Japan, the so-called “Land of the Rising Sun,” used to be an empire made up of smaller domains, each ruled by
Daimyo (feudal lords) with loyal Samurai (ruling warriors) at their side. Tokugawa Ieyasu, who ruled in 17th
century Japan, was a Shogun (military dictator) who brought stability to Japan through war and diplomacy and put
an end to wars between rival warlords for over 200 years.
Below you can see a map of today’s Japan and the word meaning “Japan” in the Japanese language. Scroll down for
Click on an image below for more information about that topic.
Rice is a central part of Japanese food. And, since it’s an island nation, fish is very common, including raw
fish and fish eggs. The fugu puffer fish is a special delicacy; it’s poisonous, though, so must be prepared very
carefully by a chef with a special license. That’s a fugu puffer fish in the picture.
A form of Japanese poetry consisting of only 17 syllables, divided into phrases of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. In
the Japanese language, haiku are traditionally written in a single vertical (up-and-down) line.
The kimono is a traditional Japanese garment worn by women or men. It is made of silk and is ankle-length with
long sleeves and tied with a belt called an obi. Modern Japanese might wear them for special occasions like
weddings or funerals. Sumo wrestlers are required to wear them when appearing in public.
The Samurai were military nobility who followed Zen Buddhism and lived by a code of honor called Bushido. This
code emphasized honor, loyalty, sincerity, and martial arts mastery, and was a little bit like the medieval
European idea of chivalry. The Samurai were usually associated with a particular clan or lord to whom they were
loyal. They were trained in military tactics. Their teachings can still be found today in everyday life in
modern Japan and in the martial arts. You can see an example of the armor they wore in the picture.
Haiku: 663highland [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]; Kimono: Dave Jenkins [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)];
Samurai: Raisa H from Tokyo, Japan [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]