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日本国 (Japanese)
Nippon-koku or Nihon-koku
Anthem: "Kimigayo" (君が代)
"His Imperial Majesty's Reign"
Government Seal
Goshichi no kiri.svg
Japan (orthographic projection).svg
Japanese territory in dark green; claimed but uncontrolled territory in light green
and largest city
35°41′N139°46′E / 35.683°N 139.767°E / 35.683; 139.767
National language Japanese
Demonym(s) Japanese
Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Fumio Kishida
Legislature National Diet
House of Councillors
House of Representatives
February 11, 660 BC
November 29, 1890
May 3, 1947
377,975 km2 (145,937 sq mi) [1] (62nd)
 Water (%)
1.4 (as of 2015) [2]
 2021 estimate
Decrease Neutral.svg 125,360,000 [3] (11th)
 2020 census
126,226,568 [4]
334/km2 (865.1/sq mi)(24th)
GDP  (PPP)2021 estimate
Increase2.svg $5.586 trillion [5] (4th)
 Per capita
Increase2.svg $44,585(27th)
GDP  (nominal)2021 estimate
Increase2.svg $5.378 trillion [5] (3rd)
 Per capita
Increase2.svg $42,928(23rd)
Gini  (2018)Decrease Positive.svg 33.4 [6]
medium ·  78th
HDI  (2019)Increase2.svg 0.919 [7]
very high ·  19th
Currency Japanese yen (¥)
Time zone UTC+09:00 (JST)
Driving side left
Calling code +81
ISO 3166 code JP
Internet TLD .jp

Japan (Japanese : 日本, Nippon or Nihon, [nb 1] and formally 日本国) [nb 2] is an island country in East Asia, located in the northwest Pacific Ocean. It is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, and extends from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north toward the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south. Part of the Ring of Fire, Japan spans an archipelago of 6852 islands covering 377,975 square kilometers (145,937 sq mi); the five main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. Tokyo is Japan's capital and largest city; other major cities include Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Fukuoka, Kobe, and Kyoto.


Japan is the eleventh-most populous country in the world, as well as one of the most densely populated and urbanized. About three-fourths of the country's terrain is mountainous, concentrating its population of 125.36 million on narrow coastal plains. Japan is divided into 47 administrative prefectures and eight traditional regions. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world, with more than 37.4 million residents.

Japan has been inhabited since the Upper Paleolithic period (30,000 BC), though the first written mention of the archipelago appears in a Chinese chronicle finished in the 2nd century AD. Between the 4th and 9th centuries, the kingdoms of Japan became unified under an emperor and the imperial court based in Heian-kyō. Beginning in the 12th century, political power was held by a series of military dictators ( shōgun ) and feudal lords ( daimyō ), and enforced by a class of warrior nobility ( samurai ). After a century-long period of civil war, the country was reunified in 1603 under the Tokugawa shogunate, which enacted an isolationist foreign policy. In 1854, a United States fleet forced Japan to open trade to the West, which led to the end of the shogunate and the restoration of imperial power in 1868. In the Meiji period, the Empire of Japan adopted a Western-modeled constitution and pursued a program of industrialization and modernization. In 1937, Japan invaded China; in 1941, it entered World War II as an Axis power. After suffering defeat in the Pacific War and two atomic bombings, Japan surrendered in 1945 and came under a seven-year Allied occupation, during which it adopted a new constitution. Under the 1947 constitution, Japan has maintained a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislature, the National Diet.

Japan is a great power and a member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations (since 1956), the OECD, and the Group of Seven. Although it has renounced its right to declare war, the country maintains Self-Defense Forces that rank as one of the world's strongest militaries. After World War II, Japan experienced record growth in an economic miracle, becoming the second-largest economy in the world by 1990. As of 2021, the country's economy is the third-largest by nominal GDP and the fourth-largest by PPP. A global leader in the automotive and electronics industries, Japan has made significant contributions to science and technology. Ranked "very high" on the Human Development Index, Japan has one of the world's highest life expectancies, though it is experiencing a decline in population. The culture of Japan is well known around the world, including its art, cuisine, music, and popular culture, which encompasses prominent comic, animation and video game industries.



1.  Hokkaido

Japanese name
Kanji 日本国
Hiragana にっぽんこく
Katakana ニッポンコク
Kyūjitai 日本國

2.  Aomori
3.  Iwate
4.  Miyagi
5.  Akita
6.  Yamagata
7.  Fukushima


8.  Ibaraki
9.  Tochigi
10.  Gunma
11.  Saitama
12.  Chiba
13.  Tokyo
14.  Kanagawa


15.  Niigata
16.  Toyama
17.  Ishikawa
18.  Fukui
19.  Yamanashi
20.  Nagano
21.  Gifu
22.  Shizuoka
23.  Aichi


24.  Mie
25.  Shiga
26.  Kyoto
27.  Osaka
28.  Hyōgo
29.  Nara
30.  Wakayama

31.  Tottori
32.  Shimane
33.  Okayama
34.  Hiroshima
35.  Yamaguchi

36.  Tokushima
37.  Kagawa
38.  Ehime
39.  Kōchi

40.  Fukuoka
41.  Saga
42.  Nagasaki
43.  Kumamoto
44.  Ōita
45.  Miyazaki
46.  Kagoshima
47.  Okinawa

Foreign relations

Japan is a member of both the G7 and the G20. G7 in het Catshuis.jpg
Japan is a member of both the G7 and the G20.

