When you hear the word ‘Japan’, what keywords come to mind? Mount Fujij, cherry blossoms, zen and rock gardens. Japanese food, anime, skyscrapers, the famous intersection in Shibuya, or perhaps ‘ikigai’ or ‘konmari’. All of these keywords are deeply rooted in Japanese culture and topography. As the first entry of a three-part series about Japan, we’d like to introduce some of the basic facts about the East Asian country. 

Stats about Japan

Size:
Approx. 380,000 km2 (slightly larger than Germany)
There are roughly 6800 islands within this area. 

Population:
Approx. 120 million, almost double the population of the UK, but declining every year. In fact, about 27% of the population is 65 years old or older and has one of the world’s oldest medium age.

Ethnic Background:
98% of the population are Japanese nationals *1
The rate of international marriage is 3% *2.

Geography

Did you know that about 66% of Japan is mountainous? If you fly over the country, you will see beautiful mountain ranges with intricate velvet green patterns woven into the scenery. It’s a long, island country in the Far East where it sits on the border of four tectonic plates. As a result, the slow movement of each plate causes strain, causing frequent earthquakes. In addition, there are 111 active volcanoes in Japan, which equals 7% of the world’s active volcanoes. Thanks to the land in the volcanic zone, there are wonderful natural hot springs throughout Japan, and there are abundant water sources.

Climate 

Although the climate differs greatly between the north and south, the country generally has warm, temperate weather. That said, it often gets close to 40°C in various parts of Japan during the month of August. Moreover, it comes hand-in-hand with humidity that exceeds 70%, resulting in uncomfortably hot weather, contrary to the dry hot summers of Greece and Italy. To support these conditions, almost all trains and buildings are air conditioned.

Language

The main spoken language is, not surprisingly, Japanese. It is said to be one of the most difficult languages in the world. In fact, there are three types of characters (hiragana, katakana and kanji), and around 1,000 kanji are required by age 12.

Although most things are indicated in English throughout the cities, it is the bare minimum and hardly sufficient for foreign travelers. Furthermore, many Japanese people prefer not to speak in English. But if you have any trouble coming to Japan, please don’t hesitate to ask the people around you. Japanese people are generally very polite and friendly and will do their best to try and help you! 

Those are some of the basic facts of Japan – we hope you enjoyed learning about them!

From these natural environments and surroundings, how was this unique culture, history, and ‘Japanese-ness’ born? We encourage you to think about this the next time you’re in Japan. 

Planning a trip to the land of the rising sun? SoftBank is one of Japan’s largest telecommunications provider, and we’re offering Prepaid SIM Cards for Japan which you can conveniently purchase online before your trip so you can travel with peace of mind. Enjoy 3GB of data on any unlocked mobile phone for up to 31 days and start using data on your device as soon as you land!

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*1 https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASL9M5SB1L9MUTIL056.html
*2 https://www.nli-research.co.jp/report/detail/id=56881?site=nli