Copyright 2011 Mike Dixon
Mike's website: http://mikejkdixon.com
1 Country and people
The islands of Japan stretch down the Asian mainland from latitude 45° to 25°,
almost exactly the same as the east coast of the USA. The distance from the tip
of Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the far south is about the same as from
Halifax to Miami. It is equivalent to going from Bordeaux to the Canary Islands.
In winter, icebergs come down from the Barring Straits and the sea freezes in
northern Hokkaido. In Okinawa the weather is still hot and balmy.
The main island of Honshu has the sort of weather normally associated with
continental climates. Snow is not unusual in Tokyo in winter and uncomfortably hot
conditions are the norm in summer.
The history of Japan has similarities with northern Europe. Just as the northern
Europeans derived much of their culture from Rome so the Japanese took a lot of
theirs from the Chinese. This shows in the written language. Japanese is totally
different from Chinese. As a consequence, Chinese characters have to be
supplemented by a syllabary (sort of alphabet) when used to write Japanese . The