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[b]Japan - Nippon
[i]InfoPedia Sources - Encyclopedia: Japan Fact Summary[/i][/b]

[b]Official Name.[/b] Japan (in Japanese, Nihon). Capital. Tokyo. National Emblem. Chrysanthemum. Motto. Land of the Rising Sun. Anthem. 'Kimi-ga-yo' (The Emperor's Reign).

[b]NATURAL FEATURES[/b]
Borders. Coast--5,857 miles (9,426 kilometers). Natural Regions. Hokkaido, Northeastern, Central, Southwestern. Major Range. Japan Alps. Notable Peaks. Mount Fuji, 12,389 feet (3,776 meters); Mount Ontake, 10,049 feet (3,063 meters); Mount Aso, 5,223 feet (1,592 meters); Mount Unzen, 4,462 feet (1,360 meters). Major Rivers. Shinano, Tone, Teshio. Major Lakes. Lake Biwa, Lake Kasumi, Lake Towada. Major Islands. Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku, Ryukyu. Climate. Temperate with warm, humid summers and relatively mild winters except on Hokkaido, where snow falls an average of 130 days a year. Rainy seasons in June and September. Whole country averages more than 40 inches (1,000 millimeters) of rain a year.

[b]PEOPLE[/b]
Population (1996 estimate). 125,612,000; 861.3 persons per square mile (332.5 persons per square kilometer); 77.6 percent urban, 22.4 percent rural (1995 estimate). Vital Statistics (rate per 1,000 population). Births--10.0; deaths--6.7; marriages--5.8. Life Expectancy (at birth). Males--76.6 years; females--83.0 years. Official Language. Japanese. Ethnic Groups. Japanese, Korean, Chinese. Major Religions. Shinto and related, Buddhism.

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[b]MAJOR CITIES (1995 estimate)[/b]
Tokyo (11,771,819). Capital city of Japan; center of international commerce, manufacturing, culture, and military affairs; large harbor and shipyards; steel mills; petroleum refineries; petrochemical complexes; electronics; printing; fishing industry; Ginza shopping district; Tokyo Tower; Kabuki Theater; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Tokyo Shitamachi Museum; Fukagawa Edo Shiryokan hall; Ueno Zoo (see Tokyo, Japan). Yokohama (3,307,408). Capital of Kanagawa Prefecture; international port city; center of foreign trade; steel; electronic equipment; ships; automobiles; chemicals; Bank of Tokyo; Yokohama Archives of History; Sojiji Temple; Yokohama National University (see Yokohama, Japan). Osaka (2,602,352). Capital of Osaka Prefecture; industrial and transport center; textiles; chemicals; electrical machinery; food processing; printing; publishing; Bunraku puppet theater; Umeda shopping center; Osaka Castle; Kansai University (see Osaka, Japan). Nagoya (2,152,258). Capital of Aichi Prefecture; industrial center; cotton weaving; clock- and watchmaking; cloisonne; bicycles; pottery; porcelain; lacquerware; embroidery; textiles; electrical machinery; seaport; international airport; Nagoya Institute of Technology; Higashiyama Park; Grand Shrine of Ise (see Nagoya, Japan). Sapporo (1,756,968). Capital of Hokkaido Prefecture; economic and commercial center; foodstuffs; chemicals; agricultural machinery; ceramics; hemp cloth; rubber goods; sawmilling; dairy products; handicrafts; winter sports center; Sapporo Beer's German-style beer hall; Ainu Museum (see Sapporo, Japan). Kyoto (1,463,601). Capital of Kyoto Urban Prefecture; former capital city of Japan; silk weaving; embroidery; porcelain; copper products; heavy machinery; chemicals; sake industry; Kyoto Imperial Palace; Nijo Castle; Toji Temple; Kyoto City University of Arts (see Kyoto, Japan). Kobe (1,423,830). Capital of Hyogo Prefecture; domestic and international port city; shipbuilding; steel production; chemicals; machinery; paper; textiles; international airport; Motomachi shopping center; Hakutsuru Fine Art Museum (see Kobe, Japan). Fukuoka (1,284,741). Capital of Fukuoka Prefecture on Kyushu; center for industry, culture, education; fishing industry; merchant shipping; Sumiyoshi-jinja shrine. Kawasaki (1,202,811). Center of Keihin Industrial Zone; large shipping port; petrochemicals; electrical machinery and appliances; automobiles; steel; New Year Festival; Kawasaki Daishi temple. Hiroshima (1,108,868). Capital of Hiroshima Prefecture on Honshu; target of first atomic bomb, during World War II; shipping center; military center; ships; automobiles; machinery; Peace Memorial. Kita-Kyushu (1,019,522). Formed in 1963 when the cities of Kokura, Moji, Tobata, Wakamatsu, and Yawata were merged; coal mining; iron- and steelworks; chemicals; ceramics; machinery.

