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Japan, officially Nippon (日本) 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 Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū 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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Sébastien Bourdais and Felipe Massa battling for position early in the race
The 2008 Japanese Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on October 12, 2008, at the Fuji Speedway, Oyama, Japan. It was the 16th race of the 2008 Formula One season. The race, contested over 67 laps, was won by Fernando Alonso for the Renault team from fourth position on the starting grid. Robert Kubica finished second in a BMW Sauber, and Kimi Räikkönen third in a Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton, the eventual Drivers' Champion, led the Championship going into the race, and started from pole position alongside Räikkönen. Hamilton's McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen began from third, next to Alonso. At the first corner Hamilton braked late, forcing Räikkönen wide. Hamilton was later given a penalty, and was criticised by the British racing press for overly aggressive driving. Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, Hamilton's principal Championship rival, was penalised after an incident on lap two in which he touched Hamilton's car and spun it around. The incident dropped Hamilton to the back of the field, from where he was unable to regain a pointscoring position. Massa later collided with Sébastien Bourdais of Toro Rosso. Bourdais was penalised after the race, and demoted from sixth to tenth position. The penalty prompted widespread criticism from the racing media and ex-drivers. The victory was Alonso's second consecutive win, after he started from 15th on the grid to win the Singapore Grand Prix.

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Fushimi Inari-taisha
Credit: Paul Vlaar

A series of torii, the defining feature of Fushimi Inari-taisha, a Shinto shrine dedicated to the spirit Inari in Kyoto, Japan. The thousands of vermilion torii gates are all donations from individuals, families or companies.

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August 18:



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The mark of Pierre Rossier's photographic studio in Fribourg
Pierre Rossier was a pioneering Swiss photographer whose albumen photographs, which include stereographs and cartes-de-visite, comprise portraits, cityscapes, and landscapes. He was commissioned by the London firm of Negretti and Zambra to travel to Asia and document the progress of the Anglo-French troops in the Second Opium War and, although he failed to join that military expedition, he remained in Asia for several years, producing the first commercial photographs of China, the Philippines, Japan and Siam (now Thailand). He was the first professional photographer in Japan, where he trained Ueno Hikoma, Maeda Genzō, Horie Kuwajirō, as well as lesser known members of the first generation of Japanese photographers. In Switzerland he established photographic studios in Fribourg and Einsiedeln, and he also produced images elsewhere in the country. Rossier is an important figure in the early history of photography not only because of his own images, but also because of the critical impact of his teaching in the early days of Japanese photography.

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Flag of Tokushima Prefecture
Tokushima Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located on Shikoku island. The capital is the city of Tokushima. Long ago, the city of Tokushima belonged to a region known as Myodo-gun. During the first wave of government consolidation following the abolishment of the fiefdom system and creation of prefectures in 1871, it became known by the name of Myodo Prefecture. At the time, it included not only the Awa region to the south, but the Awaji and Awaji Island regions as well. In 1873, it further incorporated the region currently occupied by Kagawa Prefecture. During the second wave of government consolidation on September 5, 1875, the Sanuki Region separated to form modern day Kagawa Prefecture. Then, on August 21, 1876, Awaji Island separated to join Hyogo Prefecture and the Awa region separated to form Kōchi Prefecture. Finally, on March 2, 1880, Myodo Prefecture fully separated from Kōchi Prefecture and became Tokushima Prefecture. Tokushima has many agricultural resources and is the site of large-scale production of many different types of vegetables. The plains north of the Yoshino River are particularly fertile, and the produce here is often shipped to across to mainland Japan in the area around Kobe, Osaka and Kyoto. Produce from Tokushima often claims top shares in markets in the Kansai region. Naruto sweet potatoes, the citrus fruit sudachi, lotus roots and strawberries are particularly prominent.

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Kyoto Tower

  • ... that the 430-foot-tall (131 m) Kyoto Tower (pictured) is the tallest man-made structure in the city of Kyoto, Japan?


In the news

12 August 2019 – Japan–South Korea relations
In a tit-for-tat move, South Korea removes Japan from its preferred trade list. (US News)
7 August 2019 –
The death toll of the heat wave in Japan rises to 57, while 18,347 others are hospitalized. (Japan Times)
4 August 2019 – 2019 Women's British Open
In golf, Japan's Hinako Shibuno wins the year's final major championship by one shot over American Lizette Salas. Shibuno, a 20-year-old rookie on the Japan LPGA Tour, was playing outside her home country for the first time, and was also playing for the first time in a major recognized by the U.S. LPGA. (AP via ESPN)
2 August 2019 – Capital punishment in Japan
Japan carries out the first executions this year, hanging Koichi Shoji, 64, who killed two women in 2001, and serial killer Yasunori Suzuki, 50, who killed three women between 2004 and 2005 in Fukuoka Prefecture. (Kyodo News)
30 July 2019 –
Eleven deaths and multiple hospitalizations are attributed to the ongoing heat wave in Japan. (BBC)
27 July 2019 – Japan–North Korea relations
Japan warns on Saturday that the new North Korean projectiles have trajectories that are not typical for conventional ballistic missiles, making them difficult or impossible to intercept en route to Japan. (Al-Manar)

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Coordinates: 36°30′N 139°00′E / 36.5°N 139°E / 36.5; 139