Snapshot of Japan

Explore the traditions, landmarks and icons of Japan

Pacific Ring of Fire

Japan is situated on the edge of the Pacific Ring of Fire which wraps around the pacific ocean and is home to hundreds of volcanoes in many countries. Japan is also prone to other natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis due to it's geographic location.

Volcanoes of Japan

Japan has over 100 active volcanoes, more than almost any other country and accounts alone for about 10 % of all active volcanoes in the world. The volcanoes belong to the Pacific Ring of Fire, caused by subduction zones of the Pacific plate beneath continental and other oceanic plates along its margins.
Japan's volcanic arcs and tectonic setting
Japan is located at the junction of 4 tectonic plates - the Pacific, Philippine, Eurasian and North American plates, and its volcanoes are mainly located on 5 subduction-zone related volcanic arcs where the Pacific Plate descends under the North American Plate along the Kuril Trench and the Japan Trench and underneath the Philippine Sea Plate along the Izu-Bonin Trench. The Philippine Plate itself subducts beneath the Eurasian Plate at the western end, forming the Ryukyu Trench. The principal resulting volcanic ars are:
- Ryukyu Arc and Southwest Honshu Arcs in the south (Philippine plate subducting beneath between the Eurasian Plate),
- Izu-Bonin-Mariana Arc (subduction of Pacific plate beneath Philippine plate)
- Northeast Honshu and Kurile Arc in the north (subduction of Pacific plate beneath the N-American plate)
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Besides intense volcanic activity, Japan is one of the places in the world most affected by frequent, and sometimes devastatingly large earthquakes. Its oceanic setting makes it vulnerable for tsunamis as well, as the tragedy of the 11 March 2011 8.9 earthquake and tsunami terrifyingly illustrated.

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Class Assignment: Use InDesign to create a brochure highlighting Japan's icons. Due week 8.

Origami - An ancient art form!

Origami (pronounced or-i-GA-me) is the Japanese art of paperfolding. "Ori" is the Japanese word for folding and "kami" is the Japanese word for paper. That is how origami got its name. However, origami did not start in Japan. It began in China in the first or second century and then spread to Japan sometime during the sixth century.

At first, there was very little paper available so only the rich could afford to do paperfolding. The Japanese found useful purposes for their origami. For example, the Samurai (sa-MURE-ay) would exchange gifts with a form known as a noshi
(NO-shee). This was a paper folded with a strip of dried fish or meat. It was considered a good luck token. Also, the Shinto Noblemen would celebrate weddings by wrapping glasses of sake or rice wine in butterfly forms that had been folded to represent the bride and groom.

As easier papermaking methods were developed, paper became less expensive. Origami became a popular art for everyone, no matter if they were rich or poor. However, the Japanese people have always been very careful not to waste anything. They have always saved even the tiniest scraps of paper and used them for folding origami models.