Japan Study Tours
ESL in Canada Teacher and Study Tours Programs
Japan Dream Tour
Our thanks to the ESL in Canada international intern from Japan Sayaka Sawa who has
constructed this Japan Dream Tour.
The Japanese call their country Nihon or Nippon, which means "origin of the sun" the popular western translation is "land of the rising sun." The colliding tectonic plates and volcanic eruptions that created the islands are still at work. Earthquakes occur regularly in Japan, and about 40 of the country?s 188 volcanoes are still active. The Japanese archipelago is divided by mountains into two halves, the front side faces the Pacific Ocean, and the back side faces the Sea of Japan.
With a population of 127,463,610 Japan ranks as the world?s ninth most populous nation. The most crowded area is the capital Tokyo, where the density is about 13,000 per square kilometer. Tokyo ranks as the most populated metropolitan area in the world, with 35 million inhabitants. Japan?s people are concentrated in urban areas, making Japan one of the most heavily urbanized nations in the world.
Japanese speech is seperated by several degrees of politeness and familiarity to distinguish between superiors, equals, and inferiors based on factors such as age, sex, and social status. Modern Japanese writing combines Chinese characters (kanji) with two alphabets in which each symbol represents a syllable (hiragana and katakana). Japanese includes many such loan words taken from Portuguese, Dutch, German and English. It is not uncommon to see kanji, katakana, hiragana, and roman letters all used in the same sentence.
With an adult literacy rate exceeding 99 percent, Japan is the top nation in the world in educational attainment. In 1998 there were 604 four-year universities in Japan and 588 two-year junior colleges. Important and prestigious universities include the University of Tokyo, Kyoto University, and Keio University in Tokyo.
Japan includes four main islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and over 3000 smaller islands. The country is traditionally divided into eight major regions: Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kanto, Chubu, Kinki, Chugoku, Shikoku, and Kyushu and the Ryukyu Islands.
The island of Hokkaido forms a single prefecture and it's capital Sapporo, is the island's commercial and manufacturing center. The fertile soils support agriculture and provide the majority of Japan?s pasturelands and the cold currents off it's shores are a source of cold-water ocean fish.
The northern part of Honshu island is the region known as Tohoku. Tohoku includes the prefectures of Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Yamagata, Miyagi, and Fukushima. Its principal city is Sendai.
South of Tohoku on Honshu island is the Kanto region, the prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama, Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Chiba, and the Tokyo Metropolis make up the Kanto region. Japan?s second largest city is Yokohama, located near Tokyo in Kanagawa Prefecture. Kawasaki, next to Yokohama is a hub of Japan?s Keihin Industrial Zone.
Chubu occupies Honshu west of Kanto and contains some of Japan?s longest rivers, highest mountains, and numerous volcanoes. Chubu encompasses the prefectures of Niigata, Toyama, Ishikawa, Fukui, Yamanashi, Nagano, Gifu, Shizuoka, and Aichi.
The prefectures of Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, Shiga, Mie, Wakayama, and Nara make up the Kinki region. The Kinki region is the location of the former capital cities of Nara and Kyoto. Osaka, the region?s largest city is Japan?s second-most populous region. Osaka is the leading financial center of western Japan and the principal city of the Hanshin Industrial Zone. Kyoto is also famous as the site of many historic temples, shrines, and traditional gardens.
The Chugoku region encompasses the prefectures of Hiroshima, Okayama, Shimane, Tottori, and Yamaguchi.
The Shikoku region is the smallest of Japan?s four main islands and includes the prefectures of Kagawa, Tokushima, Ehime, and Kochi.
The prefectures of Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Oita, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Saga, Kagoshima, and Okinawa make up the Kyushu and Ryukyu Islands region. Kyushu?s largest city is Fukuoka. The Ryukyu chain?s larger islands are volcanic, while the smaller ones are mere coral formations. Farmers grow grow subtropical fruits sugarcane and pineapples and raise cattle in the islands' frost-free climate. Okinawa, the largest and most populated of the Ryukyu Islands, is a popular tourist destination.
Japan?s climate has four distinct seasons. The wide range of latitude causes pronounced differences in climate between the north and the south and the mountain ranges running through the center of the islands also seperate weather into east and west. The Sea of Japan side of the country is extremely snowy in winter. From June to September this pattern reverses. Monsoon winds from the Pacific tropics bring warm, moist air and heavy precipitation to Japan?s Pacific coast.
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