Where is Japan located?

What countries border Japan?

Japan Weather

What is the current weather in Japan?


Japan Facts and Culture

What is Japan famous for?

  • Food and Recipes: Although many youths eat while walking in public, it is generally considered bad manners for adults to do so. Snack... More
  • Family: The family is considered the foundation of society. Reputation and responsibility are important attributes in Japanese society. The... More
  • Fashion: Most Japanese adults dress to be like the rest of the crowd. Businessmen usually wear suits with ties. ... More
  • Visiting: Visiting is normally arranged in advance; surprise visits between neighbors is uncommon especially in urban areas. Shoes are removed before... More
  • Recreation: Japanese children enjoy kite flying and origami, the ancient art of paper folding. Card games such as karuta or board... More
  • Cultural Attributes: The Japanese believe in returning favors and giving gifts when they have personally received them from others. Age and tradition... More
  • Dating: Youth, in Japan, generally consider dating at the of age fifteen. They enjoy movies, dancing, shopping, and eating... More
  • Diet: The Japanese diet consists largely of rice, fresh vegetables, seafood, fruit, and small portions of meat. Rice and tea are... More

Japan Facts

What is the capital of Japan?

Capital Tokyo
Government Type parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Currency yen (JPY)
Total Area 145,913 Square Miles
377,915 Square Kilometers
Location Eastern Asia, island chain between the North Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, east of the Korean Peninsula
Language Japanese
GDP - real growth rate 0.6%
GDP - per capita (PPP) $38,200.00 (USD)

Japan Demographics

What is the population of Japan?

Ethnic Groups Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, other 0.6%

note: up to 230,000 Brazilians of Japanese origin migrated to Japan in the 1990s to work in industries; some have returned to Brazil
Languages Japanese is the official language. The Japanese place great value on nonverbal language or communication. For example, much can be said with a proper bow. In fact, one is often expected to sense another person’s feelings on a subject without verbal communication. Westerners often misinterpret this as a Japanese desire to be vague or incomplete. The Japanese may consider a person’s inability to interpret feelings through body language as insensitivity.
Nationality Adjective Japanese
Nationality Noun Japanese (singular and plural)
Population 125,507,472
Population Growth Rate -0.1%
Population in Major Urban Areas TOKYO (capital) 37.217 million; Osaka-Kobe 11.494 million; Nagoya 3.328 million; Fukuoka-Kitakyushu 2.868 million; Sapporo 2.742 million; Sendai 2.428 million
Predominant Language Japanese
Urban Population 91.3%

Japan Government

What type of government does Japan have?

  • Executive Branch: chief of state: Emperor NARUHITO (since 1 May 2019); note - succeeds his father who abdicated on 30 April 2019 head... More
  • Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal More
  • Citizenship: citizenship by birth: no citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Japan dual citizenship recognized: no residency... More
  • National Holiday: Birthday of Emperor AKIHITO, 23 December (1933) More
  • Constitution: previous 1890; latest approved 6 October 1946, adopted 3 November 1946, effective 3 May 1947 ; note - the constitution... More
  • Independence: 3 May 1947 (current constitution adopted as amendment to Meiji Constitution); notable earlier dates: 660 B.C. (traditional date of the... More

Japan Geography

What environmental issues does Japan have?

  • Overview: Japan, a country of islands, extends along the eastern or Pacific coast of Asia. The main islands, running from... More
  • Climate: Temperature extremes are fewer than in the U.S. since no part of the interior is more than 100 miles from... More
  • Environment - Current Issues: air pollution from power plant emissions results in acid rain; acidification of lakes and reservoirs degrading water quality and threatening... More
  • Environment - International Agreements: party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species,... More
  • Terrain: mostly rugged and mountainous More

Japan Economy

How big is the Japan economy?

  • Economic Overview: Over the past 70 years, government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small defense... More
  • Industries: among world's largest and technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, electronic equipment, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemicals,... More
  • Currency Name and Code: yen (JPY) More
  • Export Partners: China 19.7%, US 15.5%, South Korea 8%, Hong Kong 5.2%, Thailand 4.6% More
  • Import Partners: China 21.5%, US 8.9%, Australia 6.6%, Saudi Arabia 5.9%, UAE 5%, South Korea 4.7% More

Japan News & Current Events

What current events are happening in Japan?
Source: Google News

Interesting Japan Facts

What unique things can you discover about Japan?

