Japan

Geography of Japan

Japan is a country made up of about 4,000 separate islands, with most of the population settled on four of the largest islands. The geography of Japan heavily influenced the way the country developed. The island was not open to worldwide trade, so most of the products coming into Japan came from their neighboring countries, Korea and China. Though Japan was close enough to have the effects of Chinese civilization on their society, the distance between the countries kept them relatively safe from the worries of invasions or attacks.


Besides limited trade, Japan had advantages and disadvantages when it came to the climate. Areas in southern Japan had weather that made the land highly desirable for farmers, however the land was so mountainous that only about 12% was suitable to farm on. There were also strong tropical storms, called typhoons, during late summer and early fall. Typhoons, along with earthquakes and tidal waves threatened the lives of the people, the crops, and their livelihood.

Feudalism

Around the middle of the 11th century, Japan's central government began its decline. Large landowners began setting up their own private armies during this time when the country was lawless, because of the lack of a strong central government. The safety of Japanese citizens was put largely into question during this time, as there seemed to be no way to keep farmers and local landowners safe. Because of this, people began trading their land to warlords in exchange for protection, marking the beginning of feudal society.


During this time, people would be forced into heavy labor, getting almost nothing from it. For three days a week, people were able to keep what they worked for, however, during the rest of the week, all of their labor went to the warlords as tax. People were given homes, although they were dirty and not well kept, with no luxuries in their lives.

Shintoism

Shintoism, Japan's first religion, came to be as a result of Japan's separate clans having their own separate beliefs, which eventually combined into one common belief system. The Shinto religion was based on the idea of respect for the forces in nature and worship of one's ancestors. Followers of Shinto believed in spirits that dwelled in nature, otherwise known as kami. The spirits were believed to have lived in any natural formation, such as a rock, tree, or mountain, that was particularly beautiful or stood out more than others.

Current Events

The dangerous climate that affected Japanese farmers and citizens in the past is still problematic now. Storms are always a great risk in Japan, and they affect everyone. Because of the constant possibility of tsunamis, earthquakes, or other life threatening storms, people always need to be prepared to evacuate their area. This includes being prepared to leave their homes, belongings, friends, and even families behind at any time.

History of Japan

Japan was a very innovative country. Their specialty was being able to take parts of other cultures and adopt it as their own. They took parts of the Chinese language and civilization and used it to create something unique to their needs.