Japan is a rocking and rolling place – literally. This small country made of four main islands and over 6,000 smaller islands sits near three tectonic plates. These plates are part of the Earth’s crust. When they rub against each other, they can cause big problems. Japan experiences over 1,000 earthquakes every year. Most of the earthquakes are small, but every now and then a big earthquake arrives. Japan also has 60 active volcanoes.
On Friday March 11th 2011, Japan suffered a catastrophic earthquake followed by a Tsunami. The earthquake measured 9.0 magnitude. The resulting Tsunami raced onshore at a height of 133 ft in some area’s. Over 15,000 unfortunate people lost their lives with many more injured and left homeless.
Japan Facts For Kids
- Located in East Asia.
- Capital: Tokyo.
- Official language: Japanese.
- Currency: Japanese yen.
- Population: Over 125 million (as of 2021).
- Largest mountain: Mount Fuji.
- Known for sushi and sake.
- Birthplace of sumo wrestling.Island nation: Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku.
- Ancient history: Samurai and ninjas.
As Japan’s tallest peak, the active volcano known as Mount Fuji or ‘Fuji-san’ stands at an impressive 3,776 meters. This iconic and sacred symbol of the nation is celebrated for its perfect symmetry, often adorned with a cap of snow, that has inspired countless pieces of traditional art, poetry, and literature.
It’s a magnet for tourists and adventurous climbers, although its challenging terrains are usually only advised for children over ten with appropriate supervision. As such, Mount Fuji serves as an exceptional insight into the natural beauty, rich culture, and historical significance of Japan.
Tokyo, the capital
Tokyo, Japan’s vibrant capital, is not only a global epicenter of technology and innovation but also a rich repository of culture and history that offers an intriguing exploration for kids. As the world’s most populous metropolitan area, it houses the awe-inspiring Tokyo Skytree, the world’s tallest tower that stands majestically at 634 meters.
Tokyo’s reputation is further fortified by its extraordinary strides in technology, particularly in robotics and electronics. Yet, amidst this modernity, it gracefully retains its historical roots, as evidenced by landmarks such as the Meiji Shrine and the Imperial Palace.
The city’s distinctive culinary offerings, with sushi being a standout, contribute to it hosting the most Michelin-starred restaurants globally. This blend of the ultra-modern with the traditional creates a city of contrasts, providing a captivating educational experience for kids.
Samurai and Bushido
Japan’s unique history is notably marked by the samurai warriors, a class of highly skilled fighters who thrived from the 12th to the 19th centuries. These warriors were bound by a rigorous moral code called “Bushido” or “the way of the warrior,” which underscored values such as honor, bravery, and unwavering loyalty to their masters.
Equipped with striking armor and dual swords – a long one utilized in battles and a shorter one for close combat – the samurai held significant sway in society and politics. They functioned as military nobility and were often engaged as bodyguards for influential lords.
The enduring influence of the samurai and their Bushido code remains a significant aspect of Japanese culture, commanding immense respect to this day.
Sushi and Japanese cuisine
Japan is globally recognized for its captivating food culture, with sushi being a traditional dish widely cherished by people of all ages. Contrary to the common misconception associating sushi solely with raw fish, the term ‘sushi’ primarily refers to the special vinegared rice utilized in its preparation.
The dish comes in various forms, including Nigiri, Maki, and Temaki, each distinct in preparation methods and ingredients, which might encompass raw or cooked seafood, vegetables, or occasionally, tropical fruits. Beyond sushi, other notable dishes in Japanese cuisine include ramen, tempura, and teriyaki.
These meals embody the Japanese emphasis on balance, harmony, and utilization of seasonal ingredients, a testament to their deep-rooted respect for nature and aesthetic appreciation.
Cherry blossoms (Sakura)
The Sakura, or cherry blossoms, are a profound symbol in Japan, known for their captivating beauty and their transient nature which encapsulates the essence of life’s fleeting moments. These mesmerizing pinkish-white flowers, which bloom annually between March and April, draw tourists from around the world and transform the Japanese landscape into a breathtaking spectacle.
This period, known as the Sakura season, is marked by ‘Hanami’ parties where locals and tourists alike partake in outdoor gatherings, often picnicking under the efflorescing trees to celebrate the arrival of these iconic blooms.
The Sakura’s ephemeral existence, blooming only for a brief moment before falling, is a poignant sight that is eagerly anticipated by individuals of all ages, adding a layer of magic to this annual phenomenon.
Shinto and Buddhism
Japan, steeped in a rich tapestry of culture and tradition, is profoundly influenced by its two major religions, Shinto and Buddhism. Shinto, a belief system indigenous to Japan, venerates natural elements such as the sun, mountains, rivers, and trees, reflecting an inherent love and respect for nature.
This reverence is commonly visible in the form of exquisite Shinto shrines nestled within Japan’s diverse landscapes. Buddhism, which was introduced to Japan from China and Korea around the 6th century, promotes the pursuit of enlightenment through meditation and wisdom.
A remarkable aspect of Japanese culture is the harmonious co-existence of both religions where many people practice Shinto rituals to mark life’s milestones such as births and marriages, while Buddhist customs often govern funerals. The profound influence of these religions has significantly shaped the spirituality, art, and architecture of Japan, making it an intriguing place for cultural exploration.
