Japan is a country with really wonderful and colorful culture.
It is an object of interest by the Europeans, perhaps because it is very remote and unknown.
This makes it very charming. In the recent years, Japanese culture, customs and traditions are increasingly spreading outside the country.
In Europe, for example, elements of Japanese lifestyle are increasingly intertwined cleverly into the everyday life.
When is the Best Time to Visit Japan?
Generally, it is very difficult, even impossible to determine the time of year that is best suited throughout the country.
For example, the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan is most beautiful in the summer months of July and August. In the rest of the year may be too cool.
The best season to visit Honshu and Kyushu is from April to October and even July and August are too hot.
Okinawa (southern Japan) offers year-round warm weather. From June to September is very warm.
Temperatures during these months are over 30°C, so for you would be better if you travel to Okinawa in the spring or autumn when the weather there is ideal.
If the lovely beaches of Okinawa are part of your plans while you are in Japan, you have to know that from late December to early February, the weather may be too cool for the beach.
And remember – Japan is rainy country.
With no matter when you go there you have to carry on necessarily your umbrella, because you will need to use it often.
Arrival in Japan
Probably arriving in the country of the rising sun you will notice two things that local people are notoriously known.
The first one is the famous Japanese politeness.
This is something like a national trait.
In fact, people in Japan are so careful and thoughtful, that it is very possible for a European or an American to feel somewhat awkward and clumsy to these soft and radiant people.
The second characteristic feature of Japanese people is the sense of order and discipline, which believe me, you may have heard a lot for it but if you have not seen it with your eyes it may just amaze you!
Transportation in Japan
If you have already decided to travel to Japan you should know that this is a country that has such a rich culture and so beautiful and varied scenery, that it would be better if you dedicate much more time than the standard one given to travel abroad.
You must be fully aware that for one or two weeks you can not learn practically anything from the vast natural and cultural diversity of Japan.
That what may be helpful for you in the Land of the Rising Sun is the amazing infrastructure and transport provision.
Practically you could need just a few hours to cross the country with high-speed Shinkansen trains, which are most commonly used means of movement between the cities in Japan.
That arrow “fly” between the Japanese cities at a speed exceeding 300 kilometers per hour!
This would save you a lot of costs because of the opportunity to travel comfortably without to rent a car.
*** If you plan to rent a car during your stay in Japan you have to know that in the Land of the Rising Sun movement is on the left side of the road, like it is in Britain, Australia or New Zealand.
*** The official currency of the country is the Japanese yen. It is a convertible currency, stable and with international positions.
*** Be careful with smoking, because there are some places, streets and neighbourhoods in Japan, where smoking is prohibited and if you break the law will be completely impossible to avoid serious fine!
*** Many people feel uneasy how they will communicated if they visit Japan, because Japanese language is extremely difficult and very few people can speak it. The truth is that there is no reason for anxiety. Here everyone speaks English.
*** When you buy something make sure the price – remember that Tokyo is considered to be one of the most expensive and sophisticated cities in the world .
*** National holiday in Japan is 23 December. This is the day that Emperor Akihito was born.
*** Japan is administratively divided into prefectures. Their number is 47 .
*** The red circle in the middle of the national flag of Japan symbolize the rising sun.
***The major religions of Japan are Buddhism and Shinto.
Japanese cuisine for example. Maybe the cuisine and cooking traditions of one country are the easiest and quickest way to its promotion in the world.
Traditional dishes of the Japanese themselves in the biggest part are really loved in the western world.
Moreover, the method of feeding of the Japanese has proven to be one of the healthiest.
Marine foods that Japanese eat, and great quantity of rice, fruits and vegetables reflect very favorably on their health and appearance.
The taste qualities of the local cuisine are unarguably.
Who has not heard for the famous Japanese sushi? This is the most famous delicacy which comes from the Land of the Rising Sun.
The sushi are usually prepared mainly with rice, vegetables and fruit, but often consist some seafood, mainly fish.
We can not miss the traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage – Sake. It is like the Greek ouzo, Mexican tequila or Irish whiskey.
This alcoholic beverage is produced in the process of fermentation of rice.
Another element of Japanese culture, which was very well accepted in the recent years from the Europeans is the so-called tea ceremony.
This healthy habit is realized every day and is irreplaceable as a relaxing effect on the human body and on the spiritual health and psyche of man.
Tea ceremony is filled with beauty, grace, elegance and refinement.
If you’ve ever seen a tea ceremony performed by the Japanese, there is no way to have not noticed how many fine and subtle they perform in each movement.
In the recent years, in Europe and the U.S. the society talks about the importance of the cult of nature and how it affects the human physical and spiritual health.
Here for example, Japanese much more rarely suffer from depression in autumn in comparison with Europeans and Americans, as in the Land of the Rising Sun people are generally spend more of their free time outdoors.
In fact, they seek to maintain the contact with the nature even when they are in their homes.
If you have ever been in Japan you might have noticed that in this country is tradition for the people to give up part of their living space in favor of such a beautiful garden in their yards.
