Japan Travel Guide: General Information
Japan the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’, has been endowed by Nature; the archipelago nation has it all – coral reefs, coastlines, mountains (even volcanic mountains), river valleys, etc. Look beyond Japan’s natural world and you will find that the East Asian country has a wealth of cultural treasures – be it architectural wonders like ancient temples, shrines, etc. or its exclusive arts and crafts like ikebana, origami, Japanese pottery, kabuki or noh (the last two are dance/dance-drama forms) or unique traditions like tea-ceremony, Japanese rock gardens, etc. The high-speed Shinkansen or bullet trains, on the contrary, introduce you to a new facade of Japan, setting it as something more than a modern city. Japan means more – delicious cuisine, sushi, kimono-clad people and unforgettable Japanese hospitality.
Japan Travel Guide: Key Facts
• Capital city: Tokyo
• Total Area: 394,744 sq km
• Population: 127.3 million (As per 2007 official estimate)
• Languages spoken: Japanese is the official language; other regional language
mostly Japanese dialects) too are recognized.
• International Dialing code: 81
• Monetary unit: Yen
• Religion: About 84% of the Japan’s entire population follows either Buddhism or Shintoism. Christianity, Confucianism and Taoism are followed by a minority.
Japan Travel Guide: Popular Destinations
Tokyo: Tokyo, rather Tokyo Metropolis, is the capital region and Japan’s chief tourist destination. Tokyo’s attractions range from amusement parks, national parks and gardens to museums, temples, shrines, art and craft galleries, etc. Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Disneyland are the main attractions of Tokyo travel. Tokyo offers you great shopping experience.
Osaka: Osaka, one of Japan’s chief industrial hubs, is a must-visit tourist destination for foodies. The highlights of Osaka tourism are its spas/wellness centers; night-owls will also like Osaka’s active nightlife. The area’s attractions include amusement/theme parks like the Universal Studios and Expoland, cultural sites and historical attractions.
Kyoto: Kyoto, the capital city of Japan until 1867, is a historically/culturally important tourist destination. The city is home to some of the historic monuments of Ancient Kyoto that have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Kyoto has many museums and gardens. The Arashiyama Monkey Park of Kyoto is famous for its resident Japanese macaque monkeys.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki – known for the destruction caused by the atomic bombs during WWII and the peace memorials.
Fukuoka/Hakata – famous for its mouth-watering cuisine, festivals, museums, shopping and 120 m-high ferries wheel, ‘Sky Dream Fukuoka.
Kobe (the famous port city) – famous for its hot-spring resorts and Kobe-beef.
Nagoya – famous for the Nagoya Castle, ancient shrines and festivals.
Nara – famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Site and wildlife.
Yakushima – famous for its seaside hot-springs and ancient cedar forest.
Japan Travel Guide: Economy and Infrastructure
Japan is the world’s second largest economy with the service sector as its highest contributor (about 75% of the total GDP) in the absence of natural resources. Japan’s major industries are banking, construction, distribution, insurance, manufacturing, real-estate and telecommunications.
Being the fourth-largest exporter and sixth largest importer, Japan has trade-relations with USA, the EU, China and other leading economies. Japan’s chief export goods include cars/motor vehicles, computers and various electronic appliances. Japan chiefly imports raw materials like food-stuffs, crude-oil, minerals, metals, etc.
Japan has a sound infrastructure, which is an add-on to the high standard of living that the Japanese nationals enjoy. The infrastructure ably supports tourism.
Japan Travel Guide: Culture
In the past, Japan has been a culturally rich country with its typical architecture, literature, language, music, visual arts, performing arts, et al. Traditional Japanese arts and crafts like calligraphy, ikebana, lacquer ware and origami, etc. have been appreciated the world-over.
The Japanese culture of the yesteryears only had some similarities with other regional cultures; however, in the post-WWII days, features of European and North American cultures have been incorporated and this has produced a marked change especially in the fields of music and literature. Today, J-pop and karaoke are as much part of Japanese culture as Japanese folk music and recitals. Modern Japanese literature shows Western influence. Japan has produced two literary Nobel Laureates – Yasunari Kawabata (1968) and Kenzaburo Oe (1994).
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