Japan Political System, Famous People, Animals and Plants

By | January 15, 2023

Japan: Political System

According to EQUZHOU.NET, Japan is a parliamentary monarchy. The 1947 constitution (called the “Peace Constitution”) established the rights and duties of all citizens and the functions of the constitutional organs. The goal of the state to keep peace and the basic features of a welfare state are also laid down. See AbbreviationFinder for more information about Japan politics, and acronyms as well.

At the head of the state is an emperor, the “Tenno”, whose line of succession is limited to the male descendants of the imperial family. The Japanese emperor has no political power. Rather, it has purely representative tasks.

The parliament consists of the House of Representatives (lower house) and the upper house and is elected every four years in free, equal and secret elections. Since 1994 it has consisted of 500 members who are elected in a mixed election of proportional and majority suffrage.

The House of Lords represents the advisors from the prefectures. It consists of 252 members, half of whom are elected by the people every three years. 100 mandates are elected by proportional representation and 152 are awarded in the prefectures by majority voting. A member of parliament who must be a civilian is elected Prime Minister by parliament. He appoints the members of his cabinet and they lead the ministries and authorities. The prime minister has no authority to issue guidelines in the cabinet, which is more of a collective responsibility. But he appoints the highest judges and officials in the country and can have the parliament dissolved.

The ministers – like the prime minister – must be civilians and often only have representative functions in office. The powerful ministerial bureaucracy drafts the bills and ensures continuity in the state despite political crises. The 47 provinces are ruled by governors and the official name of the country is:

Japan Nippon, Nihon

National anthem

The text of the national anthem of Japan is based on an old poem by an unknown author, which was found in poetry collections from the 10th century and set to music by Hayashi Hiromori in 1880. The anthem was designated for school use by the Ministry of Education in 1893 and was later played at public events. However, it only became the country’s official anthem in 1999.

In Japanese it reads:

In Latinized Japanese In the English translation
Kimi gayo waChiyo ni nachiyo ni

Iwao to nami te sazare ishi no

Koke no muse made

May 1000 years of happiness be with youMay your rule be peaceful

Until this little stone grows into a big rock

And everything covered by moss is deep and firm.

National flag

The national flag (national flag) of Japan was introduced on August 5, 1854, and was declared the national flag of the country on August 13, 1999. Based on flag descriptions by Countryaah.com, the flag shows a red sun on a white ground.

  • Check top-mba-universities for public holidays, sports events, UNESCO world heritage sites and major places to visit in Japan.

Japan: Famous People, Nobel Prize Winners

Humanities scientist

Murayama Kaita (1896-1919)

Murayama Kaita was a well-known writer in Japan.

Maruyama Masao (1914-1996)

Masao made a significant contribution to the development of modern political science after 1945 and was an advocate for a critical approach to war and pre-war Japan.

His research focus was on Japanese nationalism and its development. He also played an important role as an opposition leader in post-war democratic Japan.

Yukio Tsuda

Tsuda is a professor at Nagoya University and is an opponent of the idea of the “hegemony of English”.

In the opinion of the proponent of linguistic pluralism and the concept of “language ecology”, the dominance of English is to be equated with the extinction of the language.

His publications include “Language Inequality and Distortion” (1986); “Eigo Shihai-no Kouzou” (“The Structure of the Dominance of English”, 1990), “Shinryaku suru Eigo” (“The Invading English”) and “Hangeki-suru Nirhongo” (“The Counter-attacking Japanese”, 1996).

Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835-1901)

The social theorist had an eminent influence on the Japanese people with his thoughts on the strength of the individual and with his knowledge of political theories of the West.

He is seen by some as the most influential figure in the modernization of Japan.

Fukuzawa’s likeness appears on the 10,000 yen banknote and is the only one to have survived all monetary changes.

Visual artist

Hiroshige Ando (1797-1858)

This famous Japanese woodblock artist specialized in woodblock prints.

Hokusai Katsushika (1760-1849)

The color woodcuts in the series 36 “Views of Mount Fuji” are among his most famous works by this graphic artist.

Sharaku (in the 18th century)

The exact dates of birth of this woodblock printer are unknown. What is certain is that his career only lasted about 10 months.

He appeared out of nowhere and became one of the innovative and creative geniuses in his field.

