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Japan Overview

Basic Information

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Japan is situated in northeastern Asia between the North Pacific and the Sea of Japan. The area of Japan is 377,873 square kilometers, nearly equivalent to Germany and Switzerland combined or slightly smaller than California. Japan consists of four major islands, surrounded by more than 4,000 smaller islands.

Shown below are the four major islands, their locations and sizes.

Hokkaido (northern island) 83,000 square kilometers
Honshu (main island) 231,000 square kilometers
Shikoku (smallest island) 19,000 square kilometers
Kyushu (southern island) 42,000 square kilometers

Japan's topographical features include coastlines with varied scenery, towering mountains, which are very often volcanic and twisted valleys that invite visitors into the mysterious world of nature.



There is only one official language spoken in Japan, which is of course Japanese. However, many Japanese are able to understand English to a certain extent since English is the foreign language that everyone must learn as part of compulsory education.

Even if you don't understand Japanese, you can still certainly enjoy Japan. But if you know a few everyday Japanese phrases then it will make your trip even more memorable. A few words make a big difference.

Useful Japanese Phrases:
Japanese < > English
Ohayou gozaimasu Good morning
Kon'nichiwa Good afternoon
Kon'banwa Good evening
Oyasumi nasai Good night
Sayounara Good-bye
Sumimasen Excuse me
Gomen nasai I am sorry
Wakarimasen I don't understand
Arigatou Thank you
Hai Yes
Iie No



Japan's population is over 126 million. Most Japanese reside in densely populated urban areas. Japan's capital city is Tokyo. The population of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area including the city, some of its suburbs and the surrounding area is approximately 12 million.

Major cities of Japan and their approximate populations
City Population
Tokyo 12,059,000
Yokohama 3,426,000
Osaka 2,598,000
Nagoya 2,171,000
Sapporo 1,822,000
Kobe 1,493,000
Fukuoka 1,290,000
Sendai 1,008,000


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