What Is Japan?

As expected, the response to the Canada post was much less.  However, I did expect a bit more than that.  But now, another country.

This time, it’s the country I live in, Japan.  With 1,130 views last year, it’s the number three country with 6% of the views.  Why do I get so many views from a country whose people don’t speak much English?  Well, my first blog is about Japan, and a lot of my readers there are expats, just like me.  So, logically, they also read this blog.  I’ll be relying on residents of Japan more than citizens, but I’d also like the opinions of people who have traveled in Japan.  So, have you been to Japan? Live in Japan?  Then I want your opinions.


Japan is an island country with four main islands and many smaller islands.  It’s a very long country spanning from subtropical Okinawa to temperate Hokkaido. It’s the 62nd largest country in the world at 377,944 square kilometres. It’s densely populated, but the mountains are largely untouched, so it has a vast wilderness of mountains and forests.  It has a population of 126,434,964, which is 10th in the world, and decreasing every year.  The capital and largest city is Tokyo, with a population of 8,967,665 (and a world-leading 35,682,460 metro population).  Japanese is the national language, though with a wide variety of regional dialects. Japan was established February 11, 660 BCE.  The leader of the country is the Prime Minister (currently Shinzo Abe), and the government type is a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy.  That means the head of state is Emperor Akihito.

Japan has a long history and many historic and natural sites.  There’s so much to see and do, and with the vastness of the Tokyo metropolitan area, you may not even have to leave the metropolis.  However, there’s much more to the country than the cities.  If you are Japanese, live in Japan, or have visited Japan, please give your opinion on these questions:

  1. What places would you say are the best to visit?
  2. What would you say is the truly Japanese food?
  3. What is a truly Japanese activity, sport, or pastime?
  4. For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) Japanese author?

Thank you for your help!  And please share with others so we can get many responses.

19 thoughts on “What Is Japan?”

  1. Japan is on my bucket list. If I had to pick one place….I’ve only ever seen photos and assorted documentaries. But the constant motion, lights, art, color…all of it. Maybe someday….

  2. 1. Best place: Get out of the cities. Hike to a remote mountain shrine or temple. There are many.
    2. Truly Japanese food: beer.
    3. Truly Japanese activity: “to go to shopping”.
    4. Greatest Japanese authors: Natsume Sōseki, Nagai Kafū, Murakami Haruki.

  3. 1. I loved Kyoto and I very much enjoyed Kamakura and Odaiba in Tokyo. There’s such a vast difference between the cities and the smaller towns. I suppose it depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for, though anywhere you go it’s an experience!
    2. Sushi. Sushi is good.
    3. Hiking seems to be a pretty popular pasttime there as well as taking pictures. 😉
    4. Love Haruki Murakami. 😀

  4. – What places would you say are the best to visit?

    As pretty much any other country in the world, I’d say “anywhere”, but because I currently live here, I’ll expand a little: away from the cities. If you want to see “real” Japan, go the small towns, go to the countryside, why would you want to spend time in the big cities, unless you have an undeterred passion for concrete? And above all, especially if it’s your first trip to Japan, avoid Tokyo altogether.
    Local plug in: the Seto Inland Sea area is one of the less known parts of Japan and yet one of the most beautiful.

    – What would you say is the truly Japanese food?

    Sushi, Ramen, Udon, Oden

    – What is a truly Japanese activity, sport, or pastime?

    Shopping, Hiking, Eating.

    – For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) Japanese author?

    Hard to tell. I don’t know enough Japanese writers to have an educated opinion on the topic. Like most people I love Haruki Murakami, but is he truly the greatest? I don’t know.
    How about Koushun Takami? 🙂

      1. It’s different. When I lived in Paris, I loved to show Paris around to my friends who were visiting, but you can be sure I never brought them to the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre, rather to places that non-Parisians have never heard about.

        Basically, I’m not saying one should never go to Tokyo, I’m saying that tourists who don’t know any local shouldn’t go, because they’re going to limit themselves to the famous places and miss the interesting places.

        1. True. That’s why I like wandering the back streets around Yokohama and Tokyo. Always something interesting to find. Less visited is Nippori near Ueno. It’s filled with pre-WWII houses and buildings. Very interesting to see.

  5. Having lived in Japan for 3 years, hopefully I’m qualified to answer!

    1) What places would you say are the best to visit?
    Of course Tokyo and Kyoto, but my all-time favourite place has to be Mount Koya. Visit if you want to see real, traditional Japan!

    2) What would you say is the truly Japanese food?
    I love Japanese street food, like takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and all the stuff you get at festivals. That’s real Japanese food to me!

    3) What is a truly Japanese activity, sport, or pastime?
    Sumo would have to be the sport, and martial arts of course too. Other than that, I would have to say working and commuting! The sight of a commuting salary man is all too familiar!

    4) Who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) Japanese author?
    Haruki Murakami and Natsume Souseki!

    1. I love festival food! I always go for jagabata, franks, and kakigori. My three favourites. If there’s grilled chicken steaks, I’ll have that, too.

      I’ve heard about Koyasan. Need to see it.

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