Japan is known in Japanese as "Nihon" or "Nippon", which means 'the origin of the sun'. The Japanese archipelago is located east of the Asian mainland and the northwestern Pacific. Japan consists of four main islands, from north to south Hokkaido (78,500 km ²), Honshu (230,000 km ²), Shikoku (18,800 km ²) and Kyushu (42,000 sq km, roughly the size of the Netherlands). There are countless large and small islands that surround the main islands. Honshu is the main island with cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Hiroshima. The total area of Japan is 377,835 km ² and the island arc extends over 3000 km. The breadth of the land mass is only 270 km. The total coastline of Japan is more than 26,000 km long and no point in the country is more than a few hours drive from the sea. The Japanese coast is extremely erratic, with endless bays, inlets and peninsulas that often produce beautiful landscape images.
Geologically, the Japanese islands are the summits of a mighty mountain, 9000 m from the seabed that stick up at the edge of the continental shelf. Mountains and hills cover around 70 percent of the Japanese country. Most of the high mountains are on the island of Honshu. There is a very famous mountain range referred to as the 'Japanese Alps'. Many of these mountains reach a height of 3000 meters above sea level. There are 265 volcanoes identified in Japan, many of which are still active. The sacred mountain Fuji is at 3776 meters the highest peak in Japan. Japan lies at the intersection of three geological plates and is seen as the most active seismic area in the world. Every year in Japan they have 7000 to 8000 earthquakes. Most of them have such low power that it is barely felt, but if an earthquake of great strength arrives, it can cause significant damage. Therefore, buildings are designed so that they can not easily be destroyed by an earthquake. Foundations are laid to ensure that the buildings fluctuate slightly rather than collapse. In these and many other ways, the Japanese have learned to live in harmony with nature. The geothermal activity has resulted in thousands of natural hot springs throughout Japan occurring at or just below soil level. More than 1100 sources seem to have medicinal properties, especially on the intestines or nervous system. From many of these sources spas or onsen have been made. Sometimes the water is hot enough to boil an egg!
The Tokyo metropolitan area with a population of 31 million people means it is the largest urban area in the world, the most expensive in terms of living costs and is seat of the government of the second-largest economy. The city is the political, economic and cultural center of Japan, serving in that position, like many other capitals, as a business card to the rest of the world. It is very impressive to see such a large developed city like Tokyo. Take any train or subway and you immediately experience the immense size and overwhelming population of the city.
Japan is a parliamentary democracy. Japan has an Emperor. According to the Japanese Constitution, the Emperor is the symbol of the state and the unity of the people. He has no power with regard to the government. The Japanese monarchy dates back many centuries ago, it is the oldest continuous monarchy in the world. The country is divided into 47 prefectures (provinces) that are headed by a governor. Japan has developed into an economic superpower. The high-technology industry (Sony, Toyota, Honda) developed very rapidly. This development gives to Japan a lot of wealth but also much pollution.
Fauna and flora:
The diversity of the Japanese land and climate of the Japanese give the country a splendid variety of plants. In Japan you will find no less than 2500 different plant species. Also accommodated are the many forests with more than 150 species of trees, including oaks, cedars, palms, camphor, pine trees, but also beeches, poplars, maples, magnolias and the famous flowering plum and cherry trees. Some flowers and trees in the Japanese culture have an important meaning. The pine tree (Matsu) is a symbol of long life. Bamboo (Take) that is strong and flexible, represents the ability to overcome difficulties and stay strong. Cherry Blossoms (Sakura) can fall after just a few days symbolising in a poetic way the rapid changes in the world.
The dawn of spring (Haru) in Japan is ushered in by the flowering of the plum and cherry trees. In spring the weather reports on which days in different parts of the country the first blossoms are expected. To look at the cherry blossom is popular. Under the cherry blossom parties are given to celebrate the arrival of spring. This habit is called Hanami (flower viewing ').
More than 400 bird species have their home in this beautiful country, ranging from the colourful Indian pitta to the Japanese crane. There live in Japan mammal species found nowhere else. The largest being the bears, found deep in the mountains. Near farms and villages live foxes and raccoons, which are often the subject of Japanese folk tales. Very rare appearances are made by the shikahert, the Japanese dormouse. The surrounding waters of the Japanese islands are teeming with dolphins and whales.