10 Facts about Japan
1. We refer to “Japan” as “Land of the rising sun”. The Japanese “know Japan” as “Nippon” or “Nihon” meaning “Origin of the Sun”.
2. The islands of Japan are located in an area known as The Ring of Fire in the Pacific. This is an area with many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Japan is very seismically active with over 1,500 earthquakes per year.
3. The number of volcanoes in Japan is approximately 200.
4. Most of the Japanese have rice for/with their breakfast, lunch and dinner.
5. Origami is an ancient Japanese art of paper folding.
6. Japanese always remove their footwear before entering a home. This is to keep the tatami (mat) clean. The tatami is used for sitting on while eating.
7. Japanese drive on the left, and have their steering wheels on the right, exactly opposite of what it is in America
8. Life expectancy in Japan is one of the highest in the world. Very few countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, San Marino, Andorra, and Macau have a slightly higher life expectancy than Japan. On an average the Japanese lives 4 years longer than the American does.
9. Not only it is considered rude to blow your nose in public, but it is also considered rude to openly express your emotions in public. This is why a straight face showing absolutely no emotions is worn by most of the people in Japan. It is also unheard of to show any signs of affection in public.
10. While smoking is allowed practically anywhere in Japan, you are not allowed to smoke in local trains. Long distance trains have got designated smoking zones.
My consecutive years of visits to Japan (Sep of 2006 and 2007) was amusing and exhilarating. Fast food such as Yoshinoya and Pepper Lunch tasted so much better, even the ordinary ramen house and Denny’s at the street corner are mouth watering because the food are very tasty in Japan. We stayed in Tokyo and visited most of the nearby cities like Yokohoma, Kyoto, Osaka, etc. The vending machine for a variety of daily requirements is installed at practically every corner but the cabs are expensive and the trains are confusing. A lot of transfer and walks makes commuting really hard in this country.
I first experienced Disneyland in this country. The place was surely magical it will bring out the kid in you. Tokyo also offers Disney Sea. A more adult-themed park, faster, scarier rides and shows. One frustrating thing though, before the ride there’s a preview or sort of a story behind what will you go through all of them are discussed in Nihongo so you could not grasped the concept just by listening.
My first visit in 2006 was mostly city tours – Tokyo, Yokohama, Disneyland, Disney Sea, Uni Qlo and Gap Stores which is very affordable in Japan. We also went to Akihabara to marvel at all the latest technology it’s the area of Tokyo which has been dubbed Electric Town. And Roppongi to experience Japan’s active night club scene.
My Second visit in 2007 we went outside the city. We went as far as Hakone where we ride a bullet train or the Shinkansen- literally means “New Trunk Line”, referring to the tracks, but the name is widely used inside and outside Japan to refer to the trains as well as the system as a whole. The hotel where we stayed was famous for its onsen (a term for hot springs in the Japanese language) because of the view of Mt Fuji. Too bad I didn’t get the glimpse of Mt Fuji it was a stormy night and the next morning we got stuck in the hotel lobby and had to wait for hours just to be able to get back in the city.
We also went to Nara and visited the old temple there named Todaiji Temple the largest wooden building in the world and houses the 50 feet tall Buddha. While we are there we went and see Nara Park Deer, the park is one of the places of scenic beauty. And walked around almost got lost at Nara-Machi known to be the oldest town in Nara
We also went to Kyoto where we visited the Ryoanji Temple (Rock Garden) – The Japanese rock gardens or “dry landscape” gardens, often called “Zen gardens” were influenced mainly by Zen Buddhism and can be found at Zen temples of meditation. Took a peek of Kinkakuji Temple or
Temple of the Golden Pavilion where the top two stories of the pavilion are covered with pure gold leaf.
And last but not the least we stayed overnight at Hotel Kintetsu Universal City at Osaka. Osaka traditionally been referred to as the “nation’s kitchen “or the Mecca of gourmet food it’s also the city in Japan where you can find the Universal Studios theme park
When we got back in Tokyo we watched a Shakespeare play entitled Merchant of Venice nothing striking though except that everything was in nihongo and the lead actor was Tatsuya Fujiwara, He stars as Light Yagami, the leading role in Death Note and Death Note: The Last Name, films based on the manga of the same name.