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Japan History

Unfortunately, Japan is still shrouded by misconceptions but the truth about this country is that is a unique blend of traditional manners and boisterous exchanges.  When you arrive in Japan, you will be pleasantly surprised by what all there is to do.  Some of the activities and sites focus on the Japanese culture while others are very westernized. 

Today, Japan is home to more than 126 million people however, when the country was in the beginning stages, the earlier settlers were hunters, fishers, and gatherers all the way from Korea to Siberia.  Historians also believe the many migrants coming from Polynesia were a part of the original communities.  Then by 300 AD, sun worshippers from the Yamato kingdom had somewhat unified the nation through the course of alliance and conquest.  Unfortunately, when Shinto and Buddhism began to battle, Japaneseís traditional religion was diffused due to Shinto deities being manifested as Buddha.

Around the 9th century, the Japanese empire was relatively stable.  The emperors dedicated most of their time to leisure instead of pursuing scholarly interests.  Throughout the years, numerous wars broke out, using the Samurai for defense.  While there are many different periods for the development and growth of Japan, you will find there to be five primary ones that include Kamakura, Muromachi, Momoyama, the Christian Century, and Tokugawa.  During the Kamakura Period from 1185 to 1333, the Mongol army repeatedly invaded Japan.  However, the Japanese people were able to keep them at bay although their leadership was weakened. The Muromachi Period from 1333 to 1576 involved a revolt by Ashikaga although is effectiveness began to fade, causing Japan to go into a civil war.

Then, you have the Momoyama Period that ran from 1576 to 1600.  During this time, numerous factions were calmed and unified.  The Christian Century from 1543 to 1640 was a time when interloping religion posed a significant threat.  Finally, the Tokugawa from 1600 to 1867 was a time of Japan being led into national seclusion.  The Japanese people were not allowed to travel anywhere overseas, nor were they permitted to trade abroad.  Anyone entering the country was considered suspicious and carefully supervised.  Many people these rules are the very reason you see such loyalty and obedience in the country today.  Even though Japan is more relaxed and modernized, the children for example are expected to be reverent and obedient to their parents and teachers, unlike other countries where children run wild.

Then by the beginning of the 19th century, things began to change when the government became corrupt.  Many foreign ships began to penetrate the countryís isolation and by 1867, Japanís shogun had resigned.  With the new emperor, Meiji, Japan started into the beginning stages of industrialization and westernization.  Although there continued to be forms of resistant and battles for power, a tripartite pack was made with Italy and Germany in 1940.  However, when the United States failed to agree to neutrality with Japan, we were all taken by surprise when WWII broke out with the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor.  On that day in Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, Japan made some strides but soon, the United States counterattacked and took back control of the war.  When the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, the famous atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima were released.  With no other choice, Japan surrendered and within years, a special recovery program was established to help rebuild Japanís failing economy.  Before long, the country had become a powerful exporter of robotics, electronics, computers, banking, and automobile production.

The good news is that by the 1990, the anger and damage done by WWII had vanished and the country was strong.  Sadly, Kobe was devastated with a massive earthquake in 1995 and with help slow to arrive, it took a major toll on the country and its people.  Today, we see a beautiful country filled with warm and hospitable people.  Art has a strong presence with both Korean and Chinese influences.  One of the most spectacular art forms is called Ikebana, which is a wonderful flower arrangement.  The ink paintings are also magnificent masterpieces seen throughout the country.  Other types of art that come directly from Japan include wood block prints from the Edo Period and the Buddhist scrolls that were created to depict hell and all its fury.

As you travel throughout Japan, you cannot help but be overwhelmed with the beautiful architecture.  From the Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples to incredible castles, the designs are truly breathtaking and well worth experiencing.  However, the Japanese gardens are by far the most enjoyable of all things.  Each is meticulous and perfect in appearance and harmony.  Another wonderful aspect of Japan is the music.  Two specific traditions, the Gagaku and Kabuki, are melodramatic performances in a theater where drums and other ancient instruments are played.  However, the younger generation prefers pop music, as well as punk rock.

Another fascinating aspect of Japan is that when it comes to literature, the majority of the pieces are written by women.  The reason is that most men still write in Chinese characters or Japanese script called Hiragana.  For foreigners, the written Japanese language is considered one of the most difficult and complex to learn.  The writing system is extremely, complicated since it uses three different scripts.  The good news is that the spoken language is actually easy to learn and easy regarding pronunciation.

Probably one of the greatest things about visiting Japan is having the honor and pleasure of tasting some of the finest food in the world.  While you can certainly order dishes that have been westernized such as sushi or tempura, it goes well beyond that.  Typically, each Japanese restaurant will specialize in one particular dish.  You will even find restaurants called Okonomiyaki, which are cook-it-yourself meals, adding interest to the experience.  Usually, these meals consist of seafood, meat, and vegetables that are stir-fried.

Other popular dishes include Sukiyaki, thin sliced beef, vegetables, and tofu cooked to perfection in a rich broth, Shabu-Shabu, which is beef and vegetables cooked quickly in broth and then served with special sauces, or a wonderful soup called Nabemono.  Just as food is an important part of the Japanese culture, so it drinking.  In fact, just about every adult in Japan drinks, along with teenagers.  Although beer is a favorite, even dispensed in vending machines, you will have the chance to sample other favorites such as Sake, which is rice wine.  This type of wine is served cold or warm but keep in mind the warm option will give you a quick buzz.  However, the number one drink in Japan is green tea, which tastes good, also known for its medicinal properties.

Finally, traveling about through this country is an experience like none other.  For instance, you could visit Tokyo, which is a thriving metropolitan with a high level of energy.  As Japanís capital city, you will find everything imaginable, 24 hours a day.  Mt. Fuji also makes an excellent destination while in Japan.  As the highest mountain in this country at 12,385 feet, it is truly a natural wonder.  This volcano last erupted in 1707 and the peak is so tall that it is often obscured by clouds.  Even so, the view is magnificent and if you love to climb, you can enjoy packing in the months of July and August.


 

We offer the Internet's largest selection of Asian Arts, Crafts, and Collectibles with over 5,000 different items in stock in our Maryland warehouse. Our products are handcrafted and imported from Japan, China, Korea, Bali, India, Vietnam, Russia, Ceylon, Nepal, and Thailand. So sit back, relax, and enjoy your visit.

 
Sushi & Sake Set for Two
Sushi & Sake Sets
White Rabbits / Brown Rabbits
Chinese Snuff Bottles
Netsuke, Inro, Ojime
Gold Leaf Painted ~ 10 Inch Turnip Vase
Gold Leaf Lacquer
Pair of 10 Inch Closionne Vases
Cloisonne
 
 

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