I’m currently in Japan on a G Adventures tour, and I’m loving every minute of it. Japan has far exceeded my expectations, though I’m definitely not eating enough sushi. In four days, I’ve only had it twice. For someone so addicted to sushi, that just feels so wrong. I’ll be rectifying that soon enough, though (tomorrow for lunch).
Japan is a country with a fascinating culture and history, so I thought I’d share some of the interesting facts I’ve learned about it:
1. Japan has the world’s third-largest economy, behind the US and China.
2. There are 127 million people living in the country.
3. The founding of Japan and the imperial line dates back to 660 BC. National Foundation Day is a national holiday and is celebrated on February 11th.
4. More than 70% of Japan is mountainous terrain.
5. There are over 200 volcanoes in Japan.
6. Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan, is also an active volcano.
7. Zen Buddhism is the most common form of Buddhism in Japan.
8. There are four different writing systems in Japan: romaji, katakana, hiragana, and kanji.
9. Japan imports about 85% of Jamaica’s total coffee production.
10. Japan’s literacy rate is almost 100%.
11. There is almost no immigration in Japan. The population is 98% ethnic Japanese.
12. Sumo is Japan’s national sport.
13. Baseball is also hugely popular in Japan, due to the strong American presence after World War II.
14. Slurping your food is a sign that the food is delicious and is considered a compliment to the cook.
15. Japan is the world’s largest consumer of Amazon rainforest timber.
16. There are over 1,500 earthquakes in Japan each year, though most of them are very minor.
17. Japanese people live an average of four years longer than Americans.
18. Tsukiji Market in Tokyo is the world’s largest fish market, and the majority of fish in the world go through here.
19. Japan still hunts whales under the premise of “research,” though the meat does end up in supermarkets.
20. The first Japanese novel, The Tale of Genji, was written by a Japanese noblewoman, Murasaki Shikibu, in 1007.
21. In Japanese, karaoke means “empty orchestra.”
22. Raised floors in Japanese houses indicate when to take off your shoes.
23. Most Japanese ATMs don’t accept foreign ATM cards. You have to use the machines at the post office or find a 7-11.
24. It takes about 11 years of intensive training to become a fugu (blowfish) chef. Fugu chefs need to eat their own fish in order to pass the training and be certified to prepare the fish.
25. In Japanese, geisha means “performing artist.” The first geishas were men.
26. Many Japanese companies have morning exercise sessions for their workers.
27. A very popular food in Japan is raw horse meat.
28. Japan has the second-lowest homicide rate in the world. The homicide rate is .50 per 100,000 people.
29. Japan has produced 18 Nobel Prize winners.
30. The Yakuza, the Japanese mafia, cut off the tip of the left pinky finger as punishment for someone’s first offense.
31. Japan consists of approximately 6,800 islands.
32. The four main islands—Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku, and Hokkaido—comprise 97% of Japan’s total land area.
33. Japan has been inhabited since 30,000 B.C.
34. Animated Japanese films and television shows (i.e. anime) account for 60% of the world’s animation.
35. There are close to 130 voice-acting schools for anime voices.
36. 23% of the Japanese population is over the age of 65.
37. The greater Tokyo area is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 35 million people.
38, Tokyo’s population is 13 million.
39. Sushi used to be eaten as street food.
40. The world’s most expensive tuna was sold in Japan for $735,000 USD.
41. It’s considered inappropriate to blow your nose in public.
42. Japan has cafes where people can play with puppies and kittens.
43. Japan boasts the longest-reigning monarchy in the world.
44. The only foreign language taught and mandated in Japanese schools is English.
45. Contrary to popular belief, true Kobe beef is only found in Japan, due to tight controls and restrictions.
46. Under Japanese law, Kobe beef can only come from Hyogo Prefecture.
47. Japan is the only country in the world that has had atomic weapons used against it.
48. The Japanese constitution includes an article completely renouncing war and aggression.
49. In Japan, snowmen are made of two large snowballs, not three.