| Japanese (日本語)

Basic / General Information on Japan Back
1. What are Japan's national symbols?
2. What is Japan's national anthem?
3. What is the population of Japan?
4. Where can I find a map of Japan?
5. What is the symbolism of Japan's flag?
6. What is the capital of Japan?
7. What are the most populous cities in Japan?
8. What is the time difference between Japan and the United States?
9. What is the geography and climate of Japan?
10. What natural disasters occur in Japan?
11. What religions are represented in Japan?

1. What are Japan's national symbols?

Japan is a country with a long history, rich culture and varied topography. Therefore, many symbols of Japan have developed over the years and are recognized worldwide. one of the most famous is mount fuji, a dormant volcano that last erupted in 1707 and Japan's tallest mountain. another is the red sun, as seen on Japan's flag. Cherry blossoms are also well known, as is the chrysanthemum, which appears on the crest of the imperial family. The crane, indigenous to Japan, is a symbol of peace. Cultural items such as kimono, tea ceremony, bonsai, origami and sushi are other traditional symbols of Japan.
As Japan has modernized, especially following world war ii, other more contemporary symbols have emerged. Japanese-made automobiles and electronics are well known and consumed world-wide. Robotic pets such as aibo are in high demand. Cultural icons like pokemon and hello kitty have also gained popularity, not only among children. Japanese director akira kurosawa, Japanese animated films (anime or Japanime) and the 1950's film godzilla are household words. Karaoke, which started in Japan, has sprung up in bars and restaurants throughout the world, and j-pop, or Japan's pop music industry, is making inroads internationally. new symbols of Japan will likely emerge as popular culture evolves.

2. What is Japan's national anthem?

Japan's national anthem, the kimigayo, was set to music about a century ago, but its words are nearly 1000 years old. They are interpreted as a wish for the lasting prosperity and peace of the country. Japan's national flag and anthem were designated as such under a law enacted in 1999.

To listen to the kimigayo, please visit:

Musical Score of Kimigayo (Japan Fact Sheet, Japan Information Network)

3. What is the population of Japan?

As of august 2010, Japan's population was counted at 128 million, the tenth highest in the world. The population has more than doubled since the first national census in 1920, when it was about 56 million. Japan's population density ranks as one of the highest in the world, and the life expectancies of both men and women are exceeded by those of no other country. For further information, please visit the Japan's statistics bureau at http://www.stat.go.jp/

4. Where can I find a map of Japan?

You can find maps of Japan from the following websites:

Japan atlas, Japan information network

Regions & cities, Japan information network

Fact Sheet, Japan information network

map of Japan (kids web Japan, Japan information network)

5. What is the symbolism of Japan's flag?

The Japanese flag, which heralds a large red circle on a white background, is called the hinomaru.  the literal translation of hinomaru is "sun disc".  The sun flag has been used as a national symbol since at least the 17th century, with origins hailing back to Japan's earliest history.  The hinomaru was designated as Japan's official national flag in august, 1999, concurrently with Japan's national anthem.

hinomaru (Japan Fact Sheet, Japan information network)

The vertical-to-horizontal ratio of the flag is set at 2:3;  the disc is placed at the exact center;  and the diameter of the disc is equal to three-fifths of the vertical measurement.

6. What is the capital of Japan?

shinjuku, tokyo

The capital of Japan is tokyo, located on the kanto plain on the pacific coast of central honshu.  Tokyo means "Eastern capital" in Japanese.  Japan has had other capital cities throughout the ages, including nara and kyoto; tokyo was not officially designated as the capital until 1868, with the meiji restoration.

imperial palace and its vicinity 

The name "Tokyo" is also not original - until it became capital, the city was known as "Edo." present day tokyo is the site of the imperial palace, the diet (legislature), the supreme court, the prime minister's office and other ministries.  Tokyo covers more than 800 square miles (2000 square kilometers).  the approximate population of tokyo is 12 million people, making it one of the most populous cities in the world.  for further information on tokyo, please visit tokyo's official website at http://www.metro.tokyo.jp/ENGLISH/

7.  What are the most populous cities in Japan?

minato-mirai area, yokohama

Japan's most populous city is tokyo, with approximately 12 million people.  This is followed by yokohama, osaka and nagoya, all south of tokyo but also on the island of honshu.  Approximately 27% of the population lives in tokyo and the surrounding prefectures, and the large majority of Japanese people live in urban areas. 


