- The most popular pizza toppings in Japan is squid;
- But they it most when it is topped with mayonnaise and corn;
- And seaweeds too, by the way;
- Traditional Japanese homes are kinda strict. You only wear slippers inside the house and they also have an extra pair of special ones that you must wear inside the bathroom;
- Japan’s Haiku poetry is the shortest. It consists only of three lines;
- All Japanese meals are served with tea;
- Most Japanese women wear shoes that are 4-6 inches high;
- Japanese practice teaches you to slurp the food that you eat. It is considered that the food is not that tasteful and well prepared if you do not slurp; (the louder means the yummier?)
- Statistics says that an average Japanese can live 4 times longer than an American does;
- Japan is famous for their vending machines that sell almost everything you want and can be found on almost every corner;
- Tokyo has the largest fish market in the world, the Tsukiji fish market;
- Japanese girls actually cut their hairs after a breakup with a lover;
- Japanese boys on the other hand, shave their heads just to apologize (now, that’s convincing!);
- Due to its position in the map, Japan experiences an average of 3 mild earthquakes…daily!
- And oh, aside from the “house slippers” and “bathroom slippers” that you must wear inside a typical Japanese house, there’s also an additional “corridor” slippers;
- The normal Japanese type of kitchen doesn’t have ovens;
- Mount Everest’s oldest climber was actually Japanese. Mr. Yuichiro Miura at 70 years old. The old man reached the summit, by the way;
- Students in the elementary in Japan wear yellow caps;
- “Ohayo Gozaimasu” – “Good morning” in Japan are oftentimes said as “Oha!” by young ones;
- Local calls in Japan are charged by the minute;
- Streets in Japan usually don’t have names;
- The Japanese play “Noh” can actually last 8 hours; (do they get tired?)
- Because of their enormous economic growth perhaps, almost every Japanese teenager owns a cellular phone;
- Is it true that they sell beer at McDonald’s?
- You don’t wear shoes inside a Japanese classroom, only socks or special kind of slippers;
One the Japan’s popular food is raw horse meat;
- Japan celebrates a special day for their old people. Their usual gifts are free cigarettes from tobacco companies; and finally my favorite fun fact,
- Japan’s green traffic light is called “blue”.