Japan Destinations Travel Guide

Flag of Japan

Language: Japanese

Currency: Yen (JPY)

Calling Code: 81


Japan (Jap. 日本 Nihon, Nippon, lit. "the place where the sun rises"), the official name is the State of Japan (Jap. 日本国 "Nihon koku", "Nippon koku"), is an island nation in East Asia. It is located in the Pacific Ocean to the east of the Sea of ​​Japan, China, North and South Korea, Russia. It occupies an area from the Sea of ​​Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south. The poetic name is the Land of the Rising Sun.

It is located on the Japanese archipelago, which, according to the calculations of the country's authorities, consists of 6852 islands. The four largest islands - Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku - make up over 95% of the total area of ​​the archipelago. Most of the islands are mountainous, many are volcanic. The highest point in Japan is Fujiyama volcano (3776 m). With a population of nearly 126 million, Japan ranks eleventh in the world. Greater Tokyo, which includes the capital of Japan Tokyo and several nearby prefectures, with a population of more than 30 million people, is the largest urban agglomeration in the world.

In terms of the form of government, Japan is a decentralized unitary state, and in terms of the form of its political regime, it is a democratic state.

As a great economic power, Japan ranks third in the world in terms of nominal GDP and fourth in terms of GDP calculated at purchasing power parity. Japan is the fourth largest exporter and sixth largest importer.

Japan is a developed country with a very high standard of living (nineteenth in the Human Development Index). Japan has one of the highest life expectancies (85.3 years in 2017) and one of the lowest infant mortality rates.

Japan is a member of the G7 and APEC, and is regularly elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Japan has officially renounced its right to declare war, but it has a self-defense force that is also used in peacekeeping operations.

Japan is the only country in the world against which nuclear weapons have been used.

Emperor of Japan - Naruhito (since May 1, 2019), Prime Minister of Japan - Fumio Kishida (since October 4, 2021), Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (since September 29, 2021).


Travel Destination in Japan

Aokigahara Haunted Forest at the base of Fuji mountain is believed to be home of demons, ghosts and other supernatural evil beings.

Akan National Park is situated on Hokkaido Island in Japan. It covers an area of 904.81 sq km.

Himeji Castle is a medieval fort in a Japanese town of Himeji.

Ise Shrine is dedicated to goddess Amaterasu-ōmikami in the city of Ise.

Kiyomizu Temple is a Buddist complex that was found in a late 8th century during Heian period.

Matsumoto Castle or a Crow's castle is one of Japan's most famous historic castles.

Mount Fuji is a picturesque volcano that is probably one of the most recognizable sites of Japan.

Nara is a magnificent historic complex recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site situated in Nara Prefecture of Japan.

Osaka Castle was constructed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1583 during the period of unification of Japan.



From the Meiji Restoration until the end of World War II, Japan's full name was Dai Nippon Teikoku (大日本帝國), meaning the Great Empire of Japan. Now the official name of the country is "Nihon koku" or "Nippon koku" (日本国). The Japanese themselves call the country "Nippon" listen (inf.) or "Nihon" listen (inf.), both are written with kanji (日本). The former is often used as an official one, such as on yen, postage stamps, and in the names of many sporting events. "Nihon" is commonly used in everyday life. The Japanese call themselves Nihonjin (日本人) and their language Nihongo (日本語).

Nihon literally means "the place where the sun rises" and the name is often translated as "Land of the Rising Sun". This is how the Chinese called Japan in the correspondence of the emperor of Japan with the Chinese Sui dynasty, since Japan is located to the east of China. Initially, the hieroglyphs 日本 were the nickname of the country, they appeared at the end of the 7th century and were read as Hinomoto; Nihon and Nippon readings have been used since the Nara period. Prior to that, the country was called "Yamato" (大和) or in Chinese - Wa (倭), Wagoku (倭国), also the Japanese used self-names-euphemisms "Great country of eight islands" (大八嶋国, ooyashimaguni), "Country in the reed plains "(葦原中国, ashihara no nakatsukuni), "Land of abundant reed plains, young rice sprouts" (葦原千五百秋瑞穂国, ashihara no chiyoaki no mizuho no kuni).



The first signs of settlement of the Japanese archipelago appeared around 40 millennium BC. e. with the beginning of the Japanese Paleolithic, which lasted until the 12th millennium BC. The population of ancient Japan was engaged in hunting and gathering, made the first stone tools of rough processing. There are no ceramic products in this period, so the period is also called the period of pre-ceramic culture. From 12000 B.C. the Jomon period begins, which, according to the archaeological periodization of the history of Western countries, corresponds to the Mesolithic and Neolithic. The peculiarities of this period were the formation of the Japanese archipelago and the beginning of the use of ceramic products by its inhabitants.

In the Yayoi period, which began around 500 BC, irrigated rice cultivation, the potter's wheel and loom, metal processing (copper, bronze and iron) and the construction of protective settlements appeared on the Japanese archipelago. These innovations were brought to Japan by immigrants from China and Korea.

The Japanese are first mentioned in one of the Chinese historical chronicles - Hanshu. The land of Wa, as the Chinese called the Japanese archipelago, is described in more detail in the Chinese "History of the Three Kingdoms" (part "The Legend of the Wa People"). According to her, the most powerful principality in the third century was the principality of Yamatai, which was ruled by the ruler Himiko.

In 250, the Yayoi gave way to the Kofun period, during which the culture of the mounds spread, and the Japanese state of the same name appeared in the Yamato region.

Kofun smoothly transitioned in 538 to the Asuka period. Its features were the spread of Buddhism, which came to Japan from the Korean state of Baekje (with which during this period Japan actively developed trade, cultural and political ties, military alliances were concluded against other Korean states), the development of a centralized state of the Chinese model, the creation of the first code of laws " ritsuryo” and the flourishing of Japanese culture under the influence of mainland philosophical and cultural ideas.

In the eighth century Nara period, a strong centralized Japanese state emerged, centered in the imperial capital of Heijo-kyo in present-day Nara. In addition to the accelerated Sinification of Japanese society, this period is characterized by the creation of the first historical chronicles and the flourishing of culture. In 712, the Kojiki was completed, and in 720, the Nihon shoki was completed.

