The Source of the Sun

FOR 10 YEARS DID I LIVE HERE, IN THESE SHAKY ISLES, THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN. If it wasn't for my panic attacks, I would probably be living there still.

Japan (日本) is a temple to tomorrow, a sea of soaring skyscrapers, whirring bullet trains, anime and cosplay, Atari and Pokémon. Like Iceland, it has an elemental nature, the elements are very strong here. The country is regularly tormented by truly colossal disasters, from tsunamis to atomic wars, but yet it keeps on ticking, miraculously.

Japan is the place where tomorrow has already happened, and turned into a ruin.

Blank Location Map of Japan
Japan, Land of the Rising Sun

Once upon a time, tourists were afraid to come here, terrified by the supposed high costs of travelling. That has all changed, and Japan is well on its way to becoming one of the world's foremost tourist destinations. That is not necessarily a good thing, as the kind people of Kyoto might attest...


JAPAN IS an archipelago twisted and torn by unfathomable seismic forces. Climate zones range from the tropics to the taiga.

» Honshu (本州)
» Hokkaido (北道)
» Kyushu (九州)
» Okinawa (沖縄)
» Shikoku (四国)


THERE ARE 47 prefectures (県) in Japan, with a status similar to French provinces. Tokyo is not technically a province, but it functions as one. For some reason Osaka is a "fu" (府), not a "ken" (県). In the past, "fu" were generally cities that were centers of culture, commerce, and government, while "ken" were rural areas that were primarily focused on agriculture and resource extraction.

» Aichiken (愛知県)
» Akitaken (秋田県)
» Aomoriken (青森県)
» Chibaken (千葉県)
» Ibarakiken (茨城県)
» Iwateken (岩手県)
» Fukushimaken (島県)
» Gunmaken (県)
» Kagoshimaken (島巿)
» Miyagiken (宮城県)
» Niigataken (澙県)
» Okinawaken ()
» Osakafu (大阪府)
» Saitamaken (埼玉)
» Shizuokaken (県)
» Tottoriken (鳥)
» Yamanashiken (山県)
» Yamagataken (山形県)

Mt Fuji, viewed from the small town of Fuji, one winter morning in 2005.

City Guides

JAPAN IS A delight for lovers of urbanity. The Tokyo metropolitan area, for example, has a population of over 37 million, making it the most populous megalopolis in the world. Cities are designated with the suffix "shi" (市) apart from Tokyo which is a "to" (都).

» Hiroshima (広島市)
» Kawasaki (川崎)
» Kobe (神戸市)
» Kyoto (京都)
» Nagasaki (長崎)
» Nagoya (名古屋市)
» Sapporo (札幌市)
» Sendai (仙台市)
» Tokyo (東亰)
» Yokohamashi (兵巿)


JAPAN HAS a strong sense of tradition and customs that are deeply ingrained in everyday life. Ceremonies, festivals, and rituals are an essential part of the culture and often reflect the country's spiritual and historical heritage.

On the other hand, Japanese pop culture, including anime, manga, video games, and J-pop music, has a massive international following. This aspect of Japanese culture has become an influential and beloved part of global entertainment.

» Cherry Blossoms (花見)
» Cosplay, & Animism
» Fireworks (花火)
» Food
» Hot Springs (温泉)
» Karaoke (カラオケ)
» Martial Arts (武道)
» Music (音楽)


THE QUINTESSENTIAL Japanese greeting, 「こ んにちは!」 (kon-nichi wa!) effectively means: "As for today, well..." This is very much as a fill-in-the-dots language, a language of hints and absences. What you don't say is often more important than what you do say.

おはようござます! (Ohayou gozaimasu!) .......... Good morning! (polite)
おはよう! (Ohayou!) .......... Good morning! (casual)
おは! (Oha!) ..........Good morning! (childish)
お前 (Omae) .......... You (lit: the space in front of me) (rude)
仕方が無い (Shikata ga nai) .......... It cannot be helped (polite)

(For my Japanese study guide, )


THE SPIRIT of animism is still quite strong in Japan. In the fact Shinto, the indigenous religion, is focused on the veneration of ancestors, natural phenomena, and spirits known as kami. It is characterized by a deep connection to nature and a strong emphasis on ritual purification. Perhaps the Japanese love of bathing stems from here!

It is interesting that Zen Buddhism is closely associated with Japan by foreigners, even though this school started in China. Buddhism was introduced to Japan from China and Korea in the 6th century and has several different schools, including Zen, Pure Land, and Nichiren. As with many imports, Japan took Zen and it polished it into a fine art. It permeates everything, including the language (explaining all those aforementioned hints and absences!) Zen meditation, also known as zazen, is typically practiced in a seated position with the eyes half-closed. The goal of the practice is to quiet the mind and develop a deep awareness of the present moment.

Zen teachings emphasize the importance of living in the present moment, letting go of attachment to past and future, and cultivating a sense of inner peace and harmony. This is the spirit of "shikata ga nai!" ("it can't be helped!").

» 9 Star Ki
» Nichiren (日蓮)
» Zen


» Shopping (買物)
» Travel (行)


» China (中国)
» Russia (ロツア)
» South Korea (国)
» Taiwan (台湾)

» Danny Choo (Culture Japan)
» GaijinPot
» Gakuranman (Illuminating Japan)
» Kappapedia
» mahou (anime & popular culture & japanese language)
» Ninja Encyclopedia
» Self Taught Japanese
» Shinseido
» Tofugupedia

october 6 2023

By Robert Sullivan. Contact me by email: Visit my profile.  
phone: (0431) 749-185 (AUSTRALIA)

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