[[1]] is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of China, Korea, and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea in the south. The [[2]] that<img alt="" src="" ialign="rwrap" size_type="resize" style="WIDTH: 200px; HEIGHT: 136px" class="rwrap" /> make up Japan's name literally means "the sun's origin", thus Japan is also sometimes known as the self-identified "The Land of the Rising Sun". Its capital and largest city is [[3]].

At 145,898 sq miles Japan is a very small country.  It encompasses over 3,000 islands, the largest of which are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku. Most of Japan's islands are [[4]], and many are volcanic, including the highest peak, Mount Fuji. It has the world's 10th largest population, with nearly 128 million people. The Greater Tokyo Area, with over 30 million residents, is the largest metropolitan area in the world.

Today, Japan is an economic world power with the world's second largest economy and is a member of the United Nations, G8, G4, and APEC.

<img alt="" src="" ialign="lwrap" size_type="resize" style="WIDTH: 200px; HEIGHT: 131px" class="lwrap" />The climate of Japan is predominantly temperate but varies greatly from north to south. Japan's geographical features divide it into six principal climatic zones. For most of the trip we will be in the central highlands which has cold winters, hot summers, and mild spring and autums. Besides November, April is considered the best time to visit Japan, because in most regions of the country, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the weather is pleasantly mild.

For more on the culture of Japan visit these websites:

[National Tourist Organization

[of Japan

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