A member state of the United Nations since 1956, Japan is one of the G4 nations seeking reform of the Security Council. [117] Japan is a member of the G7, APEC, and "ASEAN Plus Three", and is a participant in the East Asia Summit. [118] It is the world's fifth largest donor of official development assistance, donating US$9.2 billion in 2014. [119] In 2017, Japan had the fifth largest diplomatic network in the world. [120]

Japan has close economic and military relations with the United States, with which it maintains a security alliance. [121] The United States is a major market for Japanese exports and a major source of Japanese imports, and is committed to defending the country, with military bases in Japan. [121] Japan signed a security pact with Australia in March 2007 [122] and with India in October 2008. [123]

Japan's relationship with South Korea had historically been strained because of Japan's treatment of Koreans during Japanese colonial rule, particularly over the issue of comfort women. In 2015, Japan agreed to settle the comfort women dispute with South Korea by issuing a formal apology and paying money to the surviving comfort women. [124] As of 2019 Japan is a major importer of Korean music (K-pop), television (K-dramas), and other cultural products. [125] [126]

Japan is engaged in several territorial disputes with its neighbors. Japan contests Russia's control of the Southern Kuril Islands, which were occupied by the Soviet Union in 1945. [127] South Korea's control of the Liancourt Rocks is acknowledged but not accepted as they are claimed by Japan. [128] Japan has strained relations with China and Taiwan over the Senkaku Islands and the status of Okinotorishima. [129]


JMSDF Kongo class destroyer US Navy 051115-N-8492C-125 The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JDS Kongou (DDG 173) sails in formation with other JMSDF ships and ships assigned to the USS Kitty Hawk Carrier Strike Group.jpg
JMSDF Kongō class destroyer

Japan is the second-highest-ranked Asian country in the Global Peace Index 2020. [130] Japan maintains one of the largest military budgets of any country in the world. [131] The country's military (the Japan Self-Defense Forces) is restricted by Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which renounces Japan's right to declare war or use military force in international disputes. [132] The military is governed by the Ministry of Defense, and primarily consists of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. The deployment of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan marked the first overseas use of Japan's military since World War II. [133]

The Government of Japan has been making changes to its security policy which include the establishment of the National Security Council, the adoption of the National Security Strategy, and the development of the National Defense Program Guidelines. [134] In May 2014, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said Japan wanted to shed the passiveness it has maintained since the end of World War II and take more responsibility for regional security. [135] Recent tensions, particularly with North Korea and China, have reignited the debate over the status of the JSDF and its relation to Japanese society. [136] [137] [138]

Domestic law enforcement

Domestic security in Japan is provided mainly by the prefectural police departments, under the oversight of the National Police Agency. [139] As the central coordinating body for the Prefectural Police Departments, the National Police Agency is administered by the National Public Safety Commission. [140] The Special Assault Team comprises national-level counter-terrorism tactical units that cooperate with territorial-level Anti-Firearms Squads and Counter-NBC Terrorism Squads. [141] The Japan Coast Guard guards territorial waters surrounding Japan and uses surveillance and control countermeasures against smuggling, marine environmental crime, poaching, piracy, spy ships, unauthorized foreign fishing vessels, and illegal immigration. [142]

The Firearm and Sword Possession Control Law strictly regulates the civilian ownership of guns, swords and other weaponry. [143] [144] According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, among the member states of the UN that report statistics as of 2018, the incidence rates of violent crimes such as murder, abduction, sexual violence and robbery are very low in Japan. [145] [146] [147] [148]


The Tokyo Stock Exchange The Tokyo Stock Exchange - main room 3.jpg
The Tokyo Stock Exchange

Japan is the third-largest national economy in the world, after the United States and China, in terms of nominal GDP, [149] and the fourth-largest national economy in the world, after the United States, China and India, in terms of purchasing power parity as of 2019. [150] As of 2019, Japan's labor force consisted of 67 million workers. [109] Japan has a low unemployment rate of around 2.4 percent. [109] Around 16 percent of the population were below the poverty line in 2017. [151] Japan today has the highest ratio of public debt to GDP of any developed nation, [152] [153] with national debt at 236% relative to GDP as of 2017. [154] [155] The Japanese yen is the world's third-largest reserve currency (after the US dollar and the euro). [156]

Japan's exports amounted to 18.5% of GDP in 2018. [157] As of 2019, Japan's main export markets were the United States (19.8 percent) and China (19.1 percent). [109] Its main exports are motor vehicles, iron and steel products, semiconductors and auto parts. [74] Japan's main import markets as of 2019 were China (23.5 percent), the United States (11 percent), and Australia (6.3 percent). [109] Japan's main imports are machinery and equipment, fossil fuels, foodstuffs, chemicals, and raw materials for its industries. [109]