In 784 Emperor Kanmu moved the capital from Nara to Nagaoka-kyo, but already in 794 it was moved to Heian-kyo (modern Kyoto). Thus began the Heian period, during which the Japanese national culture appeared and flourished. The invention of the syllabary - kana - made it possible to write in Japanese instead of Chinese. The kana poetic anthology Kokinwakashu was the first of the imperial anthologies to set the patterns that tanka poetry followed well into the 19th century. Such monuments of Heian prose as "The Tale of Genji" or "Notes at the Pillow" are still revered by many, both in Japan itself and outside it, as the pinnacles of Japanese literature.

Japanese feudalism is characterized by the emergence of a ruling warrior class, the "samurai agency". In 1192, Minamoto no Yoritomo, who had defeated the rival Taira clan in 1185, was appointed shogun, marking the beginning of the Kamakura period. With his death in 1199, actual power passed to the Hojo family, the regents of his son. The Kamakura shogunate successfully repelled Mongol invasions in 1274 and 1281, strengthening the Bakufu's position. Zen became the official religion of the shogunate. After the victory over the Mongols, the Japanese warriors began internecine wars, which quickly led to the decline of the Kamakura regime. In 1318, Emperor Go-Daigo ascended the throne and by 1333, with the support of the commander-in-chief, Bakufu Ashikaga Takauji, he was able to regain power, but already in 1336, who did not share power with the son of Emperor Ashikaga Takauji, he placed Emperor Komyo on the throne in Kyoto, and in In 1338 he received the title of shogun from him. In Japan, there were two emperors and two shoguns, who fought fiercely until 1392. The Ashikaga shogunate was unable to control the large daimyo feudal lords, so a civil war broke out in 1467, which became the beginning of a long period of troubled times - the Sengoku period.

In 1543, Portuguese navigators, and later Jesuit missionaries and Dutch traders, reached the coast of Japan, marking the beginning of commercial and cultural interaction between Japan and the West.

With the help of European technology and firearms, Oda Nobunaga defeated most of the other daimyo and almost managed to unify the country, but was killed in 1582. He was succeeded by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who completed the unification of the country in 1590. Hideyoshi captured Korea twice, but after a series of defeats inflicted on the Japanese by Korean and Chinese troops and his death, the Japanese troops retreated from Korea in 1598.


After Hideyoshi's death, Tokugawa Ieyasu used his position as regent under Toyotomi Hideyoshi to gain political influence and military support. At the Battle of Sekigahara, he defeated a number of opponents and in 1603 was appointed shogun. Ieyasu founded the Tokugawa shogunate and moved the capital to Edo (modern Tokyo). In 1639, the shogunate began a foreign policy of self-isolation in Japan, which lasted two and a half centuries, later called the Edo period. Nevertheless, the study of the corpus of European scientific knowledge - rangaku - continued, mainly through the Dutch trading post on the man-made island of Dejima in the harbor of Nagasaki.

In the same period, the national cultural movement kokugaku appeared, the study of Japan by the Japanese themselves.

In 1854, American Commodore Matthew Perry, who had arrived on the Black Ships a year earlier, forced Japan to end its isolationist policy. With these events, Japan enters the era of modernization.

The isolation policy was also interrupted on August 12, 1853 by the expedition of Admiral E. V. Putyatin, who arrived a month after M. K. Perry and offered technologies and gifts from the government of the Russian Empire. On February 7, 1855, the first treaty of trade and friendship between Japan and Russia was signed. The Shimoda treatise gave the right to trade in the ports of Shimoda, Hakodate, Nagasaki, a Russian consul was appointed, and boundaries and spheres of influence of states were designated.

During the Bakumatsu period, Japan signed several unequal treaties with Western powers, which led it to an economic and political crisis. In 1868, the Boshin Civil War began, which resulted in the abolition of the shogunate in 1869 and the creation of a centralized state under the rule of the emperor - the Meiji Restoration. Taking Western political, judicial and military systems as a basis, the Cabinet of Ministers of Japan created the Privy Council, prepared the Meiji Constitution for adoption and assembled the Parliament. The Meiji Restoration turned the Empire of Japan into an industrialized world power. After victory in the Sino-Japanese (1894-1895) and Russo-Japanese (1904-1905) wars, Japan secured dominance in the Japanese and Yellow Seas and annexed Korea, Taiwan and Karafuto.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the short democratic period of Taishō gave way to the rise of militarism and expansionism. Japan took part in the First World War on the side of the Entente, expanding its political influence and territory. In 1931, continuing its policy of expansionism, Japan occupied Manchuria and created the puppet state of Manchukuo. After Lytton's report in 1933, the League of Nations condemned her actions and Japan defiantly left the League. Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact with Nazi Germany in 1936 and joined the Axis in 1941. At the same time, Japan signed the Neutrality Pact between the USSR and Japan, pledging to respect the territorial integrity and inviolability of the Mongolian People's Republic and Manchukuo.

In 1937, Japan invaded other parts of China, starting the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), after which the United States imposed an oil embargo on Japan. On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and declared war on the United States and Great Britain. This leads to US involvement in World War II. The Empire of Japan conquered Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Mallacca, but in 1942 a defeat in the Coral Sea robbed it of its advantage at sea. After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945 by US aircraft, and also after the USSR joined the hostilities against Japan, Japan signed the Act of Unconditional Surrender on September 2, 1945.

In 1947, Japan adopted a new pacifist constitution that emphasized liberal democracy. The Allied occupation of Japan ended with the adoption of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which came into force in 1952, and in 1956 Japan joined the UN. Later, Japan achieved a record economic growth that lasted four decades and averaged 10% annually.

Prolonged growth created an overly optimistic attitude of investors towards the Japanese economy in the late 1980s, which led to the emergence of economic bubbles in the stock market and the real estate market. In 1991, economic growth gave way to a crisis, from which the country managed to get out only in 2000.