Some consider him to be the three greatest portrait artists of all time, in the same breath as Rembrandt and Velazquez. Just as suddenly as it came, it disappeared again.

Takamura Koun (1852-1934)

The sculptor designed the bronze statue of Saigo Takamori (1828-1877), one of the most influential samurai in Japanese history. The statue was completed in 1898 and is located in Ueno Park in Tokyo.

Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989)

This Japanese doctor, director and illustrator became famous for his manga in the 1950s.

He is considered one of the most influential illustrators in the country. His career ran parallel to the emerging animation industry.


Akino Arai (born 1959)

Arai is one of the most famous singers and composers from the world of Japanese animation. She wrote the music for films such as “Outlaw Star”, “Noir” and “Macross Plus”. She has also composed soundtracks for video games. Many find it difficult to evade her bittersweet compositions full of emotion.

Hamasaki Ayumi (born 1978)

This pop singer made her first vocal appearances on the NHK TV show “Idol On Stage” and in 1999 she reached number 1 in the charts for the first time.

Misora Hibari (1937-1989)

Hibari is a singer and actress. Born as Kazue Kato, she was one of the most influential musicians in post-war Japan. She started her music career at the age of 7 and first appeared on Japanese television at age 12. Not only did she appear in over 60 films from 1949, but in July 1989 she was also the first female artist to receive the National Prize of Honor for her long-lasting contribution to the music industry.

Joe Hisaishi (born 1950)

Already during his college days, the later composer composed his first pieces in animated films at the Knuitachi Music School. In 1982 he released his first album “Information” with a minimalist sound. In 1983 he was commissioned by Hayao Miyazaki to compose the film music for “Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind”. Since then he has worked for the Studio Ghibli and for the director Kitano Takeshi.

Akira Ifukube (1914-2006)

He composed both classical music and music for films such as “Godzilla”.

Kuraki Mai (born 1982)

The pop singer, also known as Mai-K, released her first single in 1999 at the age of 16. This was an instant hit in Japan. With her first Japanese single, “Love, Day after Tomorrow”, she made it to number one in Japan. Her style is often compared to that of Whitney Houston, who is one of her favorite musicians alongside Laurin Hill and Maria Carey.

Kaori Mochida (born 1978)

She is the lead singer of the pop group “Every Little Thing” (ELT). The band went platinum in 1998 for the song “Time Goes By”. Various magazines have declared Kaori Mochida to be a fashion icon because of her inimitable style. She has also advertised products like Breeze, Toyota, Icebox, Morinaga and Nivea.

Amuro Namie (born 1977)

In the 1990s, Amuro Namie was one of the most popular pop singers in Japan. With her musical talent and her skills as a dancer, as well as her charisma, she won the hearts of Japanese listeners and fans abroad.

Yoko Ono (born 1933)

This artist and singer was best known for her marriage to John Lennon. Before that she was an avant garde artist with only moderate success. Ono and Lennon worked together on many music albums, starting with Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins in 1968, when Lennon was still with the Beatles. From 1973 Ono and Lennon went their separate ways. But she remained musically active. At the moment she lives in New York, USA.

Taki Rentaro (1879-1903)

Rentaro was an important pianist and composer. Unfortunately he died very young.

Kyu Sakamoto (1941-1985)

The singer had several hits in Japan and reached number 1 on the US Billboard charts with his song “Ue o muite aruk?”, Which was published in the West as “Sukiyaki”. This was the first and only song that achieved such a ranking and was sung entirely in Japanese.

Ryuichi Sakamoto (born 1952)

He works as a musician, producer and actor. Sakamoto’s repertoire ranges from his collaboration with several bands to the copying of ring tones for Nokia to his composition for the opening ceremony of the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

Kanno Yoko (born 1964)

began playing the piano at the age of 3 and was able to present her first composition at the age of 10. She is a sound producer for animation and action films, documentaries, solo albums and TV commercials.

Nobel Prize Winner


Only those Nobel Prize winners are presented here who were Japanese citizens at the time of the award.

It should be noted, however, that a number of people of Japanese origin with other nationalities – mostly US citizens – received the Nobel Prize.

