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  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Post Interesting facts about Japan

    Geography

    - Japan is the 60th largest country in the world (out of over 200) in terms of land area. It is 25x smaller than the USA or People's Republic of China, but is slightly bigger than Germany, 3x bigger than England, and 9x bigger than the Netherlands.

    - Japan is the 10th most populous country in the world. It's population is equal to the UK, France and Denmark combined.

    - Japan ranks 18th worlwide in terms density of population, behind such countries as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Bangladesh, the Netherlands and Belgium. If England was counted as a country (separate from the UK), its density of population would be slightly higher than Japan. Japan's population density if 11x higher than the US, and slightly lower than the states of New Jersey or Rhode Island.

    Society

    - Japan has the oldest surviving monarchy in the world. The first historical emperor of Japan was Ojin, reigning from year 270 to 310, and was deified as Hachiman. Legend has it that the very first emperor was Jinmu, 1000 years earlier.

    - Japan's national anthem, Kimi Ga Yo (君が代), is the oldest in the world, although it was only officially recognised as such in 1999. It is based on a 9th century poem.

    - Japan has one of the highest life expectancy in the world, only surpassed by small countries like Andorra, San Marino, Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore. Japanese people live in average 4 years longer than US citizens, 2.5 years longer than the Germans or Belgians, and 1.5 years longer than French or Italian people.

    Figures for 2005
    Last edited by Maciamo; Nov 20, 2005 at 19:07.

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  2. #2
    gunjin Carlson's Avatar
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    sounds good... thanks
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  3. #3
    Regular Member Gaijinian's Avatar
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    Interesting...
    これからも絶対頑張る〜

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    遠いから行きません GaijinPunch's Avatar
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    First time I've seen geography stats that ignore the "useable land area" statistic. I believe "half the land of california" in Japan is non-mountanous, and threfore "useable".

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GaijinPunch
    First time I've seen geography stats that ignore the "useable land area" statistic. I believe "half the land of california" in Japan is non-mountanous, and threfore "useable".
    Usable for what ? Farming, mining, tree felling, living ? There is not so much land in Japan that cannot be used at all (e.g. mineral-less desert).

  6. #6
    目録 Index's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Usable for what ? Farming, mining, tree felling, living ? There is not so much land in Japan that cannot be used at all (e.g. mineral-less desert).
    Raising cows is another thing that's difficult on hilly terrain.

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    gunjin Carlson's Avatar
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    i think to build on...

  8. #8
    遠いから行きません GaijinPunch's Avatar
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    Usable for what ?
    Building a house, raising a family -- doing things related to society basically.

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    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    Interesting facts you list here. Concerning geography I think I read somewhere that, since Japan is so mountanous, that 100% of the people live on only 18% of the land. I'll have to see if I can find this out.

    Why is it that Japan has one of the highest life expectancies in the world? Could it be the food they eat? More vegetables and fish? It sure can't be lifestyle as some people have said that Japan is probably one of the most stressful countries to live in and it is said that stress causes more premature deaths among humans than anything else. I mean they live with the threat of a deadly earthquake on a daily basis; they live in small cramped quarters; everywhere you go it is so crowded; driving is a nightmare; there is basically no privacy. Could it be their philosophy of life? Hmmm, something to look into.
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  10. #10
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GaijinPunch
    Building a house, raising a family -- doing things related to society basically.
    I think you can build a house pretty much anywhere you want. Even in the mountains (ask the Swiss), in the hills (ask the Brits) or even in the desert (ask the Middle-Easters or Australians) or on frozen land (like in Greenland or Northern Canada). Anyway, Japan has not desert, no toundra or arctic land. It has a lot of mountains/hills, but few that reach 3,000m, where oxygens because sparse enough not to want to live.

    Quote Originally Posted by Index
    Raising cows is another thing that's difficult on hilly terrain.
    Really ? So why is Swizterland so famous for dairy products ? (milk, cheese, milk chocolate with a purple cow on it ). Anyway, Japan has plenty of non-mountainous land. The Kanto plain alone is 16172 square km, half the size of Belgium. Hokkaido, which is mostly flat and where most of Japan's dairy product indeed come from, is 77978 square km, i.e. slightly bigger than the whole Benelux. The you have the Kansai plain, and most of Kyushu...