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[b]ECONOMY[/b]
Chief Agricultural Products. Crops--rice, sugar beets, potatoes, cabbages, sugarcane, sweet potatoes, onions, apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, watermelons, wheat, lettuce, eggplants, pears, cantaloupes. Livestock and fish--pigs, cattle, goats, horses, sheep, chickens, sardines, pollack, mackerel, squid, oysters. Chief Mined Products. Limestone, silica stone, dolomite, silica sand, pyrophyllite, pyrophyllite clay, zinc, lead, copper, tungsten, silver, gold, coal, petroleum, natural gas. Chief Manufactured Products. Steel and steel products, cement, pig iron, sulfuric acid, plastics, fertilizers, newsprint, spun yarn, synthetic fabrics, cotton fabrics, watches and clocks, air conditioners, electronic desk calculators, videocassette recorders, cameras, television receivers, video cameras, passenger cars, bicycles, facsimile machines, automatic washing machines, refrigerators, computers, microwave ovens, photocopy machines. Foreign Trade. Imports, 45%; exports, 55%. Chief Imports. Crude petroleum and petroleum products; food, beverages, and tobacco; machinery and transport equipment; metal ores and scrap. Chief Exports. Motor vehicles; office machinery; chemicals; scientific and optical equipment; iron and steel products; power-generating machinery; textiles; tape recorders; metalworking machinery; radio receivers; television receivers. Chief Trading Partners. United States, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia. Monetary Unit. 1 yen = 100 sen.

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[b]EDUCATION [/b]
Public Schools. Administration is decentralized, with the Ministry of Education playing a coordinating role; local educational boards handle budget, curriculum, and teacher appointments. Compulsory School Age. Attendance is compulsory and free from ages 6 through 15 years old. Literacy. Virtually 100 percent of population. Leading Universities. Tokyo University; Kyoto University; Tohoku University, Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture; Kyushu University, Fukuoka; Hokkaido University, Sapporo; Osaka University; Nagoya University. Notable Libraries. National Diet Library; prefecture libraries. Notable Museums and Art Galleries. Tokyo National Museum; Kyoto National Museum; Nara National Museum; National Treasure House, Kamakura; Shosoin (Imperial Treasure House), Nara; Tokugawa Art Museum, Nagoya; Seisonkaku Art Museum, Kanazawa; Idemitsu Art Gallery, Tokyo; MOA Art Museum, Atami; Tokugawa Art Museum, Nagoya.

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[b]GOVERNMENT[/b]
Form of Government. Constitutional monarchy. Constitution. Adopted May 3, 1947. Sovereignty. Rests with the people, who are represented by an emperor holding no related governmental powers. Prime Minister. Elected by majority political party in National Diet from among its members; term, as long as party retains majority. Cabinet. Selected by prime minister from National Diet. Parliament. National Diet consisting of House of Councillors and House of Representatives; annual sessions. House of Councillors--252 members, half of its members elected every three years (some by party list system, others by prefectures); term, six years. House of Representatives--500 members, elected by universal suffrage; term, four years. Judiciary. Supreme Court--chief justice and 14 associate judges; terms, serve until age 70. Eight regional higher courts; district courts; local courts. Political Divisions. 47 prefectures--Aichi, Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Ehime, Fukui, Fukuoka, Fukushima, Gifu, Gumma, Hiroshima, Hokkaido, Hyogo, Ibaraki, Ishikawa, Iwate, Kagawa, Kagoshima, Kanagawa, Kochi, Kumamoto, Kyoto, Mie, Miyagi, Miyazaki, Nagano, Nagasaki, Nara, Niigata, Oita, Okayama, Okinawa, Osaka, Saga, Saitama, Shiga, Shimane, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Tokushima, Tokyo, Tottori, Toyama, Wakayama, Yamagata, Yamaguchi, Yamanashi. Voting Qualification. Age 20.

