Here at U.S. Translation Company we value cultures and love learning about the languages and countries around the world. This month we want to feature Japan and hope you learn something new about this wonderful country.
The name “Japan” in Japanese is Nippon or Nihon which translates to the “Land of the Rising Sun.” It was a common belief in the past that Japan was the first country in the world to see the rising sun in the East.
Japan is located in the Northern Hemisphere and west of the Pacific Ocean. The country neighbors China, the Republic of Korea and Russia. Its capital is Tokyo and as of April 2017, it had a population of 13.6 million people. This is only 10 percent of the total population. Japan consists of 6,800 islands.
Japan has the highest proportion of an elderly population in the world. There are more elderly people in Japan than the young. Twenty one percent of its population is over the age of sixty five.
The Tokyo – Yokohama metropolitan is home to 33 million people and is the largest metropolitan area in the world.
Japanese Traditions and Customs
Japanese traditionally bow when they meet instead of shaking hands. Whoever, makes the lowest bow displays the deepest respect.
There are many hot springs referred (sento) and public bathhouses (onsen) across Japan. Over the weekends, many people visit the hot springs. It is a way of relaxation. Sanctity of the bath (ofuro) is of great importance and the water has to be clean and pristine.
Japanese is the official language spoken in Japan. There are various regional dialects but the standard version spoken by majority of the people is referred to as Hyojungo. Hyojungo is based on the dialect of Tokyo. Compared to other languages, the Japanese language has few sounds. Written Japanese has three different scripts which include hiragana, katakana and kanji. Japanese style of writing is vertical columns from right to left but also the Western style of writing is used.
The main religions in Japan are Buddhism and Shintoism. In the daily lives of many Japanese people, religion doesn’t play a big role. It is viewed more as a moral code of living. Religion remains a private affair relegated to the family and there are no religious practices in schools or any religious symbols.
Landmarks in Japan
Located in Shizouka, Mount Fuji is one of the most iconic landmarks of Japan, Mount Fuji has been covered in works of art, literature, paintings and poems. Its beauty is stunning and each year, thousands of locals and foreigners climb the mountain. The best spots to gaze the mountain from are Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and Tokyo Sky Tree.
Also referred to as “White Heron Castle” (Shirasagi-jo) or “White Egret Castle” (Hakuro-jo), the Himej Castle is popular due to its resemblance to a flying bird and its pristine whiteness. The castle was built during the medieval period and has survived an earthquake, a war and a fire. It is located in Hyogo.
Nara is an ancient Japanese capital and is home to the rich Japanese history of its people and customs. It hosts the world’s largest wooden building – the 8th century Todaiji Temple which is home to Daibutsu – Japan’s largest Buddha. Kasuga Taisha is the most celebrated shrine in Nara.
Other great attractions located in Nara include Japan’s first UNESCO heritage site – the 7th century Hoyuji Temple, Chuguji Temple, Yakushiji Temple and Naramachi historical site.
Located a few hours south of Kyoto, Kumano Kodo is a pilgrimage route that is full of Japan’s spiritual history. It is full of amazing landscapes, beautiful villages and hiking trails. There are daily walks along the pilgrimage route.
Seafood is one of the most popular dishes in the Japan and each year, the Japanese eat about 17 million tons. In addition, Japan is the largest importer of seafood and shrimp comprises a third of the total imports. 20 percent of Japanese protein is obtained from fish and fish products.
Sushi is one of the most popular foods in Japan. The delicacy has been around since the second century A.D. It began as a way of preserving fish in China before finding its way to Japan. Eating raw rice and raw fish started in the early 17th century. In Japan, sushi doesn’t refer to raw fish. It refers to rice seasoned with salt, sugar and vinegar. Sliced raw fish without rice is called sashimi.
Pronounced as bah-saw-she, basashi is raw horse meat and it is a common delicacy in Japan. Basashi is a specialty in Kumamoto, on the island of Kyushu. It is served with either Japanese horseradish or garlic. It is served cold.
Japan is the leading automaker in the world. Toyota, is the third largest manufacturer of vehicles in the world. The company branched into vehicle manufacturing under the guidance of Kiichiro Toyoda in 1935.
The most popular sport in Japan is baseball and locally it is referred to as yakyū. Horac Wilson, an American teacher introduced the sport in Japan in 1870’s and the first game was played in Tokyo University in 1873. There are two professional baseball leagues in Japan; the Central and the Pacific. The sport is quite popular to an extent that the high school games are broadcast each year on national television.