Japan Religion, Transport, Geography, Politics and Population

Religion in Japan

The main religions are Shintoism (before 1945 – the state religion) and Buddhism, Christianity has become somewhat widespread. Calendar – Gregorian (since 1873). The chronology is also widespread according to the names of the eras of the reign of emperors.

Currently, there is no state religion in Japan and many Japanese say that they do not have a special religion. However, two types of religion have played a prominent role in the formation of many traditions. These are Buddhist and Shinto rituals. Usually the marriage ceremony takes place according to Shinto rituals. Funerals often follow Buddhist rites.

The origins of Shinto lie in ancient history and myths. Spiritual forces (kami), as is commonly believed, existed in nature, in trees, mountains, sea and wind. People had to worship these forces and live in harmony with nature. With the development of Shintoism, the kami pantheon included ancestors, heroes and people revered for their fortitude. At first, people went to nature to worship kami, but later they began to build temples for worship. Another religion with deep roots in Japan is Buddhism. Originating in India in the 6th century BC, Buddhism arrived in Japan via China and Korea in the middle of the 6th century AD. Buddhism developed into many different sects, much like Christianity split into several denominations. The most famous sects in Japan are Shingon and Zen.

Today, when the Japanese society preaches religious freedom, 2 percent of the population are Christians. There are also Orthodox churches in Japan with their parishioners.

Transport in Japan

In Japan, there is left-hand traffic, so it will be unusual for Russian citizens to rent a car. The most convenient means of transportation is public urban transport. The fare for the metro and bus depends on the duration of the journey. The minimum fare is 150 yen on the subway and 220 yen on the bus. Taxi is expensive. It is very interesting to travel around Japan on a high-speed train (more than 200 km per hour) “Shinkansen”.

Narita International Airport is an hour’s drive from Tokyo. It is best to get from it to the center of the Japanese capital by express bus “shuttle bus”.

Railways are the main transport arteries of the country, along with maritime transport. A network of state-of-the-art high-speed trains connects most cities in the country, and also serves most of the domestic routes in metropolitan areas. They are divided into long-distance trains, and local lines, which in turn are divided into simple express trains, “limited express trains” and ordinary electric trains that run with all stops. Regardless of the distance, all Japanese trains are equipped with soft seats, vending machines with coffee and soft drinks, a toilet, a landline telephone and a convenient scoreboard in Japanese and English are required.

For rail travel, the Japan Rail Pass (valid only for visitors with a tourist visa, purchased in advance) is convenient, providing unlimited travel on trains, buses and ferries of Japan Railways, as well as on some trains of private companies, within a certain period (one, two or three weeks). A personalized ticket, transferring it to another person is prohibited (during checks, you must present your passport to confirm the legality of the purchase).

Intra-city railway lines are highlighted in color, have rather confusing routes, and often depart from the same platforms, so you should carefully study the information stands (they also indicate information about the fare to a particular station). The fare is 120-300 JPY, tickets are purchased at special ticket machines at the stations (long queues are frequent) and are surrendered at the exit of the train at the destination station. There are special electronic “orange cards” worth 1,000, 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000 JPY, which must be inserted into a special machine before the trip and dial the cost of the ticket, while the amount is automatically debited from the card. When moving from a branch owned by one company to a branch of another company, a new ticket is bought.

The bus route system is extremely developed and covers all cities, but is usually extremely difficult for an unprepared person. Most bus routes operate from 7.00 to 21.00, some buses serving remote areas operate from 5.30 to 23.00. At each stop, its name, route and its number are indicated, however, often only in Japanese. Payment is made before leaving the bus. In the city, a trip costs about 200 JPY, outside the city – depending on the distance. There is a one-day pass for about JPY 1,200 (JPY 600 for children under 12), which in some cases is also valid for subway travel.

Plant and Animal World in Japan

Due to the abundance of sunny days and moisture, the flora of Japan is very rich and diverse. Forests occupy 67% of the territory.

In the north, these are coniferous (spruce and fir) forests of the temperate zone, similar to those in the Far East. When moving south, they are first replaced by broad-leaved forests (oak, beech, maple), then by coniferous forests of Japanese cryptomeria, cypresses, pines (south of Hokkaido and northern Honshu), followed by (in the south of Honshu and north of Kyushu and Shikoku) – evergreen broad-leaved forests (Japanese magnolia, scalloped oak). In the very south (southern Kyushu and Ryukyu), subtropical evergreen forests stretch. In addition, here you can even find tropical rainforests, in which palm trees, tree ferns, bananas and even ficuses are found. In the mountains – evergreen oaks and various tropical conifers. On some islands, natural forests of Japanese cryptomeria have been preserved, individual trees of which, reaching 40-50 m in height and 5 m in diameter, are already about 2000 years old.

