Japan is one of our favorite destinations. In the past 5 years, we have had the opportunity to visit this extraordinary country multiple times, and it never ceases to amaze us. Thanks to Rafa’s command of the Japanese language, we have been able to dive into its culture and people, and discover the best kept secrets of the country. We can’t wait to tell you about our adventures throughout Japan! But in the meantime, we would like to bring you some of the countless interesting facts about the country of the Rising Sun.
- The Imperial Japanese House is the oldest monarchical dynasty that still exists. Also known as the Yamato dynasty, the Japanese Imperial family was established, according to tradition, in 660 BC with the Emperor Jinmu (said to be a descendant of the goddess Amaterasu). Although the existence of the first emperors is not definitively proven, there is clear evidence that the current dynasty has existed for at least 1500 years.
- The Japanese flag represents the Rising Sun, one of the main symbols of the country. Designs related to the Sun have been used on Japanese flags since the early 7th century. The Rising Sun is in fact one of the main symbols of the country, traditionally associated with Japan since it is located east of the Asian continent. The Rising Sun is used not only on the national flag, but also on the flag of several of the branches of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.
- The Japanese territory comprises 6,852 islands. Among them, about 430 are inhabited. The main islands are, from north to south, Hokkaidō, Honshū, Shikoku, Kyūshū and the arc of the Ryūkyū.
- The country is divided into 47 prefectures. The use of the term prefecture to refer to the administrative divisions of Japan (and its equivalent in other European languages) comes from the 16th century, when Portuguese explorers used the word prefeitura to refer to the different domains ruled by feudal lords into which the country was divided during that time.
- It has one of the longest life expectancies in the world. The exact position varies across the data from different organisms, but it always ranks in the top 3 positions. In fact, Okinawa prefecture is one of the regions in the world with the largest proportion of centenarian people.
- It has a very low murder rate. It is usually listed as the country with the lowest murder rate if micronations are excluded. Cultural factors contribute to this, as well as the very strict laws that regulate the possession of firearms.
- Its territory comprises over 100 active volcanoes. This represents almost 10% of the total of active volcanoes in the world. The large number of active volcanoes facilitates the presence of natural hot springs, which can be enjoyed at the onsen (traditional Japanese baths).
- Its capital, Tokyo, is the most populous city in the world. Its metropolitan area has more than 38 million inhabitants. It has been one of the largest cities in the world since the beginning of the 18th century, when it reached one million inhabitants. Its current name, by the way, means “capital of the east”. Interestingly, no law explicitly recognizes Tokyo as the capital, and there are even those who consider that the capital is still Kyoto (which it was officially until 1868, and whose name means “capital city”).
- Shibuya Crossing, in Tokyo, is the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. It is estimated that around 3,000 people cross it a time.
- The native religion of Japan is Shinto. It is a polytheistic religion, with a multitude of gods and spirits (kami) relating to practically every aspect of the natural world. Nowadays, it is the main religion of Japan along with Buddhism. Most Japanese follow a series of rituals and beliefs where Shinto and Buddhist elements are combined.
We hope you enjoyed reading a small sample of the many reasons that make Japan such a unique and special country! Stay tuned for our next posts so you don’t miss anything about our trips through its different prefectures.
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