The population of approximately million is the world's eleventh largest , of which The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world with over 38 million people. Archaeological research indicates that Japan was inhabited as early as the Upper Paleolithic period. The first written mention of Japan is in Chinese history texts from the 1st century AD. Influence from other regions, mainly China , followed by periods of isolation, particularly from Western Europe , has characterized Japan's history. Japan entered into a long period of isolation in the early 17th century, which was ended in when a United States fleet pressured Japan to open to the West.
Japan country profile - BBC News
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, victories in the First Sino-Japanese War , the Russo-Japanese War and World War I allowed Japan to expand its empire during a period of increasing militarism. Since adopting its revised constitution on May 3, , during the occupation led by SCAP , the sovereign state of Japan has maintained a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with an Emperor and an elected legislature called the National Diet.
It is also the world's fourth-largest exporter and fourth-largest importer. Japan benefits from a highly skilled and educated workforce; it has among the world's largest proportion of citizens holding a tertiary education degree. Its population enjoys one of the highest life expectancy and the third lowest infant mortality rate in the world, but is experiencing issues due to an aging population and low birthrate. As of , Japanese citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to countries and territories, ranking the Japanese passport 1st in the world, tied with Singapore.
The earliest record of the name Nihon appears in the Chinese historical records of the Tang dynasty , the Old Book of Tang. At the end of the seventh century, a delegation from Japan requested that Nihon be used as the name of their country. This name may have its origin in a letter sent in and recorded in the official history of the Sui dynasty. The message said: "Here, I, the emperor of the country where the sun rises, send a letter to the emperor of the country where the sun sets.
How are you[? Japan was recorded by Marco Polo as Cipangu. Japan first appears in written history in the Chinese Book of Han. The Reform began with land reform, based on Confucian ideas and philosophies from China. It nationalized all land in Japan, to be distributed equally among cultivators, and ordered the compilation of a household registry as the basis for a new system of taxation. Envoys and students were dispatched to China to learn seemingly everything from the Chinese writing system, literature, religion, and architecture, to even dietary habits at this time.
Even today, the impact of the reforms can still be seen in Japanese cultural life. The Nara period is characterized by the appearance of a nascent literature as well as the development of Buddhist-inspired art and architecture. This marked the beginning of the Heian period — , during which a distinctly indigenous Japanese culture emerged, noted for its art , poetry and prose. Murasaki Shikibu 's The Tale of Genji and the lyrics of Japan's national anthem " Kimigayo " were written during this time. Japan's feudal era was characterized by the emergence and dominance of a ruling class of warriors, the samurai.
The Imperial Court nobility was a nominal ruling court with little influence. The Zen school of Buddhism was introduced from China in the Kamakura period — and became popular among the samurai class. Emperor Go-Daigo was himself defeated by Ashikaga Takauji in Ashikaga Takauji established the shogunate in Muromachi, Kyoto. This was the start of the Muromachi period — The Ashikaga shogunate achieved glory at the age of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu , and the culture based on Zen Buddhism the art of Miyabi prospered.
This evolved to Higashiyama Culture , and prospered until the 16th century. During the 16th century, Portuguese traders and Jesuit missionaries like the Spaniard Francis Xavier  reached Japan for the first time, initiating direct commercial and cultural exchange between Japan and the West. His consolidation of power began what was known as the Azuchi—Momoyama period — After Nobunaga was assassinated in by Akechi Mitsuhide , his successor Toyotomi Hideyoshi unified the nation in and launched two unsuccessful invasions of Korea in and Tokugawa Ieyasu served as regent for Hideyoshi's son and used his position to gain political and military support.
When open war broke out, Ieyasu defeated rival clans in the Battle of Sekigahara in The Edo period also gave rise to kokugaku "national studies" , the study of Japan by the Japanese. Subsequent similar treaties with Western countries in the Bakumatsu period brought economic and political crises. Plunging itself through an active process of Westernization during the Meiji Restoration in , Japan adopted Western political, judicial and military institutions and Western cultural influences integrated with its traditional culture for modern industrialization.
