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The Japan Portal
Location of Japan on the world map
Imperial Seal of Japan

Japan (Japanese: , Nippon [?ippo] or Nihon [?iho] ) is an island country in East Asia, located in the northwest Pacific Ocean. It is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, and extends from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north toward the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south. Part of the Ring of Fire, Japan spans an archipelago of 6852 islands covering 377,975 square kilometers (145,937 sq mi); the five main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. Tokyo is Japan's capital and largest city; other major cities include Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Fukuoka, Kobe, and Kyoto.

Japan is the eleventh-most populous country in the world, as well as one of the most densely populated and urbanized. About three-fourths of the country's terrain is mountainous, concentrating its population of 125.48 million on narrow coastal plains. Japan is divided into 47 administrative prefectures and eight traditional regions. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world, with more than 37.4 million residents.

Japan has been inhabited since the Upper Paleolithic period (30,000 BC), though the first mentions of the archipelago appear in Chinese chronicles from the 1st century AD. Between the 4th and 9th centuries, the kingdoms of Japan became unified under an emperor and his imperial court based in Heian-ky?. Beginning in the 12th century, political power was held by a series of military dictators (sh?gun) and feudal lords (daimy?), and enforced by a class of warrior nobility (samurai). After a century-long period of civil war, the country was reunified in 1603 under the Tokugawa shogunate, which enacted an isolationist foreign policy. In 1854, a United States fleet forced Japan to open trade to the West, which led to the end of the shogunate and the restoration of imperial power in 1868. In the Meiji period, the Empire of Japan adopted a Western-styled constitution and pursued a program of industrialization and modernization. In 1937, Japan invaded China; in 1941, it entered World War II as an Axis power. After suffering defeat in the Pacific War and two atomic bombings, Japan surrendered in 1945 and came under a seven-year Allied occupation, during which it adopted a new constitution. Since 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislature, the National Diet.

Japan is a great power and a member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations (since 1956), the OECD, and the Group of Seven. Although it has renounced its right to declare war, the country maintains Self-Defense Forces that are ranked as the world's fourth-most powerful military. After World War II, Japan experienced high economic growth, becoming the second-largest economy in the world by 1990 before being surpassed by China in 2010. Despite stagnant growth since the Lost Decade, the country's economy remains the third-largest by nominal GDP and the fourth-largest by PPP. A leader in the automotive and electronics industries, Japan has made significant contributions to science and technology. Ranked the second-highest country on the Human Development Index in Asia after Singapore, Japan has one of the world's highest life expectancies, though it is experiencing a decline in population. The culture of Japan is well known around the world, including its art, cuisine, music, and popular culture, which encompasses prominent animation and video game industries. (Full article...)

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X Japan is a popular Japanese band founded in 1982 by Toshimitsu "Toshi" Deyama and Yoshiki Hayashi. Originally named X, the group achieved its breakthrough success in 1989 with the release of their second album Blue Blood. They started out as a power/speed metal band and later gravitated towards a progressive sound, at all times retaining an emphasis on ballads. After three more albums, X Japan disbanded in 1997. Besides being one of the first Japanese acts to achieve mainstream success while on an independent label, the group is widely credited for pioneering the visual kei movement, though most of the group's members toned down their on-stage attire in later years. As of 2007, the band has sold over twenty million records and over two million home videos. On June 4, 2007, it was announced the band would reunite with a new song released via digital download in January 2008 and live performances scheduled for March and May. X was founded in 1982 while vocalist Toshi and drummer Yoshiki were attending high school together. The band began to actively perform live in the Tokyo area in 1985, its lineup at that time being completed by a number of changing support musicians. A first single, titled "I'll Kill You" was released on Dada Records in June and in November of the same year, the group contributed the song "Break the Darkness" to the samplers Heavy Metal Force III. To ensure a continuous outlet for the band's publications, Yoshiki founded the independent label Extasy Records in the following year on which a second single, "Orgasm", was released. (Full article...)

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Yumedono (Hall of Dreams)
Credit: Fg2
Located at the Buddhist temple H?ry?-ji, Yumedono (Hall of Dreams) was built on the ground which was once Prince Sh?toku's private palace. The present incarnation of this hall was built in 739 to assuage the Prince's spirit.