They are shown in the respective countries. <

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Award winner Year of award Reason for the award
Ei-ichi Negishi(born 1935) 2010 Together with Richard Fred Heck and Akira Suzukifor his discovery of the Suzuki coupling for the synthesis of biphenyls

or biphenyl derivatives through the formation of a CC bo

Akira Suzuki(born 1930 2010 Together with Richard Fred Heck and Ei-ichi Negishifor his discovery of the Suzuki coupling for the synthesis of biphenyls

or biphenyl derivatives through the formation of a CC bo

Kōichi Tanaka(born 1959) 2002 Together with the American John B. Fennfor their development of soft desorption/ionization methods

for mass spectrometric analyzes of biological macromolecules

Ryōji Noyori(born 1938) 2001 Together with the Americans William S. Knowles and Barry Sharplessfor their work on chiral catalyzing hydrogenation reactions
Hideki Shirakawa(born 1936) 2000 Together with the Americans Alan J. Heeger and Alan MacDiarmidfor the discovery and development of conductive polymers
Fukui Ken’ichi(1918–1998) 1981 Together with the American Roald Hoffmann and the British Aaton KlugF for their independently developed theories about the course of chemical reactions

Nobel Peace Prize

Award winner Year of award Reason for the award
Satō Eisaku(1901-1975) 1974 For his commitment to Japan’s accession to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Nobel Prize in literature

Award winner Year of award Reason for the award
Kenzaburō Ōe(born 1935) 1994 For his creation of a world in the factoryin which life and myth condense into a harrowing picture of man in the present “
Kawabata Yasuhari(1899-1972) 1968 For his art of finding a synthesis of classic Japanese and western elements.

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Award winner Year of award Reason for the award
Tasuku Honju(born 1942) He received the award together with the American James Alliso for his new principle of immunological cancer therapy
Yoshinori Ōsumi(born 1945) 2016 For his work in researching autophagy, the mechanism involved in the decomposition of cell parts and their recycling.
Satoshi Omura(born 1935) 2015 Together with the Irishman William C. Campbell he received half the price for his work on a therapy against infections with nematodes.The other half of the award went to Youyou Tu from China for her work on a therapy against nematode infections.
Shin`ya Yamanaka(born 1962) 2012 Together with the American John Gurdonfor the reprogramming of adult body cells into a state

in which they can develop

into all kinds of tissue like embryonic stem cells. (iPS cells)

Tonegawa Susumu(born 1939) 1987 For his discovery of the genetic basis for the development of the wealth of variation in antibodies

Nobel Price for physics

Award winner Year of award Reason for the award
Takaaki Kajita(born 1959) 2015 Together with the Canadian Arthur Bruce McDonaldfor the discovery of neutrino oscillators that show that neutrinos have a mass
Hiroshi Amano(born 1960) 2014 Together with the Japanese Isamu Akasaki and Shuji Nakamurafor your development of LEDs with blue light
Isamu Akasaki(born 1929) 2014 Together with the Japanese Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamurafor your development of LEDs with blue light
Shuji Nakamura(born 1954) 2014 Together with the Japanese Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amanofor your development of LEDs with blue light
Toshihide Maskawa(born 1940) 2008 Together with the Japanese Makoto Kobayashi and the American Yoichiro Nambufor his work in the field of high-energy physics (CP violation)
Makoto Kobayashi(born 1944) 2008 Together with the Japanese Toshihide Maskawa and the US-American Yoichiro Nambufor his work in the field of high-energy physics (CP violation)
Masatoshi Koshiba(born 1926) 2002 Together with Raymond Davis junior and Riccardo Giacconifor groundbreaking work in astrophysics that

led to the discovery of cosmic X-ray sources

Leo Esaki(born 1925) 1973 Together with Ivar Giaever and Brian David Josephsonfor the discovery of the tunnel effect in semiconductors and superconductors
Tomonaga Shinichiro(1906-1979) 1965 For his research on the further development of quantum electrodynamics
Hideki Yukawa(1907-1981) 1949 For his prediction for the existence of mesons based on nuclear forces

Politicians and rulers

Akihito (born 1933)

Akihito was born in Tokyo on December 23, 1933. He was the 125th Tenno (Emperor) of Japan from November 12, 1990 until his voluntary resignation on April 30, 2019. His resignation was the first in about 200 years.

Arai Hakuseki (1657-1725)

the Confucianist, poet and politician was an advisor to Shogun Ienobu.

