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JapanThe word Japan in English is a translation of the Japanese name for their country Nippon via the Chinese language. The origin of the name Nippon refers to the sun and the name Nippon is often translated into English as the "Land of the Rising Sun."

日本

Introduction:

Japan is a culture based on honor and respect with a strong competitive streak that they at times attempt to hide, but never truly can. The culture has struggled over time finding a balance between internal growth and external dominance as their pride ebbs and flows, however today this past has led to a calm present.

Japan, as a people, is old and historic, however the power and political entity as it currently stands is a relatively recent addition. About five hundred years ago the islands were isolated as the people were simple farmers and fishers who cared little for outside contact and influence. These years helped establish the people as simple and humble people who respected their elders and worked for their family and those who owned the land they worked. They were also a fairly religious people who sought spiritual growth and helped others with the belief that their kindness would be returned to them. Their cultural capital, Kyoto developed from this culture and from outside influences during this time and later.

As the name would suggest, the flag of Japan consists of a large red circle, which represents the sun.

Name: Japan
Independence: May 3, 1947
Capital: Tokyo
Currency: Yen
Population: 127,253,075 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: Japanese
Language: Japanese
Religion: Shintoism

Over time outside influences grew, most particularly from China and Korea, introducing new aspects of daily life, but the Japanese's humbleness and subordination to their rulers continued to dominate the culture. More than the introductions these outsiders brought with them, they sparked a new mental state for the Japanese, who began to recognize the opportunities that came with foreign contacts.

Japan soon entered the world stage, but then retreated and continued this back and forth movement for some time. Their culture changed rapidly between isolation and foreign involvement. Warring became common, class structures were implemented, and economic, political, and military success became the focus of many people. This class system led to a very tiered society with the emperor at the top and the majority at the bottom, a system accepted due to the vast amount of respect and trust the people place in their leaders.

This back and forth ended in the 1800s when the European powers forced Japan to open for trade; just prior to this time they were again a nearly isolated state. As it had in the past, their strong competitiveness, stubbornness, and pride led to a backlash as the leaders felt shamed by their inability to hold off the Europeans. Although they were forced to open up, they would prove to have the power to dominate that new position as the country began to over-run neighboring countries, first economically then militarily.

With their defeat in World War II, Japan began to reflect on their past and their actions. This returned the people to their roots of peace and a state of religious-like obedience as they felt great shame as a nation. They didn't remain down for long though as their competitiveness sparked an economic growth and a new path forward.

Today the people remain humble and hardworking, two traits respected and sought by all. They see their nation's past mistakes and flaws as their own and treat those past events as learning points. However, the country is also quickly moving forward, not in order to bury their past, but rather to use their strengths to re-define their future. The people work hard and rarely complain as personal, family, and national pride seem to be forever at stake. This has led to a rapidly growing economy and incredible advancements. Modern buildings and technology are everywhere and are an integral aspect of modern society and business. Included in this technology are cars, which the people love the freedom of, despite great public transportation networks.

In contradiction to their modern society filled with hard work and fun gadgets, the people of Japan seem to find a release for this pressure through socialization and a unique sense of humor. After work hours bars and restaurants are filled, but by late evening have cleared out as businesspersons return home to their families. Television seems to be focused on quirky games and humiliation that are creative and humorous. Between this there are remnants of the past arts and architecture around nearly every turn. Today the Japanese are a diverse and unique people with many sides.

Learn More About Japan:

The Land:
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The Past:
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The Food:
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The Culture:
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Map of Japan:

Map of Japan

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Information for Japan was last updated: August, 2012 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks