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Japan (Japanese: 日本, Nippon [ɲippoꜜɴ] (listen) or Nihon [ɲihoꜜɴ] (listen)) is an island country in East Asia, located in the northwest Pacific Ocean. It is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, and extends from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north toward the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south. Part of the Ring of Fire, Japan spans an archipelago of 6852 islands covering 377,975 square kilometers (145,937 sq mi); the five main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. Tokyo is Japan's capital and largest city; other major cities include Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo, Fukuoka, Kobe, and Kyoto.

Japan is the eleventh-most populous country in the world, as well as one of the most densely populated and urbanized. About three-fourths of the country's terrain is mountainous, concentrating its population of 125.71 million on narrow coastal plains. Japan is divided into 47 administrative prefectures and eight traditional regions. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world, with more than 37.4 million residents.

Japan has been inhabited since the Upper Paleolithic period (30,000 BC), though the first mentions of the archipelago appear in Chinese chronicles from the 1st century AD. Between the 4th and 9th centuries, the kingdoms of Japan became unified under an emperor and his imperial court based in Heian-kyō. Beginning in the 12th century, however, political power was held by a series of military dictators (shōgun) and feudal lords (daimyō), and enforced by a class of warrior nobility (samurai). After a century-long period of civil war, the country was reunified in 1603 under the Tokugawa shogunate, which enacted an isolationist foreign policy. In 1854, a United States fleet forced Japan to open trade to the West, which led to the end of the shogunate and the restoration of imperial power in 1868. In the Meiji period, the Empire of Japan adopted a Western-styled constitution and pursued a program of industrialization and modernization. In 1937, Japan invaded China; in 1941, it entered World War II as an Axis power. After suffering defeat in the Pacific War and two atomic bombings, Japan surrendered in 1945 and came under a seven-year Allied occupation, during which it adopted a new constitution. Since 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislature, the National Diet.

Japan is a great power and a member of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations (since 1956), the OECD, and the Group of Seven. Although it has renounced its right to declare war, the country maintains Self-Defense Forces that are ranked as the world's fourth-most powerful military. After World War II, Japan experienced high economic growth, becoming the second-largest economy in the world by 1990 before being surpassed by China in 2010. Despite stagnant growth since the Lost Decade, the country's economy remains the third-largest by nominal GDP and the fourth-largest by PPP. A leader in the automotive and electronics industries, Japan has made significant contributions to science and technology. Ranked the second-highest country on the Human Development Index in Asia after Singapore, Japan has the world's second-highest life expectancy, though it is experiencing a decline in population. The culture of Japan is well-known around the world, including its art, cuisine, music, and popular culture, which encompasses prominent animation and video game industries.

Japan Media

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Jar, Japan, Yayoi period

Jar, Japan, Yayoi period

Yayoi period (ca. 300 B.C.–A.D. 300)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.210 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.231 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.235 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.233 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.221 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.248 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.256 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Head of a Clay Figure

Head of a Clay Figure

Accession Number: 1975.268.190 Late Jomon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.254 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Head of a Clay Figure (Dogū)

Head of a Clay Figure (Dogū)

Accession Number: 1975.268.188 Middle Jomon period (2500–1500 B.C.)

One of a Group of Bone Ornaments

One of a Group of Bone Ornaments

Accession Number: 1975.268.272 Final Jōmon period (ca. 1000–300 B.C.)

Mirror, bronze, Japan Kamakura period

Mirror, bronze, Japan Kamakura period

Accession Number: 25.215.29 Kamakura period (1185–1333)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.215 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.206 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.224 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Mirror, bronze, Japan, Heian period

Mirror, bronze, Japan, Heian period

Accession Number: 1975.268.158a Heian period (794–1185)

One of a Group of Bone Ornaments

One of a Group of Bone Ornaments

Accession Number: 1975.268.267 Final Jōmon period (ca. 1000–300 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.228 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.249 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.226 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Deep Vessel with Handles

Deep Vessel with Handles

Accession Number: 2002.447.4 Middle Jōmon period (ca. 3500–2500 B.C.)

Belt Buckle in Shape of Horse

Belt Buckle in Shape of Horse

Accession Number: 1975.268.390 Kofun period (ca. 300–710)

Deep Vessel with Handles

Deep Vessel with Handles

Accession Number: 2002.447.5 Middle Jōmon period (ca. 3500–2500 B.C.)

Jar, Japan, Yayoi period

Jar, Japan, Yayoi period

Yayoi period (ca. 300 B.C.–ca. A.D. 300)

Deep Vessel with Handles

Deep Vessel with Handles

Middle Jōmon period (ca. 3500–2500 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.203 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Plaque of a Human Figure

Plaque of a Human Figure

Final Jōmon period (ca. 1000–300 B.C.) or later

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.223 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.259 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

One of a Group of Bone Ornaments

One of a Group of Bone Ornaments

Accession Number: 1975.268.269 Final Jōmon period (ca. 1000–300 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.250 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.212 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.251 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.232 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Standing Female Clay Figure

Standing Female Clay Figure

Accession Number: 1975.268.192 Final Jōmon period (ca. 1000–300 B.C.)

Mirror, bronze, Japan, Heian period

Mirror, bronze, Japan, Heian period

Accession Number: 17.118.105 Heian period (794–1185)

Needle, final Jōmon period

Needle, final Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.323 Final Jōmon period (ca. 1000–300 B.C.)

“Flame-Rimmed” Cooking Vessel (Kaen doki)

“Flame-Rimmed” Cooking Vessel (Kaen doki)

Accession Number: 2015.300.258 Jomon period (ca. 10,500 B.C.–ca. 300 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.243 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.227 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.237 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.242 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Arrowhead, Japan, Late Jōmon period

Accession Number: 1975.268.213 Late Jōmon period (ca. 1500–1000 B.C.)

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