Japan ranks 29th of 190 countries in the 2019 ease of doing business index. [158] The Japanese variant of capitalism has many distinct features: keiretsu enterprises are influential, and lifetime employment and seniority-based career advancement are common in the Japanese work environment. [159] [160] Japan has a large cooperative sector, with three of the ten largest cooperatives in the world, including the largest consumer cooperative and the largest agricultural cooperative in the world as of 2018. [161] Japan ranks highly for competitiveness and economic freedom. It is ranked sixth in the Global Competitiveness Report for 2015–2016. [162] [163]

Agriculture and fishery

A rice paddy in Aizu, Fukushima Prefecture Rice Paddies In Aizu, Japan.JPG
A rice paddy in Aizu, Fukushima Prefecture

The Japanese agricultural sector accounts for about 1.2% of the total country's GDP as of 2018. [109] Only 11.5% of Japan's land is suitable for cultivation. [164] Because of this lack of arable land, a system of terraces is used to farm in small areas. [165] This results in one of the world's highest levels of crop yields per unit area, with an agricultural self-sufficiency rate of about 50% as of 2018. [166] Japan's small agricultural sector is highly subsidized and protected. [167] There has been a growing concern about farming as farmers are aging with a difficult time finding successors. [168]

Japan ranked seventh in the world in tonnage of fish caught and captured 3,167,610 metric tons of fish in 2016, down from an annual average of 4,000,000 tons over the previous decade. [169] Japan maintains one of the world's largest fishing fleets and accounts for nearly 15% of the global catch, [74] prompting critiques that Japan's fishing is leading to depletion in fish stocks such as tuna. [170] Japan has sparked controversy by supporting commercial whaling. [171]


A plug-in hybrid car manufactured by Toyota. Japan is the third-largest maker of automobiles in the world. 2017 Toyota Camry TRD.jpg
A plug-in hybrid car manufactured by Toyota. Japan is the third-largest maker of automobiles in the world.

Japan has a large industrial capacity and is home to some of the "largest and most technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemical substances, textiles, and processed foods". [74] Japan's industrial sector makes up approximately 27.5% of its GDP. [74] The country's manufacturing output is the third highest in the world as of 2019. [173]

Japan is the third-largest automobile producer in the world as of 2017 and is home to Toyota, the world's largest automobile company. [172] [174] The Japanese shipbuilding industry faces competition from South Korea and China; a 2020 government initiative identified this sector as a target for increasing exports. [175]

Services and tourism

Japan's service sector accounts for about 70% of its total economic output as of 2019. [176] Banking, retail, transportation, and telecommunications are all major industries, with companies such as Toyota, Mitsubishi UFJ, -NTT, ÆON, Softbank, Hitachi, and Itochu listed as among the largest in the world. [177] [178]

Japan attracted 31.9 million international tourists in 2019. [179] For inbound tourism, Japan was ranked 11th in the world in 2019. [180] The 2017 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report ranked Japan 4th out of 141 countries, which was the highest in Asia. [181]

Science and technology

The Japanese Experiment Module (Kibo) at the International Space Station Kibo PM and ELM-PS.jpg
The Japanese Experiment Module (Kibō) at the International Space Station

Japan is a leading nation in scientific research, particularly in the natural sciences and engineering. The country ranks twelfth among the most innovative countries in the 2020 Bloomberg Innovation Index and 16th in the Global Innovation Index in 2020, down from 15th in 2019. [182] [183] [184] Relative to gross domestic product, Japan's research and development budget is the second highest in the world, [185] with 867,000 researchers sharing a 19-trillion-yen research and development budget as of 2017. [186] The country has produced twenty-two Nobel laureates in either physics, chemistry or medicine, [187] and three Fields medalists. [188]

Japan leads the world in robotics production and use, supplying 55% of the world's 2017 total. [189] Japan has the second highest number of researchers in science and technology per capita in the world with 14 per 1000 employees. [190]

The Japanese consumer electronics industry, once considered the strongest in the world, is in a state of decline as competition arises in countries like South Korea and China. [191] However, video gaming in Japan remains a major industry. In 2014, Japan's consumer video game market grossed $9.6 billion, with $5.8 billion coming from mobile gaming. [192]

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is Japan's national space agency; it conducts space, planetary, and aviation research, and leads development of rockets and satellites. [193] It is a participant in the International Space Station: the Japanese Experiment Module (Kibō) was added to the station during Space Shuttle assembly flights in 2008. [194] The space probe Akatsuki was launched in 2010 and achieved orbit around Venus in 2015. [195] Japan's plans in space exploration include building a moon base and landing astronauts by 2030. [196] In 2007, it launched lunar explorer SELENE (Selenological and Engineering Explorer) from Tanegashima Space Center. The largest lunar mission since the Apollo program, its purpose was to gather data on the moon's origin and evolution. The explorer entered a lunar orbit on October 4, 2007, [197] [198] and was deliberately crashed into the Moon on June 11, 2009. [199]