The Meiji Restoration transformed the Empire of Japan into an industrialized world power that pursued military conflict to expand its sphere of influence. Although France and Britain showed some interest, the European powers largely ignored Japan and instead concentrated on the much greater attractions of China. France was also set back by its failures in Mexico and defeat by the Germans. This process accelerated during the s, spawning a number of new Radical Nationalist groups which shared a hostility to liberal democracy and a dedication to expansion in Asia.
Japanese expansionism and militarization along with the totalitarianism and ultranationalism reshaped the country. In Japan invaded and occupied Manchuria and following international condemnation of this occupation , it quit the League of Nations in After Allied victories across the Pacific during the next four years, which culminated in the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in , Japan agreed to an unconditional surrender on August The Allies led by the United States repatriated millions of ethnic Japanese from colonies and military camps throughout Asia, largely eliminating the Japanese empire and restoring the independence of its conquered territories.
The Allied occupation ended with the Treaty of San Francisco in  and Japan was granted membership in the United Nations in Japan later achieved rapid growth to become the second-largest economy in the world, until surpassed by China in This ended in the mids when Japan suffered a major recession.
In the beginning of the 21st century, positive growth has signaled a gradual economic recovery. Japan has a total of 6, islands extending along the Pacific coast. Together they are often known as the Japanese archipelago. It doesn't have land borders. About 73 percent of Japan is forested, mountainous and unsuitable for agricultural , industrial or residential use. Japan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Approximately 0. It began in the 12th century. By , the amount of land reclaimed totaled The islands of Japan are located in a volcanic zone on the Pacific Ring of Fire.
They are primarily the result of large oceanic movements occurring over hundreds of millions of years from the mid-Silurian to the Pleistocene as a result of the subduction of the Philippine Sea Plate beneath the continental Amurian Plate and Okinawa Plate to the south, and subduction of the Pacific Plate under the Okhotsk Plate to the north. Japan was originally attached to the eastern coast of the Eurasian continent. The subducting plates pulled Japan eastward, opening the Sea of Japan around 15 million years ago. Japan has active volcanoes. Destructive earthquakes, often resulting in tsunami , occur several times each century.
The climate of Japan is predominantly temperate, but varies greatly from north to south. The northernmost zone, Hokkaido, has a humid continental climate with long, cold winters and very warm to cool summers. Precipitation is not heavy, but the islands usually develop deep snowbanks in the winter. In the Sea of Japan zone on Honshu's west coast, northwest winter winds bring heavy snowfall.
In the summer, the region is cooler than the Pacific area, though it sometimes experiences extremely hot temperatures because of the foehn. The Central Highland has a typical inland humid continental climate, with large temperature differences between summer and winter seasons, as well as large diurnal variation; precipitation is light, though winters are usually snowy. The Pacific coast features a humid subtropical climate that experiences milder winters with occasional snowfall and hot, humid summers because of the southeast seasonal wind.
Precipitation is very heavy, especially during the rainy season. The average winter temperature in Japan is 5. In most of Honshu, the rainy season begins before the middle of June and lasts about six weeks. In late summer and early autumn, typhoons often bring heavy rain.
Japan has nine forest ecoregions which reflect the climate and geography of the islands. In the period of rapid economic growth after World War II , environmental policies were downplayed by the government and industrial corporations; as a result, environmental pollution was widespread in the s and s. Responding to rising concern about the problem, the government introduced several environmental protection laws in As of [update] , more than 40 coal-fired power plants are planned or under construction in Japan, following the switching-off of Japan's nuclear fleet following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Prior to this incident, Japan's emissions had been on the decline, largely due to nuclear power plants creating no emissions. Japan ranks 20th in the Environmental Performance Index , which measures a nation's commitment to environmental sustainability. Japan is a constitutional monarchy and sovereign state whereby the power of the Emperor is very limited. As a ceremonial figurehead, he is defined by the constitution to be "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people". Executive power is wielded chiefly by the Prime Minister and his cabinet , while sovereignty is vested in the Japanese people.
