Japan's history is long, with a ruling family which has been in place longer than any other in the world. Japan was an isolationist country until Commodore Matthew Perry presented Japan with Fillmore's letter. Afterwards, Japan quickly modernized and militarized, and won the respect of Europe after it defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese war. In the following years Japan invaded Manchuria, Korea, and eventually parts of China. During this time, the Japanese came to be known and feared for being especially brutal (examples include the rape of Nanking, where the Japanese killed over 200,000 civilians and noncombatants) The United States cut off trade with Japan in response, which hurt Japan's military ambition. This led Japan to bomb Pearl Harbor, and bring the United States into World War 2. The war ended with Japan surrendering unconditionally after nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and with the Soviet Union invading Manchuria and the Sakhalin Islands. Japan was left a ruin, with its economy a shambles. However, the following four decades saw a time of tremendous reconstruction and economic growth. However, the 90's have marked a rather long-lasting recession, one which Japan has not yet fully recovered.
Japan is known today mainly for its consumer technology and its popular culture. While the Japanese did not invent many of the things they produce, they have successfully improved and marketed them. Most famous are console gaming systems, which the Japanese produced exclusively starting with the Atari and ending in recent times when Microsoft released the Xbox. Their popular culture is regarded as rather bizarre by much of the world, especially the western one. Some aspects of this include their animation (referred to as "Anime" or "Japanimation" in the western world) and their late night game shows. However, not all aspects of their popular culture are positive. For instance, the Japanese show an unhealthy sexual infatuation with underage people, going so far as to have numerous pornographic videos, pictures, etc. of oboviously underage subjects.
The western world generally regards Japan with a combination of respect (for their business techniques and such) and amusement (with their popular culture). Most Oriental countries (most notably China and Korea) have a rather negative view of Japan. This is in part due to the atrocities the Japanese committed on them during the Second World War, and in part to the behavior of Japanese tourists, which is generally viewed as snobbish.
A island nation to the east near Korea.
Often overrated by anime junky.
Many people in North American and parts of Europe have many misconceptions about Japan. Many believe that the country lives, eats, sleeps, and breaths anime and people still walk around with swords and ninja and shoguns are still about. Even though weapons have been banned from civilians for years. Many people think Japan invented anime, well they are wrong all they did was improve on the idea of Disney cartoons that American GI’s brought over for entertainment. The reason why anime is where it’s at today is because you don’t have people who say animation is for kids nor do you have television producers saying.”You can’t put that on TV because its violent.”
The school system in japan is great even though they sometimes go to school 6 days a week depending on the school. Although Japan has little shootings “about 30 a year” more people just get stabbed. Teen suicide much like the rest of Asia is sky high because of the requirements of the Japanese school system.
Electronics in Japan are advanced even though 90% of them where invented in the US or other places. They go to Japan to become improved or mass produced. Stuff in Japan can be EXTREMELY expensive. A small two bedroom one bathroom apartment in Tokyo can cost around $700,000 US dollars.
Japan’s history is varied. From Shoguns and warriors of the feudal era to the atrocities of WW2 to stories of honor and respect. Although Japanese history classes are very vague on their history and their role in it.
Most Japanese people like the western influence because it made Japan the way it is today. Even though it involved the US dropping two atomic bombs on them and they hate they enjoy that the fact the US made them what it is. So it’s a trade off. *That part right there I got from interviewing a Japanese exchange student.*
Japan as a physical country is a really neat place. From mountains, valleys, rivers and lakes to the sandy and rocky beaches. Japan is a land of beauty.
So in all Japan is really a nice country and a great place to visit if you got the money to. But it is not a promise land so many people believe. Having been to Japan my self a few times I must say go to Japan for the culture beyond anime and electronics and the high-rises of the major cities and see the sights. Also don’t think of Japan as you see in anime and games think of it as a real country with real people like you and me. A good thing to if you go to Japan is to read up the different festivals and go to them. I guaranty your trip will be worth it.
2) World class producers of automobiles.
3) World class producers of small electronic gizmos with no readily identifiable use.
4) World class producers of animated tentacle-rape porn, disturbingly....
5) One of the few countries to feature vending machines with schoolgirl knickers in.
6) Has really perfected the *art* of toilet making. Music and automatic scent release, from a toilet shaped like a mouth? Fantastic!
7) Has the world's second largest defence budget, in real terms.
8) Doesn't seem to do much with that money. One can only assume that a giant robot godzilla is around the corner.
9) Limited land area. One can only ski for a short distance before smacking into the side of a cooperative bank.
Women should stay FAR away from any crowded place, because it's more that probable that she'll get groped at least six times before she gets back to her hotel room. If she's lucky.
Their music includes cute j-pop to ultra-brutal grindcore. Suicide rate is high, people are nationalistic.
