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Ilya Markov

on 20 April 2010

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Transcript of Japan

Japan Government Seal of Japan Imperial Seal of Japan Flag of Japan Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south. The characters which make up Japan's name mean "sun-origin", which is why Japan is sometimes referred to as the "Land of the Rising Sun". History of Japan The first signs of occupation on the Japanese Archipelago appeared with a Paleolithic culture around 30,000 BC, followed from around 14,000 BC by the Jmon period, a Mesolithic to Neolithic semi-sedentary hunter-gatherer (possibly Ainu) culture of pit dwelling and a rudimentary form of agriculture. Decorated clay vessels from this period, often with plaited patterns, are some of the oldest surviving examples of pottery in the world.

The Yayoi period, starting around 500 BC, saw the introduction of many new practices, such as wet-rice farming, a new style of pottery and Metallurgy brought by migrants from China and Korea.

The Japanese first appear in written history in China’s Book of Han. According to the Chinese Records of Three Kingdoms, the most powerful kingdom on the archipelago during the third century was called Yamataikoku. An old Japanese painting depicting a battle during the Sengoku period (1467–1615) Government and politics Japan is a constitutional monarchy where the power of the Emperor is very limited. As a ceremonial figurehead, he is defined by the constitution as "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people". Power is held chiefly by the Prime Minister of Japan and other elected members of the Diet, while sovereignty is vested in the Japanese people.[43] The Emperor effectively acts as the head of state on diplomatic occasions. Akihito is the current Emperor of Japan. Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan, stands as next in line to the throne.

Japan's legislative organ is the National Diet, a bicameral parliament. The Diet consists of a House of Representatives, containing 480 seats, elected by popular vote every four years or when dissolved and a House of Councillors of 242 seats, whose popularly elected members serve six-year terms. There is universal suffrage for adults over 20 years of age,[10] with a secret ballot for all elective offices.[43] In 2009, the social liberal Democratic Party of Japan took power after 54 years of the liberal conservative Liberal Democratic Party's rule.

The Prime Minister of Japan is the head of government. The position is appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the Diet from among its members and must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office. The Prime Minister is the head of the Cabinet (the literal translation of his Japanese title is "Prime Minister of the Cabinet") and appoints and dismisses the Ministers of State, a majority of whom must be Diet members. Yukio Hatoyama currently serves as the Prime Minister of Japan. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko Religion in Japan The highest estimates for the number of Buddhists and Shintoists in Japan is 84–96%, representing a large number of believers in a syncretism of both religions. However, these estimates are based on people with an association with a temple, rather than the number of people truly following the religion. Professor Robert Kisala (Nanzan University) suggests that only 30 percent of the population identify themselves as belonging to a religion.
Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism from China have also influenced Japanese beliefs and customs. Religion in Japan tends to be syncretic in nature, and this results in a variety of practices, such as parents and children celebrating Shinto rituals, students praying before exams, couples holding a wedding at a Christian church and funerals being held at Buddhist temples. A minority (2.04%) profess to Christianity. In addition, since the mid-19th century, numerous religious sects (Shinshky) have emerged in Japan, such as Tenrikyo and Aum Shinrikyo (or Aleph). Soto monk in Arashiyama, Kyoto Culture of Japan Japanese culture has evolved greatly over the years, from the country's original Jōmon culture to its contemporary culture, which combines influences from Asia, Europe and North America. Traditional Japanese arts include crafts (ikebana, origami, ukiyo-e, dolls, lacquerware, pottery), performances (bunraku, dance, kabuki, noh, rakugo), traditions (games, tea ceremony, Budō, architecture, gardens, swords) and cuisine. The fusion of traditional woodblock printing and Western art led to the creation of manga, a typically Japanese comic book format that is now popular within and outside Japan. Manga-influenced animation for television and film is called anime. Japanese-made video game consoles have prospered since the 1980s.
The number of Shinto shrines in Japan is estimated to be around 100,000

Japanese music is eclectic, having borrowed instruments, scales and styles from neighboring cultures. Many instruments, such as the koto, were introduced in the ninth and tenth centuries. The accompanied recitative of the Noh drama dates from the fourteenth century and the popular folk music, with the guitar-like shamisen, from the sixteenth. Western classical music, introduced in the late nineteenth century, now forms an integral part of the culture. Post-war Japan has been heavily influenced by American and European modern music, which has led to the evolution of popular band music called J-pop.

The earliest works of Japanese literature include two history books the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki and the eighth century poetry book Man'yōshū, all written in Chinese characters.[148] In the early days of the Heian period, the system of transcription known as kana (Hiragana and Katakana) was created as phonograms. The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is considered the oldest Japanese narrative.[149] An account of Heian court life is given by The Pillow Book written by Sei Shōnagon, while The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki is often described as the world's first novel.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa (1832), an ukiyo-e from Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji by Hokusai. Geisha performing in traditional kimono.
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