Japan Airlines, the flag carrier of Japan Japan Airlines, Boeing 787-9 JA861J NRT (19455285040).jpg
Japan Airlines, the flag carrier of Japan

Japan has invested heavily in transportation infrastructure. [200] The country has approximately 1,200,000 kilometers (750,000 miles) of roads made up of 1,000,000 kilometers (620,000 miles) of city, town and village roads, 130,000 kilometers (81,000 miles) of prefectural roads, 54,736 kilometers (34,011 miles) of general national highways and 7641 kilometers (4748 miles) of national expressways as of 2017. [201]

Since privatization in 1987, [202] dozens of Japanese railway companies compete in regional and local passenger transportation markets; major companies include seven JR enterprises, Kintetsu, Seibu Railway and Keio Corporation. The high-speed Shinkansen (bullet trains) that connect major cities are known for their safety and punctuality. [203]

There are 175 airports in Japan as of 2013. [74] The largest domestic airport, Haneda Airport in Tokyo, was Asia's second-busiest airport in 2019. [204] The Keihin and Hanshin superport hubs are among the largest in the world, at 7.98 and 5.22 million TEU respectively as of 2017. [205]


The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 04780017 (8388173865).jpg
The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant

As of 2017, 39% of energy in Japan was produced from petroleum, 25% from coal, 23% from natural gas, 3.5% from hydropower and 1.5% from nuclear power. Nuclear power was down from 11.2 percent in 2010. [206] By May 2012 all of the country's nuclear power plants had been taken offline because of ongoing public opposition following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011, though government officials continued to try to sway public opinion in favor of returning at least some to service. [207] The Sendai Nuclear Power Plant restarted in 2015, [208] and since then several other nuclear power plants have been restarted. [209] Japan lacks significant domestic reserves and has a heavy dependence on imported energy. [210] The country has therefore aimed to diversify its sources and maintain high levels of energy efficiency. [211]

Water supply and sanitation

Responsibility for the water and sanitation sector is shared between the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, in charge of water supply for domestic use; the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, in charge of water resources development as well as sanitation; the Ministry of the Environment, in charge of ambient water quality and environmental preservation; and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, in charge of performance benchmarking of utilities. [212] Access to an improved water source is universal in Japan. About 98% of the population receives piped water supply from public utilities. [213]


The Greater Tokyo Area is ranked as the most populous metropolitan area in the world. Tokyo from the top of the SkyTree.JPG
The Greater Tokyo Area is ranked as the most populous metropolitan area in the world.

Japan has a population of 125.7 million, of which 123.2 million are Japanese nationals (2020 estimates). [214] A small population of foreign residents makes up the remainder. [215] In 2019, 92% of the total Japanese population lived in cities. [216] The capital city Tokyo has a population of 14.0 million (2021). [217] It is part of the Greater Tokyo Area, the biggest metropolitan area in the world with 38,140,000 people (2016). [218]

Ethnic minority groups in Japan include the indigenous Ainu and Ryukyuan people. [219] Zainichi Koreans, [220] Chinese, [221] Filipinos, [222] Brazilians mostly of Japanese descent, [223] and Peruvians mostly of Japanese descent are also among Japan's small minority groups. [224] Burakumin make up a social minority group. [225]

Japan has the second-longest overall life expectancy at birth of any country in the world, at 84 years as of 2019. [226] The Japanese population is rapidly aging as a result of a post–World War II baby boom followed by a decrease in birth rates. [227] As of 2019 over 20 percent of the population is over 65, and this is projected to rise to one in three by 2030. [228] The changes in demographic structure have created a number of social issues, particularly a decline in workforce population and increase in the cost of social security benefits. [228] A growing number of younger Japanese are not marrying or remain childless. [228] [229] Japan's population is expected to drop to around 100 million by 2060. [230] Immigration and birth incentives are sometimes suggested as a solution to provide younger workers to support the nation's aging population. [231] [232] On April 1, 2019, Japan's revised immigration law was enacted, protecting the rights of foreign workers to help reduce labor shortages in certain sectors. [233]


The torii of Itsukushima Shinto Shrine near Hiroshima Itsukushima Gate.jpg
The torii of Itsukushima Shinto Shrine near Hiroshima

Japan's constitution guarantees full religious freedom. [234] Upper estimates suggest that 84–96 percent of the Japanese population subscribe to Shinto as its indigenous religion. [235] However, these estimates are based on people affiliated with a temple, rather than the number of true believers. Many Japanese people practice both Shinto and Buddhism; they can either identify with both religions or describe themselves as non-religious or spiritual. [236] The level of participation in religious ceremonies as a cultural tradition remains high, especially during festivals and occasions such as the first shrine visit of the New Year. [237] Taoism and Confucianism from China have also influenced Japanese beliefs and customs. [238]

Christianity was first introduced into Japan by Jesuit missions starting in 1549. Today, 1% [239] to 1.5% of the population are Christians. [240] Throughout the latest century, Western customs originally related to Christianity (including Western style weddings, Valentine's Day and Christmas) have become popular as secular customs among many Japanese. [241]

