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Japan - I'm here for the cherry blossoms!


The sovereign island nation of Japan is in East Asia out in the Pacific Ocean. The country is quite often referred to as the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’, because the kanji that makes up its name means sun origin. Japan is considered an archipelago and consists of approximately 6,852 islands. The four largest islands include Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku and these make up approximately 97% percent of the country’s land area. The Ryukyu Islands are to the South of Kyushu and this is where Okinawa can be found.

Over seventy percent of Japan is unsuitable for residential use, because those areas are full of forests and mountains. There are over one hundred active volcanoes in Japan and they also have quite a few earthquakes and tsunamis that occur there.

The weather in Japan is dependent on where a person is within the country. The Northern regions experience long and cold winters with cool to warm summers, while the Pacific coast has mild winters and hot and humid summers.

More than 90,000 species of animals call the forests of Japan home and these forests vary from subtropical to coniferous to mixed forests. Multiple national parks have been designated within the country as well as thirty-seven wetland sites.

There are twenty World Heritage Sites in Japan including Himeji Castle and the historic monuments of ancient Kyoto and Nara. Every year, the country sees more than twenty million tourists and the country wants to see that number double within the next few years.

Interesting and Unique Facts about Japan:

· More than thirty-three million people live in Tokyo

· There are three thousand McDonald’s restaurants in Japan – the largest number of any country outside of the United States

· The Festival of the Steel Phallus takes place every spring celebrating the penis and female fertility

· Approximately twenty-one percent of the population is over the age of sixty-five

· Over five billion servings of ramen noodles are consumed every year

· There are 5.5 million vending machines in Japan – there is one on almost every street corner and they sell everything from coffee, cigarettes, hot dogs, and beer to umbrellas, toilet paper, magazines, and even women’s used underwear

· Cherry blossom are Japan’s national flower

· The shortest escalator in the world can be found at More’s department store – it has 5 steps and is 32.8 inches high

· The shortest poem form is Haiku and these three line poems were first written in Japan

· Masabumi Hosono was called a coward because he survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1914 instead of dying with the other people on board

· Japanese workers are allowed to nap while working – it is a sign of exhaustion from working very hard

· Kentucky Fried Chicken is a typical meal for Christmas Eve dinner in Japan Anyone who has an opportunity to visit the country of Japan will be amazed at how many people live in the space that is available. It is a unique country and many people find that they learn a lot while they are visiting.

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