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All About Japan
Transcript of All About Japan
By Virginia Valdez and Eric Garcia.
The Population and the Demographics of the Japanese
"The demographic features of the population of Japan include population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects regarding the population." Based on the census from October 2010, Japan's population was at one of its peaks- 128, 057, 352. As of March 2012 the population estimate was 127, 650, 000 making it the world's tenth most populous country. (Indexmundi.com) Current statistics do not show much difference in population numbers. Japan's population size can be attributed to high growth rates experinced during the 19th and 20th centuries. In recent years, Japan has experienced population loss due to falling birth rates and almost no immigration, despite having the highest life expectancies in the world at 81.25 years of age.
The History of Japan
Japan has a long history with the first humans arriving around 35,000 B.C.. According to the myths contained in chronicles, Japan was founded in 660 BC by its legendary first Emperor Jimmu, a direct descendant of the Shintō sun goddess, Amaterasu.The position of Japan relative to the Asian mainland had played a significant role in the country's development. Although the country is situated near the mainland, there is still a considerable amount of open sea, which separates the two landmasses. Throughout most of Japan's history, it has been closed to the outside world refusing to open its borders to foreigners. The sakoku policy, literal translation "locked country", enacted in 1633 by the Tokugawa Shogunate prevented foreigners from entering Japan on penalty of death. The same policy also prevented Japanese from leaving Japan. The first historical documents mentioning Japan date to around the 5th century. Japanese myth holds that Emperor Jimmu was the first emperor of an imperial line that is still in place today. However, archaeological evidence gathered by a number of researchers place the imperial rule starting later around the third to seventh centuries AD, during the Kofun period. The following Asuka regime during the mid 8th century is noted for a more centralized Japan in which Chinese culture significantly influenced Japanese traditions.Nara was the first centralized capital of the nation established in the late 8th century. The layout of the capital city was influenced by Chang’an, the capital of China during that time. The Nara period was the last time that political power was held by the emperor. The following Heian period (and the eras after that) was characterized by an affluent aristocracy with eccentric social customs, and the moving of the capital from Nara to Kyoto. Today, despite suffering massive losses during World War II and possessing very little natural resources, Japan has become an economic and technological powerhouse.
"Using the annual estimate for October of each year, the population peaked in 2008 at 128, 083, 960 and had fallen285, 256 by October 2011. Japan's population density was 336 people per square meter." Based on the latest data from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan's population will keep declining by about one million people every year in the coming decades, which will leave Japan with a population of 86 million in 2060. (Wikibooks.com) By that time, more than 40% of the population is expected to be over age 65. In 2012, the population had for six consecutive years declined by 212, 000, the largest drop on record since the 1900's and also a low record of 1.03 births. In 2014, a new record of population drop happened with 268, 000 people. In 2013, more than 20% of the population are age 65 and over. "Japan ranks 37th in a list of countries by population density, ranking directly above India and directly below Belgium." (Indexmundi.com) Metropolitan Tokyo-Yokohama (located in Japan), with its population of 35 million residents, is the world's most populous city. Besides that, Japan fa the same problems that confront industrialized societies throughout the world: overcrowded cities and congested highways. Like other countries, Japan also faces the benefits as well as potential drawbacks associated with an aging population. (Wikipedia.com) While countries with young populations may "wrestle" with problems of crime, poverty, and social unrest, countries with older populations often enjoy higher standards of living. However, the demographic shift in Japan's age profile has triggered concerns about the nation's economic future and the viability of its welfare state. All in all, there is high population density for the country of Japan.
What is Japan's Culture Like?
The Japanese culture is a "multi-layered and complex system" that has been developing within itself and "forming new layers for thousands of years." (Indexmundi.com)When we think of Japanese culture, perhaps one of the the first images that spring to mind is one of an ancient Samurai warrior wielding his heavy sword, or perhaps you picture a young Japanese servant, pouring tea and serving sushi. While these images do play some role in the entire concept of Japan as a whole, the entire meaning and history of the nation is larger than that.
