Japan is an island nation located to the east of the Asian continent in the northwestern Pacific. Comprised of 4 major islands, this long and narrow country is 2,400 km long and stretches from north to south. Sapporo City in northern Japan is situated at about the same latitude as Boston. Okinawa, in southern Japan, is at about the same latitude as Miami. The population of Japan is 127.7 million (as of January 2004).
Japan's geographical complexity and currents also contribute to a varied climate, from frigid to subtropical. Most of Japan lies within the Temperate Zone. One can enjoy four distinct seasons, with cherry blossoms in spring, green leaves in summer, and autumn foliage in fall.
About 70% of Japan is mountainous or covered with forests. Because there are many volcanoes in Japan, more than 2,800 hot springs spot the country. Going to a hot spring resort is a popular pastime in Japan.
One of the most famous traditional arts is flower arrangement and the tea ceremony. They became widespread from around the 16th century on. They are still practiced by many to this day.
Japanese popular martial arts include Judo, which is an official Olympic event. The martial arts are not only a test of strength, but also a training in self-discipline. Baseball and soccer are among the most popular of professional sports. Japanese athletes are now becoming active in foreign sports leagues, including the U.S. major leagues.
Japan produces innumerable animated cartoons, comic books, and computer games. They are not only for children but for adults as well. They also help laymen learn more about difficult topics such as history and economy.
The information above was taken from: Web Japan, JIN Japan Information Network, Feb. 2004 http://www.jinjapan.org/.