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Japan is an island country situated in East Asia surrounded by the Sea of Japan, Sea of Okhotsk, the East China Sea and Taiwan. The mainland includes five main islands which are Hokkaido, Honshu, Okinawa, Shikoku, and Kyushu. The total area of Japan is 377,975 km2 and a population of 125 million is one of the most populated countries in the world. Tokyo is the capital and the largest city of Japan, Osaka and Nagoya are some of the other major cities.
Japan’s history goes back to as far as 1st century AD but it wasn’t until between the 4th and 9th centuries when Japan was united under one Emperor. However, starting in the 12th century Japan was divided and ruled by various rulers namely military dictators or shogun, feudal lord or daimyo, and warrior nobility known as samurai. Japan was involved in a century-long civil war and in 1603 it was once again united under the Tokugawa Shogunate.
After that, for a long period of time Japan kept itself isolated from the outside world but from 1854 to 1868 the United States forced Japan to open trade to the West. Japan was heavily involved in the Second World War as a major axis power. But after two atomic bombings, Japan surrenders in 1945.
Modern-day Japan is one of the great powers in the world. They saw major economic growth after World War 2 became one of the most developed countries in the world. Japan made significant contributions to science and technology and a global leader in the automotive and electronics industries. Japan is also known for its art, music, cuisine, and many popular cultures like animation and video game industry.
Japanese food strongly emphasizes freshness and is thus a seasonal affair. Food is usually cooked either for a very short time or served raw. The central place of fish, fruit, rice, and noodles in the Japanese diet means that it is often mentioned in connection with a healthy lifestyle. Rivaling Van Gogh’s palette, the wealth of color found in the cuisine ensures that it is not only pleasing to the tongue but also to the eye.
Stepping into an onsen for the first time will inevitably incite severe jealousy of the life of the sea otter in you. Made viable by Japan’s volcanic undercurrents, Onsen is hot springs that run throughout the country, both on public ground and private land, and the soothing water is said to have restorative powers.
Whatever the case, the onsen is so soothing that even the macaque (or snow monkey) take advantage of the waters and can be found lounging in the hot springs near Nagano.
Safety in Numbers
Despite having one of the largest populations on the planet, Japan has one of the lowest crime rates on earth. Potential reasons for this are as diverse and proliferous as the people who provide them: From sociologists to psychologists and from law enforcement to the average person on the street, everyone has a different explanation.
An excellent example of the atmosphere in Japan can be found in the InterNations Expat Insider Survey, in which 82% of respondents in Japan described it as very safe. For expats from less safe nations, the lack of crime can be a pleasant thing to get used to in Japanese everyday life.
In the modern world, public transport has replaced the weather as the major complaint featured in awkward small talk. For many a late riser, there is nothing worse than knowing you are late for work and watching more minutes go by as you wait in the pouring rain for a train or bus running ten minutes late. In comparison, the Japanese public transport system seems to have jumped off the pages of a futuristic novel.
Arguably among the most reliable, punctual, and efficient systems in the world, the train is the ubiquitous mode of transport in the country. Other options are busses and taxis; however, cab drivers are rarely proficient in English.
It is in the sphere of hospitality and general kindness that the Japanese distinguish themselves. Known as omotenashi in the industry, Japanese hospitality is one that attempts to preempt the needs of their guests or clients, as those who make direct requests are thought to be unsophisticated.
It is a concept that has selflessness and going the extra mile at its very heart. Although it is hard to define, anyone who has been to Japan will know exactly what it means and for many, it is one of the highlights of their stay. However, it is important to note that the courtesy and kindness of the Japanese extend beyond the service industry, thus making expatriate life here somewhat easier than elsewhere.
The natural landscape in Japan has inspired countless artists, poets, and, indeed, laymen to create works of art. From folding screens carefully covered in portrayals of cherry blossoms to solemn haiku, pieces honoring the sublimity of Japanese nature are found the world over.
In Japan, one can see the extremes of the natural world, for it is both a famous skiing destination and a mass of volcanic activity. Between these elemental extremes are green forests, long rivers, and giant lakes that can astound one in equal measure.
The only thing that can rival Japan’s natural landscape is the creatures that inhabit it. Including the aforementioned snow monkey, the country hosts a rich biodiversity, and it is not strange to see local deer sauntering through urban areas. Other animals native to Japan include martens, sables, black and brown bears, salamanders, and red-crowned cranes.
However, the most famous animal in Japan is, probably, the koi fish. As an island nation, the relationship between the Japanese and the native fish is a close one.
The diet consists largely of fish, fishing is a national pastime, and houses often contain aquariums. However, nowhere is the interaction between Japanese and marine life more profound than in their relationship with koi fish. The Japanese even had a hand in the animal’s evolution, when in the early nineteenth-century rice farmers began breeding carp to exploit their natural aesthetic qualities.
When it comes to conceiving the perfect metropolis, the model is not found in the mind of great sci-fi writers, but rather in the collaboration of the architects and engineers of Japan.
Veritable high-tech warrens, cities such as Tokyo and Yokohama bath their inhabitants in the neon glow of giant, digital billboards and make Manhattan look like a medieval dungeon. Tokyo and Yokohama are world-renowned centers for fashion, art, and food, with the former possessing the most Michelin stars in the world.
It is no surprise that Japan is a country rich in history. Since the dawn of man, it has seen the rise and fall of a plethora of cultures, all socially and politically advanced and yet extremely varied.
The remnants of these different lives are sprinkled through the countryside and are well archived and illustrated in the country’s countless museums. Brilliant exhibits include the shogun exhibit at the Tokyo National Museum and the artifacts at the Nara National Museum.
In Japan, higher education starts upon the completion of 12 years of education: elementary education (6 years of elementary school) and secondary education (3 years of lower secondary school and 3 years of upper secondary school). There are 5 types of higher education institutions where international students can be admitted to, which are
Depending on the funding bodies, these higher education institutions are categorized into three types: national, local, public, and private.
The qualifications for admission differ according to the type of higher educational institution students would like to enroll in. A student who has completed his or her secondary education (including high school) and school education for 12 years or more outside of Japan will qualify for admission to a Japanese university.
A student educated in a country where primary and secondary education (including high school) lasts for less than 12 years will become qualified for admission if he or she completes a college preparatory course designated by the Japanese Minister of Education and the student is over 18 years old.
Those who have qualifications such as an International Baccalaureate or Abitur and are aged at least 18 years are also qualified for admission to a Japanese university.
There is only one official language spoken in Japan, which is of course Japanese. However, many Japanese are able to understand English to a certain extent since English is a foreign language that everyone must learn as part of compulsory education.
The general case of studying in Japan begins with a student first enrolling in a Japanese-language institute. The student takes an entrance exam and enrolls in a university or other institute of higher education after they study Japanese and other subjects at a Japanese language institute for one to two years.
For this reason, the choice of a Japanese-language institute becomes extremely important for a prospective student.