Japan is an archipelagic country situated in the East Asia region of the continent. It is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and comprises 6852 islands spanning 377,975 square kilometers. The country has five major islands, namely, Hokkaido, Honshu, Okinawa, Kyushu, and Shikoku, and its largest city is Tokyo, also the capital. The country is renowned for its diverse culture and is the home of futuristic technology. Japan is the world’s most densely populated and urbanized population, with about 37.2 million people crowding the Greater Tokyo Area.
Japan is known for its colorful and diverse culture, graphic and literary arts, martial arts, geographical formations, food, and overall kawaii-ness. Japanese people are also known for their discipline and patriotism. Most Japanese are renowned for their professionalism, fierce dedication to their jobs, and business acumen.
Shohei Ohtani Is the Man
Japan is a baseball-crazy nation and has produced several world-class players. One of the most famous baseball players is Shohei Ohtani, who plays for the Los Angeles Angels of American League of Major League Baseball. The talented Mr. Ohtani is highly prized for his expertise in the diamond as he is a pitcher, a designated hitter, and an outfielder in the rotation. Ohtani signed with the LA Angels in 2017 and immediately showed his skill as he was named the 2018 Rookie of the Year and the 2021 AL Most Valuable Player. He has earned $12.2 million in five years in the majors.
Sakura Is an Iconic Japanese Symbol
When tourists think about Japan, the image of beautiful sakura blossoms raining down as they walk the cherry-blossom tree-lined streets immediately comes to mind. The iconic cherry blossoms, however, are a rather rare occurrence as they only flower for two weeks during the springtime. The pink blossoms are also recognized by many as the informal national flower of Japan. The annual blossoming of the trees is celebrated during the National Cherry blossom Festival where people make it a tradition to picnic under the flowering trees. The flower symbolizes good luck, springtime, love, and a reminder of fleeting mortality.
Tea Ceremonies Are Still Popular
Japan is famous for its tea ceremonies. The ceremony is steeped in rich history as it is a way of preparing green tea inside a traditional room which typically has a tatami floor. Japanese hosts who hold the tea ceremony ensure that guests enjoy the nuances of the ceremony, which is far removed from the fast-paced way of life. During the Muromachi Period, it became popular for people to have tea ceremonies to show off their exquisite tea bowls and cups, although the masses also enjoyed the activity. Nowadays, tea ceremonies are more of a hobby, but visitors can still enjoy them in varying degrees of formality and authenticity.
Busiest Pedestrian Crossing In the World
One of the most iconic places tourists can find themselves in is the Shibuya Scramble Crossing, more popularly known as Shibuya Crossing. Located at the Shibuya Station Hachiko exit, authorities regularly stop traffic from all directions to allow pedestrians to inundate the crosswalk. Inaugurated in 1973, Shibuya Crossing also has a statue of Hachiko, a loyal Akita dog who’s beloved for his loyalty to his owner. Also known as the busiest pedestrian intersection in the world, Shibuya Crossing is always featured in shows set in Japan, such as Alice In Borderland, Lost in Translation, and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
Origami Is An Interesting Hobby
Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding, and the term is now used to refer to any paper folding regardless of cultural origin. The artist’s goal is to fold a square piece of paper into different shapes using various techniques, although practitioners don’t want to cut, mark, or glue anything on the paper. Instead, artists can create two-dimensional and three-dimensional models from such techniques. Origami uses paper that is thinner than most and can hold creases properly. The cheapest and most widely used origami paper is known as kami, although paper-backed foil, washi, chiyogami, and paper bills will also suffice.
Toyota Ranks Among the Best
Regarding car brands, one Japanese name stands head and shoulders above the rest. Headquartered in Aichi, Toyota is a multinational automotive manufacturer founded by Kiichiro Toyoda on August 28, 1937. As one of the world’s largest car manufacturers, the company makes about 10 million vehicles annually. Toyota is also ranked second among all car manufacturers in terms of reliability. In addition, it is a leader in developing and selling hybrid electric cars such as the Toyota Prius, Prius Prime, Camry Prime, Corolla Hybrid, and the Highlander Hybrid, among others. Car enthusiasts love modifying Toyota vehicles for their undeniable style and performance.
Mount Fuji Is a Must-See
One of the most iconic Japanese places to see when in the country is the majestic Mount Fuji. Located in Honshu, in the prefectures of Yamanashi and Shizuoka, it rises to 12,388 feet from sea level, making it the highest mountain in the country. It has lain dormant since its last eruption in 1707, although geologists consider it active. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013 and is the central feature of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Most Japanese consider it a sacred mountain, and several shrines can be found along its periphery. In addition, pilgrims regularly flock to climb the mountain as a religious experience.