It hasn't changed since its adoption on 3 May Japan's legislative body is the National Diet , seated in Chiyoda, Tokyo. The Diet is a bicameral body, comprising the lower House of Representatives with seats, elected by popular vote every four years or when dissolved; and the upper House of Councillors with seats, whose popularly elected members serve six-year terms.
There is universal suffrage for adults over 18 years of age,  with a secret ballot for all elected offices. The LDP has enjoyed near-continuous electoral success since , except for brief periods between and and from to The Prime Minister of Japan is the head of government and is appointed by the Emperor after being designated by the Diet from among its members. Historically influenced by Chinese law , the Japanese legal system developed independently during the Edo period through texts such as Kujikata Osadamegaki.
Japan's court system is divided into four basic tiers: the Supreme Court and three levels of lower courts. Japan is divided into 47 prefectures, each overseen by an elected governor , legislature and administrative bureaucracy. This process will reduce the number of sub-prefecture administrative regions and is expected to cut administrative costs. Japan has diplomatic relations with nearly all independent nations and has been an active member of the United Nations since December Japan signed a security pact with Australia in March  and with India in October Japan has close ties to the United States.
Since Japan's defeat by the United States and allies in World War II , the two countries have maintained close economic and defense relations. The United States is a major market for Japanese exports and the primary source of Japanese imports, and is committed to defending the country, having military bases in Japan for partially that purpose. Japan's relationship with South Korea has been strained due to Japan's treatment of Koreans during Japanese colonial rule , particularly over the issue of comfort women. Between and , the Japanese government rebuilt Korean infrastructure.
Despite this, modernization in Korea was always linked to Japanese interests and therefore did not imply a "revolutionization" of social structures. For instance, Japan kept Korea's primitive feudalistic agriculture because it served Japanese interests. Despite their historical tensions, in December , Japan agreed to settle the comfort women dispute with South Korea by issuing a formal apology, taking responsibility for the issue and paying money to the surviving comfort women.
Today, South Korea and Japan have a stronger and more economically-driven relationship. Since the s, the Korean Wave has created a large fanbase in East Asia. Japan is the number one importer of Korean music K-pop , television K-dramas , and films, but this was only made possible after the South Korean government lifted the year ban on cultural exchange with Japan that had been in place since Korean pop cultural products' success in the Japanese market is partially explained by the borrowing of Japanese ideas such as the star-marketing system and heavy promotion of new television shows and music.
Both leaders restated their commitment to solving the comfort women dispute, building positive relations in the region, and pressuring China to be more assertive with North Korea as it continues to test nuclear weapons and isolate themselves further form the international community. Japan maintains one of the largest military budgets of any country in the world.
Accordingly, Japan's Self-Defense Forces is an unusual military that has never fired shots outside Japan. The 21st century is witnessing a rapid change in global power balance along with globalization. The security environment around Japan has become increasingly severe as represented by nuclear and missile development by North Korea. Transnational threats grounded on technological progress including international terrorism and cyber attacks are also increasing their significance.
Japan has close economic and military relations with the United States; the US-Japan security alliance acts as the cornerstone of the nation's foreign policy. It is one of the G4 nations seeking permanent membership in the Security Council. He said Japan wanted to play a key role and offered neighboring countries Japan's support. Additionally, there is the Japan Coast Guard which guards territorial waters in accordance with international law and domestic law. The coast guard patrols the sea surrounding Japan and uses surveillance and control countermeasures against smuggling, marine environmental crime, poaching, piracy, spy ships, unauthorized foreign fishing vessels, illegal immigration, etc.