This is noted in the structure of their homes – architects are trying to shape the living space with many windows through which to see the foliage outside.
There are also other important elements of Japanese culture, talking about the cult of nature.
The Japanese are notoriously known for their unfeigned love of the flowering of cherry and morello-trees.
Because of their love to these beautiful blossoming trees the Japanese have cultivated great variety of cherry and morello-trees that bloom at different times of year.
Interestingly, even in autumn and winter period can be seen flowering morello and cherry trees.
Even in some European countries Tour Agents offer special travel product designed for Japanese, in which the main attraction is relaxation among blossoming trees in the spring.
The inhabitants of the land of the rising sun are also masters of garden art.
In this country you can find the most beautiful decorated gardens, and to maintain a garden in the Japanese style is considered to be a manifestation of good taste in many Western countries.
Indispensable part of Japanese gardens are bonsai trees.
In fact, today’s bonsai trees were taken to Japan from China but have become an integral part of Japanese culture and Japan has great merit for the widespread of these miniature trees around the world.
Today they are grown by millions of households in Europe, North America and elsewhere.
Martial arts are also a colorful part of Japanese culture that is widespread in the western world.
Karate, Aikido, kiokoshinkay and many others are used worldwide for both defense and for spiritual development for the training people.
Japan has always been among the countries in the world who attach very great importance for good physical fitness from a very early age.
Many useful habits of Japanese society makes the islanders probably the most long-lived people on the planet (especially people from Okinawa), and dangerous diseases of modern civilization are far less than in Europe and America.
The country stretches over 2900 kilometers from north to south.
The country reaches to the north close to Russia and to the south reaches to the northern tropical circle east of the island of Taiwan.
This suggests amazing climatic diversity.
For example, the country falls within three climate zones – moderate in the north, subtropical in the majority from Japan and tropical in the territory of Okinawa Prefecture in the southern parts of Japan.
The climate is wet – everywhere and all year round.
Precipitation is very abundant and mainly of rain.
The northern and mountainous areas where fall heavy snows are rather an exception.
Of course, Tokyo sometimes suffers from massive winter storms and sometimes meets the down under thick snow cover, but these are rare cases.
Usually the first impression to visitors when they arrive in Japan are of hot and humid weather (mild and humid in winter).
We can offer an example with three different areas of Japan, and the goal is to get a clearer picture of the weather in different parts of the country during the year.
Sapporo is a city located in the southern part of Hokkaido (island in northern Japan).
It is located in temperate latitudes and has a temperate continental climate.
There is humid climate. Rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year.
Only in late spring and early summer the rainfalls are more rare. In the summer falls rain and in the winter – snow.
Winter months are December, January and February.
In this period the weather is very cold and usually fall heavy snow.
In December is about 2°C and January and February are even colder.
During these two months the average daily temperature is negative – about (-1) – (-2) °C.
From Siberia and Kamchatka easily invade Arctic cold masses as on their way there are no barriers which to stop them.
The spring lasts March, April and May.
At the beginning of this season the weather is quite cold. In March is about 3°C.
Gradually the weather become warmer and in late spring reaches about 18°C.
June, July, August and September are the summer months, but only in July and August are really warmer – about 25 – 26°C.
Otherwise, in June and September is about 22°C. October is a typical autumn month.
Temperatures in this month usually fall from 20 to about 10°C at the end of the month.
In November, temperatures continue to decrease and reach their winter values.
Capital of the Land of Rising Sun is located in the southeastern part of Honshu Island.
It falls within the subtropics and has a warm and humid subtropical climate.
Precipitation is predominantly of rain.
Snowfalls are much more rare. Winter lasts from December to late February.
It is a mild with temperatures around 10°C. In March comes the spring.
The changes in this month are very fast and sudden. From 12 degrees in early March the weather warms up to 20°C in late April.
May is the first summer month with temperatures around 22 – 24°C.
Summer lasts until late September, while August is the hottest – about 30°C.
October is the first autumn month – usually around 20 degrees. As the winter is warm, autumn comes somehow imperceptibly.
November is mild and warm with temperatures around 16 – 17°C.
Located in the southernmost part of Japan, Okinawa islands have a very humid tropical climate.
Here, temperatures throughout the year are over 19°C, but there is a difference between different parts of the year.
For example, from late December to early February is a little cool – around 19 – 20°C, from March to mid-December is quite warm – between 23 and 33°C.
The maximum of the temperatures is in July.
Months from September to December offer the best combination – moderate temperature and precipitation.
National Parks of Japan
This island country has amazing scenery.
Therefore it is not surprising that the Japanese make a cult of nature.
Most of the territory is occupied by mountains covered with thick mostly deciduous forests.
The coastline of the country is quite uneven.
For this reason there are thousands of small and picturesque coves with sheltered waters.
In many places there are beautiful beaches, but most of them are in Okinawa Prefecture in the southern-most part of the country.
There are some places you have to visit necessarily because they will give you the fullest picture of the beauty of Japan.
