General Info

Quick Facts

– The Japanese currency is the yen (JPY). The symbol is ¥. For more information, look in Currency under the menu General Info.

– The flag is a white background with a red circle in the centre:   Japanese Flag | via Shiki Book Japan

– Japan’s agriculture relies mostly on rice, sugar beets, vegetables, fruit, pork and fish. Other items are hard to farm and mostly imported.

– The Japanese place great value on non-verbal language or communication, as it is a very high-context country. Great care is taken not to offend others. For example, instead of saying “I don’t want to go this weekend”, it might be more subtle hint of; “I always play baseball with my son on Saturdays”.

– Sumo wrestling is considered Japan’s national sport. Baseball was introduced to the country by visiting Americans in the 19th century and has grown very popular.

Population

There are over 127,000,000 people living in Japan. For most of Japan’s history its borders were closed to foreigners. As a result, Japan  is 98.5% ethnic Japanese. The remaining 1.5 percent are mostly Korean, who number around 1 million. There are also considerable numbers of Brazilians, Chinese, and Filipinos, and an ethnic minority of indigenous people, called Ainu, who live mostly in northern Hokkaido.

Language 

Japanese is the official language. Many Japanese also have some ability in writing and speaking English as it is a mandatory part of the curriculum in the Japanese educational system. To learn some of the language, visit the menu Learn Japanese. 

Climate

The climate of Japan varies depending on region and season. Summer is usually very hot and humid. From roughly mid June to mid July there is a rainy season. Winters are typically mild, with the northern areas of Japan receiving more snow. Spring and autumn are generally sunny with mild temperatures. For more information on weather, visit When to travel under the menu Holiday Travel. 

Religion

There are two major religions in Japan; Shinto and Buddhism. While religion does not play a major role in the life of the average person, religious ceremonies are usually held at births, weddings and funerals. Less than 1% of the population are Christian, which was heavily persecuted in Japan prior to the Meiji Restoration in 1873.

Smoking in Japan

You’re going to feel like you’ve been swept up into the 1950’s when you visit Japan. People smoke everywhere. This isn’t an issue if you’re used to avoiding it, or are a smoker yourself. It’s just something to be wary of, as smoking regulations are far less restricted than Australia. Japan is one of the world’s largest tobacco markets; however, since 1996 there has been a steady decrease in tobacco use over Japan as a whole. Anti-smoking laws are only common for crowded outdoor areas in urban settings. Limited indoor bans have been enacted in Kanagawa and Hyogo Prefectures, but not over the whole country. Other restrictions are implemented by the choices of public and private property owners, managers, employers, etc. So in a Non-Smoking part of a restaurant that adjoins a Smoking part of a restaurant, you may feel there’s no real difference in the air. In most cities, there are designated areas for smoking (much like Australia) and it is punishable by fine if caught smoking elsewhere. Cigarettes can be bought in tobacco stores and at vending machines, and public ashtrays dot sidewalks and train platforms. 

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