Portal:Japan

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Imperial Seal of Japan

Japan, officially Nippon-koku (日本国?) is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of China, Korea and Russia. The characters that make up Japan's name mean "sun-origin", which is why Japan is sometimes identified as the "Land of the Rising Sun".

Japan comprises over 3,000 islands, the largest of which are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku. Most of the islands are mountainous, many volcanic; for example, Japan’s highest peak, Mount Fuji, is a volcano. Japan has the world's tenth largest population, with about 128 million people. The Greater Tokyo Area, which includes the capital city of Tokyo and several surrounding prefectures, is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 30 million residents.

Influence from the outside world followed by long periods of isolation has characterized Japan's history. Since adopting its constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament, the Diet.

A major economic power, Japan has the world's third largest economy by nominal GDP. It is a member of the United Nations, G8, G4, OECD and APEC, with the world's fifth largest defense budget. It is also the world's fourth largest exporter and sixth largest importer and a world leader in technology and machinery.

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The ensign of the Imperial Japanese Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
The Imperial Japanese Navy, also known as the Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1869 until 1947, when it was dissolved following Japan's constitutional renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling international disputes. It was the third largest navy in the world by 1920 behind the United States Navy and Royal Navy. It was supported by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service for aircraft and airstrike operation from the fleet. It was a major force in the Pacific War. The origins of the Imperial Japanese Navy trace back to early interactions with nations on the Asian continent, beginning in the early medieval period and reaching a peak of activity during the 16th and 17th centuries at a time of cultural exchange with European powers during the Age of Discovery. After two centuries of stagnation during the country's ensuing seclusion policy under the shoguns of the Edo period, Japan's navy was comparatively backward when the country was forced open to trade by American intervention in 1854. This eventually led to the Meiji Restoration. Accompanying the re-ascendance of the Emperor came a period of frantic modernization and industrialization. The navy's history of successes, sometimes against much more powerful foes as in the 1895 Sino-Japanese war and the 1905 Russo-Japanese War, ended in almost complete annihilation during the concluding days of World War II. The IJN was officially dissolved in 1947.

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Credit: JFS

Both the obverse and reverse of a gold, Meiji era 5 yen coin. This particular proof coin was minted in 1873.

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Yoshida Shoin, scholar, military and political philosopher and teacher

Selected biography

A statue of Bashō in Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture
Matsuo Bashō was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. During his lifetime, Bashō was recognized for his works in the collaborative haikai no renga form; today, after centuries of commentary, he is recognized as a master of brief and clear haiku. His poetry is internationally renowned, and within Japan many of his poems are reproduced on monuments and traditional sites. Bashō was introduced to poetry at a young age, and after integrating himself into the intellectual scene of Edo he quickly became well known throughout Japan. He made a living as a teacher, but renounced the social, urban life of the literary circles and was inclined to wander throughout the country, heading west, east, and far into the northern wilderness to gain inspiration for his writing and haiku. His poems are influenced by his firsthand experience of the world around him, often encapsulating the feeling of a scene in a few simple elements.

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Did you know...

A. c. japonica forming a "bee ball" in which two giant hornets (Vespa simillima xanthoptera) are engulfed and are being heated

  • ... that when a Japanese honeybee hive is invaded by a giant hornet scout, the honeybees "bake" the hornet in a ball of about 500 bees (pictured)?

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History Economic history | Educational history | Military history | Naval history | Meiji Restoration | Occupied Japan | Post-occupation Japan
Politics Constitution | Government | Emperors | Imperial Household Agency | Prime Ministers | Cabinet | Ministries | National Diet (House of Councillors · House of Representatives) | Judicial system | Elections | Political parties | Foreign relations
Culture Clothing | Customs and etiquette | Education | Festivals | Food | Holidays | Language | Religion
Art Architecture | Cinema | Literature | Music | Theatre (Noh · Kabuki · Bunraku)
Economy Primary sector | Industry | Currency | Tokyo Stock Exchange | Communications | Transportation (Shinkansen · Tokyo Metro · Railway companies)
Other Demographics | List of Japanese people

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