About Japan in short

Location and characteristics of Japan

Japan is located in the Far East. Its area reaches 377.000 square kilometers. The 4 main islands from North are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, but the island country called “The land of the Rising Sun” has more than 6 thousand other little islands.

Approximately 75% of Japan is forested and mountainous. The loose soil is unfit to be built on, so the habitable coastal areas are densely populated. Japan lies on a volcanic territory, at the meeting point of 3 tectonic plates therefore the country is shaken by frequent earthquakes. Sometimes inhabitants living near active volcanoes are evacuated temporarily. Heavy rains cause landslides and in summer and autumn typhoons also cause significant damages. Japan has the highest level of natural disaster risk among developed countries.

Tokyo, Skytree


The capital of Japan is Tokyo. With its over 11 million inhabitants (with the agglomeration over 35 million inhabitants) is one of the word biggest metropolitans.

Foreigners are fascinated by precise transportation, the cleanness, high level of public safety and futuristic hi-tech.

Tokyo Skytree was open to the public in May of 2012. Its main function is digital broadcasting. Since there were a lot of skyscrapers built around it, previous broadcasting Tokyo Tower (333 m) was not able to fullfill its task. This new, 634 meters high tower is also very popular as a tourist attraction.

Shibuya, Tokyo

Symbols of Japan

Shinkansen is the most popular means of public transport in Japan. Since the country is a wide island many places can be reach by ship or airplane. By a bus or a car the same distance would take several days. The 300 km/h bullet train was put into operation between Osaka and Tokyo in 1964.

Fuji with its 3776 meters is Japan’s highest mountain and for Japanese it is said to be a saint mountain. In 2013 Fuji became a part of the UNESCO World Heritage. In summer many mountaineers are climbing it. Watching sunrise near to the mountain peak is said to be one of the most inspiring moments of one’s life.

Shinkansen, the bullet train

Mountain Fuji

The writing

Japanese writing is one of the most difficult writing systems in the world. Modern texts contain 3 types of characters at the same time: kanji, hiragana and katakana. Every word has a kanji, 2136 of which are used in daily life officially, but the combinations can reach 10.000 words. As a basic rule, hiragana is used for grammar and katakana is used for foreign words. For example if we would like to write “Tomorrow I’m leaving for London.” then kanji, hiragana and katakana would all appear in this particular sentence.

Japanese calligraphy is a structured and flowing handwriting of Japanese characters. There are many forms of it, but traditionally it is brushed on Japanese paper (washi) with ink (sumi).

(See picture on next page.)

If you are interested in Japanese calligraphy, please visit our partner page!


by Nikolasz Gancs

Bridge between Tokushima (Shikoku) and Awaji Island

Japanese meal

Japanese meal is one of the healthiest in the world. The island country is full of "seafruits". You can buy fresh (sometimes alive) fish, crabs or octopus at the market if you live near by the sea. Rice is also a traditional food. You can see green paddy-field all around the countryside of Japan. Since Japanese started to eat fat and less digestible food, several illness related to lifestyle changes had appear.



Religion is a very important part of Japanese life. If you ask a Japanese whether he/she is a buddhist or a shintoist, they will find it difficult to answer the question. These two do not exclude each other. Buddhist ceremony or shinto ceremony, it depends on the occasion. For example, most of them go to celebrate New Year’s Eve to a buddhist temple, but then go to a shinto shrine to welcome the first day of the year. These religions are peacefully co-existing, so you can often see a buddhist temple next to a shinto shire, and Japanese people are visiting them one by one and pray.

Izumo Taisha (shinto)

Kiriharaji, 10. station of 88 shikoku buddist temple