Japan has the world's tenth-largest population. The Greater Tokyo Area, which includes the capital city of Tokyo and many other surrounding prefectures, is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 30 million residents.
Total area: 377,944 km² (145,935 sq. miles)
Population: 127,799,000 (2011 Estimate)
Japan is an archipelago of 6,852 islands with the four largest islands being Honshū, Kyūshū, Shikoku and Hokkaidō, together accounting for ninety-seven percent of Japan's land area.
Japan or Nippon or Nippon-Koku, literally meaning “the State of Japan” is an island nation in East Asia. The characters that make up Japan's name mean "sun-origin", which is why Japan is sometimes referred to as the "Land of the Rising Sun". Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of Korea, China, Russia and the Sea of Japan, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south.
The climate of Japan is predominantly temperate, but varies greatly from north to south. Due to its geographical features, Japan is divided into six principal climatic zones.
The northernmost zone, Hokkaido, has a humid continental climate with long, cold winters and very warm to cool summers. With precipitation not being of the heavy type, the islands usually develop deep snow banks in the winter. In the Sea of Japan zone on Honshū's west coast, northwest winter winds allow for heavy snowfall. In the summer, the region tends to be cooler than the Pacific region, although sometimes experiences extremely hot temperatures because of the foehn wind. The Central Highland has a typical inland humid continental climate, with large temperature differences between summer and winter, as well as both between day and night; precipitation is light, though winters are rather snowy. The mountains of the Chūgoku and Shikoku regions shelter the Seto Inland Sea from seasonal winds, bringing in a mild weather system all year-round. The Pacific coast features a humid subtropical climate that experiences milder winters with occasional snowfall and hot, humid summers, mainly due to the southeast seasonal wind. The Ryukyu Islands have a subtropical climate, with warm winters and hot summers. Precipitation is indeed heavy, especially during the rainy season.
The average winter temperature in Japan is 5.1 °C (41.2 °F) and the average summer temperature is 25.2 °C (77.4 °F). The highest temperature ever measured in Japan -40.9 °C (105.6 °F) was recorded in mid-August 2007. The main rainy season begins in early May in Okinawa, and the rain front gradually moves north until reaching Hokkaidō in late July. In most of Honshū, the rainy season begins before the middle of June and lasts about six weeks. In late summer and early autumn, typhoons often bring heavy rain.
Justifiably regarded as a major economic power, Japan has the world's third-largest economy by nominal GDP and fourth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It is also the world's fourth-largest exporter and fourth-largest importer. Although Japan has officially renounced its right to declare war, it maintains a modern military force in self-defense and peacekeeping roles.
Its main exports are transportation equipment, motor vehicles, electronics, electrical machinery and chemicals. Japan's main import markets as of 2009 are China (22.2 percent), the US (10.96 percent), Australia (6.29 percent), Saudi Arabia (5.29 percent), United Arab Emirates (4.12 percent), South Korea (3.98 percent) and Indonesia (3.95 percent). Its main imports are equipment and machinery, fossil fuels, foodstuffs (in particular beef), chemicals, textiles and raw materials for its industries.
As of 2011, Japan is the third largest national economy in the world, after the United States and China, in terms of nominal GDP, and the fourth largest national economy in the world, after the United States, China and India in terms of purchasing power parity.
Japan ranks 12th of 178 countries in the 2008 Ease of Doing Business Index and has one of the smallest tax revenues of the developed world. The Japanese variant of capitalism has many distinct features: keiretsu enterprises are influential, and lifetime employment and seniority-based career advancement are relatively common in the Japanese work environment.
According to Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO, April 2012), there have been 6,218,747 overseas visitors to Japan for the Year 2011. The nationalities of visitors to Japan vary greatly, but the top 12 countries (and locations) by number of arrivals providing tourists to Japan in 2011 were:
5. Hong Kong
(2011 arrivals-Source: tourismjp)
Japan is one of Asia’s topmost destinations. Composed of thousands of islands, Japan is a mixture of cultures and traditions. It is where the most amazing sights are located. Surely Japan can be a highly attractive destination, especially in the winter. Knowing that one may find such snowy landscapes which can be seen in certain cities and enjoy this snowy period as much as the Japanese usually do during this beautiful season. Winter time in Japan, which can be just as lovely as the summer - with the exception of temperatures being quite apart between seasons-, largely depends on what you wish to make out of your overall trip.
Sources: tourismjp, JNTO
Car Hire in Japan with MisterHire.Com
Known as the “Land of the Rising Sun,” Japan offers a fascinating time for anyone who visits this amazing country. Japan has a wide range of historical places, attractions, culture and heritage that has awed thousands of people. It combines a mixture of cultures and traditions that can only add to the beauty of this wonderful country. Japan's distinctive language and easily recognizable style and charming tranquil way of life outside city centres, promises a truly remarkable experience.
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Driving in Japan
In Japan, cars are driven on the left side of the road and have the driver's seat and steering wheel on their right side. The legal minimum age for driving is 18 years. Road signs and rules follow international standards, and most signs on major roads are in Japanese and English. Drinking and driving is strictly prohibited.
Obtaining an International Driving Permit
Foreigners can drive in Japan with a recognized international driving permit for up to one year after entering the country. Recognized international driving permits must be obtained in your home country, usually through the national automobile association, before you leave for Japan.
Speed limits & road behavior in Japan
The typical speed limits are 80 to 100 km/h on expressways, 40 km/h in urban areas, 30 km/h in side streets and 50 to 60 km/h elsewhere. Local drivers usually are allowed to exceed the speed limits by about 10 km/h.
Most roads in Japan are toll free with the exception of expressways and some scenic driving routes. Road conditions are generally of good status with the exception of a number of side streets in the cities, which could be rather narrow. Traffic congestion is a frequent problem in and around urban centers.
Drivers generally tend to be well mannered and considerate. Some dangers on Japanese roads include drivers speeding over intersections despite the traffic light turning red, people stopping their vehicles at the edge of the street in ways by which they could block traffic, and cyclists driving on the wrong side of the road.
Sources: Japan-guide, Wikipedia