The Firearm and Sword Possession Control Law strictly regulates the civilian ownership of guns , swords and other weaponry , in accordance with a Japanese law which states: "No person shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords" and there are few exceptions. Japan is the third largest national economy in the world, after the United States and China, in terms of nominal GDP ,  and the fourth largest national economy in the world, after the United States, China and India, in terms of purchasing power parity.
As of [update] , Japan's public debt was estimated at more than percent of its annual gross domestic product, the largest of any nation in the world. The large budget deficits and government debt since the global recession, followed by the earthquake and tsunami in March , caused the rating downgrade. Japan has a large industrial capacity, and is home to some of the largest and most technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, electronics , machine tools , steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemical substances , textiles, and processed foods.
Agricultural businesses in Japan cultivate 13 percent of Japan's land, and Japan accounts for nearly 15 percent of the global fish catch, second only to China. Some 20 million people, around 17 per cent of the population, were below the poverty line in As of [update] , Japan's main export markets were the United States Its main exports are transportation equipment, motor vehicles, iron and steel products, semiconductors and auto parts. Japan's main imports are machinery and equipment, fossil fuels , foodstuffs in particular beef , chemicals, textiles and raw materials for its industries.
By market share measures, domestic markets are the least open of any OECD country. Japan ranks 34th of countries in the ease of doing business index and has one of the smallest tax revenues of the developed world. The Japanese variant of capitalism has many distinct features: keiretsu enterprises are influential, and lifetime employment and seniority-based career advancement are relatively common in the Japanese work environment. Japan also has a large cooperative sector, with three of the ten largest cooperatives in the world located in Japan, including the largest consumer cooperative and the largest agricultural cooperative in the world.
Modern Japan's economic growth began in the Edo period. Some of the surviving elements of the Edo period are roads and water transportation routes, as well as financial instruments such as futures contracts , banking and insurance of the Osaka rice brokers. Growth slowed in the s during the "Lost Decade" due to after-effects of the Japanese asset price bubble and government policies intended to wring speculative excesses from the stock and real estate markets. Efforts to revive economic growth were unsuccessful and further hampered by the global slowdown in Today, Japan ranks highly for competitiveness and economic freedom.
It is ranked sixth in the Global Competitiveness Report for — The Japanese agricultural sector accounts for about 1. Japan's small agricultural sector, however, is also highly subsidized and protected , with government regulations that favor small-scale cultivation instead of large-scale agriculture as practiced in North America. Rice accounts for almost all of Japan's cereal production.
In , Japan ranked fourth in the world in tonnage of fish caught. Japan's industrial sector makes up approximately Japan is the third largest automobile producer in the world, and is home to Toyota , the world's largest automobile company. Japan's service sector accounts for about three-quarters of its total economic output. Japan attracted Foreign visitors to Japan doubled in last decade and reached 10 million people for the first time in , led by increase of Asian visitors. In , the Japanese government has set up Japan Tourism Agency and set the initial goal to increase foreign visitors to 20 million in In , having met the 20 million target, the government has revised up its target to 40 million by and to 60 million by For inbound tourism, Japan was ranked 16th in the world in The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report ranks Japan 4th out of countries overall, which was the best in Asia.
Japan gained relatively high scores in almost all aspects, especially health and hygiene, safety and security, cultural resources and business travel. Chinese travelers are the highest spenders in Japan by country, spending an estimated Japan is a leading nation in scientific research , particularly in fields related to the natural sciences and engineering. The country ranks second among the most innovative countries in the Bloomberg Innovation Index. Japanese scientists and engineers have contributed to the advancement of agricultural sciences, electronics, industrial robotics , optics , chemicals, semiconductors , life sciences and various fields of engineering.
The Japanese electronics and automotive manufacturing industry is well known throughout the world, and the country's electronic and automotive products account for a large share in the global market, compared to a majority of other countries. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA is Japan's national space agency ; it conducts space, planetary, and aviation research, and leads development of rockets and satellites.