The Shinkansen Is in a Class of Its Own
Another thing that Japan is widely-known for is its high-speed train system or the Shinkansen. The system opened in 1964 and initially plied routes between Tokyo and Osaka. The trains have increased their top speed from 130 mph to 200 mph and so far kept their punctuality and safety record intact. The Shinkansen services around one million passengers per day. Despite the high speeds, passengers can only feel minimal vibrations and are comfortable in their seats. The trains offer a luxury carriage and a standard class E7 carriage. The Shinkansen system covers 2,388 kilometers with four distinct routes comprising the entire network.
Sumo Wrestling Isn’t for Everyone
Two lumbering giants come to the ring and battle it until one of them steps out of the circle. The giants are rikishi, sumo combatants well-trained in the art of striking, and the game is sumo wrestling, Japan’s national sport. The spectacle is deeply rooted in history, religion, and martial arts, and several elements are still maintained today. A rikishi’s life is strictly regimented, and he must live with other wrestlers in a communal stable known as heya. Authorities regulate their food and manner of dress. Professional sumo wrestlers strive to earn the title of Yokozuna, the highest rank in their sport.
Aikido is Devastatingly Effective
Japan is known as the land of martial arts, as several forms originate from the country. Aikido is one such art described as a combination of different styles. Aikido uses joint-locking, throwing, pinning, and striking techniques to subdue an opponent while also incorporating sword, staff, and knife skills. It is popularly known as the way of peace. Aikido practitioners aim to subdue their opponents by utilizing their nerve points, although their moves can also be deadly if they so choose. Therefore, there aren’t any offensive moves in aikido as it teaches its practitioners to use their opponent’s moves to disarm or subdue them.
Sushi Is the Best
Sushi is one of Japan’s iconic dishes. For those who don’t know what sushi is, it’s vinegared rice with salt and sugar, rolled with raw seafood and vegetables, and typically dipped in wasabi-infused soy sauce. While sushi can be made with brown or short-grain rice, most chefs use medium-grain white rice. Modern-day sushi is thought to be invented by Hanaya Yohei as he invented nigirizushi. Nowadays, eel, yellowtail, squid, salmon, tuna, and even imitation crab meat are used as the main ingredient. Chefs serve sushi with pickled ginger, soy sauce, and wasabi alongside pickled daikon and daikon radish.
Different Ramen Styles Will Satisfy Any Appetite
Japan is known as a land where ramen is king. There are over 10,000 ramen houses in Japan, each serving specialties and having gimmicks to entice customers to try their version of the popular noodle dish. They are typically made with Chinese-style wheat noodles, smothered in a tasty broth, and topped with sliced pork, bamboo shoots, dried seaweed, and scallions. Each region in Japan has its style of creating ramen; typically, they vary because of the toppings and types of noodles and broth used. Regardless of where you buy your ramen in Japan, you’re sure to get the best-tasting bowl of noodles.
Takoyaki Is a Terrific Street Food
If you love food shaped like balls, you’ll find Japan’s Takoyaki to your liking. Takoyaki, or octopus balls, are a common Japanese street food initially sold during summer festivals. However, they grew in popularity and became an everyday staple. Vendors surround bits of octopus, ginger, and green onions with fluffy dough and cook and smother them with sauce. This food is also sold in convenience stores, trucks, and restaurants. It was thought to originate from Osaka, where vendor Tomekichi Endo adapted the recipe for choboyaki.
Wagyu Steaks Are a True Specialty
Japanese beef is considered the best of the best. Japan doesn’t have much land where cattle can graze, so Japanese herders have smaller lots that they can individually care for, making them unique. Farmers feed their wagyu a high-energy diet for 600 to 700 days. They also create a low-stress environment which is good for animal husbandry. Wagyu beef is graded by experts from one to five, with five being the highest. The higher the grade, the better the meat looks, which also commands a higher price. Prized for their taste and appearance, the more striated the meat, the more premium it is.
Samurai Are Proud Warriors
The Japanese are also renowned for their ancient warriors—the samurai. The samurai are part of the Japanese warrior class, which follows a strict code of conduct or bushido. Romanticized in film, samurai are the epitome of strength and character. They wore elaborate armor that also reflected their stature. They preferred close combat weapons, specifically the katana and the wakizashi, and rode horseback when they fought. Most people don’t realize that there were female samurai who fought alongside their counterparts and were also respected for their skills. Moreover, samurai weren’t only warriors and masters of literature and art.
Sake Is a Great Drink
When people think of Japanese drinks, they immediately think of sake. Sake is a brewed alcoholic drink similar to beer and wine. It is made from fermented rice juice and typically has 15% alcohol by volume, which is still lower than the usual standards. Sake has a complex and fascinating flavor profile, making it quite enjoyable to drink. People who wish to drink sake must be ready to take small sips instead of chugging choko after choko of the beverage. Unfortunately, many think sake is similar to tequila because of the color and supposed hangover it gives.