State-political structure

Japan is a constitutional monarchy. According to the Constitution, which entered into force on May 3, 1947, the Emperor of Japan is “a symbol of the state and the unity of the people”, he makes all state appointments and decisions on the proposal of the Cabinet of Ministers, which is responsible for them. At diplomatic meetings, he plays the role of head of state. Naruhito has been the Emperor of Japan since 2019 and is succeeded by Prince Fumihito.

The highest body of state power and the only legislative body in Japan is the Parliament. It consists of two chambers: the House of Councilors, which is the upper house, and the lower house of Representatives. The upper house - the House of Councilors, consisting of 242 members, is elected for a period of six years; half of the members of the chamber are re-elected every three years (at the end of the deputy mandate). The chairman of the chamber holds his post for 6 years (elected by the councillors). The lower house - the House of Representatives, consisting of 480 deputies, is elected for a term of four years (new elections may be announced earlier in case of its early dissolution). According to the constitution, the parliament has full legislative power and has the exclusive right to manage finances. Japan has universal suffrage for all citizens over the age of 20. Elections to both chambers are held by secret ballot.

There are two main parties in Japan. In 2009, the social-liberal Democratic Party of Japan gained a majority in parliament, replacing the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, which had ruled for 54 years. In 2012, the Liberal Democratic Party, following the results of early parliamentary elections, regained the majority of seats in parliament.

executive branch
The government, the supreme body of executive power, is headed by the Prime Minister of Japan. One of its members is appointed to this position by the Emperor on the proposal of Parliament. The Prime Minister is the head of the Cabinet of Ministers, who forms the composition of the government. Since October 4, 2021, this position has been held by Fumio Kishida. The Prime Minister appoints the Ministers of State and has the right to remove them from office. The majority of Cabinet members must be chosen from among the members of Parliament.

Judicial branch
The Japanese judicial system consists of four levels: the Supreme Court, Appellate Court, Main Court, and Disciplinary Court. The Supreme Court, like constitutional courts in other countries, has the power to strike down legal norms on the grounds that they are unconstitutional. The members of the supreme court are appointed by the emperor on the proposal of the government, while the rest of the judges are appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers on the proposal of the Supreme Court. The courts of appeal are the higher courts, the courts of first instance are the district courts, and the lowest level of the judicial system is the disciplinary courts. Bodies of prosecutorial supervision - the Supreme Prosecutor's Office, supreme prosecutor's offices, district prosecutor's offices, district prosecutor's offices.

Legal system
Historically influenced by Chinese law, Japan's legal system developed independently during the Edo period through the creation of works such as the Kujikata Osadamegaki. But since the end of the 19th century, the judicial system of Japan was mainly based on Romano-Germanic law, in particular, on the legal systems of France and Germany. For example, in 1896 the Japanese government created a civil code based on the German model. Statutory law is formed by the legislature of Japan - the Parliament. The main part of statutory law is a collection called "Six Codes". Under the current constitution, a new law comes into force only after its promulgation by the emperor.

Armed forces
The ninth article of the Japanese Constitution forbids the country to have its own army and participate in wars. The modern armed forces of Japan are called self-defense forces and their military activities, not directly related to the defense of the country, are severely limited. Since 2007, they have been managed by the Japanese Ministry of Defense. In the event of a state-level emergency, the Prime Minister is authorized to dispose of the various branches of the Japan Self-Defense Force, subject to the consent of Parliament. In extreme conditions, such permission can be obtained ex post. The Self-Defense Forces consist of land, sea and air forces. The Japan Self-Defense Forces are recruited on a voluntary basis.

As of 2013, 247,450 people served in the Japan Self-Defense Forces. Of these, 151,350 people are in the ground forces, 45,500 people in the naval self-defense forces. The air force consisted of 47,100 men. Since 1992, the self-defense forces have been taking part in peacekeeping operations, including in Iraq in 2004. From 2016 until the end of May 2017, the Japanese contingent was part of the UN peacekeeping contingent in South Sudan.

Defense spending in 2017 was $44.64 billion (5.13 trillion yen), and already in 2019, spending amounted to $48.1 billion, which allows Japan to rank eighth in the world in terms of defense budget.


Strong structure

In accordance with Art. 9 of the constitution, Japan cannot have its own armed forces, but only "self-defense forces", the organization, composition and functions of which are determined by the "Self-Defense Forces Law" of 1954. The Supreme Commander is the Prime Minister, who is granted the right in cases of aggravation of the military-political situation declare a state of emergency in the country, put the “self-defense forces” on high alert, give orders to start defensive hostilities. However, after that, according to the law, the prime minister is obliged to submit the orders given to him for approval by the parliament. He exercises general leadership of the "self-defense forces" through the Minister of Defense (until 2007 - the head of the National Defense Directorate (UNO), responsible for the construction of the armed forces, their combat readiness. The Minister of Defense is a civilian and is appointed from among the deputies of parliament. Under the Prime Minister the National Security Council functions - an advisory body to develop recommendations on the main directions of military construction. The self-defense forces serve on a contract basis (the principle of recruitment is on a voluntary basis). Additionally, Japan has a system for maintaining a permanent reserve, that is, serving under a special contract, which provides for the retraining of persons who previously served in the armed forces.The number of permanent reserve is about 50 thousand people.As a reserve of the Navy, the forces of the Department of Marine Protection, in peacetime subordinate to the Ministry of Transport and engaged in sentinel service, can be used and in torrential zones and territorial waters to ensure navigation, help ships in distress, and fight crime at sea. These forces number about 12 thousand people.


Foreign policy

Japan maintains close economic and military relations with the United States. Their basis is the agreement on cooperation and security between the United States and Japan. Japan has been a member of the UN since 1956, and is also a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (in total, as of 2010, it was a member of the Security Council for 19 years). In addition, she is part of the G4 group with the goal of becoming a permanent member of the Security Council. As a member of the G-7, G-10, APEC, ASEAN+3 and East Asia Summits, Japan actively participates in international relations and improves ties with important partners around the world. In March 2007, she signed a joint declaration on security cooperation with Australia, and in October 2008 with India.

