Nestled in Eastern Asia, Japan is an archipelago of more than 1,000 islands. Its main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. More than two-thirds of Japan is covered with forests. The entire country is surrounded by the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean.
With a population size of 126.8 million, Japan is currently one of the most populous countries in the world. Ninety-eight percent of the population in Japan is composed of Japanese people, while the rest are composed of foreigners such as Koreans, Brazilians, and Filipinos.
The official language of Japan is Japanese, which is spoken by 99% of the residents. But some Japanese can communicate in English, since it is a mandatory subject in school.
The main religions in the country are Shintoism and Buddhism, which have been practiced since the ancient times. Around 1% of the population observe Christianity.
Japan is a country of interesting contrasts. It boasts of modernity, high technology, and ritzy fashion while preserving ancient Japanese culture. In the cities, you’ll find people dressed in neat suits and fashionable clothes. In the rural areas, you’ll often see folks in kimonos. Japan is where skyscrapers harmoniously blend with castles, shrines, and temples, and where robots and traditional puppets coexist.
Traditional culture is deeply entrenched in Japan, largely due to its long period of isolation from the world during the 17th century. This isolation has allowed this country to flourish culturally. From the traditional preparation of tea (tea ceremony) to the Japanese version of wrestling (sumo wrestling), everything about Japan pulsates with history and heritage. And although Japan is every bit a modern country, it still touches base with its customs and traditions, making the country very attractive to tourists.
But what tourists love most about the country is its picturesque natural beauty. Japan is world-renowned for its breathtaking mountainous landscapes, verdant forests, awe-inspiring gardens, charming hot springs, beautiful tree-lined parks, and the famous cherry blossoms (sakura), whose beauty is celebrated in several festivals.
Traveling across Japan is an even more dazzling experience, mainly because of the friendliness of the Japanese people. They are generally warm toward visitors and always offer a smile. But more than being friendly, the Japanese are a very polite people. Bowing is their most common demonstration of politeness, and it is not uncommon for them to receive and send visitors off with a bow, a gesture that never fails to astonish tourists.
Japan is a country of a tightly preserved culture, the marriage of modernity and ancient traditions, picturesque natural wonders, and warm people. For its inherent beauty alone, it is certainly a country worth exploring.