An archipelago situated in the North Pacific, Japan lies off the east coast of mainland Asia and is made up of four major islands – Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu and Sikoku - as well as thousands of smaller ones. These islands are actually the peaks of a huge chain of mountains and in total they cover almost four hundred thousand square kilometres and have almost thirty thousand kilometres of coastline. As a result, regardless of what part of the country you are in, you will never be more than one hundred and fifty kilometres from the sea – pretty amazing when you consider the vast area that Japan covers.
Tokyo is the capital city as well as being its financial and commercial centre. Other major cities in the country are the former capital - Kyoto which is a centre for heavier industry; Osaka, a very important seaport and home to one of the country’s two major airports; Yokohama, a seaport and leading shipbuilding centre; and Kobe which serves much the same purpose but is still recovering from the results of a major earthquake in 1995.
Japan as a country has its origins over two thousand three hundred years ago and from the time it was discovered right up until the late sixteenth century, it was ruled by a group of barons who seemed content to battle among themselves for the duration of their reign. According to legend the lands were formed by two gods, a brother and sister, who married and had a rather large number of gods and goddesses as kids – interesting. This lot, in turn had their own children, one of whom became the first emperor of Japan if you were to listen to hearsay.
During the period between 1600 and the end of the 1800s, an administration was formed to take over leadership of the city. Even today, while the emperor still retains his throne the control of the country is in the hands of politicians, bureaucrats and business men. Nevertheless, the fact that the emperor and his throne remain is testament to just how important tradition is to the people of Japan.
Despite their position as the most technologically advanced race on the planet, the Japanese have still preserve their extensive history and all that came with it in the way of customs and traditions. A combination of both ultra ancient and ultra modern make the country a fascinating place to visit where old and new live side by side. And, although the developments of past centuries do play an important role in the daily lives of most nationals, they still maintain a tradition of hospitality which has existed for centuries.