Many people might have impressions about Japan being a very small country, but is it really true? We often hear people saying that the culture and the people in Japan is so different and unique from anywhere in the world, but do you know why? Here, you might be able to find some keys to understand facts and secrets behind.
Japan’s Surface Area
Photo Credit:The True Size Of
The first impression that many people may have about Japan can often be that it is a very small country (in terms of its surface area). Well, Japan has its surface area of 377,972 km². This figure might sounds still small? Let’s see if other countries that people might think that they are much larger than those of Japan. For example, Germany is 357,121 km², Italy is 301,336 km², and the United Kingdom is 242,49 km². As you can see from these figures, Japan’s surface area is, in fact, larger than those countries. So, Japan is not a country that many people would have thought to be very tiny.
Japan’s Length and Width
Photo Credit:On The World Map
Now, you know that Japan is not as small as you have imagined. Do you then know the length and the width of Japan? The length in a north-south direction of Japan is about 2,787 km long and in a east-west direction is about 3,146 km. Which means, if you place Japan in the European continent in a north-south direction, for example, Japan lies from southern part of Finland through the south of Spain. So, if you travel Japan from the far north to the bottom south, you will be surprised to experience the diversity of its culture, weather, and customs. In the north of Japan (Hokkaido), it snows up to more than one meters high in winter, but in the south of Japan (Okinawa, for example) has a tropical climate with tropical trees throughout the year. So, Japanese people take vacations to the north to enjoy the snow and skiing, as some European people travel over Finland to enjoy the snow. Then, we go down to the south for the heat and the tropical weather, as European people go to the Mediterranean countries to search for the sun.
Photo Credit:Yoshikazu TAKADA
You might have seen some images of Japan being packed by people on the streets, trains, etc. especially in the largest cities like Tokyo. It is true that the population in Japan is very large with 127 million people and is larger than those countries with similar or smaller surface area, such as Germany (81 million), Italy (59 million), and the United Kingdom (63 million), yet this is not the only reason that population seems to be dense in Japan. About 70% of Japan is uninhabitable area with mountains, and the the rest of 30% is inhabitable area which is often located along the coastlines of Japan where the land is flat. Therefore, it is inevitable that the population density in the inhabitable region becomes very high compared to other countries. So, this could be another reason which gives impressions to people that Japan is a small country packed with people.
Japan’s Unique Culture
During the Edo period (in the 17th century) in Japan, the generals (Shogun 将軍) of Japan started to control and to limit the exchange of business and people between foreign countries. The main reasons for such restrictions was said to be to prevent the Catholicism from further spreading within Japan that was first introduced by the Portuguese Christian missionaries in 1954 to Japan. It was also to protect Japan from any attempt of invasions to colonize Japan by other countries, especially by the European countries, at that time. This Japan’s foreign policy continued for about 200 years until 1854. During these 200 years, only Dutch, Chinese, and Korean nationals were allowed to do some business in Japan under the control of the Japanese government because it was believed that their intention was to do business between Japan, and did not have any intentions to spread Catholicism. The two hundred years of the very limited contacts between foreign people and countries, which is considered to be a very long period of time, might have led to keep and preserve Japan’s tradition and culture very unique and different from other countries.
What do you think?
Were you surprised to know the fact that Japan is not necessarily a tiny country? Did you know about the history that Japan restricted any contacts with foreign people for such a long period of time? Anyhow, we hope that you would discover real Japan by visiting us to see and feel how Japan is really like to you.