  • The birthday child wears entirely new clothes to mark the occasion. Certain birthdays are more important than others and these are celebrated with a visit to the local shrine.
  • Japanese people have many festivals. This is how they show respect for their land and religion. Dragon or lion dances are a popular part of the celebrations.
  • Archaeological evidence of settlement on the islands dates back 30,000 years, and pottery objects have been found dating from 16,500 B.C.
  • Bathing in Japan is different from bathing in North America. In Japan, it is customary to wash before getting into the bathtub. The tub is for soaking and relaxing, not for washing. The water stays clean so that another family member can soak in the same water afterwards.
  • Children in Japan are expected to take their studies very seriously. Children have a long school day and they attend class every day except for Sunday. In addition to their regular school requirements, many children also attend extra classes in the evening to prepare them for exams
  • For the Japanese the stomach is the center of the emotions. Instead of having heart-to-heart talks, the Japanese say they "open their stomachs" for a good conversation.
  • Japanese children go to school five days a week. Twice a month they attend school on Saturday. Many schools require uniforms. Some schools even make boys shave their heads. Working together is very important to Japanese people. Students learn teamwork. Everyday they clean their school. They keep the rooms, halls, toilets, and yards neat.
    Students must pass a difficult test to get into high school. At night, many children go to a special school called juku (joo-koo). At juku, they study subject that give them trouble in regular school. This helps them do better on the high-school test.
  • In the afternoon, many students have only an hour or two of free time before they go to juku or private cram school. At juku students get individual help with their schoolwork. Juku is usually attended by students in junior or senior high school who are preparing for university entrance exams.
  • Japan had the world highest paid Prime Minister, Yoshiro Mori at $676,000 per year which included monthly allowances and bonuses.
  • Japan has produced excellent filmmakers. The best-known is Akira Kurosawa, who has made many films based on Japanese history, including Rashomon (1950), Seven Samurai (1954), Dersu Uzala (1974) and Ran (1985).
  • Japan has the highest cost of living in the world.
  • Japan is hit by up to 30 typhoons a year. Winds can reach 200 kilometers an hour and 30 centimeters of rain can fall in 24 hours.
  • Japan's flag, a red circle on a white background, symbolizes the land of the rising sun.
  • Many Japanese enjoy karaoke, which means "empty orchestra." Amateur singers go to night clubs and sing pop music to a prerecorded accompaniment. Pachinko or "pinball" is also popular and pachinko parlors can be found in most towns.
  • Many Japanese enjoy manga (comic books). These books are not just for children, but are enjoyed by many adults and tell realistic stories about life and work. Many are published in weekly or monthly series.
  • Most Japanese people live in crowded cities. Their homes have small rooms. Many Japanese people live in tall apartment buildings.
    Japanese people take off their shoes by the door. This is because their floors are covered with tatami (tah-tah-mee) mats. These mats are made of grass and can tear easily.
    At home, some Japanese sit on cushions at low tables. At night, many sleep on futons. Futons are mats that roll out.
    Japanese children usually wear American clothes. They wear jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers. Businesspeople wear suits.
  • People sometimes dress in traditional kimonos for festivals and holidays. A kimono is a floor-length silk robe. It has no buttons or zippers and is held together by a sash, or obi, at the waist.
  • Robots do much of the welding and painting in factories. They cost less than people and can work in unhealthy environments. There are also factories in Japan where robots are making more robots.
  • The high pressure of the Japanese workplace has led to a number of deaths from stress-related disorders. The Japanese call this problem karoshi, or death from overwork.
  • The Japanese have hosted both summer and winter Olympic Games. In 1964, the summer games were held in Tokyo. Winter Olympics were held in Sapporo in 1972 and in Nagano in 1998. Figure skater Midori Ito is a well-known Japanese Olympic champion.
  • The ritual of the tea ceremony, cha no yu, is 600 years old. Both guests and host follow special rules of etiquette. The aim of the ceremony is to achieve a feeling of peacefulness.
  • When Japanese people visit a friend or relative in hospital, they do not bring potted plants, which are considered bad luck, since the roots may suggest that the patient will become "rooted" and stay in hospital a long time. Chrysanthemums or white flowers are also bad luck, because they are associated with death and funerals.
  • Written prayers can be pinned up outside a Shinto shrine. Students often pin up a prayer for good luck before their exams.
  • Millions of people are crowded together on Japan's small islands. Japanese people must share space. People get along by using good manners. Parents, teachers and older people receive special respect.
    Japanese people do not shake hands. They greet each other by bowing. Bowing shoes respect. Children learn the right way to bow.
    Important people recieve deep, long bows. Japanese bow when thanking someone, too.
    Stores have greeters who stand by the doors. They bow to people who shop at the store.
  • Once Japanese men and women wore robes made of colored silk. These robes were called kimonos (ki-moh-nohs). Today kimonos are worn only on special holidays.
  • Sumo (soo-moh) wrestling is Japan's national sport. Sumo wrestlers weigh more than 300 pounds (135 kilograms). Still, they are flexible enough to do the splits. A sumo match lasts about 30 seconds. The wrestlers try to shove each other our of a small circle on the floor.
    Children in school look forward to Sports Day. On that day, they can compete in different events. Students try hard to win races, relays, and piggyback fights.
    Japanese people also enjoy baseball. Many cities have a team. In October, there is a big playoff game called the Japan Series.
    Pachinko (pan-cheek-oh) is a favorite Japanese game. It is like a pinball game. But instead of one ball, pachinko uses thousands of balls.
  • When a child loses a tooth, if they lose an upper tooth, they throw it in the dirt. If they lose a lower tooth, they throw it on the roof. Their new tooth will grow in toward the old one and will come in straight.
  • At midnight, gongs sound 108 times for the 108 sins a person can commit. It is believed that listening to the gongs cleanses one's heart and erases past sins for a fresh New Year.