    Quote Originally Posted by Pachipro
    Concerning geography I think I read somewhere that, since Japan is so mountanous, that 100% of the people live on only 18% of the land.
    In that regard, I have often found the Japanese exaggerating about the lack of inhabitable land in their country. Especially that the Japanese have traditionally built very concentrated villages/towns, leaving plenty of empty land around, even when the country's population was 1/4 of what it is now. In most European countries (except maybe Spain), houses in the countryside are built "as far as possible" (within certain limits) from other houses, for the sake of privacy or having a bigger garden or "territory". That's why, coming from a country with almost exactly the same density of population as Japan, I was surprised to see so many "wild" expanses in the Japanese countryside, with only fields or forests. In the Belgian countryside, almost anywhere you look you'd find a hamlet or village. So for me Japan is a great place to explore nature (a bit exaggerating, but you get the picture).

    In Japan, it's exactly the opposite. People build right next to each other, often without garden/backyard, even when it's in sparsely populated regions like Tohoku or Hokkaido. They do that because of a stronger gregarious intinct, for safety reasons (neighbours can look over your house when you are away), and because it's more convenient for business (closer from the shops, station...). Because of this different approach to land use, they could "pack" more people per square kilometre, or use more land for farming. I have noticed that in the countryside, most people have a patch of cultivated land in their backyard (like they did during the war in Europe) rather than a decorative garden like in Europe. You won't find many people with their own little "Japanese garden" with momiji, cherry trees, cedars and a pond with koi. This is left to old shogun or daimyo gardens or the super-rich (in some European countries like Britain or Belgium, its fairly standard to have a well-tended garden with various trees, parterres and maybe a small pond with Japanese koi).

    Japan also produces enough rice to sustain its 128 million people, and many other crops (esp. vegetables and fruits). That means they have the space. And if you can cultivate some land, you can also live on it (but the reverse in not true, e.g. in the mountain).

    In Western countries, the most expensive pieces of residential land are usually dramatically set over rocks in a valley or facing the sea, on top of a hill overlooking a city, or other difficult to reach places. Many European castles are located in such places. In LA, such places can be found at Malibu, a mountain flank running straight into the sea. Japan has plenty of places that would cost a fortune for the view they offer over a town/city, but it seems that the Japanese are not interested in living in such places, favouring convenience over landscape or exceptional situation.

    Finally, the density of population in Tokyo is 5655 inhabitant/km² (Tokyo-to), or 13,333 inh./km² for the 23 inner wards, which is normal for a big city. NYC has 10,292 inh./km² and Paris (20 wards) has 24,448 inh./km². A city like Sapporo only has 1668 inhabitant/km². This shows that Japanese cities are not so crowded, despite their appearances.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pachipro
    Why is it that Japan has one of the highest life expectancies in the world?
    We have already discussed that here.

  11. #11
    目録 Index's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo

    Really ? So why is Swizterland so famous for dairy products ? (milk, cheese, milk chocolate with a purple cow on it ). Anyway, Japan has plenty of non-mountainous land. The Kanto plain alone is 16172 square km, half the size of Belgium. Hokkaido, which is mostly flat and where most of Japan's dairy product indeed come from, is 77978 square km, i.e. slightly bigger than the whole Benelux. The you have the Kansai plain, and most of Kyushu...
    Yes good point. Maybe Swiss cows have lopsided legs ? And Japanese cows are always drunk so they can't even stand upright on plains, let alone hills...

  12. #12
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Index
    Yes good point. Maybe Swiss cows have lopsided legs ? And Japanese cows are always drunk so they can't even stand upright on plains, let alone hills...
    Yes, that started when they opened Japan's first beer brewery in Sapporo 100 years ago. When the Japanese think about Hokkaido, they think "beer" and "milk". Before the age of 20 they drink milk, and after beer... Without Hokkaido, Japan would be... well, more like Westerners imagine it, with people actually drinking "sake" (nihonshu).

    Japanese people are quite proud of their beef. They say that they give them beer to relax them, which creates more fat. Now we understand why Japanese people can't raise cows in the mountain !
    Last edited by Maciamo; Nov 22, 2005 at 21:54.