Naoto Kan (born 1946)

Naoto was once the head of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the Diet’s largest opposition party. He also served as Minister of Health.

Tanaka Makiko (born 1944)

This politician is the daughter of the former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka.

She was the first woman to hold the post of Foreign Minister in Japan between 2001 and 2002 but was fired after criticizing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

She received some attention when she called George W. Bush “an asshole” while in the US.

Tsurunen Marutei (born 1940)

He is the first politician who was born in Europe, but still sits in the Japanese parliament, the Diet.

Fujio Masayuki (born 1917)

Masayuki was Minister of Education under Yasuhiro Nakasone until 1986. He was dismissed by Nakasone after he was critical of Japan’s role in World War II in an interview.

In the interview he said that “killing people in war is not murder in the sense of international law”. Even after the government insisted, he did not withdraw his statement and did not apologize.

Hirohito (1901-1989)

Hirohito was born on April 29, 1901 in Tokyo. He was Tenno (Emperor of Japan) from 1926 to 1989.

After the A-bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 15, 1945, he made a radio address at 12:00 noon that he had decided to make the path to peace possible and to endure the “unbearable”.

On September 2, 1945, Japan surrendered unconditionally.

The Americans left him in office after the war. He died on January 7, 1989 in Tokyo.

Naruhito (born 1960)

Naruhito was born on February 23, 1960 in Tokyo. He is the 126th Tenno (Emperor) of Japan as of May 1, 2019. He thus succeeded his father Akihito, who resigned on April 30, 2019.

Yokoyama Nokku (b. 1932) A

member of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, who was particularly popular for his previous comedian career, was charged with sexual harassment in 2000 and sentenced to 11 million yen in damages.

Nokku then resigned from his position.

Kanemaru Shin (1914-1996)

He was a member of the Liberal Democratic Party and was involved in the 1992 Sagawa Kyubin scandal, whereupon he resigned and was arrested in 1993.

Abe Shintaro (1924-1991)

This Japanese politician was Agriculture, Trade and Foreign Minister under Yasuhiro Nakasone during his tenure.

Ishihara Shintaro (born 1932)

The mayor of Tokyo is known for his populist nature. Before he went into politics, he was a writer.

Kuranari Tadashi (1918-1996)

This Japanese foreign minister held his office in the 1980s.

Doi Takako (born 1928) In

1969 Doi, a member of the Socialist Party of Japan (JSP), was elected to the Japanese parliament (Diet). In 1985 she was able to get a law against discrimination against women to be signed.

In 1984 she became vice minister of the JSP and in 1986 the first woman to head a political party in Japan.

In 1991 she resigned in the course of the first Gulf War, but led the JSP again after its disastrous election result in 1996. In 2003 she resigned again.

Fukuda Yasuo (born 1936)

Under Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, he was the longest-serving head of the cabinet in Japanese history.

Actors, directors

Kurosawa Akira (1910-1998)

The aesthetics of his early successes inspired western directors to create the new genre of spaghetti westerns. The western mainstream also benefited from Kurosawa’s stories and imagery. “The Seven Samurai” became “The Magnificent Seven” by director John Sturges, and “Yojimbo” became “For a Fistful of Dollars” by Sergio Leone.

Ryu Chishu (1904-1993)

Chishu was a very well-known actor in Japan. Between 1928 and 1992 he starred in around 160 films, including “Tokyo Story” by Yasujiro Ozu from 1953.

Tsuburaya Eiji (1901-1970)

The special effects specialist was also responsible for many Japanese science fiction films, including the Godzilla series.

Setsuko Hara (born 1920)

In Japan she is also called “the Eternal Virgin” and is a symbol of the golden age of Japanese cinema in the 1950s. In 1962 she ended her acting career and has lived very withdrawn since then, which is why she is also known as “Greta Garbo of Japan”.

Miyazaki Hayao (born 1941)

Miyazaki is the most famous producer of animated films in Japan. The 1997 film “Princess Mononoke” was the country’s biggest box office hit to date. He and his studio Ghibli are the Japanese equivalent of Disney.

Ishiro Honda (1911-1993)

This film director is best known for his Godzilla film series.

Hajime Iwatani (born 1946)

The TV actor played Commander Sugata in the 1987 Super Sentai series.

