Facts about Japan

With a population of 125 million, Japan consists of four major islands--Hokkaido, Shikoku, Kyushu,Honshu (the largest and most populous)--and other 7,000 island. These islands lie in the east of Asian continent, extending from the latutude 4533' north to the latitude 2025' north. They are approximately 3,000km (1864miles) and covers an area of 377, 801square kilometers (145,869 square miles). About 70% of this area is classed as mountainous and largely volcanic, and only about 16% is arable.

Total population : 125.92 million. (Female: 64.21 million. Male 61.71 million)
Total land area
: 377,801 square kilometers. (145,869 square miles)
: Tokyo
: Yen
Head of State :
Emperor Akihito
Governmental form : Parliamentary Democracy


Names of the four major islands Names of the regions

Names of the prefectures



Located in the temperate zone, Japan has a relatively warm climate with four distinct seasons with a rainy season(called Tsuyu in Japanese)between spring and summer. The avearge temperature in Tokyo, roughly in the middle of the Japanese archipelago , is about 15C .The Japanese climate is influenced by geographhical extent, winter and summer monsoons, ocean currects and rugged topography.

Comparison of the Japanese Islands with the U.S.A in terms of latitude and size.

Monthly Mean Temperature and Precipitation.


Foreign visitors' images of Japan before and after the trip
(*multiple answers possible

Prior to coming (%)
1 Modern and advanced industrialized nation 82.5
2 Diligent and energetic population 79.3
3 Unique tradition and culture 75.4
4 Safe and clean 74.3
5 Efficient and systematic 73.5
6 Friendly and congenial people 70.3
7 High standards of living and education 68.3
8 Beautiful natural surroundings 65.5
After visiting Japan (%)
1 Friendly and congenial people 92.4
2 Modern and advanced industrialized nation 91.4
3 Diligent and energetic population 91.4
4 Safe and clean 90.7
5 Unique tradition and culture 86.0
6 Efficient and systematic 84.3
7 Beautiful natural surroundings 82.1
8 High standards of living and education 76.1

I have heard so many people say "Japanese people are always eager to find out how foreign visitors view Japan!" that I began to wonder if this phenomenon is uniquely Japanese. An author of a book on Japan published in the late 1940s said that "Japan is a country of shame." In other words, external appearance is very important to Japanese people. In the old days, bringing disgrace on a family name, especially among samurai warrior class, was like the worst crime you could ever commit and people tried very hard to maintain their reputation. High interests in (or great concern about) other people's opinion of this country might be a reminiscence of those days.

I wonder if surveys like above is commonly conducted in other countries.

Coincidentally I came across an article by a British paper correspondent in Japan who told of a group of Japanese living in the U.S.A who published a book called "Japan made in the United States." The group criticizes coverage of Japan by the American media for being unbalanced. She said that her first reaction to the book when she first read about it was "How bizarre and amusing!" She went on to say that "It is difficult to imagine a group of British people setting about a similar project to review the coverage of Britain by, say, American or Japanese journalists."

Maybe Japanese people are a bit more sensitive about how other people see them, but then as the correspondent said (and I agree) "the differences between people and places are what make the world a fascinating place."

(Source:Ministry of Education)

The typical Japanese diet has changed quite a lot in the last few decades. Now more and more people are starting to enjoy a western style diet, and this trend is shown clearly in the increase of the consumption of bread. As a matter of fact, there are a great number of people who prefer bread to rice with their meal. Sandwiches have become almost as Japanese as Onigiri (rice ball) here in Japan as well. One place I recommend you go when you have a chance to visit Japan is a bakery. Who knows, you might end up having your favorite bakery in a rice-eating country!

(Source: Agency for Cultural Affaris)

What religion do Japanese people believe, and what do they do as a believer of that religion? Japanese people do visit Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines to pray for whatever is on their mind, but this is more of a social practice than religious act as most of them don't even know what (who) they are praying to, let alone the teachings of that person (or god). However, as strange as it may seem, the total number of members of religious organizations, as seen in the survey result, is about twice the country's total population.