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[b]PLACES OF INTEREST [/b]
Fukiya Ghost Town. Preserved copper and red ochre mining town; plaster- and tile-walled houses; Kyodokan House; Sasaune Kodo copper mine; teahouse; cypress baths. Himeji Castle. In Himeji; celebrated "White Egret"; Japan's most complete and beautiful feudal castle; mazelike plan. Hirosaki Castle. In Hirosaki Park, Hirosaki, Honshu; original castle keep; preserved samurai quarter; two impressive temple towns; artisans' workshops; Neputa festival; lacquerware; local music. Itsuku Island. In the Inland Sea, in Hiroshima Prefecture; shrine of revered Taira family is on this sacred island; at high tide shrine seems to float on water. Japan Alps. In central Chubu region; surrounded by lush forests and dark valleys; Weston Festival, which begins hiking season each June; city of Matsumoto is gateway to Japan Alps; Torch Festival. Japan Folk Art Museum. In Tokyo; crafts from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and other countries are on display. Kirishima-Yaku National Park. On Kyushu; various plant species, ranging from subtropical to arctic types; Mount Karakuni; Mount Kirishima; Kirishima Spa, cluster of hot springs. Kume Island. Off coast of Okinawa; covered in sugarcane fields with windbreaks of Ryukyu pines; silk weaving and dyeing; scuba diving on barrier reef; Hamakawa-ke House; Yajiyagama burial cave; Teida-ishi sun stone. Kyoto Imperial Palace Shinden Villa and Gardens. Reconstructed ancient mansion; gardens have a courtyard and a lake, islands, and bridges; fishing pavilion. Matsue. On Honshu; favorite tourist city, especially among the Japanese; Shiroyama Park; Matsue Castle; Lafcadio Hearn's Memorial Museum; Lake Shinji (known for its swans in winter); Izumo-Taisha Shrine; traditional Japanese architecture. Nagasaki. On western coast of Kyushu; called "western gateway to Japan"; second city to be hit with atomic bomb, during World War II; Nagasaki Park; Peace Park; Suwa Shrine; Sofukuji Temple; Glover Mansion; Urakami Catholic Cathedral. Philosopher's Walk. In Kyoto; tranquil canal-side path enveloped in cherry blossoms in April. Sado Island. Off coast of Honshu; remote, storm-battered home of political exiles; historical gold and silver mines; reachable by ferry; Noh theater; Bun'ya puppet drama; Ondeko ("demon drums of Sado"); Mano Performing Arts Festival; tugboat races during Ogi Minato Matsuri Harbor Festival; horseback archery.

This article was critically reviewed and updated by Dr. Richard F. Hough, Professor of Geography at San Francisco State University.

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[b]Excerpted from Infopedia: The Complete Reference Collection
Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.[/b]