Japanese language and Kanji
The Japanese language, with its unique and intriguing features, can be a fascinating exploration for children. One distinctive feature is its writing system, particularly the ‘Kanji’ characters which are borrowed from Chinese.
Unlike the English alphabet’s sound-representing letters, each Kanji character signifies a word or an idea, necessitating Japanese children to memorize thousands of such characters for fluent reading. However, it’s not as overwhelming as it sounds, due to the existence of simpler scripts, Hiragana and Katakana, used for regular writing.
Communication through this language can be enjoyable and engaging, and mastering basic Kanji can pose a thrilling challenge for children captivated by Japan.
Anime and Manga
Known worldwide for its distinctive animation and comic books, Japan’s Anime and Manga have left a significant impact on its culture and have become indispensable parts of the entertainment industry.
Anime, distinguished by vibrant graphics and whimsical themes, is a form of animation that captivates not just children but adults as well. It boasts popular titles such as ‘Pokémon,’ ‘Naruto,’ and ‘My Neighbor Totoro.’ Manga, the Japanese counterpart for comic books or graphic novels, offers a broad assortment of genres from action and adventure to romance, appealing to individuals of all age groups.
Unique to Manga is its traditional reading order from right to left, contrary to the English reading norm. Hence, Anime and Manga, with their distinct styles and expansive genres, have transcended cultural boundaries and are enjoyed by people worldwide.
As a global technological powerhouse, Japan offers a compelling exploration for young tech enthusiasts. Acclaimed for its innovative, reliable, and high-quality products, Japanese technology has given birth to leading brands such as Sony, Nintendo, and Toshiba.
The country’s prowess extends to the realm of robotics, where it has developed a wide range of utilitarian robots, from those designed for household chores to those assisting in surgical procedures. Japan also takes the lead in transportation technology, boasting one of the most efficient railway systems globally, highlighted by the famous Shinkansen or bullet train that can reach astounding speeds of up to 320 km/h.
Notably, Japan’s technological progress also champions environmental sustainability, being a trailblazer in solar power technology. Thus, whether one is fascinated by gadgets, video games, robots, or sustainable technologies, Japan’s technology scene offers ample inspiration.
Traditional tea ceremonies
The traditional tea ceremony, or ‘Chanoyu,’ is a captivating aspect of Japanese culture that offers an enriching learning experience for children. With its roots extending back to the 9th century, the ceremony is not merely about consuming tea, but rather a harmonious blend of art, meditation, and an emphasis on respect, tranquility, and purity. The host carefully prepares and serves matcha, which is a powdered green tea, in a calming and peaceful setting, each gesture imbued with significance. Observing participants are able to appreciate this serene process, understanding that every movement carries meaning.
This ritual serves as a significant educational tool for children, instilling in them lessons about patience, discipline, and the understated elegance of simplicity.
Japan is a beautiful, mountainous country and the people of Japan love this beauty. Many believe that the water, trees and mountains have souls. People have lived in Japan for more than 30,000 years. Long ago, Japan was joined to Asia’s mainland and settlers simply walked to Japan. Later civilizations came by boat and made tools, grew rice and wove beautiful fabric.
Europeans arrived in Japan in the 1500s. The shoguns – or leaders – made a law that no foreigners could enter Japan and no one from Japan could leave. This law lasted for more than 200 years. In 1868, the rulers were overthrown and the law was changed. The Japanese began to adapt Western ways of thinking and living. Japan fought with the United States during World War I, but fought against the U.S. and the Allied Forces during World War II. The United States dropped bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945. The bombs killed about 115,000 people. The war ended a few days later.
Today, Japan is a prosperous, bustling country. The Japanese are known for being hard workers and for taking education seriously. They’re leaders at building cars, computers, technology and electronics.
Fun Facts about Japan for Kids
- 127,728,000 people live in Japan.
- Capital of Japan is Tokyo.
- The currency used is the Japanese Yen.
- The Prime Minister of Japan is Shinzo Abe.
- Japan has 145,902 square miles of land.
- Most people in Japan speak Japanese.
- Most people are Shinto or Buddhist.
- People in Japan can expect to live 83 years. One reason they live so long is because they eat a diet of mostly rice, fresh fruit and fresh vegetables.
- 99 percent of adults can read.
- At 3,776 m Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain. It is a volcanic mountain.
- At 367 km the Shinano River is Japan’s longest river.
- The national flower of Japan is the Cherry Blossom.
- Basahi which is a delicacy in Japan is actually raw Horse meat.
- Tectonic plates: large plates of rock that make up the Earth’s crust
- Soul: spirit
- Adapt: take on or adjust
- Bustling: busy
All About Japan Video for Kids
Check out this cool video about Japan for kids:
This is an animated infographic video on facts about Japan.
Question: How do people greet each other in Japan?
Answer: People bow to each other. They do not shake hands.
Map of Japan
Here’s a map of the country of Japan and all its cities and villages. Zoom in to get into street level or zoom out to see other countries around Japan! You can see the terrain, but also see the roads, images of the buildings and even take a 3D tour through the streets of the cities of Japan, as though you are actually there!