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Home > News and views > 10 things you didn’t know about Japan  

10 things you didn’t know about Japan  


From an island full of rabbits to ways to say sorry, Natasha McGowan uncovers some little-known facts about the land of the rising sun

There are four different writing systems in Japan: Katakana, Hiragana, Kanji and Romaji (the representation of Japanese sounds using the western 26-letter alphabet).

98% of adoptions in Japan are of adult males so that family businesses will remain within the family.

More paper is used for comics than for toilet paper in Japan.

The island of Okunoshima, in the Inland Sea, is overrun with rabbits. Although their origins are unknown, many believe that they were test rabbits used in a factory that produced poisonous gas during World War II, and that they were released once the war was over.

There are more than 200 volcanoes in Japan. An underwater volcano that erupted in 2015 created a new island in the South Pacific.

The first time the Japanese people heard their emperor’s voice was on the radio when he announced Japan’s surrender during World War II.

Death from overwork is so common in Japan that they have a word for it: karoshi.

Ronald McDonald is called Donald McDonald in Japan as there is no clear ‘r’ sound in the Japanese language.

The majority of streets in Japan have no name – most cities are divided into numbered blocks instead.

In Japanese, there are 20 ways to say ‘sorry’, including warui warui (‘my bad’), ikenai koto o shimashita (‘I’ve done something I shouldn’t have’ ) and owabi which expresses deep remorse and heartfelt apology.

This article first appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of Dialogue.

Image by Alessandro Pacilio via Unsplash

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