* The population of Japan is approximately 127 million.
This makes it the tenth most populated country in the world, ahead of Mexico, and behind Nigeria. In terms of density of population, Japan is 18th in the world, with approximately 327 persons per sq.km., roughly equivalent to Holland or Belgium.

* The total area of Japan is 378,000 square kilometers (145,945 square miles).
That's approximately 0.3% of the world. Most Japanese perceive Japan as a small country, but it is bigger than Germany or Italy, though smaller than Sweden.

* Japan is composed of over 3000 islands, 600 of which are inhabited.
Honshu, the main island, is the 7th largest island in the world. Hokkaido, Japan's 2nd largest island is the 22nd largest island in the world.

* The largest city in the world is Tokyo.
In terms of total population size, the Greater Tokyo area is the largest city in the world ('city" is here defined as a contiguous urban area, not the administratively/politically defined Tokyo). With a population of 26.5 million, more than 20% of all Japanese people live there. The second largest city in the world is Mexico City with 18 million inhabitants.

* Japan has the highest density of robots in the world.
There are approximately 800,000 industrial robots in operation around the world, and fully half of them in Japan. That's about 1 robot for every 310 people in Japan.

* The longest river in Japan is the Shinano.
Beginning in Nagano (the Japanese Alps) it flows north and east 367 kilometers and enters the Japan Sea at the city of Niigata.

* The biggest lake in Japan is Lake Biwa, situated in Shiga Prefecture, near Kyoto.
It is 670.3 sq. kms. in area, with 450 streams and rivers entering along its 235 km. shoreline. Its maximum depth is 103 metres. The name Biwa refers to a 4-string lute-like instrument whose shape the lake resembles. The lake supplies water to 14 million residents of the area.

* The highest mountain in Japan is Mount Fuji.
Standing at 3,776 metres or 12,388 feet, it is probably the most easily recognized image of Japan, Fuji-san is climbed by about 300,000 visitors each year. An active volcano, its last eruption was in 1770. Japan is home to almost 10% of the world's 840 active volcanoes.

* The largest Yakuza (Crime Syndicate) gang in Japan is the Yamaguchi-Gumi.
With more than 36,000 members, thats 43% of all Yakuza in Japan. The police can have such good information about the Yakuza, because until recently the Yakuza operated quite openly, with offices, newsletters, etc. However a new law has caused many yakuza to relinquish "membership" in a gang, so the official numbers are far smaller than the real numbers.

* Japan is the World's biggest consumer of fish.
Japan took more fish out of the sea (almost 10 million tons) than any other country. Now they catch almost half that, and have slipped to third place in the world ranking. However, they remain the biggest consumers of sea food, consuming fully one third of all seafood consumed in the world, importing 25% of the total world catch. "Seafood" means much more than fish, and includes crabs, lobsters, assorted shellfish, many kinds of seeweed, jellyfish, walrus, sea cucumbers (which aren't a vegetable), sea urchins, and of course whales.

* There are 5 million vending machines (Jidohanbaiki) in Japan.
That's one for every 25 people. They are everywhere. I have yet to find one that was vandalized, or that did not work properly. Far and away the most common vending machines are for soft drinks: a dazzling array of coffees and teas, both hot and cold, a limited range of "colas", various juices, "sports" drinks (such as the unfortunately named Pocari Sweat). Alcohol vending machines are easy to find, dispensing primarily beer and sake from 5am-11pm, and there are over 600,000 cigarette vending machines. Other items I've seen dispensed by machine are uncooked rice, batteries, condoms, newspapers, "Casual Food" (fried chicken, hamburgers etc), ice-cream, pornographic magazines and videos, and "used" schoolgirls' panties. Strangely, I haven't come across any machines vending chocolate or candy bars.

* The Japanese send more than 35 BILLION New Year cards (Nengajou) every year.
That's approximately 30 cards for every man, woman, and child in Japan. They account for almost 20% of all annual postal revenues. The post office will hold any nengajou posted early, and delivers them all on the 1st of January

* The oldest festival in the world is reputed to be the Aoi Matsuri.
The festival is held every May 15th and 16th in Kyoto. It began in the mid 6th century to give thanks to the gods for deliverance from floods. A procession of about 500 people dressed in Heian Period (794-1192) costume carries hollyhock (aoi) from the Imperial Palace to Kamigamo and Shimogamo Shrines. Up to 100,00 spectators line the route.

* The most-visited amusement park in the world is Tokyo Disneyland.
Opened in 1983, more than 17 million people visit it each year.

* The biggest statue of the Buddha in Japan is the "Daibutsu" (Big Buddha.
It is found at the Todaiji Temple in Nara. At 15 metres in height (49 ft) it is also the largest gilded-bronze Buddha in the world. It was completed in 749. It is housed in the Daibutsu-den, which is the largest wooden structure in the world, measuring 48 metres in height, 57 metres in width, and 54 metres in depth. The original Daibatsu-den was completed in 743, but was destroyed in a fire in the mid 16th century. The current building was constructed in 1692, and is actually smaller than the original.

* The biggest industry in Japan is the Construction Industry.
If you had guessd the Automobile or Consumer Electronics Industry, you must had been disappointed. Fuelled by a Public Works program that has no peer anywhere in the world, Japan's construction industry employs more than 6 million people, roughly 10% of the working population. On a per capita basis that is twice the rate of Europe or North America. Japan's construction industry is the biggest in the world, consuming close to 10% of Japan's GDP. The result of all this construction is roads that go nowhere, a coastline covered in concrete, and close to 3,000 dams.

* In 1958, in a shack in North Osaka, Ando Momofuku invented the instant ramen noodle (the first flavor was chicken).
5.2 billion servings are consumed each year in Japan, making an average of 41 servings per person per year, but that pales by comparison with China's staggering 16 billion servings a year. World-wide there are 880 brands of instant noodle.

* Another great contribution to world food by Japan is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), the flavor-enhancer used in Chinese cooking and in a lot of processed food.
In 1908, Kikunae Ikeda was experimenting with the flavor of kombu, a type of seaweed used in Japanese soup stocks. He isolated MSG, which in Japanese is called Umami. Recent research suggests that MSG is in fact a fifth taste.

* The longest transportation tunnel in the world is the Seikan tunnel.
It connects the main island of Honshu with Hokkaido. Like the Channel Tunnel that opened 6 years later, the Seikan is also a railway tunnel and is 33.5 miles long (more than 2 miles longer than the Chunnel.) In the list of longest rail tunnels in the world, Japan has 7 in the top 16.

* The longest suspension bridge in the world is the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge.
It connects Kobe with Awaji Island. Opened in 1998, the central span is 6,570 feet in length. That's about 1.5 times the size of the Golden Gate Bridge, and 4 times the size of the Brooklyn Bridge. The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge also has the tallest bridge towers in the world, at 928 feet. The longest cable-stayed bridge in the world is the Tatara Bridge which connects Hiroshima to Shikoku. Completed in 1999 the overall length is 1480 metres, with a central span of 890 metres.

* The fastest Rollercoaster in the world is the "Dodonpa".
It is located at Fujikyu Highland Park in Fujiyoshida. It reaches a top speed of 172 kph, beating the previous record of 148 kph set by another Japanese rollercoaster, the "Steel Dragon".

* The official language of Japan is...... surprise, surprise.... Japanese.
Spoken by 125 million people, it is the 8th most common language in the world. However it's not the only language spoken in Japan. Both the Okinawan people and the Ainu people have their own languages, and Korean and Chinese is spoken by many of the million or so residents from those countries. Portuguese is also spoken, due to an influx of Brazilians of Japanese ancestry. However, the strangest language spoken goes by several names: "Engrish", "Japlish", "Katakana English". Japan has a huge number of "loan words", taken from other languages, primarily English. The pronunciation of these words is changed to fit the Japanese phonetic system, and in many cases the meaning is also changed. In a recent survey, the three most commonly recognised loan words were sutoresu (stress), risaikuru (recycle) and borantia (volunteer).