A feature of Japan's foreign policy is its desire to lead the world, primarily through the UN and in the humanitarian sphere, allocating considerable funds for these purposes. For example, in 2013, Japan's share of UN funding was 10.83% (more than France and the UK combined). However, Japan's share of UN funding has declined markedly since the early 2000s, while China's share has increased. In 2004, Japan provided 19.47% of the UN's funding. Another instrument of Japanese influence in the world is its active participation in the provision of Official Development Assistance. In 1989, Japan overtook the United States in terms of international economic assistance provided to other countries and remained its main donor in the world for the next 10 years. In 2001, the volume of international aid provided by Japan declined sharply, and the USA came to the first place in the list of donor countries. The provision of Japanese aid has the following features: most of it goes to Asian countries, and its provision to African countries since the early 1990s has been linked to democratization and respect for human rights. For example, Sudan was cut off from all Japanese aid (except humanitarian) from 1993 to 2003. Official Development Assistance and concessional loans are administered by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Bank of Japan for International Cooperation. Since 1965, the Japan Volunteers Organization has been operating, whose volunteers worked at the beginning of the 2010s in 70 countries around the world.

Japan is involved in territorial disputes with several neighboring states. According to the official Japanese position, the southern Kuril Islands, which are de facto part of Russia, are part of Japanese territory. This contradiction between the countries is an obstacle to the signing of a peace treaty between Russia and Japan (de jure, this peace treaty has not been signed since the Second World War).

Japan also disputes ownership of the Liancourt Islands controlled by South Korea. China and Taiwan dispute ownership of the Senkaku Islands, which are under Japanese control.



Japan is located on a large stratovolcano archipelago, located off the Pacific coast of Asia and part of the Pacific volcanic ring of fire. According to the geographic coordinate system, Japan lies 36° north of the equator and 138° east of the Greenwich meridian. The country is located northeast of China and Taiwan (separated from them by the East China Sea) and due east of Korea (separated by the Sea of ​​Japan). North of Japan is the Far East, a geographic region of Russia.

The largest islands of the archipelago (from north to south): Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. The country also includes 6,848 smaller islands, including Okinawa, some of which are inhabited and some are not. Japan occupies about 377.9 thousand km² (2006), of which 364.4 thousand km² is land, and 13.5 thousand km² is water space. Without disputed territories, the country's area is estimated at 372.8 thousand km². Japan is larger than Germany, Malaysia, New Zealand and the UK, it is 1.7 times the size of Korea and 10 times the size of Taiwan.

The total length of the coastline is 19,240 km (2008), the largest peninsulas are Kii and Oshima. The southern Ryukyu Islands are bordered by coral reefs.

There are 108 active volcanoes in Japan. During the XX, several new ones appeared, including the Showa Shinzan volcanic dome and the Myojin crater.

extreme points
The country's northernmost point is Bentenjima Island, northwest of Cape Soya (45°31′ N); the southernmost point is Okinotori Atoll (20°25′ N). The westernmost point is Cape Irizaki on Yonaguni Island (122°56′E), the easternmost point is Minamitori Island (153°59′E). The highest point is Mount Fuji (3776 m).

Japan is covered with highlands and low and medium-altitude mountains, they make up over 75% of the country's territory. The lowlands are located in separate areas along the coasts of the country. The largest lowland is Kanto, covering about 17,000 km².

The main ranges of Hokkaido are a continuation of the chains of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. They stretch from north to south and from northeast to southwest. The highest point of the island is Mount Asahi (2290 m), located in the area of ​​their intersection.

In the northern part of the island of Honshu there are three longitudinal chains of medium-altitude mountains, separated by valleys and basins. The axial position is occupied by the Ou ridge, to the east of it are the Kitakami and Abukuma ridges, and to the west - the Dewa and Echigo ridges; the central and western ranges are topped by volcanoes. In the middle part of the island, a fault zone called Fossa Magna (about 250 km long) crosses the island, above which a number of volcanoes rise, including the highest in Japan - Fujiyama (3776 m). In the central part of Honshu, the Japanese Alps are located - the Hida, Kiso and Akaishi ridges, the peaks of which are covered with snow for most of the year. In the southwest, within the tectonic depression, there is the Kinki plain and Lake Biwa. Two strips of mountains - the northern (inner), stretching along the axis of the western part of Honshu, and the southern (outer) - on the Kii Peninsula, the islands of Shikoku and Kyushu, are separated by this tectonic depression, on the western extension of which the Inland Sea of ​​Japan is located.

The highest altitude of the island of Shikoku is Mount Ishizuchi (1981 m), the islands of Kyushu are the volcano Kuju (1788 m). The Ryukyu Islands are dominated by plateaus and low mountains.

Japan has few minerals. Sulfur is central to the Japanese mining industry (3.4 million tons of sulfur was mined in 2010, 6th in the world). Japan also ranks 2nd in the world in iodine production (9500 tons in 2015) and 1st in iodine reserves (5 million tons). In addition, Japan produces small amounts of oil (136.8 thousand barrels per day in 2015, 43rd place), natural gas (4.7 billion m3 in 2014, 21st place), gold (7.2 tons in 2012, 38th place), silver (3.58 tons in 2012, 48th place). According to 1976 data, coal reserves amounted to 8630 million tons; iron ore - 228 million tons; sulfur - 67.6 million tons; manganese ore - 5.4 million tons; lead-zinc ore - 4.7 million tons; oil - 3.8 million tons; copper ore - 2.0 million tons; chromites - 1.0 million tons.

Water resources
Japan is covered with a dense network of short full-flowing rivers, mostly mountainous. Among them, the largest are Shinano, Tone, Kitakami and Ishikari. On the rivers of the Sea of ​​Japan basin, a winter-spring flood is noted, on the rivers of the Pacific Ocean basin - a summer one; floods occur periodically, especially as a result of the passage of typhoons. The waters of many rivers are used for irrigation. The lakes are numerous and diverse in origin: Lake Biwa, the largest in Japan (area 670 km²), is located in a tectonic depression, there are also volcanic (Inawashiro, Towada, Kutchiaro) and lagoonal (Kasumigaura, Saroma) lakes.



Japan belongs to a temperature zone with four distinct seasons, but its climate ranges from low temperatures in the north to subtropical temperatures in the south. The climate also depends on the seasonal winds blowing from the continent in winter and in the opposite direction in summer.

