Japan is a portal through which the uber-modern and the timeless meet. Be it in a teahouse or amidst the rock garden of a Buddhist temple, there is harmony amidst the hustle. One of the more memorable IGS placements came of the heels of the tsunami that devastated the northern provinces. A student came to us in search of an internship that would allow him to help the victims and their families. We confirmed him with a Red Cross organization delivering food to people struggling to get back on their feet. Business and marketing internships in Tokyo are another great option for students looking East. They look great on a resume provide insight into international trade. For getaways, our students have traveled to Mt. Fuji to seek the iconic volcano up close and personal. And in Tokyo, they have watched prized fish at tuna auctions sell for thousands of dollars.
The kanji that make up Japan’s name mean “sun origin,” and it is often called the “Land of the Rising Sun.” Japan is a volcanic archipelago consisting of about 6,852 islands. The four largest are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku, which make up about ninety-seven percent of Japan’s land area and often are referred to as home islands. The population of almost 127 million is the world’s tenth largest, of which 98.5% are ethnic Japanese. 90.7% of people live in cities, while 9.3% live in the countryside.
Tokyo Tokyo is the capital of Japan and the world’s most populous metropolis. This enormous, wealthy and fascinating city is a fusion of ultramodern and traditional. Neon-lit skyscrapers to historic temples and cherry blossoms, Tokyo represents the entire sweep of Japanese history and culture and has something for everyone. Twice in recent history Tokyo has been left in ruins: first in the 1923 during the Great Kanto earthquake and later after extensive firebombing in World War II. Because of this, Tokyo’s urban landscape consists mainly of modern and contemporary architecture, and older buildings are scarce. Tokyo features many internationally famous forms of modern architecture including Tokyo International Forum, Asahi Beer Hall, Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower, NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building and Rainbow Bridge. Tokyo also features two distinctive towers: Tokyo Tower, and the new Tokyo Skytree, which is the tallest tower in Japan. History can be appreciated in districts such as Asakusa and in many excellent museums, historic temples and gardens. Contrary to common perception, Tokyo also offers a number of attractive green spaces in the city center within short train rides. Tokyo also contains numerous parks and gardens. There are four national parks in Tokyo Prefecture, including the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, which includes all of the Izu Islands. The opulent Meiji Shinto Shrine is known for its towering gate and surrounding woods. The Imperial Palace sits amid large public gardens. The city’s many museums offer exhibits ranging from classical art (in the Tokyo National Museum) to a reconstructed kabuki theater (in the Edo-Tokyo Museum). The Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world, and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind.
Osaka Osaka is a designated city in the Kansai region of Japan. It is the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and the largest component of the Keihanshin Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Japan and among the largest in the world with over 19 million inhabitants. Central Osaka is roughly divided into downtown and uptown areas known as Kita (“north”) and Minami (“south”). Kita is home to the Umeda district and its immediate surrounding neighborhoods, a major business and retail hub that plays host to Osaka Station City and a large subterranean network of shopping arcades. Kita and nearby Nakanoshima contain a prominent portion of the city’s skyscrapers and are often featured in photographs of Osaka’s skyline. Minami, though meaning “south”, is essentially in Chuo Ward and geographically central within the city. Well known districts here include Namba and Shinsaibashi shopping areas, the Dotonbori canal entertainment area, Nipponbashi Den Den Town, as well as arts and fashion culture-oriented areas such as Amerikamura and Horie. The city’s west side is a prominent bay area which serves as its main port as well as a tourist destination with attractions such as Kyocera Dome, Universal Studios Japan and the Tempozan Harbour Village. East Osaka is zoned as a separate city, although the east side of Osaka city proper contains numerous residential neighborhoods including Tsuruhashi Korea Town, as well as the Osaka Castle Park, Osaka Business Park and the hub Kyobashi Station. Osaka contains numerous urban canals and bridges, many of which serve as the namesake for their surrounding neighbourhoods.