Watch video on Japan

What can you learn about Japan in this video?

Japan in 8K - Relaxing Music - Visual Escape YouTube: DevinSuperTramp- Visual Escape

Japan Travel Information

What makes Japan a unique country to travel to?

Country Description

Japan is a stable, highly developed parliamentary democracy with a modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely available, except in coastal areas of Northeast Japan still recovering from the aftermath of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.

Crime

The general crime rate in Japan is well below the U.S. national average. Crimes against U.S. citizens in Japan usually involve personal disputes, theft, or vandalism. Violent crime is rare, but it does exist. Sexual assaults are not often reported, but they do occur, and females may be randomly targeted. Hate-related violent crimes rarely occur, although some U.S. citizens have reported being the target of comments or actions because of their nationality or their race. U.S. citizens have reported incidents of pick pocketing in crowded shopping areas, on trains, and at airports. Every year, a number of U.S. citizens report their passports lost or stolen at international airports, especially passports that were carried in their pockets. Robberies committed after a victim has been drugged or “drink spiked” are increasing (see below).

Some U.S. citizens report that Japanese police procedures appear to be less sensitive and responsive to a victim's concerns compared to the procedures in the United States, particularly in cases of domestic violence or sexual assault, or when both the victim and the perpetrator are foreigners. Few victim's assistance resources or battered women's shelters exist in major urban areas, and they are generally unavailable in rural areas. Investigations of sexual assault crimes are often conducted without female police officers present, and police typically ask about the victim's sexual history and previous relationships. The quality of Japanese-English interpretation services can vary, and for some U.S. citizen victims, this has caused a problem.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are such goods illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.

Concerns Regarding Roppongi and other Entertainment and Nightlife Districts in Tokyo:

Roppongi is an entertainment district in Tokyo that caters to foreign clientele and is considered a high-risk area for crime, particularly misappropriation of credit card information in bars to make fraudulent credit card charges. Other high-risk areas for crime in the Tokyo area include Shinjuku (especially the area of Kabuki-cho), Shibuya, and Ikebukuro. However, you should use caution in all entertainment and nightlife districts throughout Japan. Incidents involving U.S. citizens in these areas include physical and sexual assaults, drug overdoses, theft of purses, wallets, cash and credit cards at bars or clubs, and drugs allegedly slipped into drinks.

Drink-spiking at bars and entertainment venues, especially in areas such as Roppongi and Kabuki-cho, near Shinjuku, has routinely led to robbery and has also resulted in physical and sexual assaults. In most drink-spiking reports, the victim unknowingly drinks a beverage that has been mixed with a drug that makes the victim unconscious or dazed for several hours, during which time the victim’s credit card is used for large purchases or the card is stolen. Some victims regain consciousness in the bar or club; other victims may awaken on the street or in other unknown locations. Several U.S. citizens have also reported being charged exorbitant bar tabs in some bars and clubs in Roppongi and other entertainment and nightlife districts. Although firearms and brandishing knives in public are illegal in Japan, there have been reports by U.S. citizens of being threatened with gun or knife violence in such venues in order to force them to pay bar tabs or withdraw money. There have also been reports of beatings of U.S. citizens who have refused to pay or hand over money.

There have been recent reports of U.S. citizens being forcibly taken to ATM machines and robbed, or to withdraw funds after being unable to pay exhorbitant bar tabs. Please be aware that Roppongi and other entertainment and nightlife districts have also been the scenes of violence between criminal syndicates in the past. In 2012, a member of a Japanese criminal organization was beaten to death in a bar in Roppongi by several masked men.

