Introducing: Japan

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Hooray! Its time to visit a new country (via the interwebs), and try to cook their food. I’ve been looking forward to Japan week since we picked it last week. So without further ado, I bring you the facts and figures bit.

Geography

Japan is in the Pacific Ocean, just east of China. It is made up of more than 6000 islands in total, but there are four main ones: Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku. Most of the country is mountainous, but Japan also has the largest single metropolitan area in the world, or so Wikipedia tells me.

The capital is Tokyo, on the largest island, Honshu, although apparently this was never really confirmed by the powers that be, which is interesting to me, coming from a country who’s politicians debated the question of the capital for a long time, and then built a new city to do the job.

Politics and stuff

*Please excuse me while I clumsily attempt to explain the complex political workings of a major power in a few sentences.*

Japan is a constitutional monarchy (hey, us too!) with an Emperor and an elected parliamentary Government.

There was recently (well, last year) a shift in power from the LDP to the DPJ. In brief Western-speak, the LDP are the conservatives, and DPJ are the progressives. It was a very big deal, because the LDP had been in power since 1955 with only one short-lived interruption.

The DPJ are progressive in a Japanese context, as they stand for a change from the status quo, and want to move toward  transparency, participation, and equal opportunity., and wanted to do things like make high school free, and ban temporary work in manufacturing. Exciting times!

An Australian observer may find it odd, however, that this progressive party also stands for free market capitalism (with added security), a smaller bureaucracy, and a cut in gas tax. Such a different context, I suppose.

Other stuff

Population: 126 804 433 (about 6 times as many people as Australia, in about a 20th of the space)

The median age is 44, and they have one of the lowest birth rates in the world, at 222nd out of 233.

With so few children, they treat their babies very carefully- Japan has the 5th lowest rate of infant mortality. A child born in Japan now has the 5th longest life expectancy from birth in the world.

Japan was first ‘properly’ independent in 660BC (i.e. its really, really old)

The main religions in Japan are Shintoism (89%) and Buddhism (71%). Some people belong to both.

Links

All the information presented here was gathered from the following links, with the exception of some of the politics stuff, which was the result of both the links and conversations with a lefty/greeny friend from Japan.

CIA World Factbook

Wikipedia

Here’s a quiz:http://facts-about-japan.com/

And here’s a fun link for the kids: Kids Web Japan

and, of course, some vegan/japan links.

Some very cool blogs: Shizuoka Gourmet; and MacVegan.

and some other stuff:

http://vegan.wikia.com/wiki/Japan

http://www.veganjapan.net/index_engl.html

http://www.vegietokyo.com/ a guide to Tokyo for the vego.

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. dragonlife says:

    Dear Keira!
    G’day from Shizuoka, Japan!
    Thank you so much for introducing my blog!
    Although I’m not, don’t hesitate if you have any questions about Jpanese vegan food!
    Best regards,
    Robert-Gilles

    1. Keira says:

      Hi!
      Happy to do so, your blog looks great!
      Cheers

      1. dragonlife says:

        Keep me posted!

  2. lisa says:

    Looking forward to seeing what you cook up for Japan! Vegan Japanese food – oooh yeah. And if I may, here’s a survival guide I wrote to eating vegan in Japan.

    1. Keira says:

      Thanks, that’s a really clear and useful guide. Vegan links are generally appreciated 🙂

  3. Hannah says:

    Can’t wait for the Japan posts! I fell in love with the food when I visited my brother several years back. Edamame, everything sweet flavoured with green tea and red bean, tofu ehaven… Excited!

    1. Keira says:

      I love Japanese food from what I know of it so far, although I’ve never been. I’m looking forward to it too.

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