Takeshi Kaga (born 1950)

In addition to acting on stage and in films, he also lent his voice to some animation characters and sang the theme song for the film “Pokémon”.

Takeshi Kitano (* 1947)

The comedian, actor and director is a well-known filmmaker not only in Japan. With films like Boiling Point (1990) or Johnny Mnemonic (1995) he also became a celebrated star abroad. He’s also the host of a weekly TV show.

Oshii Mamoru (born 1951)

The director distinguishes himself primarily because of his animated films.

Toshiro Mifune (1920-1997)

Mifune has appeared in over 160 films and television productions. He is the most famous actor in Japan.

Ishikura Saburo (born 1946)

This actor played in some of the films by Takeshi Kitano

Kitano Takeshi (born 1947)

Somehow he’s everything: director, actor, painter, poet, author, TV and radio presenter and comedian. In Germany he is best known from the game show “Takeshi’s Castle”. In Japan he is particularly known under the stage name Beat Takeshi.

Ken Watanabe (born 1959)

The theater and film actor became known for his portrayals of the samurai as in the 1987 series “Dokuganryu Masamune” (“One eyed dragon, Masamune”). He had international success with the film “The Last Samurai”, for which he was nominated for the 2003 Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. In 2004 he appeared in People Magazine and was voted one of the “50 Most Beautiful People”.

Ozu Yasujiro (1903-1963)

The director and screenwriter was considered eccentric and perfectionist. However, his films were rarely shown outside of Japan before 1960.


Noguchi Hideyo (1876-1928)

Hideyo was a bacteriologist and worked with poisonous snakes and on a remedy for yellow fever.

In 1913 he detected Treponema pallidum, a spirochaetes bacterium, in the brain of a person suffering from syphilis and thus proved that the bacterium is the cause of the disease. He died in 1928 while working on a yellow fever virus.

Kotaro Honda (1870-1954)

Honda invented KS steel, which is not magnetic. The steel is three times harder than the tungsten steel that was common at the time. Later he further developed KS Stahl into NKS Stahl.

Kikunae Ikeda (1864-1936)

Ikeda was the first scientist who could extract glutamate from algae.

Makoto Kobayashi (born 1944)

Kokichi Mikimoto (1858-1954)

Mikimoto started making pearls on his pearl farm in 1888. After many setbacks, he was able to build an entire empire over the decades.

Tokuhichi Mishima (1893-1975)

The metallurgist discovered that aluminum re-magnetizes non-magnetic nickel steel.

Yasujiro Niwa (1893-1975)

Niwa invented a simple tool to enable photo telegraphic transmissions via cable and later radio.

Yoshinori Ōsumi

Nobel Prize Laureate 2016. Yoshinori Ōsumi was born on February 9, 1945 in Fukuoka on the island of Kyūshū. He conducts research in the field of autophagy. This is the mechanism for the decomposition of cell parts and their recycling.

After graduating from high school, he did his bachelor’s degree at the University of Tokyo in 1967 and did his doctorate there in 1974. During his studies, he switched from chemistry to molecular biology.

Until 1977 he was a post-doctoral student at Rockefeller University in New York City. He then moved to the University of Tokyo, where he became a lecturer in 1986 and assistant professor in 1988.

In 1996 he moved to the National Institute for Basic Biology in Okazaki as a professor and was simultaneously professor at the Graduate University for Advanced Studies in Hayama on Honshū from 2004 to 2009.

In 2009 he retired (retirement of professors) and was then professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

He received the Nobel Prize for “Physiology or Medicine” on October 3, 2016.

Kyota Sugimoto (1882-1972)

He invented the first Japanese typewriter

Jokichi Takamine (1854-1922)

The chemist founded the Tokyo Artificial Fertilizer Company and did research on the fermentation of rice.

In this context he isolated the enzyme takadiastase, an enzyme found in malt.

Sakichi Toyoda (1867-1930)

Toyoda made numerous inventions in the field of textile production.

Hidetsugu Yagi (1886-1976)

Together with his colleague Shintaro Uda, this Japanese electrical engineer developed a new type of antenna that used electromagnetic waves. Today these antennas are on millions of houses.

Akira Yoshino (born 1948)

Akira Yoshino was born on January 30, 1948 in Osaka.

Together with the American John B. Goodenough and the British Michael Stanley Whittingham, he had received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019 for the development of lithium-ion batteries.