We urge you to keep these incidents in mind and use caution in all entertainment areas and nightlife districts. Some travelers have reported that their credit cards have been unreasonably over-charged without their knowledge in these areas. If you believe that you are a victim of crime, you must file a police report at the nearest police station before you leave Japan. The Japanese police do not provide you a copy of the police report, but rather issue a report number. You can provide this report number to your credit card company in order to confirm the incident with the police. The Japanese police cannot accept reports filed from overseas by phone or email.

Criminal Penalties

While you are traveling in another country, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In Japan, you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport or Japanese residence card to show your identity and visa status. Driving under the influence could also land you immediately in jail. If you violate Japanese law, even unknowingly, you may be arrested, imprisoned, or deported. If you are arrested in Japan, even for a minor offense, you may be held in detention without bail for several months or more during the investigation and legal proceedings. A list of English-speaking lawyers located throughout Japan is available on our website. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods or purchase child pornography. While you are overseas, U.S. laws don’t apply. If you do something illegal in your host country, you are subject to the laws of the country even though you are a U.S. citizen. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not wherever you go.

Illegal Drugs: Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs, including marijuana, are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and fines. In most drug cases, suspects are detained and barred from receiving visitors or corresponding with anyone other than a lawyer or a U.S. consular officer until after the first hearing, which at times has taken a year to take place. Solitary confinement is common.

You could be convicted of drug use based on positive blood or urine tests alone, and several U.S. citizens are now serving time in Japanese prisons as the result of sting operations that used informants. The Japanese police routinely share information on drug arrests with Interpol, assuring that notification of the arrest will reach U.S. law enforcement agencies. The majority of all U.S. citizens now in prison in Japan are incarcerated for drug-related crimes. In recent months, there have been arrests of individuals selling and possessing synthetic drug – like substances, such as the synthetic marijuana called "spice."

Japanese authorities aggressively pursue drug smugglers with sophisticated detection equipment, "sniffing" dogs, and other methods. When entering Japan, you and your luggage will be screened at ports of entry. Incoming and outgoing mail, as well as international packages sent via DHL or FedEx, is also checked carefully. The Japanese police make arrests for even the smallest amounts of illegal drugs. Several U.S. citizens have been arrested, tried, and convicted after having mailed illegal drugs to themselves from other countries, or for having tried to bring drugs into Japan as paid couriers working out of Southeast Asia or Europe. In 2013, several U.S. citizens were arrested at Japanese airports for smuggling illegal drugs on flights originating in India. All claim that they did not realize they were carrying drugs. When traveling to Japan, never transport packages which do not belong to you and keep immediate control your luggage at all times.

Knives: Possession of a knife with a locking blade, or a folding blade that is longer than 5.5 cm (a little more than two inches), is illegal in Japan. U.S. citizens and U.S. military personnel have been arrested and detained for more than 10 days for carrying pocket knives that are legal in the United States but illegal in Japan.

Immigration Penalties: Japanese work visas are not transferable and are issued outside of Japan for a specific job with a specific employer at a specific place of employment. It is illegal for you to work in Japan while in tourist or visa-waiver status. Japanese authorities do not allow foreigners to change their immigration status from visa-waiver status to work status while in Japan. Japanese immigration officers may deny you entry if you appear to have no visible means of support. Please contact the Japanese Embassy or nearest Japanese consulate in the United States for information on what is considered enough financial support. If you work in Japan without a work visa, you may be subject to arrest, which can involve several weeks or months of incarceration, followed by conviction and imprisonment or deportation. If you are deported, you will have to pay the cost of deportation, including legal expenses and airfare.

Overstaying your visa or working illegally may lead to fines of several thousands of dollars, and in some cases, re-entry bans can be as long as ten years or indefinitely for drug offenders. For additional information please see Japan’s Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act.

Arrest notifications in Japan: Generally, when you are arrested in Japan, the police will ask if you would like the U.S. embassy or consulate to be notified of your arrest. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.

Consular Access: You must carry your U.S. passport or Japanese Residence Card (Zairyu Kado) with you at all times so that if questioned by local officials, you can prove your identity, citizenship, and immigration status. Under Japanese law, the police may stop any person on the street at any time and demand to see identification. If you do not have with you either a passport or valid Japanese Residence Card, you are subject to arrest. In accordance with the U.S.-Japan Consular Convention, U.S. consular officers are generally notified within 24 hours of the arrest of a U.S. citizen, if the U.S. citizen requests consular notification.