Mount Fuji Mt. Fuji is located near the Pacific coast of central Honshu, is the highest volcano in Japan at 3,776.24 m, 2nd-highest peak of an island (volcanic) in Asia, and 7th-highest peak of an island in the world. It is a dormant stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–1708. Mount Fuji lies about 100 kilometers south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji’s exceptionally symmetrical cone, which is snow-capped for about 5 months a year, is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers. Mount Fuji is one of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains” along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku. It is also a Special Place of Scenic Beauty and one of Japan’s Historic Sites. It was added to the World Heritage List as a Cultural Site on June 22, 2013. According to UNESCO, Mount Fuji has “inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries”. UNESCO recognizes 25 sites of cultural interest within the Mount Fuji locality. These 25 locations include the mountain and the Shinto shrine, Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha, as well as the Buddhist Taisekiji Head Temple founded in 1290. The mountain is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. It can be seen more distantly from Yokohama, Tokyo, and sometimes as far as Chiba, Saitama, Tochigi, Ibaraki and Lake Hamana when the sky is clear. Particularly in the winter it can be seen from the Shinkansen until it reaches Utsunomiya station. It has also been photographed from space during a space shuttle mission. Most Japanese climb the mountain at night in order to be in a position at or near the summit when the sun rises. The morning light is called goraiko, “arrival of light”. The four routes from the foot of the mountain offer historical sites. The Murayama is the oldest Mount Fuji route and the Yoshida route still has many old shrines, teahouses, and huts along its path. These routes are gaining popularity recently and are being restored, but climbing from the foot of the mountain is still relatively uncommon. Also, bears have been sighted along the Yoshida route.
People visit Japan because of their curiosity not only about the beauty underneath its exquisite modern architectures and futuristic cities but to feel the warmth of its embrace as it welcomes you. As you uncover the secrets of Japan you will fully understand the true meaning of richness from its ultra-modern Japanese buildings and impressive skyscrapers, the beauty of it’s nature that never stops to impress you with breathtaking wonders, to the amazing people around you bathe with cultural values. Japan is indeed a very wealthy country.
This old private garden named Kenroku-en, is one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. This stunning garden is located outside the gates of Kanazawa Castle where it originally formed the outer garden, and covers over 25 acres. Its name was derived from the “Chronicles of the Famous Luoyang Gardens”, and stands for the six attributes of a perfect landscape: spaciousness, seclusion, artifice, antiquity, waterways, and panoramas. Kenroku-en contains roughly 8,750 trees, and 183 species of plants in total. The garden features the oldest fountain in Japan, created using the natural pressure of water flowing from the higher pond. Yugao-tei, a teahouse, the oldest building in the garden. Shigure-tei, a rest House that was originally built by the 5th lord Tsunanori. Karasaki Pine, planted from seed by the 13th lord Nariyasu from Karasaki. Kotoji-toro, a stone lantern with two legs, said to resemble the bridge on a koto. This lantern is emblematic of Kenroku-en and Kanazawa. Flying Geese Bridge, made of eleven red stones, laid out to resemble geese in a flying formation. Kaiseki Pagoda, said to have been donated to the Maeda by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. In winter, visitors will have a glorious view of seasonal natural beauty including the snow-covered landscape with yukitsuri – ropes attached in a conical array to carefully support tree branches in the desired arrangements, thereby protecting the trees from damage caused by heavy snows. Kenroku-en is famous for its charm in all seasons, visitors will enjoy the beauty of the flowers and trees, such as plum and cherry blossoms in spring, azaleas and irises early in summer, and colorful red and yellow leaves in autumn.
Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is a national park in Yamanashi, Shizuoka, and Kanagawa Prefectures, and western Tokyo Metropolis, Japan. It consists of world famous Mount Fuji, Fuji Five Lakes, Hakone, the Izu Peninsula, and the Izu Islands. Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park covers 1,227 square kilometres. Rather than being a specific spot, the park is a collection of dispersed tourist sites that dot the region. The park includes a variety of geographic features including natural hot springs, coastlines, mountainous terrains, water bodies, miles of shoreline, and more than 1000 volcanic islands. There are waterfalls, gardens and coral reefs as well. Vegetation in the park ranges from species of mountainous trees to the subtropical vegetation of the Izu Islands. Due to its proximity to the Tokyo metropolis and ease of transportation, it is the most visited national park in all of Japan, and also one of the best destinations for tourists who travel to the “Land of the Rising Sun”. Mount Fuji alone offers climbing, camping, fishing and diving. Nearby is the Fuji-Goko area, which has all year access and offers tourists venues for camping, hiking, boating, and scenic drives. The Izu Peninsula harbors an alligator garden, hot springs, tropical garden, and a coastline scenic drive. The Izu Islands have eight small islands that offer trekking, swimming and scuba diving that can be enjoyed all year-round. Two other activities popular throughout the park is birdwatching and whale watching directly offshore. The sights of Hakone include the volcanically active Owakudani geysers and Hakone Shrine on the shore of the lake, as well as the Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands. In addition to hot springs, lakes, museums and other recreation activities, Hakone is known for its scenery during all four seasons. In April the cherry blossoms (sakura) and in autumn the Miscanthus sinensis (susuki) are noted sights. Hakone has a number of art museums, including the Hakone Open-Air Museum and Pola Museum of Art. One famous hotel in Hakone is the historic Fujiya Hotel in Miyanoshita, which was patronized by noted literary figures, politicians and foreign dignitaries in the Meiji and Taisho and early Showa periods. Hakone is also well-known among anime fans for being the main location in the manga and anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, in which it has been renamed Tokyo-3, and there are numerous attractions related to the franchise offered in the town. In 2017, Hakone was included as one of 88 anime pilgrimage sites for 2018 by the Anime Tourism Association.
The code of etiquette in Japan governs the expectations of social behavior and is considered very important in Japan. The etiquette varies greatly depending on one’s status relative to the person in question. These distinct cultural values make Japanese etiquette substantially different from western and other countries. Greetings are considered to be of extreme importance in Japanese culture, the traditional form being the bow. How far you bow depends upon your relationship to the other person as well as the situation. The deeper you bow, the more respect you show. The older you get, the wiser you are considered and the more respectfully you’re treated. Greetings in Japan are very formal and ritualized. There is an entire grammatical rule-set for speaking respectfully to superiors, customers, elders and this plays a large part in good etiquette and in society as a whole. Japanese children are taught to act harmoniously and cooperatively with others from the time they go to preschool and they normally begin learning proper etiquette at a very young age. This need for harmonious relationships between people is reflected in much Japanese behavior. Many place great emphasis on politeness, personal responsibility and working together for the universal, rather than the individual, good. They see working in harmony as the crucial ingredient for working productively. Proper manners/etiquette are valued highly in Japan probably the best feature to describe Japanese people.
The cost of living in Japan is high as compared to other countries. Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but the difference in living expenses between Japan and other industrialized nations is nowhere near the level of the 1980s. Japan is a highly developed country with a very high standard of living and Human Development Index. Japan has a low unemployment rate of around four percent. Some 20 million people, around 17 per cent of the population, were below the poverty line in 2007. The relative absence of deep cleavages in society, the highly developed sense of community and success in containing the dislocation and social ills and modernization are a source of considerable strength in Japan. People are better housed, better educated, healthier, live longer and are, by virtually any yardstick, better off than their predecessors and most other people in the world. They have enjoyed political stability, economic security, low crime, good health care, decent schools, adequate housing and an extraordinary level of public politesse.
Japanese yen is the official currency of Japan.