Japan's plans in space exploration include: developing the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter to be launched in ;  and building a moon base by Its purpose is to gather data on the moon's origin and evolution. Japan's road spending has been extensive. Hokkaido has a separate network, and Okinawa Island has a highway of this type. A single network of high-speed, divided, limited-access toll roads connects major cities and is operated by toll-collecting enterprises.
New and used cars are inexpensive; car ownership fees and fuel levies are used to promote energy efficiency. However, at just 50 percent of all distance traveled, car usage is the lowest of all G8 countries. Since privatisation in , 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. Some high-speed Shinkansen trains connect major cities and Japanese trains are known for their safety and punctuality.
It is due to be completed in There are airports in Japan;  the largest domestic airport, Haneda Airport in Tokyo, is Asia's second-busiest airport. As of [update] , Nuclear power produced 9. The government took responsibility for regulating the water and sanitation sector is shared between the Ministry of Health, Labor 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.
Access to an improved water source is universal in Japan. Japan is the second most populous island country with a population of About 80 million of the urban population is heavily concentrated on the Pacific coast of Honshu. The capital city Tokyo has a population of Japanese society is linguistically , ethnically and culturally homogeneous,   composed of The most dominant native ethnic group is the Yamato people ; primary minority groups include the indigenous Ainu  and Ryukyuan people , as well as social minority groups like the burakumin.
Japan has the second longest overall life expectancy at birth of any country in the world: In , about On September 15, , for the first time, 1 in 5 persons in Japan is 70 or older according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. Elderly women crossed the 20 million line at In , the number of resident foreigners was 2. In , net immigration rose for the sixth straight year with , The number of foreign workers was 1. The revision clarifies and better protects the rights of foreign workers.
This helps reduce labor shortage in certain sectors of the economy. The reform changes the status of foreign workers to regular employees. Japan has full religious freedom based on Article 20 of its Constitution. The number of Shinto shrines in Japan is estimated to be around , Other studies have suggested that only 30 percent of the population identify themselves as belonging to a religion.
Nevertheless, the level of participation remains high, especially during festivals and occasions such as the first shrine visit of the New Year. Taoism and Confucianism from China have also influenced Japanese beliefs and customs. This is due to the fact that "Shinto" has different meanings in Japan: most of the Japanese attend Shinto shrines and beseech kami without belonging to Shinto organisations, and since there are no formal rituals to become a member of folk Shinto, Shinto membership is often estimated counting those who join organised Shinto sects. Shinto has , shrines and 78, priests in the country.
Christianity was first introduced into Japan by Jesuit missions starting in Nagasaki Prefecture has the highest percentage of Christians: about 5. More than 99 percent of the population speaks Japanese as their first language. 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.
Few children learn these languages,  but in recent years the local governments have sought to increase awareness of the traditional languages. The Okinawan Japanese dialect is also spoken in the region.
The Ainu language , which has no proven relationship to Japanese or any other language, is moribund , with only a few elderly native speakers remaining in Hokkaido. The changes in demographic structure have created a number of social issues, particularly a potential decline in workforce population and increase in the cost of social security benefits such as the public pension plan. This was the greatest decline since at least , when comparable figures were first compiled. Japan's population is expected to drop to 95 million by ;   demographers and government planners are currently in a major debate over how to cope with this problem.
Japan suffers from a high suicide rate. Primary schools, secondary schools and universities were introduced in as a result of the Meiji Restoration. Almost all children continue their education at a three-year senior high school. The two top-ranking universities in Japan are the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University ,  which have produced 16 Nobel Prize laureates. Japan's education system played a central part in the country's recovery and rapid economic growth in the decades following the end of World War II.
The latter law defined the school system that would be in effect for many decades: six years of elementary school , three years of junior high school , three years of high school, and two or four years of university. Starting in April , various schools began the academic year with elementary school and junior high school integrated into one nine-year compulsory schooling program, in hopes to mitigate bullying and truancy ; MEXT plans for this approach to be adopted nationwide in the coming years.