1. Ise Shima National Park
Ise Shima National Park is located in southeastern Japan about an hour south of metropolitan area of Nagoya.
This is a hilly area covered with dense and beautiful deciduous forests.
The park includes extremely segmented coast line, which consists of dozens of beautiful small islands, peninsulas and bays.
The park has an outlet of Matoya Bay – the largest bay in the region.
Locality offers some truly magnificent beaches.
In addition to enjoying the natural beauty, here you can visit a shrimp farm.
However, this is Japan and seafood here holds a special place.
2. Fuji Hakone Izu National Park
Fuji Hakone Izu National Park is another, which we recommend not to miss.
It is located half an hour drive from the capital Tokyo (omitted to add that Japan is not very large country and here you are at small distances from from many of the landmarks).
Pearl of the park and a symbol of Japan is the volcano of Fuji (Fujiyama).
Volcanic mountain rises to an altitude of 3776 m. – Iriomote Ishigaki is a gorgeous park.
Located on the island of Iriomote Jima in the southern prefecture of Okinawa.
Here the warm tropical climate will help you to enjoy the amazing biodiversity.
Most impressive are the dense mangrove forests and beautiful waterfalls are a great place to feel the energy of nature.
Iriomote Ishigaki is a wonderful place to practice eco-tourism, as it is situated in one of the most peaceful and isolated parts of Japan.
3. Shiretoku National Park
Shiretoku National Park is located in the far north of Japan where the winters are long and harsh and the summer passes like a moment.
This inspirational site is protected by UNESCO.
This is the most distant and detached corner in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Here, the harsh climate has turned the local nature into a polished diamond.
It is believed that this is the most beautiful part of Japan.
Mountains are covered with dense deciduous and coniferous forests.
Japan and the Natural Disasters
This beautiful country often suffers from the wrath of nature.
First we have to mention the earthquakes. They are frequent and strong.
In Japan, roads, bridges and buildings are constructed to withstand even to the strongest earthquakes.
Stronger shocks that Japan remembers are: Kobe – 6.9 in the Richter scale (1995) and Tokyo / Yokohama – 8.3 in the Richter scale(1923).
Besides these there are thousands of others – some stronger, others weaker.
About 20% of earthquakes in the world that are stronger than 6 degrees in the Richter scale occur here.
The reason is that there are different tectonic plates and because of their movement was born powerful earthquakes.
Indeed, again tectonic plates are responsible for the high volcanic activity of the Japanese archipelago.
This is one of the most volcanic countries in the world.
Even the symbol of Japan is volcano – Fujiyama.
Most of the volcanoes are active.
The third natural element, that “loves” the country of the Rising Sun are typhoons.
They hit the country most often during the hot summer months.
These natural disasters usually come to Japan from the southeast and the largest damages are experienced by the east coast of the country.
They emerge amidst the waters of the Pacific similar to the hurricanes and draw energy from warm ocean water.
Japan is not very large country – it has an area of about 377,835 sq. km, but its population is more than 128 million people.
It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world especially the metropolis of the capital Tokyo.
In this country there are several multi million agglomerations that are almost merged into one, but the biggest one is Tokyo, with over 30 million people. It is the largest city in the world.
Specific feature of Japan is that here in a very small area you can see few from these great cities.
Besides the world-famous megalopolis of Tokyo, you will see other multi million cities such as Kyoto (1,500,000), Kobe (1,600,000), Nagoya (2,300,000), Osaka (2,700,000), Yokohama (4,000,000) and others.
We must not forget however, that these cities are often bound together to such an extent that one can not understand when leaving the boundaries of a city and when enter into another.
For example, agglomerations of Kobe, Kyoto and Osaka are completely connected and together with the surrounding smaller villages and towns they form one megalopolis with boiling economy and a population of over 17,000,000 people!
Most densely populated part of Japan is southeastern part of the largest island Honshu. Japan’s population consists mostly of Japanese.
The reason is that very few people manage to adapt to this busy and dynamic society.
Foreigners in Japan are generally not much.
It consists primarily of residents of nearby geographical countries, for example China and Korea.
Other groups that have relatively more representatives are Britain, France, Australia, Russia and others.
Who has not heard about the Japanese economic miracle?
This is a period that lasts less than 20 years, but successfully startled the world.
“Economic miracle” began early 50 years as a recovery of Japanese economy after the war.
Japan began very quickly to restore its economy and not only that – it reached levels that until then were completely unknown to this country.
Technological progress of the country is striking.
Today it is clear to all that Japan is the Mecca of high technology, but then this was something new.
The land of the rising sun became the largest producer in the world of ships.
Became a leader in car manufacturing. It made a name as a world leader in the manufacture of household appliances.
For a short time Japanese products became synonymous of quality and precision.
And all this against a background of very poor resource base of the country.
By this time practically there is no other country in the world which to achieved such incredible success and because of this reason it is used the definition of “miracle”.
Furthermore, highly developed industry, today Japan has also well developed agriculture and food industry.
Major industries include rice production and fishing.