Geography of Japan
Japan stands on one of the world’s most geographically active areas generally surrounded by mountains most of which are volcanoes, with Mt. Fuji as the highest and most famous. It has four islands, namely; Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku with Tokyo as the largest and capital city.
Japan is associated with various names but the Japanese call their country either Nippon or Nihon in their language which means “the origin of the sun” thus making it the “Land of the Rising Sun”. Nippon is often for official usage such as that on the money and postal stamps while Nihon is the casual and common term such as the general term for their language, Nihongo.
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Japan is presently admired for having one of the world’s most progressive economies and for its advancement in high-tech fields. It is the fourth largest exporter and importer today after it reactivated its ports in the trading industry around the 1850s.
Religion of Japan
Japan caught the interest of China during the 4th century AD. It was also the era that mythologies related to the religion Shinto started. The Chinese also brought in Confucianism, which plays a big part in Japanese culture today. The Japanese were first mentioned in the documented history of the Chinese Book of Han. Korea started its connection with Japan during the Yamato era. Koreans were the ones who brought Buddhism to Japan. The majority of the Japanese are currently practicing both Shinto and Buddhism. Reliable documented (written) history starts around 400 AD with a legend stating settlements start around 660 BC.
Government of Japan
Japan is presently run by a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government and two legislative houses. The emperor serves as the symbol of the state and ceremonial leader thus making him the head of the Japanese Imperial Family and the Shinto religion. Executive power is endowed in the cabinet chosen and led by the prime minister. The prime minister is elected by the Japanese Diet, which holds the sole legislative authority. Japan has undergone many political changes and chaos in history yet one thing that remains is the presence of the imperial family, the oldest royal family still existing today. The first emperor of the Empire of Japan was Jimmu who reigned in 660 BC. Jimmu is considered the forefather of the present Emperor, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito, who has reigned since 1989. Modern historians consider Jimmu to be a mythological figure.
The majority of Japanese mythology is filled with supernatural belief and is often used to clarify the origin of things. It is based on their religions Shintoism and Buddhism that are also of great influence to their culture. Shintoism features the worship of ancestors and nature. The Japanese believe that dead people have the same importance as living individuals. For them, the land and life are holy, and everything on earth is sacred. They use their myths to trace back the mythical era and connect it to the present day. There were various myths that talk about the actual historical figures.
Their legend declares that Japan started with the goddess of sun and fertility, Amaterasu, who brings light and from whom the emperors also descended. She gives power to the emperor and strengthens the nation. She started the line of emperors by sending her grandson, Ninigi no Mikoto, along with her mirror and her brother’s jewels and sword to earth. The three treasures were still linked to the royal family up to the present.
The mirror is preserved at the Ise Grand Shrine where Amaterasu is worshiped. Ninigi got married to the goddess of Mt. Fuji and they were blessed with three sons, one of them became the father of Jimmu Tenno, the country’s first emperor. The imperial family descends from him. Another myth was about the two godly princes, the brothers named Hoderi and Hoori. Hoderi who excelled in fishing and Hoori who was into hunting one day decided to compete to find which excels more in the other’s sport. Hoori lost not only the game but also the lucky fish hook that Hoderi gave him. Hoori went to the sea to look for the hook where he encountered and later on married the Sea King’s daughter. They had a son who later on married his mother’s sister who took care of him since he was a child. They had a son they named Temmu who became the first emperor of Japan.
Temmu exists in Japan’s history. He reigned in 673 BC and started the line of emperors that exists until the present. He is the original emperor found in the oldest Japanese book of myths. The Kojiki which was compiled from oral history in 712 AD with the goal of tracing the connection of the imperial family to the gods delegating them as divines and gods. Tenno, the Japanese term for the Emperor of Japan literally means “heavenly emperor”. Miyazaki Prefecture located in the south of Japan is the place that housed the country’s mythology.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_of_Japan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_mythology http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_Japan http://www.ahrtp.com/ancienthistory/eBooks/amaterasu.html http://www.answers.com/topic/japan http://www.beautiful-mermaid-art.com/japanese-myths.html http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ab83 http://www.everyculture.com/Ja-Ma/Japan.html http://www.everyculture.com/wc/Japan-to-Mali/Japanese.html
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