History Of Japan

Few nations on Earth have had a more colorful history than Japan.

Settled by migrants from the Asian mainland back in the mists of prehistory, Japan has seen the rise and fall of emperors, rule by samurai warriors, isolation from the outside world, expansion over most of Asia, defeat, and rebirth. One of the most war-like of nations in the early 20th century, Japan today often serves as a voice of pacifism and restraint on the international stage.

Languages

The vast majority of Japan's citizens (99 percent) speak Japanese as their primary language.

"Japanese is the ninth most commonly spoken language in the entire world, with around 130 million speakers"

Japanese is in the Japonic language family, and seems to be unrelated to Chinese and Korean. However, Japanese has borrowed heavily from Chinese, English, and other languages. In fact, 49 percent of Japanese words are loanwords from Chinese, and 9 percent come from English.

Three writing systems coexist in Japan: hiragana, which is used for native Japanese words, inflected verbs, etc.; katakana, which is used for non-Japanese loanwords, emphasis, and onomatopoeia; and kanji, which is used to express the large number of Chinese loanwords in the Japanese language.

Religion

Most Japanese citizens practice a syncretic blend of Shintoism and Buddhism. Very small minorities practice Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Sikhism.

The native religion of Japan is Shinto, which developed in prehistoric times. It is a polytheistic faith, emphasizing the divinity of the natural world. Shintoism does not have a holy book or founder. Most Japanese Buddhists belong to the Mahayana school, which came to Japan from Baekje Korea in the sixth century.

In Japan, Shinto and Buddhist practices are combined into a single religion, with Buddhist temples being built at the sites of important Shinto shrines.