Japan can be roughly divided into six climatic zones:
Hokkaido belongs to the zone of low temperatures, it is characterized by long frosty winters and cool summers.
In the Sea of ​​Japan, the northeast seasonal wind brings heavy snowfalls in winter. Summers are less warm than in the Pacific Ocean, but extreme high temperatures are sometimes observed due to the foehn phenomenon.
The climate of the Central Highlands is a typical island climate with a large variation in temperature in winter and summer, night and day.
In the Inland Sea zone, the climate is temperate due to the fact that the mountains in the Chugoku and Shikoku regions block the seasonal winds.
The Pacific area experiences cold winters with occasional snowfall, and generally hot and humid summers during southeasterly seasonal winds.
The southwestern islands are a zone with a subtropical climate. Winter is warm, summer is hot. The level of precipitation is very high, which is reflected in the existence of the rainy season and the occurrence of typhoons.

natural hazards
The Japanese islands are part of the Pacific volcanic ring of fire. 10% of the world's volcanic activity in the early 1990s was recorded in Japan. Up to 1,500 earthquakes every year with a magnitude of 4 to 6 are not unusual. Small earthquakes occur daily in different parts of the country, causing buildings to shake.

Japan has experienced several major earthquakes:
On September 1, 1923, the great Kanto earthquake (magnitude 8.3) occurred, the most affected cities of Tokyo and Yokohama killed hundreds of thousands (542 thousand people are still missing, 143 thousand people are dead), about a million were left homeless in as a result of the resulting fires.
On January 17, 1995, the Kobe earthquake (magnitude 7.3) killed 6,434 people.
On March 11, 2011, one of the largest magnitude 9 earthquakes in Japanese history struck off the northeast coast. The earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami. Miyagi Prefecture and the city of Sendai suffered the most, where the height of the wave crest reached 10 m. Between 200 and 300 bodies of the dead were found on the coast of the city of Sendai.
From March 11 to March 25, 2011, a wave of earthquakes with magnitudes from 1 to 9 occurred in Japan. According to eyewitnesses, in many cities it was shaking almost constantly. All these earthquakes caused several powerful waves that hit Japan, ranging in height from 3 to a record 10 meters. The Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant was hit by waves, as a result of which an accident occurred on it, which became the most serious radiation accident since the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

These events are called the biggest crisis in Japan since the Second World War.

Due to frequent earthquakes, Japan has become a world leader in the study and prediction of earthquakes. Discoveries in modern technologies make it possible to build skyscrapers even in seismically active zones.

Another natural hazard is typhoons (台風 taifu:) that come to Japan from the Pacific Ocean.



Forests cover over 66% of the country. The flora of Japan has more than 700 species of trees and shrubs and about 3,000 species of herbs.

Hokkaido is dominated by coniferous forests of spruce and fir, with thick undergrowth of bamboo. With height, the forest is gradually replaced by thickets of dwarf pine and birch forests, herbaceous-shrub formations and shrub wastelands. In the north of the island, the upper limit of coniferous forests is 500 m, in the southern regions they are replaced by deciduous broad-leaved forests. In the southwest of Hokkaido, broad-leaved forests rise from the coast to a height of 500 m.

Deciduous broad-leaved forests are also common on Honshu, growing oak, beech, maple, chestnut, ash, linden, etc. They rise to a height of 1800 m, and coniferous forests end at an altitude of 1800-2000 m. The lower parts of the slopes of the Honshu mountains south of 38° north latitude and the mountain slopes on the islands of Shikoku and Kyushu up to a height of 800 m are covered with evergreen subtropical forests (with the presence of evergreen oak, magnolias, camphor trees, cryptomeria, Japanese cypress, etc.) with rich undergrowth and an abundance of lianas. In the extreme south of Kyushu and the Ryukyu Islands, monsoon forests are common up to a height of 300 m, in which palms, ficuses, tree ferns, bamboo, and orchids are found.



Due to the island isolation of Japan, the animal world is somewhat depleted compared to the mainland (and the forms are crushed), but many endemic and relic species have survived in the country. Its fauna includes 270 species of mammals, about 800 species of birds and 110 species of reptiles. Over 600 species of fish and more than 1,000 species of mollusks live in the seas surrounding the country. Due to the mountainous relief, species adapted to life in mountain forests mainly predominate.

The animal world of Japan is also peculiar in its own way, there are: Japanese macaques, Japanese cranes, Chinese praying mantises and others.

On the island of Hokkaido there are brown bear, sable, ermine, weasel. In addition, wolves, foxes, the Asian badger, raccoon dogs, otters and hares live there and on the island of Honshu. South of the Sangar Strait live white-breasted bears, Japanese macaques, antelopes, gigantic salamanders. Tropical fauna lives south of the Togara Strait in Japan.

Of the birds, there are woodpecker, thrush, titmouse, swallow, starling, black grouse, cranes, stork, hawk, eagle, owls, there are many sea birds off the coast. A typical sinanthropus is a large-billed crow. Also from corvids there are magpie, blue magpie, jay, kuksha, black crow, nutcracker. Freshwater fish - carp, catfish, eel, lamprey; artificially bred eels and salmon, including trout. Commercial fish of coastal waters are Pacific herring, ivasi, tuna, cod, flounder. There are also crabs, shrimps, oysters.



The soils of Japan are poorly suitable for agriculture without their preliminary processing. In the north of the country, podzolic and meadow-marsh soils are common, in the southern part of the temperate zone - brown forest soils, in the subtropics and tropics - yellow and red soils. In the mountains, the soils are predominantly gravelly, often with inclusions of volcanic ash; on the plains, there are cultivated alluvial soils.

The ecological history of Japan and the current politics of the country reflect the balance between economic development and environmental protection. During the period of rapid economic growth after the Second World War, attention to environmental policy from the government and industrial corporations decreases. As an inevitable consequence of this - the strongest environmental pollution in the 1950s and 1960s. With growing concern about this, the government passed environmental legislation in 1970 and the Environmental Protection Agency was established in 1971. The 1973 oil crisis also encouraged the efficient use of energy due to Japan's lack of natural resources. Current priority environmental issues include urban air pollution (nitrogen oxides, toxic substances), waste management, water eutrophication, nature conservation, climate change, and international cooperation to preserve the environment.