The Programme for International Student Assessment coordinated by the OECD currently ranks the overall knowledge and skills of Japanese year-olds as the third best in the world. The country's large pool of highly educated and skilled individuals is largely responsible for ushering Japan's post-war economic growth. Although expenditure per student is comparatively high in Japan, total expenditure relative to GDP remains small.
The emergence of imperial Japan
In Japan, 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. Since , all elderly persons have been covered by government-sponsored insurance.
Japanese culture has evolved greatly from its origins. Contemporary culture combines influences from Asia, Europe and North America. Japan has a developed system for the protection and promotion of both tangible and intangible Cultural Properties and National Treasures. Japanese architecture is a combination between local and other influences. It has traditionally been typified by wooden structures, elevated slightly off the ground, with tiled or thatched roofs.
Sliding doors fusuma were used in place of walls, allowing the internal configuration of a space to be customized for different occasions. People usually sat on cushions or otherwise on the floor, traditionally; chairs and high tables were not widely used until the 20th century. Since the 19th century, however, Japan has incorporated much of Western, modern , and post-modern architecture into construction and design, and is today a leader in cutting-edge architectural design and technology.
The introduction of Buddhism during the sixth century was a catalyst for large-scale temple building using complicated techniques in wood. Influence from the Chinese Tang and Sui dynasties led to the foundation of the first permanent capital in Nara. Its checkerboard street layout used the Chinese capital of Chang'an as a template for its design. A gradual increase in the size of buildings led to standard units of measurement as well as refinements in layout and garden design.
The introduction of the tea ceremony emphasised simplicity and modest design as a counterpoint to the excesses of the aristocracy. During the Meiji Restoration of the history of Japanese architecture was radically changed by two important events. The first was the Kami and Buddhas Separation Act of , which formally separated Buddhism from Shinto and Buddhist temples from Shinto shrines , breaking an association between the two which had lasted well over a thousand years.
Second, it was then that Japan underwent a period of intense Westernization in order to compete with other developed countries. Initially architects and styles from abroad were imported to Japan but gradually the country taught its own architects and began to express its own style. Architects returning from study with western architects introduced the International Style of modernism into Japan. The Shrines of Ise have been celebrated as the prototype of Japanese architecture.
The history of Japanese painting exhibits synthesis and competition between native Japanese aesthetics and adaptation of imported ideas. 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.
Japanese manga developed in the 20th century and have become popular worldwide. Japanese animated films and television series, known as anime for short, were largely influenced by Japanese manga books and have been extensively popular in the West. Japan is a world-renowned powerhouse of animation.
Japan has one of the oldest and largest film industries in the world; movies have been produced in Japan since The code of etiquette in Japan governs the expectations of social behavior. They are considered very important in Japan. The etiquette varies greatly depending on one's status relative to the person in question. Some customs have changed over time. These distinct cultural values make Japanese etiquette substantially different from western and other countries.
It originates from the Heian period and describes the indigenous Japanese 'spirit' or cultural values as opposed to cultural values of foreign nations. It is a meeting opportunity with more serious considerations for the future as a process of courtship. Cherry blossoms are a symbol of isagiyosa in the sense of embracing the transience of the world. Japan is regarded by sociologists as a high-context culture. People are more observant of hierarchical differences and communicate less explicitly and verbosely.
Face-saving to avoid being disgraced or humiliated is generally considered as more important in Japan's high context culture than in low-context ones such as the United States or Germany. There are differences in advertising and marketing in Japan due to the high-context culture. In Japan advertising uses more colors, images, gestures and sounds with powerful meaning behind them. Dialogue is not a central part of the advertising.
Every vocal and non-vocal expression is explored, because Japanese people are more sensitive to it. Comparatively in low-context cultures advertising is more straightforward. Japanese music is eclectic and diverse. Many instruments , such as the koto , were introduced in the 9th and 10th centuries. The accompanied recitative of the Noh drama dates from the 14th century and the popular folk music , with the guitar-like shamisen , from the sixteenth. The imperial court ensemble Gagaku has influenced the work of some modern Western composers.