More well-known Japanese

Tadao Ando ( born 1941)

Like Kenzo Tange, this architect is also a recipient of the Pritzker Prize. He received it in 1995.

Kazuyo Sejima (born 1956)

Architect. She is one of the few female star architects operating worldwide. In Tokyo, she runs the SANAA architecture office together with Ryue Nishizawa.

In Germany, she built the “Zollverein cube” on the Unesco World Heritage Site of the Zollverein colliery in Essen

Enomoto Takeaki (1836-1908)

The naval admiral fought against the Meiji government until the end of the Boshin War, but after his imprisonment served the government he opposed.

Kenzo Tange (1913-2005)

Kenzo Tange was one of the main representatives of “New Building” in Japan. In 1964 he designed the buildings for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. In 1987 he received the Pritzker Prize, a renowned architecture prize.

Hiroshi Yamauchi (born 1927)

The entrepreneur Yamauchi was the president of Nintendo between 1949 and 2002.

He had managed to transform Nintendo from a small company into a multi-billion dollar corporation.

Yamauchi also has the majority of the Seattle Mariners baseball team.

Fukuoka Masanobu (1913-2008)

He was initially a microbiologist before becoming a farmer. He tills his fields according to “according to the Daoist Wu Wei principle, which translates as something like doing nothing”. In

his opinion, nature is able to maintain itself and does not require human intervention.

Fukuoka realized this principle by specifically uses a combination of different plants and uses the ecological balance to protect crops from pests and to enrich the soil with nutrients

. His fields and gardens therefore have a particularly rich variety of animals and plants and are neither plowed nor chemically fertilized.

Praemium Imperiale

The Praemium Imperiale was founded in 1989 at the request of the Japanese imperial family in memory of Prince Nobuhito of Takamatsu (1905-1987) and sees itself as the Nobel Prize for the Arts. Artists are honored for their achievements, for the influence they exert in art internationally, and for their enrichment in the global community. The award is presented annually by the Japan Art Association in the five categories of painting, sculpture, architecture, music and theater/film.

The prize in the painting category went to the German Gerhard Richter, born in 1932, and the German Anselm Kiefer, born in 1945. The prize in the music category went to the German composer Hans Werner Henze, born in 1926, the conductor Daniel Barenboim, born in 1942, and the German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, born in 1963. Frei Otto, born in 1925, received the prize in the architecture category in 2006. Pina Bausch, born in 1940, received the 1999 award in the theater/film category.

Japan: animals


In the forests there are animals such as the raccoon dog and the red fox. The mammals that live on Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu include the raccoons, also known as the Japanese badger , and the sika deer. The latter are originally from Japan and China, but are widespread because they can adapt well to different weather conditions. They are about 125 – 145 cm long, 80 – 90 cm high and the males have antlers that are only weakly branched. The chestnut-brown summer fur with the clear speckles and the dark eel line differs greatly from the winter fur, which is more dark brown in color and has hardly any visible spots. The day and nocturnal animals are mainly found in light deciduous and mixed forests.

More tropical species like the fruit bat can be found on the Ryuku Islands. They are 6 – 40 cm tall, crepuscular mammals with a dog-like head and large eyes. They have a short tail, which is often completely absent. The fruit bats feed mainly on fruits, although some species are nectar suckers. They are very common on the South Sea islands.

Endemic to Japan are the Japanese sleeper and the spiny mouse on the Ryuku Islands. The nocturnal Japanese sleeper belongs to the dormouse family and is very similar to a dormouse. Characteristic are the big eyes and the bushy tail. Overall, it reaches a length of 10.5 – 13 cm. In the mountain forests of Japan it lives on the trees, in whose hollows it hibernates. Its food is seeds and fruits, but it occasionally feeds on eggs and hunts insects. Wild boars, bears, bats and monkeys

can also be found in the woods.

One of the endemic species of monkey is the Japanese macaque, which is also known as the red-faced macaque because of its complexion. It is distributed from the lowlands to the high mountains and is the most northerly occurring species of monkey. Japanese macaques have a dense and light fur and the characteristic red and furless face. Leaves and fruits are part of their diet. They hike a lot in search of food and use hot springs and ponds for bathing. Last but not least, these sources are one of the reasons for the long migrations of these monkeys.