About 90% of those practicing Islam in Japan are foreign-born migrants as of 2016. [242] As of 2018 there were an estimated 105 mosques and 200,000 Muslims in Japan, 43,000 of which were ethnically Japanese. [243] Other minority religions include Hinduism, Judaism, and Baháʼí Faith, as well as the animist beliefs of the Ainu. [244]


Kanji and hiragana signs Tun Gu ramen Bo Duo Tian Shen iratsushiyai 2010 (5023366778).jpg
Kanji and hiragana signs

Japanese writing uses kanji (Chinese characters) and two sets of kana (syllabaries based on cursive script and radical of kanji), as well as the Latin alphabet and Arabic numerals. [245] English instruction was made mandatory in Japanese elementary schools in 2020. [246]

Besides Japanese, the Ryukyuan languages (Amami, Kunigami, Okinawan, Miyako, Yaeyama, Yonaguni), part of the Japonic language family, are spoken in the Ryukyu Islands chain. [247] Few children learn these languages, [248] but local governments have sought to increase awareness of the traditional languages. [249] The Ainu language, which is a language isolate, is moribund, with only a few native speakers remaining as of 2014. [250]


Students celebrating after the announcement of the results of the entrance examinations to the University of Tokyo Tokyo University Entrance Exam Results 6.JPG
Students celebrating after the announcement of the results of the entrance examinations to the University of Tokyo

Primary schools, secondary schools and universities were introduced in 1872 as a result of the Meiji Restoration. [251] Since the 1947 Fundamental Law of Education, compulsory education in Japan comprises elementary and junior high school, which together last for nine years. [252] Almost all children continue their education at a three-year senior high school. [253] The two top-ranking universities in Japan are the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University. [254] Starting in April 2016, various schools began the academic year with elementary school and junior high school integrated into one nine-year compulsory schooling program; MEXT plans for this approach to be adopted nationwide. [255]

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) coordinated by the OECD ranks the knowledge and skills of Japanese 15-year-olds as the third best in the world. [256] Japan is one of the top-performing OECD countries in reading literacy, math and sciences with the average student scoring 529 and has one of the world's highest-educated labor forces among OECD countries. [257] [256] [258] As of 2017, Japan's public spending on education amounted to just 3.3 percent of its GDP, below the OECD average of 4.9 percent. [259] In 2017, the country ranked third for the percentage of 25- to 64-year-olds that have attained tertiary education with 51 percent. [260] Approximately 60 percent of Japanese aged 25 to 34 have some form of tertiary education qualification, and bachelor's degrees are held by 30.4 percent of Japanese aged 25 to 64, the second most in the OECD after South Korea. [260]


Health care is provided by national and local governments. Payment for personal medical services is offered through a universal health insurance system that provides relative equality of access, with fees set by a government committee. People without insurance through employers can participate in a national health insurance program administered by local governments. [261] Since 1973, all elderly persons have been covered by government-sponsored insurance. [262]

Japan has one of the world's highest suicide rates. [263] Another significant public health issue is smoking among Japanese men. [264] Japan has the lowest rate of heart disease in the OECD, and the lowest level of dementia in the developed world. [265]


Contemporary Japanese culture combines influences from Asia, Europe and North America. [266] Traditional Japanese arts include crafts such as ceramics, textiles, lacquerware, swords and dolls; performances of bunraku, kabuki, noh, dance, and rakugo; and other practices, the tea ceremony, ikebana, martial arts, calligraphy, origami, onsen, Geisha and games. Japan has a developed system for the protection and promotion of both tangible and intangible Cultural Properties and National Treasures. [267] Twenty-two sites have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, eighteen of which are of cultural significance. [99]

Art and architecture

150504 Ritsurin Park Takamatsu Kagawa pref Japan01s3.jpg
Ritsurin Garden, one of the most famous strolling gardens in Japan

The history of Japanese painting exhibits synthesis and competition between native Japanese esthetics and imported ideas. [268] The interaction between Japanese and European art has been significant: for example ukiyo-e prints, which began to be exported in the 19th century in the movement known as Japonism, had a significant influence on the development of modern art in the West, most notably on post-Impressionism. [268] Japanese manga developed in the 20th century and have become popular worldwide. [269]

Japanese architecture is a combination between local and other influences. It has traditionally been typified by wooden or mud plaster structures, elevated slightly off the ground, with tiled or thatched roofs. [270] The Shrines of Ise have been celebrated as the prototype of Japanese architecture. [271] Traditional housing and many temple buildings see the use of tatami mats and sliding doors that break down the distinction between rooms and indoor and outdoor space. [272] Since the 19th century, Japan has incorporated much of Western modern architecture into construction and design. [273] It was not until after World War II that Japanese architects made an impression on the international scene, firstly with the work of architects like Kenzō Tange and then with movements like Metabolism. [274]

Literature and philosophy

12th-century illustrated handscroll of The Tale of Genji, a National Treasure Genji emaki 01003 001.jpg
12th-century illustrated handscroll of The Tale of Genji , a National Treasure