Popular music in post-war Japan has been heavily influenced by American and European trends, which has led to the evolution of J-pop , or Japanese popular music. A survey by the Cultural Affairs Agency found that more Japanese had sung karaoke that year than had participated in traditional pursuits such as flower arranging ikebana or tea ceremonies. The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is considered the oldest Japanese narrative.
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. Indigenous ideas of loyalty and honor have been held since the 16th century. Western philosophy has had its major impact in Japan only since the middle of the 19th century.
Japanese cuisine is known for its emphasis on seasonality of food ,  quality of ingredients and presentation. Japanese cuisine offers a vast array of regional specialties that use traditional recipes and local ingredients. The term is also used to describe the first course served in standard kaiseki cuisine nowadays.
Traditional Japanese sweets are known as wagashi. More modern-day tastes includes green tea ice cream , a very popular flavor. It is usually sold and eaten at summer festivals. Officially, Japan has 16 national, government-recognized holidays. These changes took effect in It is intended to coincide with the Bon Festival vacation time, giving Japanese people an opportunity to appreciate Japan's mountains. There are no specific festival days for all of Japan; dates vary from area to area, and even within a specific area, but festival days do tend to cluster around traditional holidays such as Setsubun or Obon.
Festivals are often based around one event , with food stalls, entertainment, and carnival games to keep people entertained. Its usually sponsored by a local shrine or temple , though they can be secular. Notable festivals often feature processions which may include elaborate floats. Prior to these, the local kami may be ritually installed in mikoshi and paraded through the streets, such as Gion in Kyoto , and Hadaka in Okayama.
Traditionally, sumo is considered Japan's national sport. After the Meiji Restoration, many Western sports were introduced in Japan and began to spread through the education system. Baseball is currently the most popular spectator sport in the country. Japan's top professional league, now known as Nippon Professional Baseball , was established in  and is widely considered to be the highest level of professional baseball in the world outside of the North American Major Leagues.
Since the establishment of the Japan Professional Football League in , association football has also gained a wide following. Video gaming in Japan is a major industry. Japan became a major exporter of video games during the golden age of arcade video games , an era that began with the release of Taito's Space Invaders in and ended around the mids.
Japan's dominance within the industry would continue for the next two decades, until Microsoft 's Xbox consoles began challenging Sony and Nintendo in the s. In the Japanese gaming industry, arcades have remained popular through to the present day. In the present day, Japan is the world's largest market for mobile games. Television and newspapers take an important role in Japanese mass media, though radio and magazines also take a part. Variety shows , serial dramas , and news constitute a large percentage of Japanese television shows.
The Japanese landscape is rugged, with more than four-fifths of the land surface consisting of mountains. Abundant precipitation and the generally mild temperatures throughout most of the country have produced a lush vegetation cover and, despite the mountainous terrain and generally poor soils, have made it possible to raise a variety of crops. Japan has a large and, to a great extent, ethnically homogeneous population, which is heavily concentrated in the low-lying areas along the Pacific coast of Honshu.
Tension between old and new is apparent in all phases of Japanese life. Even in the countryside, however, the impact of rapid Westernization is evident in many aspects of Japanese life. The agricultural regions are characterized by low population densities and well-ordered rice fields and fruit orchards, whereas the industrial and urbanized belt along the Pacific coast of Honshu is noted for its highly concentrated population, heavy industrialization, and environmental pollution. Contact with China and Korea in the early centuries ce brought profound changes to Japan, including the Chinese writing system, Buddhism , and many artistic forms from the continent.