Conditions at Prisons and Detention Facilities: Japanese prisons and detention facilities maintain internal order through a regime of very strict discipline. U.S. citizen prisoners often complain of stark, austere living conditions and psychological isolation. No one arrested in Japan is allowed access to personal medication of any type, often causing problems and health risks to those arrested with medical conditions, as substitute medication provided by prison medical officials is seldom the same in effect or strength. As a prisoner, you can become eligible for parole only after having served approximately 60-70% of your sentence. Early parole is not allowed for any reason -- humanitarian, medical, or otherwise. Access to interpreters is not always required under Japanese criminal law. Additional information on arrests in Japan is available on our embassy website. Japan acceded to the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons on June 1, 2003.

Languages

Japanese is the official language. The Japanese place great value on nonverbal language or communication. For example, much can be said with a proper bow. In fact, one is often expected to sense another person’s feelings on a subject without verbal communication. Westerners often misinterpret this as a Japanese desire to be vague or incomplete. The Japanese may consider a person’s inability to interpret feelings through body language as insensitivity.

Medical Facilities and Health Information

While medical care in Japan is good, English-speaking physicians and medical facilities that cater to U.S. citizens’ expectations are expensive and not widespread. Japan has a national health insurance system which is available only to those foreigners with long-term visas for Japan. National health insurance does not pay for medical evacuation. Medical caregivers in Japan require payment in full at the time of treatment or concrete proof of ability to pay before they will treat a foreigner who is not a member of the national health insurance plan.

U.S.-style and standard psychiatric care can be difficult to locate in major urban centers in Japan and generally is not available outside of Japan's major cities. Extended psychiatric care for foreigners in Japan is difficult to obtain at any price.

U.S. prescriptions are not honored in Japan, so if you need ongoing prescription medicine you should arrive with a sufficient supply for your stay in Japan or enough until you are able to see a local care provider. Certain medications, including some commonly prescribed for depression and Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), are not widely available.

Safety and Security

There have been no major terrorist incidents in Japan since 1995. However, you should be aware of the potential risks and take these into consideration when making travel plans.

The Government of Japan maintains heightened security measures at key facilities and ports of entry as antiterrorism precautions. At times, these security measures may increase because of regional tensions. The Government of Japan is vigilant in tracking terrorist threat indicators and remains at a high state of alert. You can contact local police substations (koban) and police emergency dispatchers (tel. 110) to report any suspicious activity.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

While in a foreign country, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Japan is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving in Japan is quite complicated and expensive. Traffic moves on the left side of the road. Those who cannot read the language will have trouble understanding road signs. Highway tolls can be as high as $1 (U.S.) or more per mile. City traffic is often very congested. A 20-mile trip in the Tokyo area may take two hours. There is virtually no legal roadside parking, however, traffic is commonly blocked or partially-blocked by those illegally parked curbside. In mountainous areas, roads are often closed during the winter, and cars should be equipped with tire chains. Roads in Japan are much narrower than those in the United States. Japanese compulsory insurance (JCI) is mandatory for all automobile owners and drivers in Japan. Most short-term visitors choose not to drive in Japan. Other than a few exceptions, turning on red lights is generally not permitted.

Japanese law provides that all drivers in Japan are held liable in the event of an accident, and assesses fault in an accident on all parties. Japan has a national zero percent blood-alcohol level standard for driving, and drivers stopped for driving under the influence of intoxicants will have their licenses confiscated. If you’re found guilty of "drunken, speeding, or blatantly careless driving resulting in injury" you are subject to up to 15 years in prison.

All passengers are required to fasten their seat belts.

The National Police Agency (NPA) oversees the administration and enforcement of traffic laws in Japan.

Emergency Assistance: Within Japan, please dial 110 for police, and 119 for ambulance. For roadside assistance, please contact the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) at 03-5730-0111 in Tokyo, 072-645-0111 in Osaka, 011-857-8139 in Sapporo, 092-841-5000 in Fukuoka, or 098-877-9163 in Okinawa.

For specific information concerning Japanese driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please refer to the Japan National Tourist Organization website for locations in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, or San Francisco. In addition, information about roadside assistance, rules of the road, and obtaining a Japanese driver's license is available in English from the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) web site.

International Driving Permits (IDPs): An international driving permit (IDP) issued in the United States by the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA) is required of short-term visitors who drive in Japan. You must obtain an IDP issued in your country of residence prior to arriving in Japan. The U.S. Embassy or its consulates do not issue IDPs. IDPs issued via the Internet and/or by other organizations are not valid in Japan.

"Residents" – the exact definition is unclear - must convert to or obtain a Japanese driver’s license. Residents in Japan who use an international driver’s license may be fined or arrested. In practice, the term “resident” involves more than simply visa status or length of stay in Japan and is determined by the police. In short, an international license is not a substitute for a valid Japanese license. See our website for more information on driving in Japan.

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