Japan is separated from the coast of Asia by the Sea of Japan. It is approximately the size of Montana. Japan consists of several thousand islands, of with Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikkoku are the four largest. Japan's closest neighbors are Korea, Russia and China. The Sea of Japan separates the Asian continet from the Japanese archipelago. Japan has very little farm land and very little place to live because of the Japan mountains. It thrives on sea life. Tokyo is Japan's capital. The weather in Japan is generally temperate, with four distinct seasons: Winter, from December to February, is quite dry and sunny along the Pacific coast and the temperatures rarely drop below 32°F. The temperatures drop as you move north, with the Central and Northern regions experiencing snowfall.
Japanese culture is rich and diverse, dating back to 10,000BC when the Jomon people first settled in Japan. It is widely known for its traditional arts as well as its contemporary pop culture. Today in Japan, it is still possible to see kimono-clad women shuffling down the street with umbrellas overhead, or oversized sumo wrestlers battling it out in the ring. A sophisticated cuisine, unique social customs, and refined performing and visual arts also contribute to a culture which has become attractive, and sometimes fashionable, to many foreigners. While in Japan, one can enjoy a wide variety of interesting and delicious dishes, including tako-yaki, sushi, sashimi, and tempura. Japanese cuisine has evolved over centuries of social and political changes. A few aspects that set Japanese cuisine apart from other cuisines are it's emphasis on using quality ingredients, particular seasonality, and impeccable presentation. Traditional Japanese music usually refers to Japan's historical folk music. One of the defining characteristics of traditional Japanese music is its sparse rhythm. The focus is on creating music that flows in an attempt to mirror the behavior of nature.
It is regular for songs to start off at an extremely slow pace and to pick up speed as they progress. Then, they get slow again before transitioning into long and drawn out finishes. It is regular for songs to start off at an extremely slow pace and to pick up speed as they progress. Then, they get slow again before transitioning into long and drawn out finishes. Traditional Japanese music has three main types, instrumental, court music, and theatrical. But now, it has also evolved into world-known pop music. the Japanese have a rich history of their own unique cultural fashion. Traditional Japanese clothing includes many different types; fundoshi, furisode, hakama, hanten, happi, jinbeit, gūnihitoe, kimono, obi (sashes), samue, sokutai, tomesode, uwagi, and yukata. These garments are made to suit the seasons in which they are worn. Clothing that has rustic hues and patterns, such as those that feature russet leaves, are preferred for autumn wear. However, floral designs, such as those that feature cherry blossoms, and more vibrant colors are more common during the spring time. For winter, people who are dressed in kimonos like to wear darker fabric and more layers. Sometimes, people may wear ten layers of clothing. Sumo is known throughout the world as one of the most unique and exciting full-contact sports in existence. Sumo wrestling is a match of two large men facing off in a circular ring (dohyō). The man who can force the other out of the circle is the victor. A wrestler can also win by making his opponent touch the ground with any part of his body other than the bottoms of his feet. Japan, the country that created the sport of sumo wrestling, is the only country that supports professional matches.
"Japan: A Journey Between Tradition and Modernity" Video
Interesting Facts about Japan:
This video shows images of how Japan went from traditional to modernity while staying in tune with its culture. There is no speaking in this video.
1. Raw horse meat is a popular food in Japan.
2. Sometimes the trains are so crowded railway staff are employed to cram passengers inside.
3. Many couples in Japan celebrate Christmas like Valentine's Day. It is definitely more of a "lovers" holiday in Japan.
4. Poorly written English can be found everywhere, including T-shirts and other fashion items.
5. More than 70% of Japan consists of mountains, including more than 200 volcanoes.
6. Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan, is an active volcano (although scientists have not reached a consensus on what defines "active").
7. A nice musk melon, similar to a cantaloupe, may sell for over $300US. For example, a nice specimen of Yubari melon. These are often physically perfect, not like their American counterparts with dark smudges and scars.
8. There are four different writing systems in Japan; Romaji, Katakana, Hiragana, and Kanji.
9. Coffee is very popular and Japan imports approximately 85% of Jamaica's annual coffee production.
10. Japan's literacy rate is almost 100%.
11. Sumo is Japan's national sport, although baseball is also very popular.
12. Sumo wrestlers eat a stew called Chankonabe to fatten up. Many restaurants in the Ryogoku district of Tokyo serve this nabe (Japanese word for stew).
13. Most toilets in Japan have a built-in bidet system for spraying your backside. These are known as washlets and are now the norm in homes and nicer restrooms. However, in some train stations and other public restrooms you may still find the traditional Japanese "floor toilet".
