Japan, officially Nippon () is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of China, Korea and Russia. The characters that make up Japan's name mean "sun-origin", which is why Japan is sometimes identified as the "Land of the Rising Sun".
Japan comprises over 3,000 islands, the largest of which are Honsh?, Hokkaid?, Ky?sh? and Shikoku. Most of the islands are mountainous, many volcanic; for example, Japan's highest peak, Mount Fuji, is a volcano. Japan has the world's tenth largest population, with about 128 million people. The Greater Tokyo Area, which includes the capital city of Tokyo and several surrounding prefectures, is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 30 million residents.
Influence from the outside world followed by long periods of isolation has characterized Japan's history. Since adopting its constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament, the Diet.
A major economic power, Japan has the world's third largest economy by nominal GDP. It is a member of the United Nations, G8, G4, OECD and APEC, with the world's fifth largest defense budget. It is also the world's fourth largest exporter and sixth largest importer and a world leader in technology and machinery.
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are large bells
found in Buddhist temples throughout Japan
, used to summon the monks to prayer and to demarcate periods of time. Rather than containing a clapper, bonsh?
are struck from the outside, using either a hand-held mallet or a beam suspended on ropes. The bells are usually made from bronze, typically augmented and ornamented with bosses
, raised bands, and inscriptions. The earliest appearance of these bells in Japan dates to around 600 CE
, although the general design is of much earlier Chinese origin. Their penetrating and pervasive tone carries over considerable distances, which led to their use as signals, timekeepers, and alarms. The sound is thought to have supernatural properties; it is believed, for example, that it can be heard in the underworld
. Their spiritual significance means that they play an important role in Buddhist ceremonies, particularly the New Year
festivals. Throughout Japanese history a number of these bells have become associated with stories and legends, both fictional, such as the Benkei Bell of Mii-dera
, and historical, such as the bell of H?k?-ji
. In modern times, bonsh?
have become symbols of world peace
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On this day...
Film and television
Holidays, observances, and anniversaries
- Autumnal Equinox Day (Sh?bun no hi)
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was the founder of judo
. Judo was the first Japanese martial art
to gain widespread international recognition, and the first to become an official Olympic sport
. Pedagogical innovations attributed to Kan? include the use of black and white belts, and the introduction of dan ranking
to show the relative ranking between members of a martial art style. Well-known mottoes attributed to Kan? include "Maximum Efficiency with Minimum Effort" and "Mutual Welfare and Benefit." In his professional life Kan? was an educator
. Important postings included serving as director of primary education for the Ministry of Education
from 1898 to 1901, and as president of Tokyo Higher Normal School from 1901 until 1920. He played a key role in getting judo and kendo
made part of the Japanese public school programs of the 1910s. Kan? was also a pioneer of international sports
. Accomplishments included being the first Asian member of the International Olympic Committee
(IOC) (he served from 1909 until 1938), officially representing Japan at most Olympic Games held between 1912 and 1936 and serving as a leading spokesman for Japan's bid for the 1940 Olympic Games.
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is a prefecture
located in the Ch?goku region
on Honsh? island
. The capital is the city of Yamaguchi
located in the center of the Prefecture. The largest city, by contrast, is Shimonoseki
. Yamaguchi Prefecture was formerly divided into Nagato
provinces. It was ruled by the M?ri clan
domain during the Sengoku
period. After Commodore Matthew Perry
's opening of Japan, clans from Nagato (also called Ch?sh?
) played a key role in the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate
and the new imperial government. One of the prefecture's major attractions is the famous Kintai Bridge
in the town of Iwakuni
. This five arced wooden structure is considered a symbol of Western Honsh?. The area on the banks of the Nishiki river close to the bridge is considered among the best places in Japan for Hanami
, when groups of family and friends gather in early April to view Cherry Blossoms. Thirteen cities lie within the prefecture's boundaries, including the capital Yamaguchi
, the prefecture's largest city. There are also four districts
comprising seven towns.
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Coordinates: 36°30?N 139°00?E / 36.5°N 139°E