The first steps at political unification of the country occurred in the late 4th and early 5th centuries ce under the Yamato court. The seven centuries thereafter were a period of domination by military rulers culminating in near isolation from the outside world from the early 17th to the midth century. The reopening of the country ushered in contact with the West and a time of unprecedented change. Japan sought to become a modern industrialized nation and pursued the acquisition of a large overseas empire, initially in Korea and China. By late this latter policy caused direct confrontation with the United States and its allies and to defeat in World War II — The ancient universities, particularly in England as distinct from Scotland, had become little more than finishing schools for young gentlemen, chiefly landowners' sons and young clergymen.
They did not conduct research and not one of the major inventions of the early Industrial Revolution originated in a university. Oxford and Cambridge were even less important to English society when the Industrial Revolution began than they were over a century earlier - many of the ruling elite came to find little to interest them in the repetition of classical Greek and Latin texts. When Japan was beginning its great transformation under the Meiji, the main contribution of the British universities to economic growth was still in the future.
It may seem surprising that, in relation to industrial development and modernization, British higher education in the late 19th century was no more advanced than the new Japanese system. By university students in both Britain and Japan were less than one per cent of the student age group. In both countries higher education was exclusively for the elite, but whereas in Britain the elite graduates went predominantly into the home civil service, colonial government and the traditional professions, in Japan they went not only into these but still more into industry and commerce and the newer technological professions.
This was because Japanese higher education, like the whole modern education system, was created by the Meiji reformers for the express purpose of modernizing Japan. Japan, contrary to popular belief in the West, did not start from scratch. Under the Tokugawa there were higher schools and colleges based on Confucian learning, no more out of touch with the needs of a traditional ruling elite than were Oxford and Cambridge. But the difference was that the Meiji elite knew that higher education had to be changed, and changed radically if Japan was to be transformed into a modern nation able to expel the barbarians and become a strong and wealthy country.
Under the Fundamental Code of Education of they set out to establish a modern system of education with an elementary school within reach of every child, a secondary school in every school district, and a university in each of eight academic regions. In the next forty years, Japanese higher education expanded explosively. By there were 6 imperial and 20 non-imperial universities and other higher institutions.
Moreover, the whole system was geared to industrialization and economic growth, to the production of bureaucrats, managers, technologists and technicians. Whereas in Britain the sons of the elite at this stage avoided industry, which was left to the largely self-educated, trained in industry itself, in Japan the sons of the Shizoku, the ex-samurai who formed the majority of students in the universities, went indiscriminately into the service of the state and of private industry. Britain too began a remarkable expansion of higher education in the late 19th century. New universities, more responsive to the scientific and industrial needs of their regions, came into existence in nearly all the great cities which did not already have them: Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, and so on.
These new civic universities were much more dedicated to scientific and technological research and had a provocative and stimulating effect on the older universities too, and Oxford and Cambridge came to develop science and engineering and other modern subjects. Thus at the time Japan was using higher education as an instrument of industrialization, Britain began to do the same. The road remained substantially different, however.
Unlike the Japanese, the great majority of British managers never went to university. Some went to a variety of technical colleges which grew up to meet the demand which the universities had so long neglected, but the great majority were trained on the job with the help of evening schools where they learned to pass the examinations of the new professional bodies like the Institution of Mechanical Engineers or the Institute of Chemistry. Thus the British road to industrial higher education was largely a part-time road, Most modern universities began as technical or other colleges, mostly for part-time students.
This helps to explain why Britain, with one of the smallest university systems amongst the advanced countries, could sustain a competitive industrial economy, and even remain the world's largest exporter of manufactured goods down to the First World War. During the s the number of British universities nearly doubled, from 25 to 45 and in addition 30 polytechnics were formed from existing technical colleges. But British industry still depends to a larger extent than any other advanced country on part-time education and training on the job.
Japan by contrast believes in full-time higher education, and has far larger numbers in universities and colleges. Since the Second World War, initially under the stimulus of the American Occupation, the system has grown from 64 universities and other colleges with about , students in l to 43l universities and other colleges with nearly 2 million students in , equal to 38 per cent of the age group.