Well, it’s finally officially 2016 – The year of the Monkey.

Monkey in Onsen

As we are already into the 2nd week of the new year, I hope everyone out there reading this had a great start to 2016! It’s going to be an interesting year for sure. Without monkeying around too long, and to start the year off right, here are 16 interesting facts about Japan you probably didn’t know (in no particular order):

  1. More than 70% of Japan is Mountainous terrain
  2. If you like Coffee and spend most of your time in a Kisaten (Coffee Shop), you’d probably be surprised to know that Japan imports about 85% of Jamaica’s total coffee production.
  3. Sumo, not Baseball, is Japan’s National Sport.
  4. Japan is the world’s largest consumer of Amazon Rainforest timber.
  5. Most Japanese ATMs still don’t accept foreign ATM cards. With 2020 just around the corner, hopefully this issue will be addressed in the next 4 years ahead.
  6. While everyone knows Geisha and associates the word with beautiful pale-faced women, the first Geisha were actually male!!!
  7. Japan actually consists of approximately 6,800 islands, but the four main islands — Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku, and Hokkaido — comprise 97% of Japan’s total land area.
  8. Tokyo is, of course, Japan’s capital. But did you know that the greater Tokyo area is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 35 million people?
  9. While everyone goes nuts over the British Royal Family these days, it is actually Japan that has the longest-reigning monarchy in the world.
  10. The Japanese (Akira Kurosawa) movie The Hidden Fortress (隠し砦の三悪人) was the basis or inspiration for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
  11. The fortune cookie is not an ancient Chinese custom, as many people believe, but rather dates back to the early 19th century and was first made in Kyoto, Japan, where its called tsujiura senbei (辻占煎餅).
  12. Japan’s literacy rate is almost 100%.
  13. There are over 200 Volcanoes in Japan, the largest of which is Mt. Fuji; which is still active, btw.
  14. Due to extremely low immigration numbers, which are highly regulated, Japan is still 98% Japanese.
  15. While there are thought to be around 50,000 Kanji Characters, most are rather obscure these days, so you are considered a kanji expert if you know 6,000 characters. In contrast, you need to know about 2,000 to read a newspaper.
  16. Japan has been inhabited since 30,000 BC!!!

Those were our favourite 16 facts about Japan.  How about you guys out there?  What interesting facts about Japan piqued your interest?  Let us know in the comments below!

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