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About Japan


Japan is located in the easternmost of East Asia and between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean. The greatest characteristic of Japan’s geography is that it is an island country. Japan’s total area is approximately 378 thousand km and its land area is ranked world’s 61st. It is broadly divided and composed of four islands, from the north, Hokkaido/ Honshu/ Shikoku/ Kyushu and they are called the Japanese islands. When including the other islands, Japan is a country made of over 6,000 islands. Honshu, where the capital city Tokyo is located, has the largest area among the islands and most of the prefectures are included here.


The characteristic of Japan’s climate is that the change of seasons is clear. The seasons change in about three months, and nature also changes its appearance with it. From long time ago until today, nature has been an essential element of Japanese poetry, and even things that relate to seasons are popular and referred to as “Fubutsushi (things that remind a certain season).” Other than the four seasons, there is a rainy season called “Tsuyu” that comes from June to July and the hydrangeas that bloom during this period are a seasonal tradition of “Tsuyu.” In this way, you can see that the seasons are not just a change in climate for Japanese people, but have a cultural aspect as beauty and pleasure that colors life. Most regions of Japan belong to the warm and humid climate. Especially, the humidity is high in the summer, and in many areas it is quite hard to spend without air-conditioning. When winter comes, there are regions where it gets severely cold, the protection against cold weather are needed. However, Japan is geographically stretched from north to south, the climate differs greatly in the northern and southern area. For example, in the Hokkaido prefecture, it located in the north, starts to snow in November and there are places where snow piles up to 50cm. On the other hand, in the Okinawa south prefecture, it never snows. Since there is temperature difference and clear changes of seasons, you must be careful not to become ill, especially at the times when the season changes.


Japan’s official language is Japanese, and there are no other languages spoken. However, in some regions there are dialects that even Japanese people can not understand. The Japanese are very characteristic, there are three types used mainly: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Kanji was introduced from China, and Hiragana/ Katakana are Japans` original characters that derived from Kanji. Katakana is mainly used for the notation of foreign origin words. Japanese has only 5 vowels (a/i/u/e/o), and Hiragana/ Katakana each have 50 syllables that are made by the combination of vowels and consonants. Kanji exists in units of ten thousand, but it is said that if you know about 2,500, you will have no trouble in daily life. Although, Japanese grammar does not have changes in inflection according to gender, and there are even have times without subject, the spoken language is quite simple.


Japan’s currency unit is yen. One dollar is about 110 yen (as of April, 2017). There are banknotes of 10,000 yen/5,000 yen/2,000 yen/1,000 yen and coins of 500 yen/100 yen/50 yen/10 yen/5 yen/1 yen. As of 2017, the consumption tax rate is 8%. Payments are basically made with cash or credit cards. Many visitors seem to get the impression that Japan’s prices are high, and particularly the prices of fruits, taxi, gasoline and movie tickets are said to be most expensive. On the other hand, Japan’s “100 yen shops (where most products are sold at 100 yen plus tax)”, are drawing attention for its variety of products and high quality. Although, the discount stores are very popular among foreign tourists, and you can cheaply buy cosmetics and food goods at drugstores here. Many drugstores and department stores have duty-free services. When you shop at a store with a duty-free service mark, you should use this service!

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