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Wonderful Japan

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Map Of Japan

In a brief glance,Japan (Nihon or Nippon,officially Nihon-koku or Nippon-koku) is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of China, Korea, and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea in the south. The characters that make up Japan's name literally mean "Sun's Origin", thus Japan is also sometimes known as the self-identified "The Land of the Rising Sun", a name that comes from the country's eastward position relative to China. Its capital is Tokyo.


At 377,872 square kilometres (145,898 sq mi), Japan is the 62nd largest country by area. It encompasses over 3,000 islands, the largest of which are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. Most of Japan's islands are mountainous, and many are volcanic, including the highest peak, Mount Fuji. It has the world's 10th largest population, with nearly 128 million people. The Greater Tokyo Area, with over 30 million residents, is the largest metropolitan area in the world.

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Japan's Transportation Services

Railway

Bullet train

In Japan, railways are a major means of passenger transportation, especially for mass and high-speed transport between major cities and for commuter transport in metropolitan areas. Seven Japan Railway companies, once state-owned until 1987, cover most parts of Japan. There also are railway services operated by private rail companies, regional governments, and companies funded by both regional governments and private companies. Japanese trains are also famous for always being on time. Five stations (Shinjuku Station, Ikebukuro Station, Shibuya Station, Umeda Station, and Yokohama Station) serve more than 2 million passengers each on an average day, making Japanese the most railway using nation per capita.

Japan's Shinkansen (Bullet Train) is the main pride in Japanese railway. With top speeds of 200km/h and above , thousands of Japanese citizens depend on the line to commute everyday. Up until now, there are no fatalities or derailment caused by technical errors, such making it one of the safetest railways in the world.

Road Transport

Japan has 1,152,207 km of highways with 863,003 km (including 6,114 km of expressways) paved and 289,204 km of unpaved ways (1997 est.). A single network of high-speed, divided, limited-access toll roads connects major cities on Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. Hokkaido has a separate network, and Okinawa Island has a highway of this type. In the year 2005, the toll collecting companies, formerly Japan Highway Public Corporation, have been transformed into private companies in public ownership, and there are plans to sell parts of them. The aim of this policy is to encourage competition and decrease tolls.


Road passenger and freight transport expanded considerably during the 1980s as private ownership of motor vehicles greatly increased along with the quality and extent of the nation's roads. The Japan Railways Group companies operates long-distance bus service on the nation's expanding expressway network. In addition to relatively low fares and deluxe seating, the buses are well utilized because they continue service during the night, when air and train service is limited.

Air Travel

Japanese

Japan has many airports. The main international gateways are Narita International Airport (Tokyo area), Kansai International Airport (Osaka/Kobe/Kyoto area), and Chubu Centrair International Airport (Nagoya area). The main domestic hub is Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport), Asia's busiest airport; other major traffic hubs include Osaka International Airport (Itami Airport), New Chitose Airport outside Sapporo, and Fukuoka Airport. 14 heliports are estimated to exist (1999).


The two main airlines are All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines. Other passenger carriers include Skymark Airlines, Skynet Asia Airways, and Air Do. United Airlines and Northwest Airlines are major international operators from Narita Airport.

Marine Transport

Ferry

In Japan, waterways is estimated about 1,770 km; seagoing craft ply all coastal inland seas.


The twenty-two major seaports designated as special important ports by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport include Chiba, Fushiki/Toyama, Himeji, Hiroshima, Kawasaki, Kitakyushu, Kobe, Kudamatsu, Muroran, Nagoya, Niigata, Osaka, Sakai/Senpoku, Sendai/Shiogama, Shimizu, Shimonoseki, Tokyo, Tomakomai, Wakayama, Yokkaichi, and Yokohama.

Japan has 662 ships of 1,000 GRT or over, totaling 13,039,488 GRT or 18,024,969 DWT. There are 146 bulk ships, 49 cargo, 13 chemical tankers, 16 combination bulk, 4 with combination of ore and oil, 25 container, 45 liquefied gas, 9 passenger, 2 passenger and cargo combination ships, 214 petroleum tankers, 22 refrigerated cargo, 48 roll-on/roll-off, 9 short-sea passenger, and 60 vehicle carriers (1999 est.).

Ferries connect Hokkaido to Honshu, and Okinawa Honto to Kyushu and Honshu

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Japan's Must See Sites

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. It straddles the boundary of Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures just west of Tokyo, from where it can be seen on a clear day. It is located near the Pacific coast of central Honshu. Three small cities surround it, they are: Gotemba (East), Fuji-Yoshida (North) and Fujinomiya (Southwest).

Mount Fuji is a well-known symbol of Japan and is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers.

Horyu-Ji

Horyu-Ji

Horyu-ji (Temple of the Flourishing Law) is a Buddhist temple in Ikaruga, Nara Prefecture, Japan. Its full name is Horyu Gakumonji, or Learning Temple of the Flourishing Law, named as such because the site serves as a seminary as well as a monastery. The temple is widely acknowledged to have some of the oldest wooden buildings existing in the world. While there are older and more important temples, Horyu-ji is the most celebrated temple in Japan. In 1993, Horyu-ji was nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Japanese government lists it as a National Treasure.

