Monday, April 15, 2013

Week 39: Japan

Konnichiwa from the Land of the Rising Sun!

Have you guessed where we are?  Oh, actually the post title probably told you!  Anyway, yes, we are studying Japan this week.  This is another week I've been looking forward too.  Another week with plans on top of plans that I only hope I can get to!!  I've got my husband at home for the next 4-6 weeks while he recovers from his back surgery.  This is good and bad for different reasons but it is what it is, so I'd better get on with the learning while I've got a free minute!

Japan is a group of islands (aka an archipelago) in the Asian Pacific.  There are 4 main islands and over 5,000 smaller islands. (That fact was news to me!)  The islands are very mountainous, with Mt. Fuji being the tallest and most famous mountain in Japan.  There are also over 200 volcanoes- some active, some not.  The reason for all the volcanoes, mountains, and the fact that Japan has over 1.000 earthquakes a year, is that the country sits very near a junction of 3 tectonic plates that make up the Earth's crust.  I see a science project in our near future.

The capital of Japan is Tokyo (35.41°N / 139.41°E), which is also the largest and busiest city.  The people of Japan call their country "Nippon" or "Nihon" (depending on the language), which translates into "source of the sun".  Because the sun rises in the East, Japan is known as the "Land of the Rising Sun" and this is represented on their flag, a red circle symbolizing the sun on a white background.

People have lived in Japan since migrating from mainland Asia about 30,000 years ago.  The people were ruled by Emperors from about 600 B.C. until the 12th century,  at that time Shogun
warriors took control of the land with military rule.  Europeans arrived in Japan in 1543,and in 1635 the Shoguns decided to close their borders to outside trade and emigration.  It wasn't until 1869 that the Shogun were overturned, Emperors were reinstated and free trade and travel were allowed again.

Since then the Japanese have been a major player in the world's politics.  They have been major players in both World Wars and have changed the auto and technology industries.  Japan is a beautiful country that has a rich culture.  They have been able to combine grace with strength and the modern with the old.  I can't wait to learn more about this amazing place!

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