Modern Japan is one of the world leaders in the development of new environmentally friendly technologies. Honda and Toyota hybrid vehicles have high fuel efficiency and low emissions. This is due to advanced technology in hybrid systems, biofuels, the use of lighter material and better engineering.

Japan is also considering issues related to climate change and global warming. As a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, Japan has made commitments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and other climate change-related warning measures. In fulfilling its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, Japan is preparing to greatly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Japan ranked 20th in the Environmental Sustainability Index in 2018.

On March 11, 2011, as a result of the strongest earthquake in the history of observations in the country, a radiation leak occurred at the Fukushima I nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture. The amount of radioactive substances released into the environment was approximately 10% of the emissions from the Chernobyl accident.


Administrative-territorial structure

Japan is divided into 47 administrative divisions of the highest level, the so-called. prefectures. Each prefecture is governed by a prefect (in the case of Hokkaido, a governor) and has its own legislative and administrative apparatuses. For convenience, prefectures are often grouped into regions that are not administrative divisions.

In turn, the prefectures are divided into smaller administrative divisions: the 14 districts of Hokkaido, special cities determined by government decrees, and counties. Special cities, determined by government decrees, include cities with a population of more than 500,000 people.

In addition to prefectures and counties, there are administrative units at the municipal level in the country, which enjoy wide autonomy. These are central cities, special cities, ordinary cities, special areas of Tokyo, as well as towns and villages.



As of September 1, 2019, 125,938,348 people live in Japan. The country's population has been declining as a result of natural decline since 2004. According to 2007 data, 89.07% of Japanese live in cities. Japanese society is linguistically and culturally homogeneous with few foreign workers. National minorities include the Ryukyuans, Ainu, Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese Brazilians and Japanese Peruvians. In 2010, there were about 1.65 million foreigners in Japan. The country is visited by an increasing number of tourists: in 2017, 28.7 million people came to Japan, mainly from Asia (24.5 million) and Europe (1.5 million). About 98% of the population are actually Japanese; the largest groups of indigenous minorities are the Ryukyus (about one and a half million people), the Ainu, and also social minorities - the Burakums.

Japan has one of the highest life expectancies, at 83.98 years in 2016, and one of the lowest infant mortality rates. Japanese society is rapidly aging, with an explosion in the birth rate following the end of World War II followed by a decline in the birth rate at the end of the 20th century. In 2005, about 20.1% of the population was over 65 years of age.

These changes in demographic structure have created a number of social problems, in particular a potential decline in the labor force and an increase in the cost of social benefits such as pensions. Many young Japanese choose not to marry or start a family. The Japanese population is expected to drop to 95 million by 2050. Demographers and the government are engaged in heated discussions about how to deal with this problem. As a solution to demographic problems, encouragement of the birth rate is proposed.



The vast majority of Japanese people practice Shintoism (79.2%) and Buddhism (66.8%). Chinese Confucianism, Zen Buddhism and Amidism have also influenced Japanese beliefs and traditions.

Christians are a religious minority, only 2% of the population. Among the associations of Christian churches operating on a pan-Japanese scale, the largest is the Catholic Central Council. The total number of Japanese Protestants is estimated at 910,000. The largest Protestant denomination is the Pentecostals (257 thousand). There are also Jehovah's Witnesses (217,000) and Mormons (127,000) in Japan. The Japanese Orthodox Church has about 30,000 members.

In the middle of the 19th century, the Tenrikyo religious sect appeared in Japan, and at the end of the 20th century, Aum Shinrikyo. At the beginning of the 20th century, a Muslim community arose in Japan, uniting about 0.09% of the population, according to the US government.

The country is characterized by religious syncretism, when believers profess several religions at once. This leads to a mixture of different religious practices. So, adults and children celebrate Shinto holidays, schoolchildren pray before exams, the Japanese can arrange wedding ceremonies in a Christian church, and funerals in a Buddhist temple.



The vast majority of the country's inhabitants speak Japanese. The closest related languages ​​to Japanese are the Ryukyuan languages, more distant genetic links remain unclear. Japanese has an original script that combines ideography and syllabic phonography. According to the grammatical structure - agglutinative with a predominantly synthetic expression of grammatical meanings. A feature of the language is a developed system of honorifics, reflecting the hierarchical nature of Japanese society. According to the Shinse Kokugojiten Dictionary of the Japanese Language, words of Chinese origin make up about 49.1% of the total vocabulary, Japanese proper words make up 33.8%, and other loanwords 8.8%. Japanese writing consists of three main parts - kanji (hieroglyphs borrowed from China), and two syllabaries - katakana and hiragana (kana), created in Japan on the basis of kanji. Each of these types of writing has found its traditional place in modern writing. Latin and Arabic numerals are also used. In most private and public schools, students learn Japanese and English.

Ainu language
The Ainu language is spoken mainly in Hokkaido, is the original language of the Ainu, although at present the vast majority of the Ainu speak Japanese. The Ainu language belongs to the disadvantaged languages, it is known only to the aging inhabitants of Hokkaido.

Ryukyuan languages
The Ryukyu languages ​​are spoken in the Ryukyu Islands. In Japan, they are generally considered dialects of Japanese, which they actually are from a functional point of view. The majority of Ryukyuan speakers are elderly people.



At the end of the 2009 fiscal year, Japan ranked second in the world (after the United States) in terms of nominal GDP, which is more than 5 trillion US dollars, however, according to experts, in August 2010, the Chinese economy overtook the Japanese economy in this indicator[105]; and third in purchasing power parity (after the US and China). Banking, insurance, real estate, transportation, retail, telecommunications and construction play a significant role in the country's economy. Japan has a large manufacturing capacity and is home to some of the largest manufacturers of motor vehicles, electronics, machine tools, steel, ships, chemicals, textiles and foodstuffs. The service sector accounts for three-quarters of the gross domestic product.