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[b]ABRAHAM[/b] One of the major figures in the history of religion is Abraham. He is considered the father of faith for the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He is also called a patriarch, a term derived from the Greek words for "father" and "beginning." Applied to Abraham, the term patriarch thus means that he is considered to be a founding father of the nation of Israel. There were two other patriarchs in the tradition of Israel: Isaac and Jacob, the son and the grandson of Abraham.
What is known about Abraham and the other patriarchs is found only in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Some Biblical scholars have concluded that Abraham must have lived sometime in the 2nd millennium BC. What is known of Abraham's life is based on such factors as place-names, names of peoples and nations, and legal and social practices described in Genesis, compared with what is known of the area and time from archaeological discoveries.
Genesis states that Abraham was a native of the region of Ur in southern Mesopotamia (see Mesopotamia). He was probably the head of a large clan of people who lived a seminomadic existence. For some reason the clan moved northward and settled near Haran. It was at Haran that a call from God came to Abraham, telling him to leave his homeland and go to a new location that God would show him.
In addition, God made Abraham a promise: "I will make of thee a great nation." This arrangement that God made with Abraham--that the promise would be kept if his command to move was obeyed by Abraham--is called a covenant. This was the first covenant, or solemn agreement, that God made with the nation of Israel. It was to this covenant that Israel owed its origin as a nation.
Abraham kept his part of the bargain. He and his clan left Haran and traveled through Syria to Canaan, or the area now called Israel. This was to be Israel's promised land for all time to come.
Once Abraham and his clan were settled in Canaan, God renewed his covenant and promised that He would give Abraham descendants. Because Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were already quite old, they were doubtful that they would ever have a child. So Abraham had a son, Ishmael, by Sarah's slave, Hagar. After Ishmael was born, Sarah had a son, Isaac. This son, according to Genesis, was to be the heir through whom the covenant would be continued.
Late in life, after Sarah had died, Abraham married a woman named Keturah and with her had many children. These other children were rewarded with an inheritance when they grew up and were then sent away from Canaan to live elsewhere. Isaac alone inherited the promised land. After Isaac's death, the land went to his son, Jacob--whose name was changed by God to Israel. Abraham died at the age of 175. He was buried next to Sarah.
God's covenant with Abraham was reaffirmed with Isaac and Jacob. Because of it, Israel as a nation saw itself in a special relationship with God: Israelites were the people of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
In the New Testament Abraham is also highly revered, but there is a different view of his significance. He is considered to be the father of all who believe in God, whether belonging to Israel or not. The promises made to Abraham are understood by Christians to have been fulfilled in Jesus, and the followers of Jesus are called the new Israel.
Islamic tradition states that Abraham, assisted by his son Ishmael, built the Kaaba, the shrine in the center of the Great Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia (see Islam). For followers of Islam, the Kaaba is the most sacred place on Earth.

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[b]Excerpted from Infopedia: The Complete Reference Collection
Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.[/b]

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[b]Abu Simbel[/b]

Abu Sim-bel \a-bu-sim-bel\ also Abu Sun-bul \a-bu-sun-bul\ or Ip-sam-bul \ip-sam-bul\. Locality, Egypt, 22o22'N , 31o38'E ; site of two rock temples of Ramses II (c. 1250 B.C. ), discovered early 19th cent.; larger temple had four colossi of the king more than 65 ft. (20 m.) high; colossi cut apart and reassembled on higher ground due to flooding of area 1966.

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[b]Excerpted from Infopedia: The Complete Reference Collection
Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.[/b]

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[b]Abu Simbel (or Abu Sunbul),[/b] site of two temples built by Egyptian king Ramses II; temples were carved out of a sandstone cliff on the west bank of the Nile; temples were unknown to the outside world until their rediscovery in 1813; first explored in 1817 by Giovanni Battista Belzoni; a complex engineering feat in the 1960s salvaged the temples from the rising waters of the Nile caused by building of the Aswan High Dam

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[b]Excerpted from Infopedia: The Complete Reference Collection
Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.[/b]

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[b]AD,[/b] abbreviation for phrase anno Domini (Latin for in the year of the Lord); a calendar system differentiating the era after the birth of Jesus Christ from the era before Christ, or BC; so-called Christian Era invented in 6th century by Dionysius Exiguus to calculate correct date of Easter; terms Common Era (CE) and Before Common Era (BCE) sometimes used instead of BC and AD; system became widely used in 8th century; now used throughout the world, though different calendar and dating systems also used by Hindus, Muslims, and Jews.

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[b]Excerpted from Infopedia: The Complete Reference Collection
Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.[/b]

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