  13. #13
    Regular Member jread's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    In that regard, I have often found the Japanese exaggerating about the lack of inhabitable land in their country. Especially that the Japanese have traditionally built very concentrated villages/towns, leaving plenty of empty land around, even when the country's population was 1/4 of what it is now. In most European countries (except maybe Spain), houses in the countryside are built "as far as possible" (within certain limits) from other houses, for the sake of privacy or having a bigger garden or "territory". That's why, coming from a country with almost exactly the same density of population as Japan, I was surprised to see so many "wild" expanses in the Japanese countryside, with only fields or forests. In the Belgian countryside, almost anywhere you look you'd find a hamlet or village. So for me Japan is a great place to explore nature (a bit exaggerating, but you get the picture).

    In Japan, it's exactly the opposite. People build right next to each other, often without garden/backyard, even when it's in sparsely populated regions like Tohoku or Hokkaido. They do that because of a stronger gregarious intinct, for safety reasons (neighbours can look over your house when you are away), and because it's more convenient for business (closer from the shops, station...). Because of this different approach to land use, they could "pack" more people per square kilometre, or use more land for farming. I have noticed that in the countryside, most people have a patch of cultivated land in their backyard (like they did during the war in Europe) rather than a decorative garden like in Europe. You won't find many people with their own little "Japanese garden" with momiji, cherry trees, cedars and a pond with koi. This is left to old shogun or daimyo gardens or the super-rich (in some European countries like Britain or Belgium, its fairly standard to have a well-tended garden with various trees, parterres and maybe a small pond with Japanese koi).

    Japan also produces enough rice to sustain its 128 million people, and many other crops (esp. vegetables and fruits). That means they have the space. And if you can cultivate some land, you can also live on it (but the reverse in not true, e.g. in the mountain).

    In Western countries, the most expensive pieces of residential land are usually dramatically set over rocks in a valley or facing the sea, on top of a hill overlooking a city, or other difficult to reach places. Many European castles are located in such places. In LA, such places can be found at Malibu, a mountain flank running straight into the sea. Japan has plenty of places that would cost a fortune for the view they offer over a town/city, but it seems that the Japanese are not interested in living in such places, favouring convenience over landscape or exceptional situation.

    Finally, the density of population in Tokyo is 5655 inhabitant/km² (Tokyo-to), or 13,333 inh./km² for the 23 inner wards, which is normal for a big city. NYC has 10,292 inh./km² and Paris (20 wards) has 24,448 inh./km². A city like Sapporo only has 1668 inhabitant/km². This shows that Japanese cities are not so crowded, despite their appearances.

    Thank you for that very interesting and informative post. I have always had a huge interest in urban planning and it is very interesting to me how the Japanese regulate their landuse. I REALLY wish the United States would follow such a model but I don't see it ever happening. It's great to see how density really works, rather necessary or not.

  14. #14
    遠いから行きません GaijinPunch's Avatar
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    In that regard, I have often found the Japanese exaggerating about the lack of inhabitable land in their country.
    This is a pretty well quoted fact, hence my original comment. If you want to refute it, you're going to be refuting a lot of statisticians,books, etc. If you want to take on that mountain, so to speak, be my guest.

    The statistic I read was that they live in only 30% of the land, not 18%, but who knows. Sure, you can build a house anywhere... I guess. Why some do, is beyond me.

    Well, let's not overlook the fact that Okinawa brings up the average. Their lifestyle is much different from that of your average Tokyoite, as are the lives of many who live outside of major metropolitan areas.
    Right, but does it really "bring the average up"? Maciamo (I think) recently posted statistics of the population dispersion throughout the country. Kantou has roughly 30% or so... which is a LOT in one area. Kansai has another big chunk, then some small chunks for the other cities. Okinawa and the rural areas are pretty small in the big picture. I would like to know what percentage of the country lives in a city <= 150,000 people.

  15. #15
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    I have moved the discussion between MeAndroo and GaijinPunch about life expectancy in Japan's high life expectancy

  16. #16
    Vitruvian Rickmaster's Avatar
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    Nice to no about the Geography and Society.

  17. #17
    Villain Iron Chef's Avatar
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    I remember reading in a book somewhere that Japan is home to something like 80 of the world's 800 active volcanoes. Don't quote me on those numbers (this was more than a few years back), maybe someone more in the know can cite and confirm. Interesting geographical trait to say the least.

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