The earliest works of Japanese literature include the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki chronicles and the Man'yōshū poetry anthology, all from the 8th century and written in Chinese characters. [275] [276] In the early Heian period, the system of phonograms known as kana (hiragana and katakana) was developed. [277] The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is considered the oldest extant Japanese narrative. [278] An account of court life is given in The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon, while The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu is often described as the world's first novel. [279] [280]

During the Edo period, the chōnin ("townspeople") overtook the samurai aristocracy as producers and consumers of literature. The popularity of the works of Saikaku, for example, reveals this change in readership and authorship, while Bashō revivified the poetic tradition of the Kokinshū with his haikai (haiku) and wrote the poetic travelogue Oku no Hosomichi . [281] The Meiji era saw the decline of traditional literary forms as Japanese literature integrated Western influences. Natsume Sōseki and Mori Ōgai were significant novelists in the early 20th century, followed by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, Kafū Nagai and, more recently, Haruki Murakami and Kenji Nakagami. Japan has two Nobel Prize-winning authors Yasunari Kawabata (1968) and Kenzaburō Ōe (1994). [282]

Japanese philosophy has historically been a fusion of both foreign, particularly Chinese and Western, and uniquely Japanese elements. In its literary forms, Japanese philosophy began about fourteen centuries ago. Confucian ideals remain evident in the Japanese concept of society and the self, and in the organization of the government and the structure of society. [283] Buddhism has profoundly impacted Japanese psychology, metaphysics, and esthetics. [284]

Performing arts

Noh performance at a Shinto shrine Chun Ri Shen She Xiao Shan Weng Feng Na P1011774.jpg
Noh performance at a Shinto shrine

Japanese music is eclectic and diverse. Many instruments, such as the koto, were introduced in the 9th and 10th centuries. The popular folk music, with the guitar-like shamisen, dates from the 16th century. [285] Western classical music, introduced in the late 19th century, forms an integral part of Japanese culture. [286] Kumi-daiko (ensemble drumming) was developed in postwar Japan and became very popular in North America. [287] Popular music in post-war Japan has been heavily influenced by American and European trends, which has led to the evolution of J-pop. [288] Karaoke is a significant cultural activity. [289]

The four traditional theaters from Japan are noh , kyōgen , kabuki , and bunraku . [290] Noh is one of the oldest continuous theater traditions in the world. [291]

Customs and holidays

Young ladies celebrate Coming of Age Day (Cheng Ren noRi 
, Seijin no Hi) in Harajuku, Tokyo Young ladies at Harajuku.jpg
Young ladies celebrate Coming of Age Day (成人の日, Seijin no Hi) in Harajuku, Tokyo

Ishin-denshin (以心伝心) is a Japanese idiom which denotes a form of interpersonal communication through unspoken mutual understanding. [292] Isagiyosa (潔さ) is a virtue of the capability of accepting death with composure. Cherry blossoms are a symbol of isagiyosa in the sense of embracing the transience of the world. [293] Hansei (反省) is a central idea in Japanese culture, meaning to acknowledge one's own mistake and to pledge improvement. Kotodama (言霊) refers to the Japanese belief that mystical powers dwell in words and names. [294]

Officially, Japan has 16 national, government-recognized holidays. Public holidays in Japan are regulated by the Public Holiday Law (国民の祝日に関する法律, Kokumin no Shukujitsu ni Kansuru Hōritsu) of 1948. [295] Beginning in 2000, Japan implemented the Happy Monday System, which moved a number of national holidays to Monday in order to obtain a long weekend. [296] The national holidays in Japan are New Year's Day on January 1, Coming of Age Day on the second Monday of January, National Foundation Day on February 11, The Emperor's Birthday on February 23, Vernal Equinox Day on March 20 or 21, Shōwa Day on April 29, Constitution Memorial Day on May 3, Greenery Day on May 4, Children's Day on May 5, Marine Day on the third Monday of July, Mountain Day on August 11, Respect for the Aged Day on the third Monday of September, Autumnal Equinox on September 23 or 24, Health and Sports Day on the second Monday of October, Culture Day on November 3, and Labor Thanksgiving Day on November 23. [297]


A plate of nigiri-zushi East West sushi 01.jpg
A plate of nigiri-zushi

Japanese cuisine offers a vast array of regional specialties that use traditional recipes and local ingredients. [298] Seafood and Japanese rice or noodles are traditional staples. [299] Japanese curry, since its introduction to Japan from British India, is so widely consumed that it can be termed a national dish, alongside ramen and sushi. [300] [301] [302] Traditional Japanese sweets are known as wagashi. [303] Ingredients such as red bean paste and mochi are used. More modern-day tastes includes green tea ice cream. [304]

Popular Japanese beverages include sake, which is a brewed rice beverage that typically contains 14–17% alcohol and is made by multiple fermentation of rice. [305] Beer has been brewed in Japan since the late 17th century. [306] Green tea is produced in Japan and prepared in forms such as matcha, used in the Japanese tea ceremony. [307]