* Japan has more active volcanoes than any other country in the world.
More than 10% of all the earth's volcanoes are found in Japan. All these volcanic activity has created more than 10,000 known thermal vents in the surface of the country, and of these, over 2,100 have been developed into hot-spring spas - Onsen.

* The most common blood group in Japan is type A.
Almost 38% of Japan population are Blood A type. In the U.S. and Britain the most common blood group is type O. Many people in Japan believe that a person's blood-type is an indicator of personality.

* Japanese doesn't have much sex.
In an annual global survey of sexuality, Japan consistently ranks last in terms of the frequency of which people have sex. In Japan the average is a paltry 36 times a year, compared with a global average of 97 times a year. When asked what activities they would rather do than have sex, 20% of Japanese said sleeping, and 13% said shopping. Japan fares better in other areas of sexuality though, ranking 7th in the world in the number of sexual partners, with an average of 10.2 partners compared with the global average of 7.7. Japan is close to the average in the age of first sexual experiences at 18.2 years old, close to the world's average of 18.0. Another statistic of interest from a survey within Japan is that almost half of Japanese men have paid for the services of a sex-professional, 75% of those by visiting brothels in Japan and 25% using prostitutes in a foreign country.

* When they do have sex, it all happens in Love Hotels.
The Japanese Love Hotel industry is estimated to generate an annual 4 trillion yen in sales- four times the 2003 profit of Japan's richest company - Toyota Motor Corporation. The occupancy rate for a love hotel is 260% compared with around 70% for an average hotel. Love Hotel charges in the capital, Tokyo, range from between ¥3,000 and 4,000 yen for a two-hour "rest" or 8,000 yen for an overnight stay; prices that compare favorably with room rates at most hotels in Tokyo. After the downturn in the Japanese economy in the 1990s and the decrease in the price of land, foreign equity firms are now buying into this lucrative businesss. The majority of love hotel customers are in the 20-27 year-old age group. 20% of all Japan's Love Hotels are believed to have organized crime (yakuza) connections. The most expensive part of a Love Hotel room's decor is the bathroom, with a large part of the average 4 million - 5 million yen (US$36,000 - US$45,000) spent on each room being splashed on the bathroom, in an attempt to attract repeat business from the industry's main target customers - young Japanese women - many of whom still live at home. Short-term hotels for sexual pleasure and privacy have existed in Japan since the early 1600s.

* The oldest novel in the world was written in Japan over a thousand years ago.
The Tale of Genji was written in the 11th Century by Murasaki Shikibu, a member of the Imperial Court. Her lengthy (over 500,000 words) novel concerns the romantic and sexual exploits and intrigues of the Imperial Court centered on the main character of Genji. If written today, it would probably be classified as a soap opera.

* The Japanese read more newspapers than any other people in the world.
67% of all Japanese read at least one daily newspaper, which is almost twice the rate of the British or the Dutch, the countries closest in newspaper readership. The newspaper with the highest circulation in the world is the Yomiuri Shinbun, with a daily circulation of 14.5 million copies. Compare that with the highest circulation of an English language newspaper, The Sun in Britain, which sells less than 4 million copies. In fact, of the 10 most read newspapers in the world, 6 are produced in Japan. However, in terms of press freedom, the international organization of journalists, Reporters Without Borders, ranks Japan 26th in the world (along with Austria & South Africa). This is largely due to Japan's kisha (press club) system that limits access to news sources.

* Japan experiences about 1,000 earthquakes each year.
While the rest of the world uses the Richter scale to measure earthquakes, the Japan Meteorological Agency uses a seismic intensity scale - used also in Taiwan - known as the shindo (literally 'tremor') scale. Whereas the Richter scale measures a quake at its epicenter, the 'shindo scale' measures it at a specific location where the quake is felt. Therefore the effects of a single earthquake have a variable 'shindo scale' reading depending how far the affected area is from the epicenter.

A Shindo Scale of 1 is the lightest, while a 7 is the most severe.

