Information about Japan

The "Land of the Rising Sun" is a country where the past meets the future. Japanese culture stretches back millennia, yet has also adopted (and created) the latest modern fashions and trends.

Japan is a land combining tradition and modernity, and I had a pleasure to get to know a little bit of it. As a person coming from Finland there were many things that felt familiar: love for the nature, appreciating honesty and little of the small talk, public bath houses (or our saunas), eating raw fish, enjoying the silence, embracing high tech easily and a mind set for developing new solutions, strong four seasons and sometimes very harsh climate, walking inside homes without shoes, strong neighboring countries and a will for an independence, walking alone relatively safe on streets anywhere, an eye for the clear forms and the simplicity in modern design, and so on...

Japan is a study in contrasts and contradictions. Cities are as modern and high tech as anywhere else, but tumbledown wooden shacks can still be spotted next to glass fronted designer condominiums. Japan has beautiful temples and gardens which are often surrounded by garish signs and ugly buildings. In the middle of a modern skyscraper you might discover a sliding wooden door which leads to a traditional chamber with tatami mats, calligraphy, and tea ceremony.

Japan (Japanese: Nihon or Nippon) is an island nation in East Asia and the japanese letters mean "sun-origin", so Japan is often called "Land of the Rising Sun". Japan is an archipelago of 6,852 islands and the four largest islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku. Japan has the world's tenth-largest population, with over 127 million people. Honshū's Greater Tokyo Area, which includes the de facto capital city of Tokyo and several surrounding prefectures, is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 30 million residents.

Archaeological research indicates that people lived in Japan as early as the Upper Paleolithic period (50 000 - 10 000 years ago). The first written mention of Japan is in Chinese history texts from the 1st century AD. Influence from other nations followed by long periods of isolation has characterized Japan's history.
From the 12th century until 1868, Japan was ruled by successive feudal shogunates in the name of the Emperor. Japan entered into a long period of isolation in the early 17th century, which was only ended in 1853 when a United States fleet pressured Japan to open to the West.

Nearly two decades of internal conflict and insurrection followed before the Meiji Emperor was restored as head of state in 1868 and the Empire of Japan was proclaimed, with the Emperor as a divine symbol of the nation. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, victory in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War and World War I allowed Japan to expand its empire during a period of increasing militarism. The Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937 expanded into part of World War II in 1941, which came to an end in 1945 following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since adopting its revised constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected legislature called the Diet.

Japan has the third-largest economy in the world and has some of the largest and most technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, electronics, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemical substances, textiles, and processed foods. Agricultural businesses in Japan cultivate 13 % of Japan's land, and Japan accounts for nearly 15 % of the global fish catch, second only to China.

More info (some quoted here): Wikitravel and Wikipedia.

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle