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Himeji Castle, Osaka

  • Japan consists of several thousands of islands
  • The four largest islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku
  • Japan neighbors Korea, Russia and China
  • The Sea of Japan separates Asia from Japan
  • Japan’s area is comparable to that of Germany or California.
  • More than 50% of the country is mountainous and covered by forests.
  • Japan is politically structured into 8 regions and 47 prefectures.
  • The population of Japan is about 125,000,000, including approximately two million foreign residents. More than half of the non Japanese population is of Korean descent.
  • Much of Japan’s population is crowded into a few cities along the coast.
  • Japan has become a recognized leader in high technology electronics. Japan is a major producer of computers, televisions, cameras and audio equipment.
  • Japan does have some farming, particularly rice. Japan also has a large fishing fleet. Fish and rice are two major foods eaten by the Japanese.
  • Dietary staple: rice. In addition to rice, Japanese like bread and noodles and enjoy a wide array of meats, fishes, vegetables, and fruits.
  • Traditional clothing: kimono. Still worn for special occasions, such as the Shichi-go-san (Seven-five-three) ceremony (a time when parents pray for the health of their children) and the New Year. A lightweight, informal kimono known as yukata is worn by children and young adults at summer festivals, fireworks, and other special occasions.


  • Japan has been ruled by emperors, since ancient civilization. During much of Japan’s history, rival warlords and their samurai fought with each other.
  • In the 1930s and 1940s, Japan attacked many of its neighboring Asian countries.
  • In World War II, Japan sided with Germany and was finally defeated in 1945. Two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, which helped to end the war.
  • The rebuilding process following World War II has made Japan into a major economic power.


    Traditional Sushi

    • You may already know that you don’t wear shoes in the house, you wear slippers, but did you also know that there are special slippers designed to be worn when visiting the toilet? There are also special ‘corridor’ slippers.
    • It is considered rude to show signs of affection toward a loved one in public.
    • There is at least one vending machine on every city corner. From these you can buy batteries, beer, wine, condoms, cigarettes, comic books, hot dogs, light bulbs, and used women’s underwear from vending machines.
    • Normal Japanese kitchens don’t have ovens
    • At many businesses in Japan, they offer alcohol to the employees after six pm.
    • Japan has about 1,500 earthquakes each year.
    • Japan has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. Japanese people live on average 4 years longer than those in the U.S., 2.5 years longer than Germans and Belgians, and 1.5 years longer than French or Italian people.
    • The oldest man to climb Mount Everest was a Japanese man, Mr Yuichiro Miura who reached the summit of Mount Everest at the ripe old age of 70 years and 222 days during May 2003.
    • Japan’s literacy rate is almost 100%.
    • Sumo is Japan’s national sport, although baseball is also very popular.
    • Noodles, especially soba (buckwheat), are slurped very loudly when eaten. It is often said slurping symbolizes the food is delicious, but the slurping also serves to cool down the hot noodles for eating.
    • When moving into an apartment it is often required to give the landlord a “gift” of money equal to two months’ rent.
    • It is not uncommon to eat rice at every meal, including breakfast.
    • Japan is the largest automobile producer in the world.
    • Some men in Japan shave their heads to apologize.
    • Some women in Japan cut their hair after breaking up with a boyfriend.
    • Tokyo has had 24 recorded instances of people either killed or receiving serious skull fractures while bowing to each other with the traditional Japanese greeting.
    • The first novel, The Tale of Genji, was written in 1007 by a Japanese noble woman, Murasaki Shikibu.
    • Raised floors help indicate when take off shoes or slippers. At the entrance to a home in Japan, the floor will usually be raised about 6 inches indicating you should take off your shoes and put on slippers. If the house has a tatami mat room its floor may be raised 1-2 inches indicating you should to take off your slippers.
    • It was customary in ancient Japan for women to blacken their teeth with dye as white teeth were considered ugly. This practice persisted until the late 1800’s.

Avg. Costs

Hakone National Park

  • Typical prices for moderate budget travel would be 5,000 YEN for hotel, 2,000 YEN for meals, and 2,000 YEN again for entry fees and local transport.
  • Lunch and Fixed set meals are usually around 600 YEN – These typically consist of a meat or fish dish, bowl of miso soup, pickles, and rice
  • Hot Springs –  fees for entry 500-1000 YEN is typical
  • 5 Star Hotels – starting from 20,000 YEN per person (not per room)
  • Average meal at an average restaurant will cost from 1000-3000 YEN (12-36 CAD)
  • Taxi fare starts at 710 YEN,  Minimum subway fare is 160 YEN
  • 6 Pack of beer 1200-3000 YEN,  2L bottle of water 140 YEN
  • Big Mac 550 YEN,  12 inch turkey sub 700 YEN
  • Tokyo Disneyland – One day passport 5800 YEN,  Two day 10000YEN, Starlight (admission after 5pm on certain days) 4700YEN
  • Tokyo Tower – the world’s tallest self supporting steel tower (13m more than Eiffel)  1420YEN to the top floor,  820YEN to the middle floor
  • Plenty of free admission to temples and gardens in Japan


Click here to see The Economist’s Big Mac Index.  It is arguably the world’s most accurate financial indicator to be based on a fast-food item.


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Nuclear Memorial at Hiroshima

  • Japan is probably one of the safest countries in the world, with crime rates significantly lower than that of most Western countries.
  • Street crime is extremely rare, even late at night.
  • Of course, little crime does not mean any crime, and it is no excuse to ditch your common sense. Women travelling alone should take care as they would in their home countries and should never hitchhike alone.
  • Pick pocketing does sometimes happen: if you take your usual precautions in crowded places such as trains and at Narita Airport, you should be fine.
  • Japan is prone to earthquakes. On March 11 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Miyagi prefecture, triggering a very large tsunami and bringing havoc to the city of Sendai and the surrounding area.
  • Volcanoes, storms and typhoons are primarily a potential issue if you are mountain-climbing or sailing, so check the latest information before heading out. Stick to designated footpaths in volcanic areas as volcanic gas may be an issue.


Click here to see Canadian Government Travel Reports and Warnings on http://www.voyage.gc.ca/.  Travel Reports offer information on safety and security, local laws and customs, entry requirements, health conditions and other important travel issues.


Tokyo City

  • Due to the large North South extension of the country, the climate varies strongly in different regions.
  • The climate in most of the major cities, including Tokyo, is temperate to subtropic and consists of four seasons.  The winter is mild and the summer is hot and humid.
  • The climate of the northern island of Hokkaido and the Sea of Japan coast is colder, and snow falls in large amounts.
  • In Okinawa, on the other hand, the mean temperature of January is a warm 17 degrees Celsius.
  • The rainy season is June and July, and typhoon season is in September.

Places to See

Tokyo Tower

World War II Sites

  • The three must-visit places for World War II buffs are Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the capital of Okinawa, Naha.
  • Okinawa is where some of the most brutal battles occurred between Japan and the United States, and the area is crawling with remnants from its dark past
  • The Peace Park, Prefectural Peace Museum, Himeyuri Peace Museum, and the Peace Memorial Hall are some of the best places to learn more, see artifacts, and hear accounts of the battles that took place here
  • Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the only two cities in the world that have ever been hit by nuclear bombs, and each city has its own Peace Park and Memorial Museum where visitors can get a feel for just how destructive and horrific atomic warfare truly is

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  • Located in the interior of Yaku Island
  • Yakushima exhibits a rich flora, with some 1,900 species and subspecies, including ancient specimens of the sugi (Japanese cedar)
  • It also contains a remnant of a warm-temperate ancient forest that is unique in this region

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  • Shiretoko Peninsula is located in the north-east of Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan
  • It provides an outstanding example of the interaction of marine and terrestrial ecosystems
  • Particular importance for a number of marine and terrestrial species
  • The site is globally important for threatened seabirds and migratory birds, a number of salmonid species, and for marine mammals including Steller’s sea lion and some cetacean species

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Edo Tokyo Museum

  • Includes many amazing exhibitions showcasing the changes of the life style of residents and the appearance of towns from the Edo period (former name of Tokyo, for over 400 years) to present day Tokyo

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Tokyo National Museum

  • Exhibits historical collections from various countries in Asia, as well as in Japan
  • Located in Ueno Park

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Sensoji Temple

  • The oldest temple in Tokyo with the Kaminarimon as the symbolic gateway of the temple
  • Traditional events are held seasonally at the temple

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Meiji Jingu Shrine

  • Established in 1920
  • It enshrines the Meiji Emperor and the Shoken Empress Dowager
  • A very popular shrine during the New Year’s celebrations of Hatsumoude (the first shrine visit for praying for happiness at the beginning of a new year), having the largest number of visitors

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The Tokyo Sky Tree

  • A broadcasting, restaurant and observation tower
  • Located in Sumida, Tokyo, Japan
  • It is the tallest artificial structure in Japan since 2010
  • The tower reached its full height of 634 metres (2,080 ft) in March 2011 but will not be finished until at least late 2011




Tokyo Tower

  • A communications and observation tower located in Shiba Park, Minato, Tokyo
  • At 332.5 metres (1,091 ft), it is the second tallest artificial structure in Japan
  • The structure is an Eiffel Tower-inspired lattice tower that is painted white and international orange to comply with air safety regulations
  • Built in 1958, the tower’s main sources of revenue are tourism and antenna leasing

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Communication Etiquette:
• They like to do business based on personal relationship
• A third person introduction by someone who has developed a relationship will go along way
• Greetings are very formal and ritualized
– Show respect to your counter part
• Foreigners are expected to shake hands
– Traditional form of greeting is the bow
– How far you bow depends on how your relationship is
– It can be impolite to introduce yourself
• Table manners are a large part of a meeting at a restaurant

Business Etiquette:
• They know it is hard for foreigners to work in Japan
– They will not expect you to read or speak Japanese
– Mistakes are allowed with genuine respect
• The Japanese are non-confrontational
– They do have a difficult time saying “no”
– Phrase everything so they can say yes
• They will often remain silent for very long periods of time
– Be patient
• Never loose your temper
• Business attire is conservative
– Men – Dark colored suits
– Women – should be dressed conservatively
• Business cards are always exchanged
– Use quality cards

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