Background transportation Fascinating places Foods
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.TOP
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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