Since much of the land in Japan is not flat enough for houses or roads, the population density in large cities like tokyo is extremely high.  For further information, please visit the Japan's statistics bureau at http://www.stat.go.jp/

8.  What is the time difference between Japan and the united states?

Japan is nine hours ahead of greenwich mean time http://greenwichmeantime.com/, the standard by which the world's time is calculated.  However, Japan does not have daylight savings time, so the time difference between Japan and the united states changes depending on the time of year.  If it is 12:00 am (midnight) in washington, dc, it is 2:00 pm the following day in Japan in the winter (non-daylight savings time).  In the summer (daylight savings time), if it is 12:00 am (midnight) in washington, dc, it is 1:00 pm the following day in Japan.  all of Japan is in the same time zone. 

9. What is the geography and climate of Japan?

Japan is an island nation in the pacific ocean, off the coast of east asia.  The countries nearest Japan are russia, china and the republic of korea.  Japan is comprised of more than 6800 islands, with four of them making up more than 99% of the country.  These are (from north to south) hokkaido, honshu, shikoku and kyushu.  The land area of Japan is approximately 377,873 square kilometers, which is roughly the same size as the state of montana and slightly smaller than california.  Japan is 68% mountainous, and includes many volcanoes, the most famous being Mt. Fuji. 10% of the world's volcanoes are located in Japan.  only about 13% of Japan is arable farmland.  at present, Japan is administratively divided into 47 prefectures.

Geography of Japan (Japan Fact Sheet, Japan information network)


The climate of Japan varies greatly from north to south.  hokkaido, with a subarctic weather pattern, has a yearly average temperature of 8°C (46°F), while Japan's southernmost islands in okinawa prefecture belong to the subtropical climate zone and have a yearly average temperature of over 22°C (72°F). The most notable features of the climate are the wide range of yearly temperatures and the large amount of rainfall.  Spring tends to be mild, and is famous as cherry-blossom viewing season throughout Japan.  The onset of the rainy season (tsuyu) takes place in early june, and ushers in summer.   July and August are traditionally very hot and humid in most of Japan. 

heavy snow in niigata (Japan Fact Sheet, Japan information network) 

Autumn is the time of typhoons (tropical storms), which occur due to Japan's proximity to water.  Foliage viewing is a popular pastime in october and november, especially in northern Japan.  Winter tends to be chilly, and heavy snows can occur both in the northern island of hokkaido and the hokuriku region of western honshu, which faces the sea of Japan and is separated from other regions by high mountains.  Nagano prefecture, which borders the hokuriku region, was home to the 1998 winter olympic games.  The southernmost part of
Japan, okinawa, is tropical year round.

Fact Sheet, Japan information network

10. What natural disasters occur in Japan?

miyake-jima,Tokyo (Japan metrological agency)

Because Japan is completely surrounded by water and has many volcanoes, it is prone to natural disasters.  In summer and autumn, there are enormous typhoons, powerful tropical storms that cause floods, and mudslides.  large underwater earthquakes can also create strong, destructive tidal waves called tsunami.  in addition to underwater earthquakes, seismic tremors occur regularly inland.  Very large earthquakes have occurred in several areas of Japan, including hokkaido, tokyo and kobe. 

Mt. Fuji 

The 1995 kobe quake took 6400 lives and caused mass destruction.  There are also active volcanoes in Japan, such as miyake-jima and unzen-fugendake.  Mt. Fuji, which last erupted in 1707, may erupt again in the future, and could cause damage, depending upon the type and size of the eruption.

11.  What religions are represented in Japan?

Japan has two main religions, shinto and buddhism.  The shinto religion is native to Japan, and began in ancient history as the belief in spiritual forces (kami) found in nature.  Buddhism came to Japan from india around the middle of the 6th century.  Because neither shinto nor buddhism is an exclusive religion, many Japanese people participate in elements of both faiths.  For example, wedding ceremonies are performed according to shinto ritual, while funerals usually follow buddhist rites.  A small percentage of Japanese practice christianity, which was brought to Japan by missionaries in the 16th century.  In addition, there are communities and places of worship for catholics, protestants, eastern orthodox christians, mormons, jews, hindus, muslims and followers of many other faiths.

heian shrine (shinto),kyoto senso-ji (buddhist temple), tokyo

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