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Introduction of Japan

    
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Introduction of Japan (English version)



During this click war, perhaps many of you got puzzled and asked questions such as
"Why the hell are the Japanese getting so crazy about this?"
"What the **** are the Japanese?!".
To give you an answer to these questions,I'd like to introduce our country, Japan, briefly.

Related links

Climate and geography in Japan

  • The exact location of Japan supposes to be not well known in Europe and is often confused with China. Japan consists of islands laying long from the north to the south, located on the north-west of the Pacific Ocean.

  • It is mainly placed in the temperate zone, although the climate changes greatly from the north to the south, due to the difference of the latitudes. There is a big variety of climates, as in the north, it snows very heavily while in the south, it is subtropical. In June, it become a rainy season called 'tsuyu' in the mainland of Japan, and it rains almost daily. Basically, Japan is a water-rich country.

  • Japanese islands are volcanically active, and because of this, earthquakes are common, many active volcanoes are known, and there are many hot springs.

  • Strictly speaking, there are minority groups such as the Ainu and the Okinawan (different theories exist), but basically Japan is a homogeneous country where most people speak Japanese, although differences between each dialects are supposedly larger than two different languages in Europe in some cases. Most of the population of Japan are Mongolian, with black hair and dark brown eyes.

Life style

  • Although there are a lot of modern tall buildings and houses have iron frames, traditional Japanese architectures are built from woods with grasses, not from stones like European architectures.

  • Even though in “modern” houses, the most of Japanese houses has "genkan (entrance)" space to put shoes off there. The most of us do not wear shoes inside a house, although sometime we use slippers instead, only for internal use.

  • Due to high humidity, we have had bathing tradition for a long, and even before modern days, people had bath at least once 1 or 2 days.

  • Today more people uses bed, but a lot of people put mattresses and quilts on Tatami , Japanese traditional flooring made of woven straw.

Food culture

  • Traditionally, in the most area, to eat 4-legs animals was thought as a taboo. Therefore, mainly traditional japanese foods are made from plants/vegetables, chickens, ducks, and prududs from seas.

  • Rice is common staple food.

  • Japanese people are very sensitive to the taste of "dashi" (extract from edible kelp, fish or so on). Possibly, as the background, this is caused by the fact that the components from "dashi" help assimilate amino acid, which have tend to be lack in japanese food.

  • The taste of "dashi" is named as "umami". The concept of "umami" is proposed academicaly by a japanese scholer, and today umami is commonly known as one of the 5 basic taste.

  • Japan is surrounded fully by seas, therefore people eat many kind of oceanic products. (not only fish but also squids, octopuses, sea urchins, crabs, shrimps, shellfish, wheels, and many kind of sea weeds)

  • There are much more nouns for fish name in Japanese language comparing to in English language.

  • We use chopsticks to eat.

Culture

Relative links
Taketori Monogatari(The tale of the bamboo cutter)
Taketori monogatari is one of the most familiar folktale in 10th century.

Hanabi(fireworks)
In a summer night, people enjoy to watch hanabi.Craftsmen compete their work.

Origami
Origami is Japanese traditional play of folding paper.
In this video, a great origami craftsman make the ancient dragon, the hornet, and the oriental god dragon from a paper.

Shamisen
Shamisen is a 3-stringed musical instrument since 16th century.

Pitagoraswitch
"Pitagoraswitch" is an educational TV program for chirdren.We like such an useless, but exquisite work.

Yabusame
Yabusame is mounted archery.
The archer on the horse shoot arrows toward some targets by the roadside one after another.
It was samurai's training onse, and now is ceremony for gods.

Industry

  • Once the main industries in Japan were agriculture and fishery, but they have been replaced by manufacturing of cars and electrical products since 1950's.

  • Though Japan is poor in natural resources, it have been exporting high quality products to the world with its high processing technologies.

  • Japan is on the top of the world in the area of robot engineering.

Religious circumstances

Related links

  • In a Japanese myth,it is said that the male god Izanagi(Izanaki) and the female god Izanami produced Japanese islands in the ocean.These two gods made a lot of gods afterwards, and gave birth to the sun goddess Amaterasu at the end.

  • It is worthy of special mention that, the god of the sky, the sun, who recognized as the most important god, Amaterasu is female. In many other myths such a position is occured by male god though.

  • Japanese people feel that many gods inhabit everywhere; For example, there are gods of water, of thunder, og rice, and of poverty. It is told that there are millions of gods, as Japanese myth is a kind of animism.

  • Therefore, Japanese people tend to consider the other pantheons of other religions as one of the gods, and are generous with other religions. Such a natural belief (Shinto) and the Buddhism influenced each other in Japan. In other word, they were "mixed together". Up to now, this "mixed-up" belief has been established in the society.

