This nation comprises of a number of small island
s but the principal ones are Hokkaido
to the North, Kyushu
to the South, Honshu
. All four islands are populated but as Honshu is the largest and centrally placed among the four, it has the largest population. The largest of the cities are situated there, including Kyoto
Japan has often been described as "Asia’s Britain", according to a BBC guide. Though at the time this had much to do with the fact that Japan was one of the most economically successful of the Asian states, even now with Japan’s stagnating economy, she fits that description. Both are island nations situated off a large continent, Europe in Britain's case. It is larger than Britain, more the size of Sweden but both nations have a great number of parallels. Firstly both have had to fight off concerted attacks from large empires on their respective continents, Japan from China and Kublai Khan, and Britain from the Napoleonic Empire, the Spanish Empire and so forth. Both nations sought to gain territory on the continent but never established any long-term presence there, Britain with the Aquitaine Empire and Japan with Korea and Manchuria. Their religions were at one time joined to the continent but they became independent due to too much interference. Britain’s Christian Church broke away from the Pope and the Catholic Church, while Japan’s Buddhist faith became independent from China.
Japan has a colourful history, mainly due to a vast amount of political intrigue. Examples of this can be seen through novels such as Shogun by James Clavell and Murasaki by Liza Dalby. Whether it was courtiers or daimyo, both strove to gain power at any cost. Much of Japan’s internal conflicts were caused by ambitious men (no surprise there), such as the Sengoku Era.
Modern Japan is a very thrilling place to be. Regardless of its economic problems, it has a wonderful fusion of past and present. Tradition is still a key part of Japanese culture but the younger generations are pushing forward new ideas. In cities such as Tokyo, it is possible to go shopping for the latest gadgets and computer games, then go and visit an ancient Buddhist shrine, or a samurai castle. Another point is that in Japan, historical treasures such as castles are very well maintained. This means a visitor can get a great idea of what it was like to live there centuries ago. Much better than the grass-covered ruins here in Britain.