14. When you use the restroom in someone's home you may need to put on designated bathroom slippers so as not to contaminate the rest of the home.
15. Noodles, especially soba (buckwheat), are slurped somewhat loudly when eaten. It has been said slurping indicates the food is delicious. The slurping also serves to cool down the hot noodles for eating.
16. Japan is the world’s largest consumer of Amazon rain forest timber.
17. Vending machines in Japan sell beer, hot and cold canned coffee, cigarettes, and other items.
18. When moving into an apartment it is often required to give the landlord "gift" money, usually equal to two months' rent.
19. On average there are around 1,500 earthquakes every year in Japan.
20. In Japan it is not uncommon to eat rice at every meal, including breakfast.
21. Average life expectancy in Japan is one of the highest in the world. Japanese people live an average of 4 years longer than Americans.
22. Japan is the largest automobile producer in the world.
23.. The Japanese language has thousands of foreign loan words, known as gairaigo. These words are often truncated, e.g. personal computer = paso kon. The number of foreign loan words is steadily increasing.
24. Tsukiji market in Tokyo is the world's largest fish market.
25. Although whaling is banned by the IWC, Japan still hunts whales under the premise of research. The harvested whale meat ends up in restaurants and supermarkets.
26. Men might shave their heads to apologize. Not common these days.
27. Women might cut their hair after breaking up with a boyfriend. Again, not common these days.
28. The first novel, The Tale of Genji, was written in 1007 by a Japanese noble woman, Murasaki Shikibu.
29. The term karaoke means "empty orchestra" in Japanese.
30. In a Sumo training "stable" the junior rikishi Sumo wrestlers must wash and bathe their senior sumo wrestlers and make sure their hard to reach places are clean.
31. Contrary to popular belief, whale meat is not a delicacy in Japan. Many Japanese dislike the taste and older Japanese may be reminded of the post-World War II period when whale meat was one of the few economical sources of protein.
32. Geisha means "person of the arts" and the first geisha were actually men.
33. It was customary in ancient Japan for women to blacken their teeth with dye as white teeth were considered ugly. This practice persisted until the late 1800's. The American style smile (big, wide, and white) would have been seen as "exposing too much bone".
34. In addition to a "boneless smile", small eyes, a round puffy face, and plump body were considered attractive features, especially during the Heian periods.
35. Many companies hire people to hand out small packages of tissues which include a small advertisement flyer. Some non-Japanese are surprised when they are handed a free package of tissues.
Japan has a parliamentary system of government like everywhere else. Unlike the Americans or the French, the Japanese do not elect a president directly. Acccording to www.sf.us.emb-japan.go.jp they state "Executive power is vested in the cabinet, which consists of the prime minister and not more than 17 ministers of state that collectively are responsible to the Diet." Diet members elect a prime minister from among themselves. The prime minister forms and leads the cabinet of ministers of state. Japan's Constitution, which came into force in 1947, is based on three principles: Sovereignity of the People, Respect for Fundamental Human Rights, and Renunciation of War. The Constitution also stipulates the independence of the three branches of government- legislative, executive, and judicial. As of Spring 2014, Shinzo Abe is the Prime Minister of Japan and head of the government.
Japan's Official Language
There is only one official language spoken in Japan, which is Japanese. However, many Japanese are able to understand English to a certain extent, since English is the foreign language that everyone must learn as part of compulsory education. Japanese ranks as one of the world’s most important languages with over 126 million speakers. An example of how to say hello in Japanese is "Kon'nichiwa". According to www.japan-guide.com the website states: "The Japanese writing system consists of three different character sets: Kanji (several thousands of Chinese characters) and Hiragana and Katakana (two syllabaries of 46 characters each; together called Kana.)" "Vocabulary can vary according to gender of the speaking person: women use other vocabulary than men."(www.japanese
Emperor Akihito is considered the symbol of the country, but he has no executive powers. The Japanese yen is the official currency of Japan. It is the third most traded currency in the foreign exchange market after the United States dollar and the euro. It is also widely used as a reserve currency after the U.S. dollar, the euro, and the pound sterling. The Japanese Flag is a white banner whose center contains a red circle; this circle represents the sun. The Japanese flag is called Hinomaru, which means "Circle of the Sun." In English it is sometimes called the "Rising Sun."