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The Japan Portal
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Location of Japan on the world map
Imperial Seal of Japan

Japan, officially Nippon (日本) is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of China, Korea and Russia. The characters that make up Japan's name mean "sun-origin", which is why Japan is sometimes identified as the "Land of the Rising Sun".

Japan comprises over 3,000 islands, the largest of which are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku. Most of the islands are mountainous, many volcanic; for example, Japan’s highest peak, Mount Fuji, is a volcano. Japan has the world's tenth largest population, with about 128 million people. The Greater Tokyo Area, which includes the capital city of Tokyo and several surrounding prefectures, is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 30 million residents.

Influence from the outside world followed by long periods of isolation has characterized Japan's history. Since adopting its constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament, the Diet.

A major economic power, Japan has the world's third largest economy by nominal GDP. It is a member of the United Nations, G8, G4, OECD and APEC, with the world's fifth largest defense budget. It is also the world's fourth largest exporter and sixth largest importer and a world leader in technology and machinery.

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Japanese battleship Yamato under attack
Operation Ten-Go was the last major Japanese naval operation in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Other renderings of this operation's title in English include Operation Heaven One and Ten-ichi-gō. In April 1945, the Japanese battleship Yamato, the largest battleship in the world, along with nine other Japanese warships, embarked from Japan on a deliberate suicide attack upon Allied forces engaged in the Battle of Okinawa. The Japanese force was attacked, stopped, and almost completely destroyed by United States (U.S.) carrier-borne aircraft before reaching Okinawa. Yamato and five other Japanese warships were sunk. The battle demonstrated U.S. air supremacy in the Pacific theater by this stage in the war and the vulnerability of surface ships without air cover to aerial attack. The battle also exhibited Japan's willingness to sacrifice large numbers of its people in desperate attempts (see kamikaze) to slow the Allied advance on the Japanese home islands. By early 1945, following the Solomon Islands campaign, the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the once formidable Imperial Japanese Navy's Combined Fleet was reduced to just a handful of operational warships and a few remaining aircraft and aircrew. Most of the remaining Japanese warships in the Combined Fleet were stationed at ports in Japan, with most of the large ships at Kure, Hiroshima. With the invasions of Saipan and Iwo Jima, Allied forces began their campaign against the Japanese homeland. As the next step before a planned invasion of the Japanese mainland, Allied forces invaded Okinawa on April 1, 1945.

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Fireworks at the Nagaoka Matsuri
Credit: Kropsoq

In early August, during the three-day festival known as Nagaoka Matsuri, tens of thousands of fireworks are launched near the Shinano River in Nagaoka in Niigata Prefecture.

On this day...

May 27:



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A head-and-shoulders photograph of Beato in profile. He is facing towards the left of the frame and has a full beard.
Beato c. 1866
Felice Beato (1832 – 29 January 1909), also known as Felix Beato, was an Italian–British photographer. He was one of the first people to take photographs in East Asia and one of the first war photographers. He is noted for his genre works, portraits, and views and panoramas of the architecture and landscapes of Asia and the Mediterranean region. Beato's travels gave him the opportunity to create images of countries, people, and events that were unfamiliar and remote to most people in Europe and North America. His work provides images of such events as the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the Second Opium War, and represents the first substantial body of photojournalism. He influenced other photographers, and his influence in Japan, where he taught and worked with numerous other photographers and artists, was particularly deep and lasting. Read more...

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Flag of Ibaraki Prefecture
Ibaraki Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located in the Kantō region on Honshū island. The capital is Mito. Ibaraki Prefecture was previously known as Hitachi Province. In 1871, the name of the province became Ibaraki. Ibaraki Prefecture is the northeastern part of the Kantō region, stretching between Tochigi Prefecture and the Pacific Ocean and bounded on the north and south by Fukushima Prefecture and Chiba Prefecture. It also has borders on the southwest with Gunma Prefecture and Saitama Prefecture. The northernmost part of the prefecture is mountainous, but most of the prefecture is a flat plain with many lakes. Ibaraki's industries include energy, particularly nuclear energy, production, as well as chemical and precision machining industries. The Hitachi company was founded in the Ibaraki city of the same name. Ibaraki's population is increasing modestly as the Greater Tokyo region spreads out. Famous foods of Ibaraki include natto, of Mito, the watermelons produced in Kyowa (recently merged into Chikusei), and the chestnuts grown in the Nishiibaraki region. Ibaraki is famous for the martial art of Aikido which was founded by Ueshiba Morihei, also known as Osensei. Ueshiba spent the latter part of his life in the town of Iwama, now part of Kasama, and the Aiki Shrine and dojo he created remain there to this day. There are castle ruins in many cities, including Mito, Kasama, and Yuki. Kasama is also famous for its Shinto and art culture, and pottery.

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Hokkaidō Shrine's haiden


In the news

25 May 2020 – COVID-19 pandemic in Japan
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifts the state of emergency in all remaining parts of the country, including Tokyo. (Associated Press)
20 May 2020 –
U.S. authorities in Massachusetts arrest a father and son, aged 59 and 27, who have been charged in Japan with helping Carlos Ghosn, former Chairman of Nissan, to escape from Japan to Lebanon last year. (Reuters)
4 May 2020 – COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in Japan
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe extends the national state of emergency to May 31. (Reuters)
23 April 2020 – 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic
2020 coronavirus pandemic in Japan
Fifty crew members on the cruise ship Costa Atlantica test positive for COVID-19 after it docks in Nagasaki, Japan. (Reuters)

Japan topics

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Sports Sumo wrestling | Nippon Professional Baseball | Football J1 League | Super GT | All Japan Road Race Championship | Judo | Karate | Kendo | Kyūdō | Jujutsu | Ninjutsu | Aikido
Economy Japanese Companies | Primary sector | Industry | Tourism | Currency | Tokyo Stock Exchange | Japanese economic miracle | Communications | Transportation (Shinkansen · Tokyo Metro · Railway companies) | Japan Business Federation | Housing in Japan
Science and Technology Consumer electronics in Japan | Japanese automotive industry | Japanese inventions | Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) | Nuclear power in Japan | Japanese robotics
Geography Geography of Japan | Japanese archipelago | Islands of Japan | Cities | Lakes | Rivers | Waterfalls | Mountains | National Parks | Japanese Alps | Mount Fuji | Lake Biwa | Seto Inland Sea | Sea of Japan
Demographics Demographics | Yamato people | Hāfu (half Japanese people) | Ainu people | Japanese people | Japanese names | Aging of Japan
Animals Animals in Japan | Japanese macaque | Japanese raccoon dog (Tanuki) | Japanese Green pheasant | Koi | Japanese Bobtail | Hokkaido dog | Shiba Inu | Akita (dog) | Asian giant hornet | Japanese badger
Other Tokyo | Kyoto | Nara | Osaka | Sapporo | Okinawa | Kinkaku-ji | Kiyomizu-dera | Yakushi-ji temple | Tōdai-ji temple | Sensō-ji temple | Meiji Shrine | Akihabara | Shinjuku | Tokyo Tower | Tokyo Imperial Palace | Himeji Castle | Matsumoto Castle | Osaka Castle | Nagoya Castle | Tokyo Disney Resort

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Coordinates: 36°30′N 139°00′E / 36.5°N 139°E / 36.5; 139