As of 2007, Japan ranked 19th in terms of GDP to hours worked. According to the Big Mac Index, Japanese workers earn the highest hourly wages in the world. Japan has a low unemployment rate (2.4% as of September 2019). The largest companies include Toyota, Nintendo, NTT DoCoMo, Canon, Honda, Takeda Pharmaceutical, Sony, Nippon Steel, Tepco, Mitsubishi and 711. In addition, it houses several major banks and the Tokyo Stock Exchange, which is ranked second in the world in terms of market capitalization. In 2006, 326 Japanese companies were included in Forbes 2000, accounting for 16.3% of the list.

In 2009, Japan ranked 13th in the Ease of Doing Business Index and 19th in the Economic Freedom Index (fifth among thirty Asian countries). Capitalism in Japan has many features, for example, keiretsu play a prominent role in the country's economy. Lifetime employment of an employee in the same company is also common. Japanese companies are known for such methods of company management as "Toyota principles". Recently, Japan has somewhat departed from these norms.

Foreign economic relations
In 2014, Japan's main export partners were the United States (20.2%), China (17.5%), South Korea (7.1%), Hong Kong (5.6%), Thailand (4.5%), and for imports in 2015 - China (24.8%), USA (10.5%), Australia (5.4%) and South Korea (4.1%). Japan exports motor vehicles, electronics and chemicals. Machinery and equipment, fossil fuels, food (especially beef), chemicals, textiles and industrial raw materials are imported into the country. Junichiro Koizumi's government introduced a series of reforms to encourage market competition, and foreign investment increased as a result.

Until 2011, nuclear energy provided more than a third of the country's energy needs. After the accident at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, under public pressure, the Japanese government announced plans to completely phase out nuclear energy (after the transfer of power to the government of Shinzo Abe, it was decided to restart part of the nuclear power plant and maintain the share of nuclear energy up to 20% in the total energy balance ). Nuclear energy consumption in Japan decreased in 2013 by 19.5% compared to the level of 2012 (and more than 20 times since 2010) and amounted to 3.3 million tons of oil equivalent. At the beginning of 2014, 90% of the country's energy balance is provided by imported fuel, in 2013 it accounted for a third of Japan's total imports. Interestingly, in Japan, the electrical system historically has two industrial AC frequencies - in the western part of the country it is 60 Hz, and in the eastern part it is 50 Hz, and four frequency converters operate between them.



The state's concern for the development of the tourism business is manifested in the legal support of promising undertakings in this industry. An example is the laws on the development of resort areas, on national parks, on improving the equipment of international tourist hotels, on the work of a guide-interpreter, on the development of tourism through traditional festivals and events, on hot springs, and many others.

Today, the Land of the Rising Sun has first-class, in the language of experts, "tourist resources": nature reserves and historical monuments, zoos and botanical gardens, museums and entertainment complexes. And acquaintance with these sights turns into a comfortable occupation thanks to the developed hotel industry, modern transport system and service that meets international standards.

Tourists to visit Japan must have a Japanese visa in their passport.

Tourism in Japan is organized by specialized travel agencies and firms, of which there are more than five thousand. Depending on the time of the year, travel agencies will choose the most beautiful place for you at this time of the year and make exciting tours.



Japan has invested heavily in road construction. The main means of transportation is motor vehicles, using about 1.2 million km. paved roads. In Japan, driving is on the left. A single network of high-speed toll roads connects the major cities of the country. Vehicle owner taxes and fuel taxes are used to encourage fuel-efficient technology.

Dozens of railway companies compete in national and regional markets, such as the 7 companies of Japan Railways, Kintetsu, Seibu Railway and Keio Corporation. About 250 Shinkansen high-speed trains connect the main cities of the country. Japanese machinists are known for their punctuality.

There are 173 airports in Japan. Flying is a popular mode of transportation. The largest national airport, Tokyo International Airport, is the second busiest airport in Asia. The major international airports include Narita, Kansai and Chubu, while the largest port is Nagoya Port.

Main articles: Internet in Japan and Cellular communications in Japan
Japan has a well-developed high-tech system of national and international communications. The telephone code of the country is +81, the Internet domain is .jp. The state regulation of communications is carried out by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan.

In 2013, the number of contracts for mobile communications was 136.04 million, for the use of a fixed telephone - 28.47 million, and 31.27 million IP telephony numbers were registered. In 2014, mobile services were provided by the three largest national operators: NTT docomo (63.57 million subscribers), KDDI (41.02 million) and Softbank Mobile (36.48 million). As of 2013, 86.2% of the population used the Internet.

The science
Japan is one of the leading countries in the field of scientific research, such as high technology, biomedicine and robotics. The national R&D budget is US$130 billion and nearly 700,000 scientists are involved in research. Japan ranks third in terms of funds spent on science. It leads the way in basic science, with 23 Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry, or medicine among the Japanese (see Japanese Nobel Laureates), three Fields Prize winners, and a Gauss Prize winner. Japan ranks first in the production and use of robots. Thus, more than half (402,200 out of 742,500) of all manufactured industrial robots are used in the country. In this country, such robots as QRIO, ASIMO and AIBO were invented.

Japan has a developed space program and ranks 4th in terms of space activities. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is engaged in space, planetary, aviation research, and also designs rockets and satellites. The Agency has the ability to launch artificial Earth satellites, automatic interplanetary stations, and participates in the International Space Station program. In 2010, JAXA launched the PLANET-C spacecraft to study Venus, in October 2018, together with ESA, it plans to launch the BepiColombo spacecraft to study Mercury, and by 2030, to build a base on the Moon. On September 14, 2007, the second artificial lunar satellite, called Kaguya, was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center using an H-IIA launch vehicle. This is the largest lunar exploration mission since the Apollo program. He worked in lunar orbit for a year and 8 months.

The asteroid (727) Nipponiya, discovered in 1912, is named after Japan.


Culture and Society

In Japan, from the end of the 1st millennium AD there is a developed literature (for example, the text of the Japanese anthem dates back to the 9th-10th centuries). Monuments of painting and architecture from the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC have been preserved to this day. Chinese culture had a great influence on Japanese culture during its formation, and after the Meiji Restoration, Western European culture. In the 20th century, Japanese anime and manga gained worldwide recognition.

