• Nippon, the Japanese name for their country, means “the origin of the sun.” The ancient Chinese gave Japan this name because Japan is east of China, and the sun rises from the east.


  • Japan has 6,852 total islands, the four biggest islands are Honshu, where 80% of the population lives, Shikoku and Kyushu to the south, and Hokkaido to the north.
  • Ōkunoshima island is home to hundreds of wild rabbits. On Miyajima island, deer and monkey roam free.
  • If one completed the entire Shikoku Pilgrimage route, one would walk 750 miles and visit 88 temples.


  • Due to Japan’s decreasing birth rate and love of animals, there are more pets than kids in Japan.
  • According to archaeological research, Japan has been inhabited since the Upper Paleolithic age, around 30,000 BC.
  • Trains are incredibly reliable—the average delay of the bullet train, or shinkansen, which connects Osaka and Tokyo, is 36 seconds. In 2015, a Japan Railway train, using magnetic levitation, set a new world record when it hit a speed of 374 miles per hour on an experimental track.


  • In Coria del Rio, Spain, near Seville, 700 people have the surname “Japon.” They are all descendants of six 17th century samurais who remained in Spain after the rest of their colleagues returned home.
  • Geisha means a “person of the arts,” and job duties include playing classical music, dance, games, and keeping up engaging conversation. These days geisha are primarily women, but the first geisha were men.


  • Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world: 83.7 years, with more than 60,000 people over the age of 100.
  • There are four different writing systems in Japan: Romaji, Katakana, Hiragana, and Kanji.
  • Most streets in Japan have no name, which is why you should go with one of our incredible leaders, Kate Ulberg or Michiharu Namba, who know their way around.


  • Rice is eaten at almost every meal. In the Japanese language, there are more words for rice than words for love.

Learn more about this beautifully engaging country by visiting Japan on any of our varied itineraries! Explore all of our Japan trips here.

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