Visitors to Japan must obtain a visa from one of the Japanese diplomatic missions unless they come from one of the visa-exempt countries. The Government of Japan currently allows citizens of 68 countries/territories to travel to Japan for tourism or business without having to obtain a visa. Holders of passports issued by the 66 countries or regions are visa exempt for visits up to 901 days. Holders of passports pre-registered at the diplomatic missions of Japan in the related country (the embassy, consulates, or the consulate) issued by Indonesia and United Arab Emirates can visit without a visa. The governments of the 46 countries have concluded bilateral visa waiver agreements with Japan. Holders of diplomatic and/or service category passports do not require a visa to visit Japan. Holders of diplomatic and official passport of the countries (to whom visa exemption applies when using an ordinary passport) are also, on reciprocal basis, exempted from visa as temporary visitor. In this case, they will be granted the status of residence as “Temporary Visitor” at the landing inspection in Japan (not the status of residence as “Diplomat” or “Official”.), and in principal, they are obliged to provide their personal identification information such as fingerprints and facial photo. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan holders of diplomatic and service passports of Taiwan need a visa. Holders of passports issued by the 18 countries who possess an APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) containing the “JPN” code on the reverse that it is valid for travel to Japan can enter visa-free for business trips for up to 90 days.
Japan had a special visa policy for nationals of some former Soviet countries who could not provide their financial guarantees and get a visa on their own but instead they had to apply through an approved travel agency or be invited by a resident or a citizen of Japan. These requirements were lifted for citizens of Russia on 1 January 2017, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on 5 June 2017, Armenia on 1 September 2017, Azerbaijan on 1 December 2017 and Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine on 1 January 2018. In addition, Japanese MOFA has special visa policies for nationals of China and the Philippines. Nationals of these countries also must apply through an accredited travel agent or be invited by a Japanese citizen or a resident of Japan. As of 2014 nationals of the Philippines and Vietnam travelling in a group through a registered travel agency can obtain entry visas for tourist visits up to 15 days in a simplified process that requires fewer documents than before. Moreover, nationals of India, the Philippines and Vietnam can obtain multiple-entry visas providing that they have visited Japan and other G7 countries or they have “sufficient financial capability”. Chinese tourists travelling on approved cruise ships do not require a visa as of April 2015. They must embark and disembark the same specified ships. Japan was reportedly set to ease visa requirements for visitors from key markets, such as India, China and Vietnam, starting in the summer of 2016. A new wave of visa liberalization policies for Chinese nationals started from 17 October 2016, for Indian nationals started from 1 January 2018.
According to the 2018 Global Peace Index, Japan is ranked ninth of the safest country in the world. The country touts the second-lowest homicide rate after Iceland and the second-lowest assault rate after Canada. Japan is one of the safest countries in the World. With low crime rate, the chances of anything bad happening are slim. Japanese are so tied to their unique culture, the possible reason for why common crime, interpersonal violence and crimes against property are so rare. Shame is a huge motivation in Japan. The culture of societal shame is a very powerful force. If you commited a crime you shame not just yourself but your whole family relatives, friends and your community as well. Japan is of course thoroughly modern today, and have whole heartedly, even enthusiastically embraced western ideas and adapted them to their culture, but the culture of shame for misdeeds has never gone away. Japanese also believe that they shouldn’t cause inconvenience to others. It’s inculcated in everyone’s mind since childhood. They exercise harmonious relationship with everybody by showing proper behavior in order to achieve peace. Tourists travel to Japan it doesn’t mean that you have to care less. Still you have to stay cautious because that’s what Japanese do. Japan is safe because Japanese really care about safety. People don’t take safety for granted. Many people practice caution in how they live. Safety is highly valued by most Japanese.
The dominant spoken language is Japanese (Nihongo) which is the sixth most spoken language in the world with more than 99% of the population using it.
More than 99 percent of the population speaks Japanese as their first language. Besides Japanese, the Ryukyuan languages (Amami, Kunigami, Okinawan, Miyako, Yaeyama, Yonaguni), also part of the Japonic language family, are spoken in the Ryukyu Islands chain. Few children learn these languages, but in recent years the local governments have sought to increase awareness of the traditional languages. The Okinawan Japanese dialect is also spoken in the region. The Ainu language, which has no proven relationship to Japanese or any other language, is moribund, with only a few elderly native speakers remaining in Hokkaido. Public and private schools generally require students to take Japanese language classes as well as English language courses.