Some mountains on the island of Honshu, including Mount Fuji, and the central mountain range on the island of Hokkaido rise above the upper limit of the forest. Thickets of rhododendron, elfin cedar, heaths, subalpine and alpine meadows are common there.

The fauna of Japan, on the contrary, is not very diverse, which is explained by the isolation and remoteness of the Japanese islands from the mainland. However, some species of woodpeckers, pheasants, dragonflies, crabs, sharks, snakes, salamanders and marine mammals are no longer found; are endemic to the Japanese islands.

The country is inhabited by the Japanese macaque, brown bear, short-legged wolf, fox, sable, weasel, mountain antelope. A variety of birds, including many migratory and marine. Seas, rivers and lakes of Japan abound with fish

Minerals in Japan

Japan is not rich in minerals. Only coal, iron ore, sulfur, manganese and lead-zinc ores are mined on the islands, the reserves of which are extremely small. There are also minimal reserves of oil, copper and chrome ores, as well as gold, silver and mercury.

Banks in Japan

Currency exchange can be done at the airport upon arrival, as well as in most bank branches (there are also special currency exchange machines) – but here you can encounter bureaucratic formalities. The most favorable exchange conditions are usually offered at the airport, as in hotels the exchange rate is no more than 300 USD per person per day. It is impossible to exchange currency “on the street”. On weekdays, banks are usually open from 9 am to 3 pm. Banks are also open from 9 am to 12 pm on the first and last Saturday of the month. Sunday is a day off.

Money in Japan

The currency in Japan is the Japanese yen. Japan is the country with the smallest number of different types of banknotes among all the countries of the world. There are only three types of banknotes in use: in denominations of 10,000, 5,000 and 1,000 yen, as well as coins in denominations of 500, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1 yen.

Rate: 100 Japanese Yen (JPY) = 0.79 USD

Political State in Japan

According to politicsezine, Japan is a constitutional monarchy with an emperor as head of state. The legislature is a bicameral parliament, consisting of the House of Councilors and the House of Representatives. In reality, the first person in the country is the prime minister, in whose hands the executive power is concentrated. The current prime minister is Junichiro Koizumi, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Population in Japan

Japan is a single-ethnic country, over 99% of the population are Japanese (including the ethnographic group of the Ryukyuans). The population of Japan is currently about 126.5 million people. On the island of Hokkaido, the remains of the oldest population of the country, the Ainu (about 20 thousand people), have largely lost their original culture and language. There are also Koreans (over 700 thousand people), Chinese and others. The official language is Japanese.

The official language is Japanese.

Cuisine in Japan

A lot has already been said about Japanese cuisine. It is probably impossible to find a modern person in a large metropolis who has never tried sushi in his life. Therefore, a visit to Japan will be incomplete if you do not dedicate the time periods allotted for eating to tasting national Japanese dishes.

Their diversity is accompanied by the fact that Japan occupies one of the leading places in the world in terms of catching fish. Tradition, exquisite taste, and the recognized benefits of including seafood in the diet prevented Western food from penetrating the table of the ordinary Japanese, as a result of which Japanese cuisine recipes continue to improve and multiply to the delight of its many fans.

The menu of almost any Japanese restaurant includes traditional “sushi” – a more accurate Japanese pronunciation of the word “sushi” (such rice balls with various fillings. In our Japanese restaurants they are called rolls.) And “sashimi” (slices of raw fish served with seasoning from soy sauce and wasabi – Japanese horseradish). In addition, you will be offered a wide selection of live and recently caught squid, tiny octopuses – and other marine life.

Also, do not forget to appreciate the taste of “yakitori” – cut into small pieces of chicken meat with vegetables, tender pieces of beef boiled in boiling water “shabu-shabu”, as well as Japanese burdock dishes – “soba” and “undon”. For special gourmets, highly qualified chefs prepare “fugusashi” – a dish of small poisonous fugu fish. The muscles, liver, and roe of one fish contain a nerve-paralytic poison. But do not worry – local chefs are responsible for the quality of the dish – there are rumors that if a client dies from poisoning, the chef makes himself hara-kiri.

A special point will be acquaintance with the traditional Japanese alcoholic drink – “sake”, a strength of 18-20 degrees, mistakenly attributed to vodka. Sake is usually drunk warmed to body temperature.

Cuisine in Japan

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