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Fun facts about Japan: 20 facts about the country that you probably don't know

For Westerners, Japan is a country full of mysteries and secrets. Those who arrive here for the first time are fascinated by the richness of culture, cuisine and the beauty of the landscapes. But even those who are passionate about the country's culture may not know these 20 curiosities about Japan that we brought in this article. Check it out below.
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1. Mount Fuji wasn't always Japan's tallest mountain

With its 3.776 meters high, Mount Fuji is definitely the highest mountain in Japan. But during the period when Taiwan was part of the Japanese Empire (the period right after the Sino-Japanese war) Mount Yushan, known in Japan by the name Niitakayama, with its 3.952 meters was considered the highest point in the country.


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2. Despite being densely populated, it's still green

Japan has a green zone and forests occupying more than 70% of the country! This is something that we foreigners can easily notice, whether traveling by car or by train.


3. It has 25 World Heritage Sites

There are 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan, 5 of which are natural and 20 are cultural. The most recent declaration, from 2021, is the prehistoric archaeological sites of Jomon, in the northern region of Japan.


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4. Kyoto has over 2.000 temples

Despite being devastated by wars, earthquakes and fires, the city of Kyoto has 1.600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines. Among the most famous temples are Kiyomizu-dera; Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion; Ginkaku-ji, the Temple of the Silver Pavilion and Ryoan-ji.


5. Shortest poetry in the world

Japan's Haiku poetry is considered the shortest in the world and consisting of only 3 verses.


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6. Almost 100% literacy

Japan's literacy rate is over 99%, one of the highest in the world.


7. Take off your shoes at the entrance

Raised floors at the entrance to Japanese homes indicate when to remove your shoes upon entry.


8. Jamaica's largest coffee importer.

Japan imports about 85% of all coffee production from Jamaica.


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9. Japan's symbol bird is the pheasant

Although many believe that the tsuru (a type of stork) is Japan's symbol bird, given its popularity in the country's folklore, the official symbol bird is the pheasant, which is stamped on old 10.000 yen banknotes.


10. Russia and Japan, longtime enemies

Even after more than 75 years of World War II, Japan and Russia still have not signed a peace treaty, due to issues involving the Northern Territories.


11. Oldest company in the world

The company Kongo Gumi Co.,Ltd. was a Japanese construction company considered the oldest independent company in the world, which operated for over 1.400 years until it was acquired by Takamatsu Construction Group in 2006.


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12. Coffee and cats

There are Cat Cafés in Japan, establishments where you can interact with cats while having your coffee, for an hourly fee. It is so successful that similar stores are already being opened in different parts of the world.


13. More pets than children

There are more pets in Japan than children under the age of 15.


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14. The country of longevity

Japan is the champion country in longevity. According to a 2017 survey by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, there are more than 60.000 people aged over 100 in Japan.


15. The number 4 is unlucky in Japan

By superstition, the number 4 in Japan is associated with death or bad luck. The pronunciation of 4 in Japanese is “shi”, one of the pronunciations of the kanji “death”.
Because of this, it is not difficult to find buildings with the fourth floor “skipped” (from 3 to 3B, for example), parking spaces marked without this number and so on.


16. Ueno Park

Ueno Park in Tokyo was founded at the insistence of a German physician named Dr. Anthonius Franciscus Bauduin. The bust of Dr. Bauduin can be seen in the park near the fountains. The area was originally intended to be a hospital.


Image: Poster for the movie “The Hidden Fortress” / Youtube

17. A Hidden Fortress in Star Wars

The Japanese film “The Hidden Fortress” by Akira Kurosawa was inspiration for George Lucas for the film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.


18. Survived the Titanic but was branded a coward

Masabumi Hosono was a Japanese civil servant known as the only Japanese passenger on the Titanic. Despite surviving the sinking, he was ostracized by the Japanese public, press and government.
He was branded a coward for the untrue account of a man who claimed that Masabumi had disguised himself as a woman to escape in a boat.
This claim was later revealed to be false and his image and honor restored.


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19. The most expensive fish in the world

The most expensive tuna in the world was sold in Japan for a trifle of 3,1 million dollars. The buyer, Kiyoshi Kimura, is the president of the Sushi Zanmai restaurant chain.


20. Continuing with the fish theme

The Tsukiji Fish Market in central Tokyo is considered the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale markets for food of any kind.


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