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Saturday, 5 September 2015



According to tradition, Emperor Jimmu founded Japan and established his capital in Yamato on February 11, 660BC. He is said to have been a direct descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu and the storm god Susanoo. In modern Japan, Jimmu's accession is marked as National Foundation Day on February 11.

Detail of Emperor Jinmu - Stories from "Nihonki" by Ginko Adachi. 

Until the middle of the sixth century AD. the Japanese seemed to have escaped the epidemic diseases that had long scourged mainland populations. However, when the Buddhist missionaries from Korea visited the Japanese court, they bought with them smallpox, which reached epidemic proportions.

In 858 AD, the succession to the Japanese throne was said to have been determined by a Sumo contest between two sons of the emperor. Koreshito won and ruled as Emperor Seiwa.

Uninterrupted since the sixth century, the Japanese throne has been occupied by a member of the same family. The present emperor, Akihito, is the 125th in succession.

The Mongols attempted to conquer Japan twice in 1274 and 1281. Both times they were thwarted by typhoons which were given the name of 'Kamikaze' meaning 'Divine Wind'.

In 1587 Hideyoshi of Japan banned Christianity from his country and ordered the Jesuits to leave within twenty days. He accused the Jesuits of selling Japanese as slaves and smashing Buddhist images.

26 Japanese Christians were crucified by the government of Japan, on February 5, 1597,  as they were seen as a threat to native society.

In 1600 the navigator Will Adams became the first Englishman to visit Japan but he was cast into prison as a pirate at the instigation of jealous Portuguese traders. He was freed after building two ships for the Shogun.

In the years 1613 through 1620, the Japanese Samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga headed a diplomatic mission to the Vatican in Rome, traveling via Mexico and visiting various ports-of-call in Europe. When he arrived in Rome he met the Pope and was made a Roman citizen. It was the last official Japanese visit to Europe until 1862.

By 1633 The Tokugawa Ieyasu shogun regime had cut Japan off from the rest of the world. Because Christianity was considered to be a "foreign" religion, an exclusion order was issued giving orders for the searching out of Christian converts and the arrest of missionaries. Until 1873, Christianity was banned in Japan under penalty of death.

In 1638 the castle of Hara, on the Japanese island of Amakusa, held by 30,000 Christian troops under Masada Shiro, was captured. The defenders set fire to the castle, and all perished in the flames or by the sword.

In Japan, traditionally, men usually shaved the front and top of the head, leaving a little stiff pigtail at the back of the crown. Women's hair in the medieval period was streamed down their backs.

After the introduction of pommade in the 17th century, women's hair was swept and arranged with combs, bars, ribbons, and long ornamental hairpins, revealing the nape of the neck.

Because the Japanese were accustomed to sitting and sleeping on floors covered with tatami - mats of rice straw and rushes - beds, chairs, and tables of Western style were deemed not necessary in medieval Japan.

The national flag of Japan is a white rectangular flag with a large red disc (representing the sun) in the center. This flag is known as Hinomaru ("circle of the sun"). In 1854, during the Tokugawa shogunate, Japanese ships were ordered to hoist the Hinomaru to distinguish themselves from foreign ships. It was officially adopted as the national flag for Japanese merchant ships on February 27, 1870.

The Tokugawa Shogunate, which saw the military rule Japan for 265 years, was abolished on April 11, 1868 following a power struggle that saw Emperor Meiji Tenno rise to power. The Meiji Restoration would see Japan modernize dramatically.

During the September 1934 Muroto typhoon, a then-world record low land-based pressure of 911.9 hPa (26.93 inHg) was observed in Muroto, Japan. The storm left parts of Osaka in ruins.

Hitler made the Japanese "Honorary Aryans" and considered their history superior to his own people.

Air raids on Japan by the Allies in World War II caused extensive destruction and casualties; the most commonly cited estimates are 333,000 killed and 473,000 wounded.

The Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed by Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu on behalf of the Japanese Government, ending World War II in the Pacific on September 2, 1945.

Mamoru Shigemitsu signing the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the Japanese Government,

The first time the Japanese people heard Emperor Hirohito's voice was when he announced Japan's surrender on the radio ending World War II.

Russia and Japan are still technically at war because both countries still haven’t signed a peace treaty to end World War II.

Japan passed a law in 1947 forbidding itself from declaring war. Their army can only act in self defense or for peace keeping.

The 1951 movie Tokyo File 212 was Hollywood's first feature film to be shot entirely in Japan.

Emperor Hirohito ruled Japan for 62 years, including during World War II. With the deaths of Hitler and Mussolini, he was the only Axis leader to remain after the war and stayed in office until his death of duodenal cancer on January 7, 1989.

Hirohito in dress uniform

The sun-disc flag became the national flag in the Law Regarding the National Flag and National Anthem, which was promulgated and became effective on August 13, 1999.

In 2011 an earthquake measuring 9.0 in magnitude strikes 81 miles east of Sendai, Japan, triggered a tsunami killing thousands of people. This event also triggered the second largest nuclear accident in history, and one of only two events to be classified as a Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.

On September 18, 2015 Japan's upper chamber of Parliament approved legislation allowing use of Japanese military forces outside Japan for the first time since World War II.The government said that the changes in defense policy were vital to meet new military challenges such as those posed from a rising China.

JGSDF soldiers during a training exercise


Japan consists of over 6,800 islands.

70% of Japan's surface is covered in mountains, with over 200 volcanoes. It is home to 10% of the active volcanoes in the world.

Aomori City in northern Japan gets the heaviest annual snowfall of any major city on Earth, with an average of 312 inches.


The Japanese population is 98% Japanese; there are almost no immigrants.

Japan has the highest median age of any country in the world, at 44.

With a quarter of its people aged over 65, the Japanese population is expected to decline from 128,000,000 to 87,000,000 from 2012 to 2060 a decrease of 30%.

Jiroemon Kimur (April 19, 1897 – June 12, 2013) became the verified oldest male in history on December 28, 2012, at the age of 115 years and 253 days when he surpassed the age of Christian Mortensen who died in 1998. He died at the age of 116 years, 54 days.

Japan has more than 50,000 people that are over 100 years old. That is more centurions than any country other than the United States.


The Japanese name for Japan is "Nihon" or "Nippon," which means "sun origin."

Japan has only two gun-related homicides a year.

Emperor Akihito of Japan is the world’s only living emperor.

In Japan almost half of young Japanese (18 to 34) are virgins.

In Japan, Christmas Eve is the biggest "date" holiday of the year. People don't spend Christmas with family (most people in Japan are Buddhist), but instead they spend it with their lover.

The most popular pizza topping in Japan is squid.

The most popular dogs in Japan are Toy Poodles. A close second are Long-Haired Miniature Dachsunds.

President Obama has personally thanked Japan for "karate, karaoke, manga, anime, and, of course, emojis."

Sources, Encyclopedia Britannica, Daily Express,

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