The Iriomote cat and the Japanese otter are endangered species.

The Iriomote cat (Prionailurus bengalensis euptilurus) weighs around 4 to 5 kg (males) and 3 to 3.5 kg (females). Their long-haired fur is dark brown with horizontal stripes of darker spots. This cat subspecies is only found on the island of Iriomote, which is located at the southern end of the Ryūkyū island chain. The solitary animals are active during twilight and the early hours of the night. Their resting places are in tree hollows, branches or also in crevices.

The Japanese otter (Lutra nippon) has a head-trunk length between about 80 to 100 cm. The animals are found on the islands of Honshu, Kyusyu, Hokkaido and Shikoku. Unfortunately, there are indications that the species is now extinct, but is at least extremely rare.

Reptiles (without snakes)

The Japanese giant salamander belongs to the amphibians and is endemic (only occurring in Japan). Giant salamanders are permanent larvae as they carry larval traits such as the absence of eyelids and larval teeth throughout their life. The giant salamander native to Japan is extraordinarily tall at 1.50 m, it has a flat and broad head with small side eyes and a broad and flattened body. These nocturnal animals can be found on fast flowing rivers and streams, where they hide under crevices and in caves. In addition to fish and frogs, the diet of these extraordinary animals also includes earthworms, crustaceans and crustaceans. Their meat is eaten in Japan and giant salamanders are also used in folk medicine. These living fossils are now classified as endangered.

In general, salamanders and snakes are common in Japan in many forms. Turtles can be seen on the Ryukyu Islands.

Snakes (not poisonous)

There are numerous species of climbing snakes in Japan , including the island snake, the Japanese wood snake and the Japanese four-stripe snake.

Poisonous snakes

The following venomous snakes can be found in Japan:

– Adder flattail

– Plump sea snake – Tiger snake

, Rhabdophis tigrinus

Insects, spiders

Dragonflies and cicadas are common in many different forms. There are also eight different species of swallowtail butterflies. And of course flies, mosquitoes, bees and wasps live here.


The colorful pheasant cannot be overlooked due to its striking color. It is considered to be Japan’s state bird.

On Ryukyu there is the snake harrier and the hazel grouse from the grouse family. The small hood and the elongated tail are striking. The sexes are almost indistinguishable apart from a black throat patch in the males and a white one in the females.

The copper pheasant with the copper-colored feathers from the pheasant-like family is endemic. There are also different species of woodpecker in Japan. Endangered species include storks and albatrosses.

Underwater world

There are numerous coral fish to admire in Japan’s underwater world. Dugongs still live in the Rykuyu Islands, as do sharks, crabs and the porpoise.

Spinner dolphin

, which is native to the waters around Japan spinner dolphin is generally considered quite widespread, unfortunately, it often comes as a “by catch” in tuna nets. It is increasingly being hunted off some South Sea islands and especially near Japan. The blue and white dolphin, whose meat is highly valued in Japan, has a similar experience.


The dugongs (manatees) are the only marine herbivorous mammals in the world. They are also the only representatives of the fork-tailed manatee family. The animals, which can grow up to 4 m tall and weigh 900 kg, feed exclusively on the seaweed that they chop up with the two horny chewing plates. They have poor eyesight and outwardly unrecognizable ears. Nevertheless, they can hear very well underwater. The males can be recognized by the two “tusks” protruding from under the upper lip. These shy animals can live up to 50 years old and older. They are hunted for their tough skin and the layer of fat that is processed into oil.


There are around 500 different species of shark around the world. In the waters of Japan, among others to the following sharks found:

– Bull sharks

– Hammerheads

– sand tiger sharks

– black tip reef sharks


– White Sharks


The Krausenhai with its snake-like head and his snake-like shape a special feature. The head is separated from the body by six frayed gill slits that are reminiscent of a frill and are responsible for the name. The 2 m long shark lives at a depth of 1,000 m, is very rare and one of the oldest shark species. Therefore it is also called a living fossil. Its prey includes fish and cephalopods.

Horseshoe Crab,

also known as a living fossil, horseshoe crab has many names. It is also known as a horseshoe crab, king crab or sea mole. All of these terms describe either his appearance or his behavior. The crab has a tail spike, a semicircular armor that is reminiscent of the shape of a horseshoe, it is very large and has two lateral eyes and one forehead eye. They can be seen particularly well on the shallow water coasts, where they gather during the mating season. They are also widespread on the North American Atlantic coast.

