The Country of Japan

By Jaya Sicard

Take A Trip To Japan!

Location

The beautiful islands of Japan are located in the Pacific Ocean; it is east of China, Korea and Russia stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China in the south. Japan's capital is Tokyo, whose absolute location is 36 degrees North and 140 degrees East.


Culture and Scenery

More than four-fifths of Japan's land is hilly and/or mountainous, perfect for avid hikers and climbers. Plains and flat areas account for about a fifth of the landscape and are primarily located along the coast. These areas serve a great purpose for farming. Japan lies in a volcanic and earthquake prone belt called the Ring Of Fire, where many of the volcanoes are still active, but rarely erupt. The sight can attract many curious tourists--if you're brave enough to cross the thresh hold close the the volcano. The islands' surrounding body of water is appealing for those who are attracted to the activities of surfing, swimming, and snorkeling.


Most of Japan's locals are Japanese, and speak the native language. The two main religions of Japan are Shinto and Buddhism. The top ten occupations of Japan are as listed:


1. Adult Film maker


2. Teacher


3. Fishermen


4. Yakuza


5. Manga Writer


6. Models


7. Reality TV Stars


8. Physical Therapist


9. Engineer


10. Chef


Activities to Do

Here in Japan, there are a wide variety of things to do and places to see. But the number one thing every tourist must do in Japan's cities is visit Kyoto's ancient sites. Kyoto was Japan's capital from 794 to 1868 and is soaked with history and historical sites. In all, Kyoto boasts 17 World Heritage sites, but with some 2,000 temples and shrines across the city and numerous gardens, they show a fraction of Kyoto's alluring heritage.


Another great activity for the everyday tourist is to gallery hop on "Art Island". Naoshima in the Seto Inland Sea stands out in Japan for its three major art galleries and smaller art venues. According to critics, the best of this Japanese island's art galleries is the Benesse House. With styles of art from all influences and all walks of life, this gallery will attract any art lover.


Souvenirs

One of the most popular souvenirs to take home from Japan is the maneki neko, which is a statue made to depict a beckoning cat. From restaurants to businesses to banks, you can see this cat everywhere. It is meant to bring good luck in business and prosperity. Not a cat person? No worries! Another easy-to-love souvenir is a wagasa, which is a traditional Japanese umbrella. It is not only used for rain, but also as an accessory for tea ceremonies or traditional theater. The wagasa is made of bamboo and Japanese paper; it is a symbol of traditional Japan and one of the most popular souvenirs. As terms of currency, Japan operates in yen. One USA dollar equals 102.31 Japanese yen.


Climate and Environment

The weather in Japan is generally temperate, with four distinct seasons. The best suggested time to go in the year is in spring (March to May) when the weather is most favorable. The famous cherry blossoms also come to bloom in this season and there are plenty of festivals to enjoy. Pack for weather in the mid eighties.


Regions

Two of the most popular regions in Japan are Hokkaido and Kanto. Hokkaido is the northernmost island in Japan's archipelago. It is extremely cold and snowy in the winter months with an average temperature of 26.4 degrees (F). However, in the summer months it is a pleasant 72.14 degrees (F). Hokkaido has a population of over 5 million. Its biggest city is Sapporo. The island itself is linked to Japan's main island (Honshu) with a 34-mile tunnel. Large scale dry-field farming is popular on Hokkaido's wide tracts, with potatoes and onions as its primary crops.


Over 40 million people live in the region of Kanto. But the most focused and popular place in the Kanto region is Japan's most popular city, Tokyo, Japan. In Tokyo, businesses, universities, factories, government offices, and more things of this nature are heavily concentrated. Because of its "big city" appeal and popularity, rent can be extremely high in Tokyo. Many people who work in Tokyo opt to live in the suburbs surrounding the city. In other parts of Kanto, areas for veggie and fruit cultivating, pig and chicken breeding and dairy farming are popular.


Miscellaneous Information

One US dollar (as mentioned previously) equals 102.31 yen in Japan.


The cheapest form of hotel life for the average tourist in Japan is, surprisingly, internet/comic book cafes. In most of these cafes, a cubicle available with internet, access to a shower and unlimited beverage is available for a minimum of 800 yen per night. (A little under eight US dollars.) Some cafes provide beds, others do not. It is best to find out before hand.


A popular hotel for mid-range affordability would be Backpackers hotel. It is a very central location with an affordable price of about 25 US dollars.


An expensive but positively exquisite hotel is the Mandarin Oriental. The cost is about $418 or more a night. This hotel is in the heart of the action, and full of restaurants, spas, fitness centers, bars, and more. Past customers have commented that the Mandarin Oriental is "one of the best hotels in the world."


Three useful phrases to know in Japan if this is your first time visiting are as following:


I do not understand Japanese. 私は日本語がわかりません. (Pronounced as: Wa-ta-shi ma-sen ni-hon-go.)


I speak English. 私は英語を話す. (Pronounced as: Wa-ta-shi mas-ka ey-go-ga.)


Do you know English? あなたが英語を知っていますか? (Pronounced as: An-a-ta ga ey-go-ga o shit-te im-a-su ka?)


Fun fact:

Late-night dancing in Japan is illegal.