Welcome, To Japan The Land of the WEIRD, and the wonderful

Japan, the land of the weird, and the wonderful... It's culture, as old as the country itself, with a religion, the life-blood of the country, flourishing in mass. With food like none other, raw fish and rice. With art like none other, anime and manga. With games like none other, Mario and Sonic. With culture like none other, Weirdness and Wonderfulness...

"I think that the Japanese culture is one of the very few cultures left, that is its own entity. They're just so specific, and traditional in their ways. It's kind of untouched, it's not Americanised..." - Toni Collette

Religion in Japan

Shinto is the native religion in Japan, with 80% of Japanese citizens following the religion. The religion consists of multiple gods, which are often called Kami, as a collective... Buddhism is also commonly followed in japan, and is seen as a second main religion. Buddhism is a very restricted religion, with it's orthodox followers surviving in only robes and only having 5 items (That's NO luxuries). Much of japan follows a religion, due to it's traditions...

The Shinto religion has many different gods. The gods are often called Kami, as a collective. These gods include Jizo, the god or childbirth and child protection; Raijin and Fujin, who are the gods of lightning and the wind; Anari, is the goddess of everything important to Japan (Tea, Rice, Sake, fertility, Worldly Success); Benzaiten, the goddess of everything that flows (Words, Music, etc.); Yebisu (Ebisu) is the god of protection of small children, luck, and fisherman's luck; Amaterasu is often seen to be the most important Kami, and she is the goddess of the sun and the surrounding universe...

The picture behind this text is in fact a Daruma doll. They are part of the beliefs of the Zen sect of the Japanese Buddhist religion. The Daruma doll represents Bodhidharma, who was in fact founder of the Zen sect... Japanese families buy Darumas, and colour in one of their eyes with black ink. they then make a resolution, at the start of the year, and only fill in the other eye when they have complete their task/resolution. They are seen as good-luck dolls, and come in many different shapes and sizes, although small red ones are the most common... They are then burned at the end of the new-year, in large community meetings, where they then proceed to purchase the new-year's batch...

Food in Japan

Rice, tea, fish, noodles and rice wines are seen as an important part of Japanese culture.

Wagamama's is the largest restaurant chain, in the UK, that sells Japanese Cuisine... Japanese is not as widely devoured within the UK, compared to Chinese and Thai food, although it is equally enjoyed... Food commonly isn't associated with Japan, in western countries, although in Japan it is a very big part of their culture...

This is a Japanese appetizer... Rice wine (Often heated) is served with tofu and vinegared rice. The dish contains fried vegetables, which are often eaten with soy sauce, satay sauce or other traditional style sauces...

Sushi is one of the most well-known Japanese dishes in the western world, although sushi is only something eaten by the richer citizens of Japan... Sushi is typically made with a raw fish center (Sometimes mixed with vegetables), and is wrapped in a vinegared rice mix. It is then wrapped in either sheets of seaweed or (Typically) raw fish skin, where it is served cold and fresh... Sashimi is also a popular variation, and it is literally raw, fresh slices of fish...

Noodles are a staple part of Japanese cuisine... They are consumed by both the rich and the poor, and come in many different variations. The most well known are Ramen (Thin, wheat-based noodles); Soba (Buckwheat noodles, often served in broth); Sōmen (Very thin, white wheat noodles); Udon (A thick egg based noodle)... Noodles are sometimes served with meats (Normally pork or chicken) and veg, but sometimes are served as part of a soup/broth...

The Land and The Wildlife

Mount Fuji is an active volcano, about 100 km south of Japan's capital: Tokyo. It is one of the most iconic volcanoes on the planet, and is a large conical shape, covered with snow, right at the top... It is the highest peak in Japan, and is seen as one of the three sacred mountains of the Country, by Japanese traditional folk. Pilgrimages are often held, to the mountain, and the base of covered in lakes with the iconic "Japanese Cherry Blossom" trees, surrounding the base...

Cherry Blossoms (Sakura; さくら) are one of the most iconic trees on earth, and are native to Japan. Below is a gallery of the trees in blossom, and the natural beauty of Japan, as a whole... This is here to be embraced...

Japanese Bamboo Forests...
A Red Panda...
Natural Waterfalls in a Forest...
Sakura Surrounding a Lake...

Gaming in Japan

Japanese character Luigi and Yoshi, both from legendary and extremely well-known Mario franchise... The game was produced, and is still being produced by the legendary game company: Nintendo, who also own Pokemon and many other major game franchises. Nintendo also create a lot of consoles, including the Nintendo DS, the Gameboy, the family friendly Wii, other versions of the DS, including the 3DS and most recently, the Nintendo Switch Handheld console...
Pokemon is one of Nintendo's biggest brands; much like the "Mario" franchise, it is seen as an extremely nostalgic collection of products (Cards, Games, Figures, Etc.)...

Game development is a huge part of Japanese culture and is a major industry... Some of the largest game development studios are based within Japan, influencing the culture very heavily... This includes the major studios of Nintendo and Sega, along with Capcom, Namco and even Square Enix (Developers of Avalanche Studio's 2015 release of "Just Cause 3", A renowned, comical action game...). Many exclusive games and consoles are also only sold in Japan, as it is favoured as a game development and game purchasing culture, compared to other, similar cultures, like South Korea's...

From the consoles (DS, Gameboy, 3DS, Wii, Switch) to the franchises (Zelda, Pokemon, Mario, DK, Sonic); Japan is the true home when it comes to nostalgic and "retro" gaming...

Afterwords

Japan really is a place of the weird and wonderful... It's culture and people are so unique, and it is a truly nostalgic country... It feels original, as I hope this story showed, and overall seems to have a great feel to it...

Thank You for reading, Charles

Credits:

Created with images by DeltaWorks - "sunset shrine sea" • Moyan_Brenn - "Japan" • ai3310X - ""奉"" • JPBennett1 - "IMG_6953" • rjunqueira - "sushi niguiri japanese" • zooocoo - "sushi japans food" • ffcarvalho - "sushi sashimi food" • adactio - "Pad Thai" • skeeze - "mount fuji japan landscape" • Alexas_Fotos - "luigi yoschi figures" • Voltordu - "pikachu pokemon store" • compujeramey - "Nintendo"

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