Ribbon clam

Another living fossil is the ribbon clam.

Japanese giant crab

The Japanese giant crabs (Macrocheira kaempferi) live up to their name, as they measure around 4 m from tip to tip and can weigh up to 13 kg. This makes it the largest crab in the world.

The animal looks like a giant armored spider with its 10 legs. The animals can live up to 100 years. They are found in the Pacific off Japan at a depth between 300 and 400 m. However, during the spawning season, they migrate to shallower waters. They feed on dead smaller fish, molluscs and plants.

Squids consider crabs to be their favorite food.

You can admire the animal in the AquaDom & Sealife in Spandauer Str. 3, in 10178 Berlin-Mitte.


The whales, which can be found in the seas off Japan, include:

– blue whales

– Bryde’s whales

– humpback whales

– fin whales sperm whales m up to 20 can be large

– porpoises, the finless porpoise is often in Asian coastal waters to find

where he prefers to stay in shallow waters. The 1.5 m long whale belongs to the porpoise family.

A characteristic feature is the absence of the Finn, which is what earned it the name Finnless Porpoise.

The diet of the porpoise includes fish, cephalopods and crustaceans.

– Killer whales

– Orcas

– Sei whales

– Whale sharks

– Minke whales

In July 2019, Japan resumed commercial whaling after the animals had been caught for supposedly scientific purposes. The Japanese have a long tradition of whaling, but the economic interests of the fishing industry also play a role. The meat of the animals is usually an expensive delicacy, with the best pieces being processed into sashimi and eaten raw.

Other marine animals

The most common fish include sardines, tuna, salmon, mackerel and koi. The latter are cultivated forms of carp that stand out due to their bright colors. They are mainly found in Japan, but also in Israel, Singapore and South Africa.

One of the Japanese cultivated forms is called Kohaku. It is a white color carp with a red drawing on its back.

Squids like clams and oysters are also common.

Japan: plants


Typical trees in Japan are Japanese pine, larch, and cedar, both of which are widespread. Pine trees, which are about 40 m tall, are planted as windbreakers on the coast of Japan. They are also sacred trees that mean “long life” in Japan. Another tree with great symbolism is the cherry tree. It is probably the most famous species of tree in Japan and the cherry trees in bloom are an occasion for various celebrations. The blossom stands for ephemeral life, purity and ideal death.

Characteristic trees on Honshu, Shikoku and Kyunschu are oak species, and the Japanese beech is often found in northern Honshu and southern Hakkaido. Firs and spruces grow in the subalpine zone in central and northern Hakkaido.


Rice is one of the staple foods of the Japanese, and is therefore particularly intensively cultivated. But wheat, barley, soybeans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, Chinese cabbage, tobacco, mandarins and other citrus fruits are also grown. It is common to grow tea for personal use.

Small pine trees are used as bonsai, as garden trees or as construction timber for houses and furniture.

Medicinal plants

The seeds of the real stone as well as the whole plant are used in medicine. It grows mainly in stony areas, in bushes and forests and blooms with yellowish or greenish-white flowers. The plant, which belongs to the rough leaf family, is not only found in Japan but also in Europe and North America.

Poisonous plants

The bleeding heart, which is also known as the flaming heart , belongs to the fume family and is 60 – 90 cm high. The red and white flowers, which have the shape of a heart and are responsible for the name, are particularly striking. The entire plant, especially the roots, is poisonous. Symptoms of poisoning include gastrointestinal discomfort, vomiting, diarrhea and a burning sensation in the mouth.

More plants

Endangered species are the 100 to 400 cm tall eupatorium, which is one of the seven autumn flowers, the large-flowered lady’s slipper, the moss ball – a type of algae, the Siebold primrose and the real stone seed, which is also used in medicine. In the alpine zone, alpine plants like the bleeding heart thrive, which is, however, poisonous.

The broad-leaf bamboo and the arrow bamboo, which has straight stalks that are up to 4 m high, are widespread. The dark green leaves, which are very large at 35 cm, are striking. The silver stripe bamboo, whose leaves have a white central stripe, is nice to look at.

Japan Politics