Portal:Japan

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The Japan Portal
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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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Kitsune is the Japanese word for fox. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. Foremost among these is the ability to assume human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—others portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives. Foxes and human beings lived in close proximity in ancient Japan; this companionship gave rise to legends about the creatures. Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, a Shinto kami or spirit, and serve as his messengers. This role has reinforced the fox's supernatural significance. The more tails a kitsune has—they may have as many as nine—the older, wiser, and more powerful it is. Because of their potential power and influence, some people make offerings to them as to a deity. It is widely agreed that many fox myths in Japan can be traced to China, Korea, or India. Chinese folk tales tell of fox spirits that may have up to nine tails. Many of the earliest surviving stories are recorded in the Konjaku Monogatari, an 11th-century collection of Chinese, Indian, and Japanese narratives. There is debate whether the kitsune myths originated entirely from foreign sources or are in part an indigenous Japanese concept dating as far back as the fifth century BC.

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Portrat of Tōyō Miyatake
Credit: Ansel Adams

Portrait of Tōyō Miyatake, 1943. During the period of Japanese American internment, Miyatake was interned at Manzanar War Relocation Center in Owens Valley. He smuggled a camera lens into the camp and constructed a camera body from wood. The pictures he secretly took at the camp are the only ones that show the plight of U.S. Citizens detained in the camps during the war.

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February 22:

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Junichiro Koizumi, former Prime Minister

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Kanō Jigorō, the founder of judo
Kano Jigoro was the founder of judo. Judo was the first Japanese martial art to gain widespread international recognition, and the first to become an official Olympic sport. Pedagogical innovations attributed to Kanō include the use of black and white belts, and the introduction of dan ranking to show the relative ranking between members of a martial art style. Well-known mottoes attributed to Kanō include "Maximum Efficiency with Minimum Effort" and "Mutual Welfare and Benefit." In his professional life Kanō was an educator. Important postings included serving as director of primary education for the Ministry of Education from 1898 to 1901, and as president of Tokyo Higher Normal School from 1901 until 1920. He played a key role in getting judo and kendo made part of the Japanese public school programs of the 1910s. Kanō was also a pioneer of international sports. Accomplishments included being the first Asian member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) (he served from 1909 until 1938), officially representing Japan at most Olympic Games held between 1912 and 1936 and serving as a leading spokesman for Japan's bid for the 1940 Olympic Games.

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Did you know...

  • ... that Ichitaro Kanie grew Japan's first tomatoes in 1899, founding the ¥157 billion Kagome tomato empire?

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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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Coordinates: 36°30′N 139°00′E / 36.5°N 139°E / 36.5; 139