The treasures of the temple are considered to be a time capsule of Buddhist art from the sixth and seventh century. Much of the frescoes, statues, and other pieces of art within the temple, as well as the architecture of the temple's buildings themselves show the strong cultural influence from Korea, China, and India and demonstrated the international connection of the countries of East Asia.

Todai-Ji

Todai-Ji

Todai-ji, the Eastern Great Temple, is a Buddhist temple in Nara, Japan. Reputedly the largest wooden building in the world, it houses a giant statue of the Buddha Vairocana (Jp. Dainichi; it means 'Buddha that shines throughout the world like the sun'), known in Japanese simply as the Daibutsu ("great Buddha"). The temple also serves as the Japanese headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism. Sika Deer, themselves officially protected as National Treasures and regarded as messengers of the gods by Shinto, roam the grounds freely and are not afraid of humans.

On May 20, 1994, the international music festival The Great Music Experience was held at Todai-ji, supported by the UNESCO. Among other artists were the Tokyo New Philharmonic Orchestra, X Japan, INXS, Bon Jovi, Bob Dylan, Tomoyasu Hotei, Roger Taylor, classic Japanese drummers, and a Buddhist monk choir. The event was broadcast on May 22 and May 23, 1994, in 55 countries all over the world.

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle is a Japanese castle located in Himeji in Hyogo Prefecture. It is one of the oldest surviving structures from medieval Japan, and was registered as the first Japanese National Cultural Treasure by UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Japanese National Cultural Treasure in December, 1993. Along with Matsumoto Castle and Kumamoto Castle, it is one of Japan's "Three Famous Castles", and is the most visited castle in Japan. It is occasionally known as Hakurojo or Shirasagijo ("White Heron Castle") because of its brilliant white exterior.

Himeji Castle frequently appears on Japanese television. Edo Castle (the present Kokyo) does not have a keep, so when a fictional show such as Abarenbo Shogun needs a magnificent substitute, the producers turn to Himeji.

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Japan's Mouth-Watering Delicacies

Unagi

Unagi

Grilled unagi is a delicacy in Japan, popular not only for its flavor but also for its stamina-giving properties. It's traditionally eaten during one of the hottest days of the summer (sometime in late July) to provide strength and vitality for the rest of the year.

Good unagi combines a rich flavor (a bit like pate) with an appetizing texture, crisp on the outside but tender on the inside. The cooking process is what makes the eel both crisp and tender: The eels are first grilled over hot charcoals, then steamed to remove excess fat, then seasoned with a sweetish sauce and grilled a second time. In the Kansai area (around Osaka) the steaming step is omitted and the eel is grilled longer, burning off the excess fat and producing an even crisper skin.

Shabu-Shabu

Shabu-Shabu

Shabu-shabu, also spelled syabu-syabu, is a Japanese variant of hot pot. The dish is related to sukiyaki in style, where both uses thinly sliced meat and vegetables, and usually served with dipping sauces. However, it is starkly different in taste; shabu-shabu is more savory and less sweet than sukiyaki. It is considered a winter dish but is eaten year-round.

The dish is traditionally made with thinly sliced beef, though modern preparations sometimes use pork, crab, chicken, duck, or lobster. Most often, tender ribeye steak is used, but less tender cuts such as top sirloin are also common. A more expensive meat, such as Kobe beef, may also be used for its enhanced flavor and texture.

Shabu-shabu is usually served with tofu and vegetables, including Chinese cabbage, chrysanthemum leaves, nori (edible seaweed), onions, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and enokitake mushrooms.

Teriyaki

Teriyaki

Teriyaki is a Japanese cooking sauce for fish or meat which has been cut or sliced and broiled or grilled in a sweet soy sauce marinade. The word derives from the word teri, which refers to a shine or luster given by the sauce, and yaki, which refers to the cooking method (grilling or broiling). In the traditional way of cooking the meat is either dipped in or brushed with the sauce multiple times before completion.

Traditionally, teriyaki sauce is made simply by mixing and heating four ingredients: Mirin, sugar, soy sauce, and sake (or occasionally another alcohol). These may all be in equal quantities or varied by the recipe. After being boiled and reduced to the desired thickness, the sauce is added to the meat which is marinated and then grilled or broiled. Sometimes ginger is added, and the final dish may be garnished with green onions.

Oshiruko

Oshiruko

Oshiruko, or shiruko is a traditional Japanese dessert. It is an azuki bean soup with mochi, served in a bowl. There are different patterns to oshiruko, such as oshiruko with chestnuts, or with shiratamas instead of mochi. It is loved by many Japanese, especially during cold weather. The half-melted sticky rice cake and the sweet, warm red bean soup is thought by many to be an absolute delight. Some Japanese-style cafes serve oshiruko with umeboshi as a side dish. This is because oshiruko is so sweet that the taste gets tiring after a while, so the customer can refresh their palate with the sour umeboshi.





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