15 Japanese Facts You Need To Know Before Visiting!
The island nation of Japan is famed the world over for its incredible technology and innovations, but what else makes this country tick? Find out some top facts about this fascinating country right here!
Japan has the highest rate of centenarians in the world with over 60,000 of the long lived people in the country. 87.3% of this number is women, and it is expected that by 2050, there with several hundred thousand of them! Although nobody knows for sure, this incredible longevity is often attributed to the traditional and healthy Japanese fish based diet.
2. Birth Rate
For a country with such old old people, Japan has an extremely low birth rate, and is frequently found at the bottom of birth rate per capita lists. With approximately 8 births in every 1000 compared to 10 deaths for the same number, there are more pets than babies in Japan, and this could become a major problem as the population ages.
Like any country, adoptions take place in Japan, but did you know that 98% of these adoptions are in fact of adult males. This is due to the thriving system of nepotism amongst companies that is still alive and well in Japan. These adoptions take place so that companies can stay within family hands, and worldwide companies from Japan have a well-known history of this.
Japan is made up of over 6,800 islands, although only around 430 of these are inhabited. The four main Japanese islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. The largest of these, Honshu is also where you will find the largest city and the capital, Tokyo, which is the most populous city area in the entire world with over 13million in the immediate city and over 37million people in the area.
5. Kuril Islands
Speaking of islands, thanks to the Kuril Islands, Japan is still technically at war with Russia and has been since WWII. Found on the edge of the North Pacific Ocean, this collection of 56 islands and rocky outcrops, have a population of around 20000. While under Russian jurisdiction, Japan claims a few of the southernmost islands as part of its Northern Territories.
Every year Japan experiences around 1500 earthquakes varying in size and intensity. This is thanks to its position on the Pacific ‘ring of fire’, which is on the edges of several continental and tectonic plates. The 2011 earthquake near Japan was so powerful that it increased the Earth's rotation speed, shortening the day by 1.8 microseconds.
7. Square Watermelons
So Japan may have a bit of a reputation when it comes to some inventive and downright bizarre food (we’re looking at you Burger King black burger), but square watermelons must be one of the weirdest looking ones. Grown this way to facilitate stacking in transit, it actually makes them easier to cut too!
Fanta is one western invention that has been taken to extremes in Japan, with over 70(!) different flavours available on the market. These flavours include watermelon, mystery fruit, hip hop and genius energy. They make the original orange flavour seem rather tame in comparison!
9. Vending Machines
Although a 19th Century English invention, vending machines took off in a big way in Japan. They are over 5million of them in the country; that works out to roughly one vending machine per every 23 people. Vending machines tend to offer a wider variety of goods o purchase than just snacks and drinks too.
10. Clothing Styles
Japanese clothing styles inspired by manga and anime have captured worldwide attention. Some of the most notable styles are Lolita, which has about 5 subgenres already such as Gothic Lolita, gyaru which has a subgenre of ganguro, Neo Victorian and fairy kei. Thanks to a fairly large disposable income, young people really love to express themselves through their clothes.
11. Gate Tower Building
The name may not sound like much, but the Gate Tower Building in Japan’s second largest city Osaka on the country’s south-west coast is notable for the motorway that runs through it. Completed in 1992, the road runs through floors 4-7 of the 16floor building in one of the only such design structures in the world.
Originating in a series of Japanese films in the 1950s, Godzilla has managed to become one of Japan’s most iconic symbols. The name actually means gorilla-whale, and the character has been remade in various reboots over the years, the most recent being in 2014. Godzilla has also actually been made an official citizen of Japan!
13. Mount Mihara
Mount Mihara is an active volcano located on the island of Izu Oshima, and actually featured in some of the early Godzilla films. With a height of 764m, its last eruption was in 1986, although it is somewhat infamous for its reputation as a suicide spot. So many people were committing suicide there, that a fence was erected around its base as a deterrent.
14. Cherry Blossom
In Japanese cherry blossom is known as sakura, and it is a famous attraction for locals and visitors alike when it blooms across the country from March to May. The national flower of the country, its beautiful blooms are eagerly anticipated when the season does come, and cherry blossom viewing parties, hanami, are conducted nationwide.
Sushi is the undisputed national dish of Japan, and nowadays it is enjoyed worldwide. Made from rice, seaweed and prepared fresh raw fish, it is a delicious delicacy to enjoy. As an aside, did you know that it was Norwegians that introduced raw salmon to the mix in the 1980s which has helped to propel the dish to its huge popularity nowadays.