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In the news

9 April 2021 - COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in Japan
The government designates Tokyo, Kyoto, and nine other cities in Okinawa for stricter measures, which include closing businesses at 8:00 p.m., in order to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases. These measures will be in effect from April 15 until May 5 for Kyoto and Okinawa and until May 11 for Tokyo. (The Japan Times)
6 April 2021 - Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sports, 2020 Summer Olympics
North Korea announces that the country has withdrawn from participating in the Summer Olympics in Japan, citing COVID-19 concerns. (The New York Times)
1 April 2021 - COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in Japan
The Japanese government designates Osaka, Hyogo, and Miyagi Prefectures for tougher measures against COVID-19 amid a rise in cases. The measures include fines of ¥200,000 ($1,808.80) for restaurants and bars that ignore mandates to shorten operating hours to 8:00 p.m., and capping attendance of large events to 5,000 people. These measures will be effective for one month beginning on April 5. (Kyodo News)
20 March 2021 - March 2021 Miyagi earthquake
A magnitude 7.2 earthquake strikes off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, causing tsunami waves of up to 1 metre (3.3 ft). As a precaution, Tohoku Electric Power shuts down the Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant and Tokyo Electric Power Company checks the condition of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which was struck by the massive earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. (DW)

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A portrait of Teika
Attributed to Fujiwara no Nobuzane
Kamakura period

Fujiwara Sadaie (?), better-known as Fujiwara no Teika (1162 - September 26, 1241), was a Japanese poet, critic, calligrapher, novelist, anthologist, scribe, and scholar of the late Heian and early Kamakura periods. His influence was enormous, and he is counted as among the greatest of Japanese poets, and perhaps the greatest master of the waka form - an ancient poetic form consisting of five lines with a total of 31 syllables.

Teika's critical ideas on composing poetry were extremely influential and studied until as late as the Meiji era. A member of a poetic clan, Teika was born to the noted poet Fujiwara no Shunzei. After coming to the attention of the Retired Emperor Go-Toba (1180-1239; r. 1183-1198), Teika began his long and distinguished career, spanning multiple areas of aesthetic endeavor. His relationship with Go-Toba was at first cordial and led to commissions to compile anthologies, but later resulted in his banishment from the retired emperor's court. His descendants and ideas would dominate classical Japanese poetry for centuries afterwards. (Full article...)

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Flag of Niigata Prefecture
Niigata Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located on Honsh? island on the coast of the Sea of Japan. The capital is the city of Niigata. The name Niigata literally means "New Lagoon". Niigata prefecture was originally divided into Echigo Province and Sado Province until the Meiji Restoration. During the Sengoku period it was ruled by Uesugi Kenshin. Niigata-shi (the city) is the largest and most important among the cities which face the Sea of Japan. It has been an important seaport since the opening of Japan by Matthew Perry in the mid-1800s, especially for trade with Russia and northern Korea, and was the first port on the Sea of Japan to be opened to foreign trade. The Etsuzankai organization, led by prime minister Tanaka Kakuei, was highly influential in bringing infrastructure improvements to Niigata in the 1960s and 1970s, including the Joetsu Shinkansen high speed rail line and Kanetsu Expressway to Tokyo. Today, Niigata is well-known for being visited by a freighter from North Korea once a month: one of the few direct contacts with the communist country. On October 23, 2004, the Ch?etsu earthquake struck Niigata Prefecture, causing shaking measured at Shindo 6+ at Ojiya. On January 9, 2006, a heavy winter storm caused much trouble in the prefecture and its surroundings. At least 71 people died and over a thousand were injured. On July 16, 2007, the area saw the 2007 Niigata earthquake. Niigata Prefecture also holds Fuji Rock Festival, an annual rock festival in Naeba ski resort.

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Yuzuru Hiraga

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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 | Law of Japan | Elections | Political parties | Japanese political values | Japan Self-Defense Forces | Foreign relations
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Sports Sumo wrestling | Nippon Professional Baseball | Football J1 League | Super GT | All Japan Road Race Championship | Judo | Karate | Kendo | Ky?d? | Jujutsu | Ninjutsu | Aikido
Economy Japanese Companies | Primary sector | Industry | Tourism | Currency | Tokyo Stock Exchange | Japanese economic miracle | Communications | Transportation (Shinkansen · Tokyo Metro · Railway companies) | Japan Business Federation | Housing in Japan
Science and Technology Consumer electronics in Japan | Japanese automotive industry | Japanese inventions | Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) | Nuclear power in Japan | Japanese robotics
Geography Geography of Japan | Japanese archipelago | Islands of Japan | Cities | Lakes | Rivers | Waterfalls | Mountains | National Parks | Japanese Alps | Mount Fuji | Lake Biwa | Seto Inland Sea | Sea of Japan | EEZ of Japan
Demographics Demographics | Yamato people | H?fu (half Japanese people) | Ainu people | Japanese people | Japanese names | Aging of Japan
Animals Animals in Japan | Japanese macaque | Japanese raccoon dog (Tanuki) | Japanese Green pheasant | Koi | Japanese Bobtail | Hokkaido dog | Shiba Inu | Akita (dog) | Asian giant hornet | Japanese badger
Other Tokyo | Kyoto | Nara | Osaka | Sapporo | Okinawa | Kinkaku-ji | Kiyomizu-dera | Yakushi-ji temple | T?dai-ji temple | Sens?-ji temple | Meiji Shrine | Akihabara | Shinjuku | Tokyo Tower | Tokyo Imperial Palace | Himeji Castle | Matsumoto Castle | Osaka Castle | Nagoya Castle | Tokyo Disney Resort


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