Due to being an island, Japan's main source of food is seafood. Sushi is one of Japan's specialties and can be made in a variety of ways. Popular dishes include Nigiri, Gunkan, and Norimaki. (source : japan-guide.com)
Another type of popular Japanese foods are its sweets. Some of the most famous are Pocky (bisquit sticks covered with a type of icing), Pucca (sea-creature shaped pretzle-like snack filled with chocolate), and Ramune Candies (made after a popular drink called Ramune that's very sweet and comes in a glass bottle with a marble in the neck). These items are shipped around the world and can commonly be found in a local store.
In the common Japanese household, many things are different from what you may be used to. When you enter one's home, you take off your shoes at a front square, switching to slippers (common colour is green).
When you need to use the restroom, there is another type of slippers available called "Toilet Slippers". They are often decorated with cute characters but I believe the most popular ones I've seen have a silhouette of a man and woman.
There is a kind of Japanese toilet that a lot of people aren't used to. Most of it is "in-ground", so for use, you must squat, facing the pipes. Thankfully, these are usually seen at public places rather than a home.
Japanese schools tend to also be different from what most are used to. Many students go six days a week, Saturday being a half day. When you go to enter the school, there is usually rows of cubbies or lockers where you switch your shoes into a kind of white slipper. Many girls decorate theirs with magic markers, writing their name or drawing little pictures (even though it's usually against school rules).
Instead of changing classes and flipping out because the bell's going to ring, in Japan, the teacher comes to you. In between classes, there is a short break, allowing you to talk quickly with your friends. When the teacher arrives, usually what happens is all the class rises, greeting the teacher, sometimes bowing in unison. The books from your classes all day were to be stored in your desk.
During lunch, the desks in the class are pushed together to form small tables. Students eat, read manga, fix their hair, and talk to their friends. Some people visit other classrooms.
The class is divided into groups. One group goes home, the other group stays to clean up the room (mop the floor, clean the desks off with a sponge...etc.) You can see this during an episode of Sailor Moon Live Action. It also shows you what the average classroom looks like and what happens during lunch.
Cram School is a school many Japanese students go to after hours. I know, more school, AH!! It's exactly what it's called. It's to help you get ready for University exams and other information. Sorry, I don't really have much more to say on this, but you can get the idea of a cram school by, again, watching Sailor Moon Live Action.
Practically every public high school in Japan requries a uniform. For boys, it is typically black pants with a black jacket with a high collar and buttons running down the front. For girls, it is a pleated skirt (long in the winter and short in the summer) with a shirt that looks like a sailor (popular in many kinds of anime), or a jacket/vest and shirt. A school logo is usually on the jacket or vest and each school has a different colour scheme for the uniform.
The gym uniform is a shirt and shorts for boys with matching colours (typically white and blue) and girls have a shirt with shorts that resemble outer underwear (typically white and red). The gym classes are usually divided between boys and girls.
Ahhh... Japanese music, one of my favourite things to talk about. It is becoming increasingly popular every year across the globe. AOL radio even features a staion titled "Japanese Pop", I believe. Anyways, the two most known are Jrock and Jpop (Japanese rock and Japanese pop). Even though they're titled 'rock' and 'pop' the music tends to be quite different from what we're used to. Since I can't really quite explain the music, here are some popular bands that should be checked out :
Jrock : hide (will be missed), X Japan, Hyde, L'arc~en~Ciel, Dir en Grey (going to be taking a tour through America), Psycho le Cemu, Alice Nine, Miyavi, MUCC, and Vidoll. (there's a LOT of others, but I just can't list them all!)
Jpop : Ayumi Hamasaki and Gackt (Like I said, lots more, go check it out!)
Japanese fashion tends to be a bit more wild than American fashion (even though popular fashion in Japan is becoming increasingly more American).
FRUiTS is a magazine that shows pictures of Japanese street fashion, one of the purest forms of modern day Japanese fashion. You may think the clothes don't match, but to others (including myself) think it's pure genius! For a "FRUiTS Look", it usually requires a lot of layering.
Lolita is a childish and elegant look which resembles old fashion clothing with many frills, bows, and lace for the girls, and typically a suit for the boys. Gothic Lolita, a popular style of Lolita, tends to be more dark and usually uses only the colours of black and white, sometimes grey and red. It is a very elegant style and the usually the goal for girls in Lolita is to look as childish and pure as possible. A popular clothing company for Lolita is Metamorphose.
Another popular clothing company is h.NAOTO
There are many more imporant aspects of Japan, but what I described was Japan in a nutshell! Other interesting topics of Japan are Geisha, History, Kimono Making, Anime and Manga, and electronics.
Also some people have claimed Korea is like Japan and have copied them, but in truth, Japan has actually stolen many customs of China and Korea.
I apologize for my form of writing. I tried not being too biased but I could not help it.