In Japanese culture, black is a symbol of nobility, age and experience, in contrast to white, which symbolizes apprenticeship, youth. The black color symbolizes the highest rank in many martial arts (black belt).

Starting from January 1, 1873, the European system of chronology was adopted in Japan, but along with it, the traditional Japanese chronology system according to the mottos of the reign of emperors, borrowed from China, was preserved. Each emperor, assuming the throne, approves the motto (nengo) under which his reign will pass. The beginning of the motto of the board is considered the first year of a new historical period. The first motto of the government - Taika ("Great Changes") - was adopted in 645, but this system was fully established starting from 701. The current period - Reiva ("Beautiful Harmony") - is valid from May 1, 2019. In 1979, Parliament passed a law requiring the use of nengō in official documents.


Mass media

In terms of the total circulation of daily newspapers (72.7 million copies), Japan ranks first in the world; in terms of circulation per capita (592 copies per 1,000 people), it is second, second only to Norway. The largest national newspapers are Asahi (12.4 million), Yomiuri (14.4 million), Mainichi (5.6 million), and Nikkei (4.7 million). ). They also have publications in English: Asahi Evening News - Asahi Evening News (38.8 thousand copies), Daily Yomiuri - The Daily Yomiuri (52.8 thousand copies), Nikkei Weekly - Nikkei Weekly (34.4 thousand copies), the Japan Times newspaper is also published in English (The Japan Times - 80 thousand copies). In addition, dozens of local (regional and prefectural) newspapers are published in Japan.

The top six Japanese broadcasters are:
NHK is the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation, the largest television company in Japan and one of the largest in the world. For overseas audiences, NHK operates the NHK World service, consisting of NHK World TV, NHK World Premium TV channels and shortwave and Internet radio broadcasting (in 22 languages, including Russian) - NHK World Radio Japan.
Nippon Television
Tokyo Broadcasting System Holdings is the parent company for TBS TV and TBS Radio & Communications. Owns 28 JNN news networks and 34 JRN radio networks.
TV Tokyo
fuji television
TV Asahi



Sumo is considered the national sport in Japan and is the third most popular professional sport. Some martial arts such as judo, kendo and karate also attract large crowds. After the Meiji Restoration, many Western sports appeared and spread through the education system in Japan.

Baseball is the most popular professional sport. The Japanese Professional Baseball League was founded in 1936. Among the famous Japanese baseball players, Ichiro Suzuki can be noted, who twice won the World Baseball Classic as part of the Japanese national team.

After the founding of the J-League in 1992, football also began to gain popularity. In modern Japan, it is the second most popular sport. The Japanese football team is one of the most successful Asian teams, having won the Asian Football Cup three times. From 1981 to 2004, the finals of the Intercontinental Cup were held exclusively in Japan. In 2002, Japan and South Korea hosted the World Cup, where Japan reached the 1/8 finals, and Korea secured 4th place, losing to Turkey in the match for 3rd place 2:3. Other popular sports are golf, boxing, motor sports and wrestling.

Japan hosted the 1964 Summer Olympics, as well as the 1998 and 1972 Winter Olympics.



In Japan, there are 16 public holidays called shukujitsu (Jap. 祝日 - "holiday"). These days are officially days off, their list is established by the law on public holidays. Four holidays that follow almost one after another (Showa Day, Constitution Day, Greenery Day and Children's Day) are collectively referred to as the "golden week". The Japanese government also introduced a system of happy Mondays, according to which, in the 2000s, four holidays - Coming of Age Day, Sea Day, Honor the Elders' Day and Physical Education Day - were moved from fixed calendar dates to Mondays (thus giving three days off in a row ).

In addition to public holidays, there are unofficial holidays in Japan called matsuri (Jap. 祭). Each locality has its own traditional matsuri, but some of them are celebrated throughout the country - tanabata, hinamatsuri, setsubun, shichi-go-san and others. Another well-known holiday event is the cherry blossoms. Borrowed holidays are also celebrated, which have become a tradition in Japan relatively recently (for example, Valentine's Day).


Social sphere


Primary, secondary and higher education was introduced to Japan in 1872 as a result of the Meiji Restoration. Since 1947, compulsory education in Japan has consisted of elementary school and high school, which lasts for nine years (ages 6 to 15). Almost all children continue their education at a three-year high school, and according to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, about 75.9% of high school graduates go on to study at universities, colleges, vocational schools or other institutions. Education in Japan is very competitive, in particular for admission to higher education institutions. The best universities in Japan are Tokyo and Kyoto universities.

Of the foreign languages ​​in Japanese schools, English is most often studied. The history of teaching Russian as a foreign language in Japan is about 150 years old. The total number of Russian-speakers in the country is unknown, but several thousand native speakers graduate every year.



Medical services in Japan are provided by state and local governments. Payment for personal medical services is made through the universal health insurance system, which provides relative equality of access, fees set by a government committee. Uninsured people can participate in the national health insurance program administered by the local government through their employer. Since 1973, government-funded insurance has been extended to all older people. Patients have the right to choose their doctor as well as the facilities. Expenses incurred in connection with medical care (treatment), life insurance and pension insurance are taxed with significant benefits.

The Shinzo Abe government plans to amend the country's constitution on April 1, 2019, according to which any physical punishment of children by parents (including foster parents), educators, teachers and other social workers will be considered a crime. The reason for legislative changes was the murder of a 10-year-old girl as a result of domestic violence in the absence of the help of the police and social protection authorities.

For a long time, Japanese statistics did not take into account the homeless (nojuku seikatsusha, that is, those without a roof over their heads), but in the mid-1990s this problem became noticeable and local authorities took up it. In 2002, the law on the homeless (jiritsu sien ho) was passed, which provides for the placement of the homeless in hostels or shelters (where they are provided with food, bed and basic necessities, but not cash), and provides opportunities for them to acquire a profession. S. B. Markarian writes about 25,000 homeless people, noting that this figure has hardly changed since 2003. Most of the homeless are men aged 55-56 who have never been married and have a low level of education.