Interesting Facts about Japan

Japan, an island nation in East Asia, is often called “Land of the Rising Sun.” Japan has a very interesting history and a rich culture. Here are just a few of the things to know about the country and its people:

  • Japan has the third largest economy next to the United States and China, based on the world’s GDP ranking.
  • Cape Suzu is one of Japan’s three greatest spots for ultra-pure mineral water that stays fresh for as long as a hundred years, possibly longer.
  • Japan has four different writing systems: romaji, katakana, hiragana, and kanji.
  • Ukai or cormorant fishing is a traditional fishing method using trained cormorants (from the family Phalacrocoracidae consisting of about 40 kinds of species of aquatic birds) to fish in rivers.

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Cormorant fishing. | Kentaro Ohno

  • Jamaica exports about 85% of its total coffee production to Japan.
  • Japan has a literacy rate of almost 100% among its citizens.
  • Japan has over 200 volcanoes.
  • The most common form of Buddhism in Japan is Zen Buddhism.
  • Ōkunoshima is known as Usagi Jima (うさぎ島) or Rabbit Island because of the unbelievable number of feral rabbits that call it home.

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Rabbits at Usagi Jima. | Rachel Lovinger

  • Japan’s national sport is sumo.
  • Slurping your food is a sign that it is delicious and is a compliment to the cook.
  • Tipping is considered a no-no in Japan.
  • Pochi bukuro are small paper envelopes widely available in stationery stores all around Japan.  You place tip money in these envelopes before handing them over.

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Pochi bukuro.| teking

  • Japanese people live longer than Americans: four years longer, on average.
  • Tsukiji Market in Tokyo is the world’s largest fish market.
  • The Tale of Genji, written by Murasaki Shikibu in 1007, was the first novel ever written.
  • Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning made by fermenting soybeans with the fungus kōjikin (Aspergillus oryzae), salt, and other ingredients like barley and rice.

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Miso ramen. | Hsuanya Tsai

  • The popular pastime karaoke means “empty orchestra” in Japanese.
  • Raised floors in Japanese homes are an indication that you have to take your shoes off before entering.
  • Japanese fugu (blowfish) chefs train for about 11 years to master their trade.
  • Christmas is celebrated like Valentine’s Day in Japan.
  • Japanese geishas (“performing artist”) were initially men.