According to the 2015 NHK survey on television viewing in Japan, 79 percent of Japanese watch television daily. [308] Japanese television dramas are viewed both within Japan and internationally; [309] other popular shows are in the genres of variety shows, comedy, and news programs. [310] Japanese newspapers are among the most circulated in the world as of 2016. [311]

Japan has one of the oldest and largest film industries globally. [312] Ishirō Honda's Godzilla became an international icon of Japan and spawned an entire subgenre of kaiju films, as well as the longest-running film franchise in history. [313] [314] Japanese animated films and television series, known as anime, were largely influenced by Japanese manga and have been extensively popular in the West. Japan is a world-renowned powerhouse of animation. [315] [316]


Sumo wrestlers form around the referee during the ring-entering ceremony Aki basho dohyo-iri on Sept. 28 2014.jpg
Sumo wrestlers form around the referee during the ring-entering ceremony

Traditionally, sumo is considered Japan's national sport. [317] Japanese martial arts such as judo and kendo are taught as part of the compulsory junior high school curriculum. [318] Baseball is the most popular spectator sport in the country. [319] Japan's top professional league, Nippon Professional Baseball, was established in 1936. [320] Since the establishment of the Japan Professional Football League in 1992, association football has gained a wide following. [321] The country co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup with South Korea. [322] Japan has one of the most successful football teams in Asia, winning the Asian Cup four times, [323] and the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2011. [324] Golf is also popular in Japan. [325]

In motorsport, Japanese automotive manufacturers have been successful in multiple different categories, with titles and victories in series such as Formula One, MotoGP, IndyCar, World Rally Championship, World Endurance Championship, World Touring Car Championship, British Touring Car Championship and the IMSA SportsCar Championship. [326] [327] [328] Three Japanese drivers have achieved podium finishes in Formula One, and drivers from Japan have victories at the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in addition to success in domestic championships. [329] [330] Super GT is the most popular national series in Japan, while Super Formula is the top level domestic open-wheel series. [331] The country hosts major races such as the Japanese Grand Prix. [332]

Japan hosted the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 1964 and the Winter Olympics in Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998. [333] The country hosted the official 2006 Basketball World Championship [334] and will co-host the 2023 Basketball World Championship. [335] Tokyo hosted the 2020 Summer Olympics in 2021, making Tokyo the first Asian city to host the Olympics twice. [336] The country gained the hosting rights for the official Women's Volleyball World Championship on five occasions, more than any other nation. [337] Japan is the most successful Asian Rugby Union country [338] and hosted the 2019 IRB Rugby World Cup. [339]

See also


  1. [ɲippoꜜɴ] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ) or [ɲihoꜜɴ] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )
  2. In English, the official name of the country is simply "Japan". [8] In Japanese, the name of the country as it appears on official documents, including the country's constitution, is 日本国 ( Loudspeaker.svg Nippon-koku or Nihon-koku), meaning "State of Japan". Despite this, the short-form name 日本 (Nippon or Nihon) is also often used officially.

Related Research Articles

Asia Continent

Asia is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with both Europe and Africa. Asia covers an area of 44,579,000 square kilometres (17,212,000 sq mi), about 30% of Earth's total land area and 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area. The continent, which has long been home to the majority of the human population, was the site of many of the first civilizations. Its 4.5 billion people constitute roughly 60% of the world's population.

China Country in East Asia

China, officially the People's Republic of China, is a country in East Asia. It is the world's most populous country, with a population of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical time zones and borders 14 different countries, the second most of any country in the world after Russia. Covering an area of approximately 9.6 million square kilometres, it is the world's third or fourth largest country. The country consists of 23 provinces, four municipalities, five autonomous regions, and two Special Administrative Regions. The national capital is Beijing, and its financial centre is Shanghai, with Shenzhen widely considered a centre for technological innovation.

Economy of Japan Overview of the economy of Japan

The economy of Japan is a highly developed free-market economy. It is the third-largest in the world by nominal GDP and the fourth-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). It is the world's second largest developed economy. Japan is a member of both the G7 and G20. According to the International Monetary Fund, the country's per capita GDP (PPP) was at $41,637 (2020). Due to a volatile currency exchange rate, Japan's GDP as measured in dollars fluctuates sharply. Accounting for these fluctuations through the use of the Atlas method, Japan is estimated to have a GDP per capita of around $39,048. The Japanese economy is forecast by the Quarterly Tankan survey of business sentiment conducted by the Bank of Japan. The Nikkei 225 presents the monthly report of top blue chip equities on the Japan Exchange Group, which is the world's third-largest stock exchange by market capitalisation. In 2018, Japan was the world's fourth-largest importer and the fourth-largest exporter. It has the world's second-largest foreign-exchange reserves, worth $1.3 trillion. It ranks 29th on Ease of doing business index and 5th on Global Competitiveness Report. It ranks first in the world in the Economic Complexity Index. Japan is also the world's third-largest consumer market.