(Source: Ministry of Education)

As mentioned in "Everyday scenes", severity of competition for high school and college entrance exams are beyond imagination. College entrance exams are especially tough as it almost decides young people's future. Lots of people try to get into a college because it makes a huge difference in terms of future career. As shown in the chart above the percentage of female high school students who go on to colleges is considerably lower than that of male students. This is due to the fact that many female students opt for tandai (2 year college) instead of 4 year colleges. The reason for this I frankly don't know, but unfortunately it might have something to do with the widespread expectations that females should get married when they reach a certain age and start a family instead of pursuing a career.
(Source: Ministry of Construction)

It's been long since Japanese houses have been described as rabbit huts. Considering the size of land and population of this country, it is not difficult to imagine that Japanese people live in relatively small houses with a small yard (often no yard at all). The government has been saying that it will create a society where people can purchase a decent house with money worth about 5 times the annual income of an average company employee, but it has not come true. Compared to the late '80s, when economy was booming, land price has dropped significantly but still owning a house is very difficult.

(Source: Taisho University)
One of the Japanese words that are hated most by non-Japanese people is "Gaijin"(it refers to non-Japanese natives). This word is so famous (notorious) that I have been asked about the word by people who have even never been here before. The problem of the word lies in the fact that it lumps together all the nationalities besides Japanese and somewhat carries the implication that gaijin are "outsiders" and not to be considered as a member of the society. The Japanese have always drawn clear line between nihon jin (Japanese native) and gaijin. This phenomenon of differentiating people is not, I believe, just confined to Japan. And also considering the fact that the government in Edo period adopted isolation policy for about 200 years (during which time virtually no contact was made with other countries) and this country had never been under control of any other countries before the end of WWII, it is not so hard to understand why Japanese people feel the way they do about people of other nationalities. However, as a country that has become an economic superpower and now enjoys the prosperity that has been made possible by doing business with the rest of the world, it can not afford to (and should not) have this kind of semi-xenophobic sentiment. Fortunately, as the survey suggests, younger generation of Japanese people have been internationalized and more open to other nationalities. I truly hope that young people will break the barrier that still exists in this society.

(Source:National Police Agency)

One of the things that Japan is known for is its low crime
rates. In fact, it might even make it to the top on the list
of things you like about this country. Even though things
are changing and heinous crimes are on the rise, Japan still
is one of the safest countries in the world. Shops having
their merchandise outside on the streets, or a woman walking(cycling) down the street by herself very late at
night is still a common site.


I read an article the other day saying that a church in Australia stopped performing wedding ceremonies for Japanese couples to make room for local people. It may come as a surprise but many, many Japanese people (non Christians!!) get married in a church as they think it's fashionable to do so. Even those who have held their wedding ceremony at a Shinto shrine in Japan change into western style white wedding dress during the reception and take pictures. It's very difficult for me to understand why so many people think is cool to get married in western style. The more I think about it, the more strange it seems because while I was living in the U.S.A, I never saw any couples getting into Japanese kimono and having pictures taken.

(Source:Denki Rengo)

It's been said that Japan's economic development after World
War II was attributed partly to the lifetime employment system
and the resulting loyalty of employees to companies. There was
(and still is to a certain extent) this atmosphere that working longhours (often overtime is not paid), socializing with colleagues after work, thus sacrificing families back home is all done in the name of the companies' development... It's a vitrue and any one who is not willing to do so is labeled as lazy. However are they really workaholics? No, not to my knowledge - at least not as much as is portrayed in other countries. Fortunately an increasingnumber of people are finding more important thing...family.

Divorce Rate

(Source:Ministry of Health and Walfare)

Throughout my life, I have personally known only a few
Japanese people who have (or whose parents have) gonethrough a divorce. My parents have had their share ofups and downs in their marriage, but never once has
there been a time when I felt threatened by the thought
that they might actually get a divorce. For these reasons
the word divorce still remains totally foreign to me.
However, as a whole this society is seeing more and morecouples ending their marriages. In 1996 the number ofdivorces hit the 200,000 mark, meaning that a divorce
occurs about every 2.5 minutes. The number has been
increasing steadily since then.


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