In detail, the points on the scale are defined as follows:

0: Goes unnoticed by humans.
1: Barely noticable, but only if inside a building.
2: Noticable if inside a building, and sufficient to wake up some sleepers.
3: Felt by most people if inside a building. Sufficient to inspire fear in some people.
4: Sufficient to inspire fear in many people, wake most sleepers, and prompt some people to seek escape.
5−: Prompts most people to seek escape, but strong enough to prevent some people from moving.
5+: Strong enough to cause the collapse of a few unreinforced concrete-block walls and gravestones. Driving becomes difficult or impossible.
6−: Will cause collapse of wall tiles and window-panes in some buildings.
6+: In many buildings, wall tiles and window-panes will be damaged and fall off. Strong enough to cause the collapse of some unreinforced concrete block walls and gravestones.
7: Wall tiles and window-panes are damaged and fall in most buildings. Even reinforced concrete block walls may collapse.

* Japan is starting to become a force in the world of soccer.
The J-League was formed only in 1993 and since then, Japan soccer has grown by leaps and bounds. The most consecutive top-level games in which a single player has scored a hat trick is four. Playing for Jubilo Iwata, Masashi Nakayama scored 5 goals against Cerezo Osaka on 15th April, 1998, followed by four goals against Sanfrecce Hiroshima on 18th April, then on 25th April he scored 4 against Avispa Fukuoka, and finally, on 29th April he scored 3 against Consadole Sapporo.

* Japan has long been labeled a "smoker's paradise".
According to WHO figures published in 2002 about 49% of the adult male population smokes in Japan compared to 28% in the US and the UK and 17% in Sweden. This figure has seen an year-on-year decrease for the last eight years. 13.4% of women now smoke and this percentage is gradually rising. Japanese smokers consumed 312.6 billion cigarettes in 2002 which is the equivalent of 2,861 per adult smoker. Tax revenues from tobacco amount to 2 trillion yen a year. Anti-smoking legislation has recently been passed and many offices, public buildings and schools are now smoke free. In response Japan Tobacco (JT) - the world's third largest tobacco company - has introduced "SmoCars" in Tokyo's business district - mobile trailers equipped with drinks' vending machines where smokers can puff away in peace.

* More than 48 million households in Japan keep pets.
In 2003, the number of dogs rose by more than 1.5 million to 11.3 million. The number of dogs being kept as domestic pets in Japan (along with other more exotic animals) began increasing sharply during the economic boom of the "Bubble Years" of the 1980s. The domestic pet population is experiencing a second spike as the economy picks up again and Japan's population rapidly ages. Nearly a fifth of Japanese - 24 million people - are aged 65 or older; by 2050, they will account for 35% of the population. More pensioners are turning to pets for companionship as their children leave home and dogs are also cute accessories for the younger generation. Specialist restaurants for pets have appeared in Tokyo and there is now a 40-room pet hotel at Kansai International Airport - costing up to US$100 a night - for owners to leave their animals while away on holiday.

* Japanese are suicidal.
Maybe it's the long history of double-suicide being a noble solution to the dilemma of ill-fated lovers that permeates Japanese literature, or maybe it's the samurai tradition of committing ritual disembowelment (seppuku or harakiri) for the maintenance of honor as exemplified by what is perhaps the most popular story in Japan, the 47 Ronin, or maybe it is even the infamy of the original suicide-bombers, World War II's kamikaze pilots, but whatever the reason, Japan is considered to have a high suicide rate. However, in actual fact, for most of the twentieth century Japan's suicide rate was on a par with the European average. For the past ten years though the suicide rate has been rising, and is now among the highest in the world, but still less than some of the eastern European and former Soviet countries. Last year more than 34,000 committed suicide, an increase of 7% over the previous year, making suicide the sixth most common cause of death in Japan. Among young people, the suicide rate rose an alarming 22%. The most common method is hanging, and the most common day chosen is Monday. Men prefer 5 a.m., and women prefer noon.

* The longest monorail system in the world is the Osaka Monorail.
Opened in 1990, it runs from Osaka's Haneda Airport to the Hankyu Railway Station, with a spur line opened in 1997. It is 23.8 kilometers long and is planned to eventually be 50 kilometers and encircle the city. About 80,000 passengers are carried each day. The first monorail in Japan runs one third of a kilometer in Tokyo's Ueno Zoo. It opened in 1957.