Korea Region in East Asia

Korea is a region in East Asia. Since 1945, it has been divided between two sovereign states, North Korea and South Korea. Korea consists of the Korean Peninsula, Jeju Island, and several minor islands near the peninsula. It is bordered by China to the northwest and Russia to the northeast. It is separated from Japan to the east by the Korea Strait and the Sea of Japan.

North Korea Country in East Asia

North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It borders China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu (Amnok) and Tumen rivers, and South Korea to the south at the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Its western border is formed by the Yellow Sea, while its eastern border is defined by the Sea of Japan. North Korea, like its southern counterpart, claims to be the legitimate government of the entire peninsula and adjacent islands. Pyongyang is the country's capital and largest city.

Philippines Country in Southeast Asia

The Philippines, officially the Republic of the Philippines, is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. It is situated in the western Pacific Ocean, and consists of about 7,640 islands, that are broadly categorized under three main geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The Philippines is bounded by the South China Sea to the west, the Philippine Sea to the east, and the Celebes Sea to the southwest, and shares maritime borders with Taiwan to the north, Japan to the northeast, Palau to the east and southeast, Indonesia to the south, Malaysia and Brunei to the southwest, Vietnam to the west, and mainland China to the northwest. The Philippines covers an area of 300,000 km2 (120,000 sq mi) and, as of 2020, had a population of around 109 million people, making it the world's twelfth-most populous country. The Philippines is a multinational state, with diverse ethnicities and cultures throughout its islands. Manila is the nation's capital, while the largest city is Quezon City, both lying within the urban area of Metro Manila.

South Korea Country in East Asia

South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and sharing a land border with North Korea. Its western border is formed by the Yellow Sea, while its eastern border is defined by the Sea of Japan. About 25 million people, around half of the country's population of 51 million, live in the Seoul Capital Area.

Superpower State with extensive power or influence over much of the world

A superpower is a state with a dominant position characterized by its extensive ability to exert influence or project power on a global scale. This is done through the combined means of economic, military, technological, political and cultural strength as well as diplomatic and soft power influence. Traditionally, superpowers are preeminent among the great powers.

Developed country Country with a developed industry and infrastructure

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Han Chinese Ethnic group native to China

The Han Chinese Chinese: 汉族; pinyin: Hànzú) or the Han people, are an East Asian ethnic group and nation native to Greater China. Historically, they were native to the Yellow River Basin region of modern China. They constitute the world's largest ethnic group, making up about 18% of the global population and consisting of various subgroups speaking distinctive varieties of the Chinese language. The estimated 1.4 billion Han Chinese people are mostly concentrated in the People's Republic of China, where they make up about 92% of the total population. In the Republic of China (Taiwan), they make up about 97% of the population. People of Han Chinese descent also make up around 75% of the total population of Singapore.

Four Asian Tigers Economies of South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong

The Four Asian Tigers are the economies of South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. Between the early 1960s and 1990s, they underwent rapid industrialization and maintained exceptionally high growth rates of more than 7 percent a year.

Koreans People based in the Korean Peninsula and Manchuria

Koreans are an East Asian ethnic group native to Korea and southern Manchuria.

Yamato people Ethnic group native to Japan

The Yamato people or the Wajin are an East Asian ethnic group and a nation which is indigenous to the Japanese archipelago. The term came to be used around the late 19th century to distinguish the settlers of mainland Japan from minority ethnic groups inhabiting the peripheral areas of the Japanese empire, such as the Ainu, Emishi, Ryukyuans, Nivkh, Oroks, as well as Koreans, Han-Chinese, Taiwanese aborigines, and Micronesian peoples who were incorporated into the Empire of Japan in the early 20th century. Clan leaders also elevated their own belief system that featured ancestor worship into a national religion known as Shinto.

East Asian cultural sphere Areas historically influenced by Chinese culture

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Demographics of Asia Overview of the demographics of Asia

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Economy of East Asia Overview of the economy of East Asia

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East Asia Eastern region of Asia

East Asia, sometimes defined geographically as Northeast Asia and abbreviated as EA or NEA, is along with Southeast Asia located at the far eastern regions of Asia, which is defined in both geographical and ethno-cultural terms.

Ethnic groups in Asia Modern ethnolinguistic groups in the continent of Asia

The ancestral population of modern Asian people has its origins in the two primary prehistoric settlement centres - greater Southwest Asia and from the Mongolian plateau towards Northern China.

The East Asian model pioneered by Japan, is an economic system where the government invests in certain sectors of the economy in order to stimulate the growth of new industries in the private sector. It generally refers to the model of development pursued in East Asian economies such as Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. It has also been used to classify the contemporary economic system in Mainland China since the Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms during the late 1970s and the current economic system of Vietnam after its Doi Moi policy was implemented in 1986.

Gender inequality in South Korea is any unequal opportunity or treatment men and women face in South Korea. Derived from deep-rooted patriarchal ideologies and practices, gender inequality in South Korea is consistently ranked as one of the highest in the world. While gender inequality remains especially prevalent in South Korea's economy and politics, it has improved in healthcare and education.


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