Glossary: Nihon (or Nippon)

Japanese term for Japan, based on the two Chinese ideographs (riben in pinyin romanization), meaning source of the sun. The official pronunciation, as designated by the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science, is Nippon (or in full, Nippon Koku--Nippon country). The common pronunciation in everyday usage, however, is Nihon (Nihon Koku). The use of the term ""Nihon"" antedates Prince Shotokus seventh-century reference to himself as the Son of Heaven of the Land of the Rising Sun and possibly dates from the establishment of the Nihon-fu (Japan Office) in the Yamato (q.v.) colony in southern Korea that served as a liaison office of the Yamato court to the Chinese court, probably as early as the sixth century. Marco Polo (or his scribe) referred to present-day Japan as Cipingu (Ribenguo in pinyin romanization), which has variously appeared as Cipangu, Jipangu, and Jipan, from which the current spelling of Japan undoubtedly descends.

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