We asked you five questions about Japan. Here come the answers!
- Japan consists of approximately how many islands?
- a) 60
- b) 600
- c) 6000
There are actually 6,852 Japanese islands. The four largest islands account for 97 per cent of the land area: Honshu is the largest (it’s slightly larger than Great Britain), followed by Hokkaido in the north and Kyushu and Shikoku to the south-west.
- What is currently Japan’s most popular spectator sport?
You might think it was sumo wrestling, or even football, given Japan’s recent history of strong performances at World Cups. But in fact it’s baseball. Introduced to Japan in 1872 (less than 20 years after Commodore Perry of the US Navy forced Japan to open up to the outside world), it took root quickly, to the extent that many Japanese are surprised to hear that the Americans also consider it their national sport.
- The Great Wave off Kanagawa woodblock print (below) is one of Japan’s most recognised artworks. Who was the artist?
Hokusai (1760-1849). It’s the first in a series of 36 prints depicting views of Mount Fuji (which you can see in the background) and was created in the 1820s. Examples of prints are in several famous museums around the world, including the British Museum.
- In 2010, there was a controversy about Japanese restaurants with Michelin stars. Why?
- a) Japanese restaurant owners complained that inspectors didn’t understand Japanese food and were under-rating their restaurants
- b) Restaurant owners elsewhere complained that Japan’s restaurants were being over-rated to boost Michelin’s profile
- c) A misprint resulted in several restaurants’ entries appearing with the Japanese character for a cow-pat instead of a rosette
In 2010 Michelin ranked Japan as the country with the most starred restaurants. Suspicions were voiced at the time that the reason for this was that the Guides’ producers were trying to raise the profile of their parent company in Japan and thus boost sales of tyres there.
- What is the most widely practised cultural activity in Japan?
Karaoke. The word means “empty orchestra”. Musical entertainment is a long-standing tradition at Japanese dinners or parties, and the karaoke machine was first developed in the late 1960s or early 1970s (a 2004 Ig Nobel Prize credits businessman and amateur singer Daisuke Inoue with the invention in 1971).
How did you get on? Why not let us know?