  • A typical modern Japanese has a church wedding, goes to a shinto shrine when his/her child is born, has a Buddhist funeral service.

Trivia

  • The average lifetime of Japanese people is the longest in the world.

HISTORY

Ancient age

  • Human has lived in Japanese Islands since 100,000 years ago.

  • The most studies agree that the present Japanese imperial dynasty started at least more than 1,500 years ago. It is the oldest existing dynasty of the world.

  • Many things were introduced from/though China, such as Kanji (Chinese character) and Buddhism.

  • Shotoku Taishi, the great regent of Empress Suiko in the 7th century, sent a mail to Chinese emperor that said "The Emperor of the land where Sun rises sends a letter to the Emperor of the land where Sun sets", and claimed that Japan is equal to China.(In those days, the Kings of countries around China had to bow to the Chinese emperor) The name of the state "Nippon", the Japanese name of Japan that means 'the place where Sun come from' has begun to be used in that period. Horyuji, the oldest wooden architecture in the world was built by him.

  • A lot of temples and the famous huge statue of Buddha ware built in Nara, an ancient capital.

Middle age

  • In 8th century, the capital was moved to Kyoto.
  • Then the political power moved from emperor to nobles.
  • The exchange with Asian continent became sparse and Japanese original cultures have grown up greatly. The famous ethnic costume kimono and literatures such as 'The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari)' appeared.

  • In 12th century, the period of samurais had come. Many samurai heroes took active parts and some shogunates (military regime) ruled by samurai families which conquered civil war gained central power. However, the central goverment in those days decayed in the afternoon of 15th century, and daimyou, who are stronger among samurais and rule over paticular area, had gained power and fought each other.

Early modern age

  • In 16th century Oda Nobunaga began to integrate Japan Islands again, and after his death his man Toyotomi Hideyoshi achieved it. But when he died, the political vacuum caused large civil war. Then the winner Tokugawa family seized the political power in the beginning of 17th century. Their government was set up in Edo (present Tokyo), and 250 years of peaceful age has started.

  • Edo became the city with biggest population among every cities in the world at the time, and civil cultures such as ukiyoe and kabuki are grown.

Modern age / 近代

  • In 19th century, the imperial family which was 'the sovereign reigns but does not rule' over 1000 years was restored by royalist samurais, and the new administration promoted Westerernization of Japanese society system.

  • Domestically, democracy was introduced and parliamentary government was began.

  • Internationally, Japan won Russo-Japanese War and WW1, and joined the League of Nations as a parmanent member.

  • Afterwards Japan defeated the WW2, but revived and succeeded economically from burnt ruins.

Post script

More than 70% of the country is covered by forests or high mountains which we cannot use for farms, and is always facing the mighty nature's great menaces such as volcanos, typhoons, earthquakes and many more.
However we are living in islands and are completely surrounded by the ocean, and for this we cannot escape from this place!
We tried our best to fight against the menaces of nature, but at the end, we gave up and chose the way to coexist with nature.

The great advantage of an island nation is the avoidability from menaces, not from nature, but from foreign people.
The Japanese were able to live without many invasions from other countries.
Our culture was able to grow independently, resulting in a very unique one.
Of course, influence from China, which had been a super power for a long time, is not negligible.

For example, the language.
Although the Japanese language is completely not dependent and has no similarity with Chinese, nearly half of our words are made of Chinese characters.
These kind of things can be seen in Vietnamese, and in Korean also, but it is only in Japanese to use Chinese characters with the nation's original letter (I mean Japanese characters) mixed together.
Perhaps from these, many of you may confound Japan/Japanese with China/Chinese....but at least, I'd hope you remember that Jackie Chang is NOT Japanese but Chinese.

Japanese people have been actively accepting many things of different natures.
This caused the formation of such a curious nation.
In the early modern age (16c-), the social environment was developed and peaceful, and citizens could have a peaceful time. With the free time, they started to do many things very seriously (perhaps they recognized such things as leisures).
Let's give an example here. I'd like to ask you to check this site.

Related link
Asagao 36 kasen
This site shows you a piece of those professional hobbyists' works of improvement of a breed of morning glory.

I believe that you can see such passion and the persistency that tries to do things as seriously as possible, even though they are taken as silly things in many occasions.
These factors formed today's high-tech nation Japan, and the passion for this clicking war.
It is a really big pleasure for us Japanese to have communication with you through this click war.

More links

If you are interested more about Japan,please look this page.
These are varied links that a Japanese clicker chose.




If you have any question about Japan, please ask at the guestbook.
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