Japan, slightly smaller in size than California, is located in East Asia. Japan is an archipelago (chain of islands). Over half of the country is mountainous with a large abundance of forests. I gave you a clue regarding the country by telling you that this country has boundaries with six seas/ bodies of water. Can you find them? Four are located on this map. The Inland Sea is located between the major islands. The Korean Strait is located between Japan and Korea. Take a look at your world map to see Korea and Japan. They are not that far apart; are they?
When we visit Japan I believe our main impression will be the cleanliness of the country and the deep tradition of respect seen within the communities. The respect can be seen in how people interact with one another and with how they interact with the environment. I remember watching the country’s early reaction to a disaster and noted the consideration that people had for one another even in one of its more stressful times. I was impressed with the view of a shelf previously filled with water bottles, still holding several water bottles despite the thirst and needs of the people surrounding the area. In their culture, it is dishonorable to take the last of something when someone around may need it more.
I found a wonderful site that gives you an idea of the manners needed to visit Japan. Please take a look at this site. After reading this – How would you feel visiting Japan? Would your habits and manners be good enough for you to feel relaxed around people there or would you be nervous about “messing up” and offending someone? I think I would be worried about messing up but I bet the people there would be understanding of my good intentions.
Would you know when to take your shoes off and when you can leave them on while visiting in Japan? Here is an article that explains when you should remove your shoes. The socks I sent to you are called Tabi socks. Because they have a separation of the big toe from the rest of the toes, you can easily slip them in and out of thongs.
Some areas we visit are very populated and mass transportation is our form of travel. The trains are known for being on time and reliable but we would probably avoid using the trains during rush hour. I found it so amazing that there are people paid to “stuff the trains” – pushing everyone on and getting the doors closed. Watch this youtube showing the workers stuffing the train. Observe how the people are patient despite the discomfort of the closeness of the crowd.
Japan’s national flower is the cherry blossom. The trees bloom around April and people come from all over the world to see the beautiful display. The USA has a famous cherry blossom festival as well, in Washington DC. The beautiful displays of color are the result of an initial gift of three thousand trees by Japan in 1912. They represent the friendly relationship between the two countries. Like family members, our countries have had periods when this relationship was not as good but peace and time have given us the benefit of this bond.
We will explore fascinating sights, sounds, and tastes of Japan in the coming weeks. Enjoy learning about another wonderful country!