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International Coffeehouses: Japan

This guide will provide links to resources related to the countries featured in the International Coffeehouses.

Panoramic photo of Matsuyama Castle

Wei-Te Wong. (Photographer). (2017). Matsuyama Castle [digital image]. Retrieved from flickr website: . Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic (CC-BY SA 2.0).

Facts in Brief

Country flag. White background with a red circle in the center

Japan lies in eastern Asia and comprises a curved chain of more than 3,000 islands. Four large islands, named (from north to south) Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, account for about 98% of the land area. Hokkaido lies just to the south of Sakhalin, a large Russian island, and about 1,300 km (800 miles) east of the Russian Federation’s mainland port of Vladivostok. Southern Japan is about 150 km (93 miles) east of the Republic of Korea (South Korea). Although summers are temperate everywhere, the climate in winter varies sharply from cold in the north to mild in the south. Temperatures in Tokyo range from −6°C (21°F) to 30°C (86°F). Typhoons and heavy rains are common in summer. The official language is Japanese. A small minority of indigenous Ainu speak a distinct language. The major religions are Shintoism and Buddhism, and there is a small Christian minority. The national flag (proportions 7 by 10) is white, with a red disc (a sun without rays) in the centre. The capital is Tokyo.


Country Flag (Japan), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved o6 April 2018 from

Japan, in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 06 April 2018 from

Image: Japanese Emperor Naruhito      Image: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

Emperor Naruhito (left) and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (right)
By 首相官邸ホームページ, CC BY 4.0,
By TICAD7 Photographs -, CC0,

Image: Japan's Imperial Chrysanthemum Seal

Japan's Imperial Chrysanthemum Seal

Snapshots of Japan from AP Images

Woman wearing a Kimono

Kimono (Japanese traditional garment)

Aerial photo of the Tokyo Tower and Mt. Fuji

Tokyo Tower and Mt. Fuji

Mark, Baker. "Japan Daily Life." 07 Jan. 2012. EBSCOhost,

Aerial photo of Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji Aerial

Description: Snow-covered Mount Fuji, Japan's highest peak at 3,776-meter (12,385 feet), is seen from an airplane window, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010.

Itsuo, Inouye. "Japan Mt Fuji." 08 Dec. 2010. EBSCOhost,

Image of spring trees blossoming

Spring in Tokyo

Eugene, Hoshiko and AM wsantana|File|Filed|3/29/2018 9:06:28. "Japan Daily Life." 29 Mar. 2018. EBSCOhost,

photo of a giant cat in Tokyo

Giant Cat in Tokyo

Shizuo, Kambayashi and AM skajiyama|File|Filed|4/2/2018 7:18:39. "Japan Daily Life." 02 Apr. 2018. EBSCOhost,

Photo of Odawara Castle

Odawara Castle

Koji, Sasahara, et al. "Japan Daily Life." 31 Mar. 2018. EBSCOhost,

AP Images logo

AP Images

Contemporary and historical images from the Associated Press.

Learn Japanese!

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Japanese Art & Architecture

Photo of a Woodblock print

Woodblock Print: The Great Wave off Kanagawa

Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760-1849). The Great Wave off Kanagawa, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. 1830/1831. Portland Art Museum, The Mary Andrews Ladd Collection. Web. 6 Apr 2018.

photo of a woodblock print

Woodblock Prints: One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Japan, 1839-1892. One Hundred Aspects of the Moon. 1885-1892. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California, USA, Herbert R. Cole Collection, M.84.31.29, Web. 6 Apr 2018.

photo of a woodblock print

Woodblock Prints: Picture Book of Selected Insects

Kitagawa Utamaro, Japan, 1753-1806. Picture Book of Selected Insects. 1788. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California, USA, Gift of Caroline and Jarred Morse, M.80.219.11, Web. 6 Apr 2018.

Photo of a Japanese decorative dish

Japanese Dish from the Edo Period

Japan. Dish. Edo period. The Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, Bequest of Dorothy Millett  Lindeke, 84.83, Web. 6 Apr 2018.

photo of the Iwasaki Museum

Iwasaki Museum

Maki, Fumihiko, 1928-. Ibusuki, Japan: Iwasaki Museum partial view. 1979. Web. 6 Apr 2018.

Photo of a Pagoda


Japan: Ref.: Pagoda. [n.d.]. Web. 6 Apr 2018.

Photo of Garden at International House of Japan

Garden at International House of Japan

Maekawa, Kunio (Japanese, 1905-1986), Sakakura, Junzo (Japanese, 1901-1969), Yoshimura, Junzo (Japanese, 1908-1997). International House of Japan, Exterior: View of Garden. 1955, Image: May, 2010. Web. 6 Apr 2018.

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More than one million digital images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences. Please note: you must register for a free account in order to download images.


Traditionally, the Japanese drink tea and eat rice paired with paired with fish, tofu, pickled vegetables and meats for almost every meal. Soups are made with miso (a soybean paste) with various eggs and meats. Something that is interesting is the differences in eating habits between younger and older generations. Younger generations eat fewer traditional foods and prefer more fruits and breads over rice. This switch to more fats and proteins in their diet than their grandparents, raised the average height of younger Japanese people by about 3-4 inches and decreased the rice consumption between 1960s and 1990 by about half. 


Aikido, literally means the way of spiritual harmony, is a martial art the originated in Japan in 1925. Created by Morihei Ueshiba, this form of self defense mixes moral philosophy and sport without weapons that draws the internal energy known as ki. This power is within everyone located just below the navel and is essential to Aikido along with a healthy, relaxed body and a mind and spirit free of bad habits. 

Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation film studio based in Koganei, Tokyo and is known worldwide for their motion pictures, video games, and TV commercials. You may have seen their mascot Totoro! The studio was founded in 1985 by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki. The name, Ghibli, means hot desert wind, and the founders hoped the studio would "blow a new wind through the anime industry." They achieved great success through the many awards won including, Animage Grand Prix, Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, and Academy Awards nominations. Notable films include Howl's Moving Castle (2004), Ponyo (2008), and Spirited Away (2001) which is the second highest grossing anime feature film in Japan and won a Golden Bear and the 2003 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. 


Map of Japan

Country Map


Citation: Country Map (Japan), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 06 April 2018 from

Kanopy - Streaming Films

Description from Kanopy: A riveting psychological thriller that investigates the nature of truth and the meaning of justice, Rashomon is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made. Four people give different accounts of a man's murder and the rape of his wife, which director Akira Kurosawa presents with striking imagery and an ingenious use of flashbacks. This eloquent masterwork and international sensation revolutionized film language and introduced Japanese cinema--and a commanding new star by the name of Toshiro Mifune--to the Western world.

'Seven Samurai, Part 1' is part of a series of films from Criterion Collection/Janus Films.

One of the most thrilling movie epics of all time, SEVEN SAMURAI (Shichinin no samurai) tells the story of a sixteenth-century village whose desperate inhabitants hire the eponymous warriors to protect them from invading bandits.

This three-hour ride from Akira Kurosawa -- featuring legendary actors Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura -- seamlessly weaves philosophy and entertainment, delicate human emotions and relentless action, into a rich, evocative, and unforgettable tale of courage and hope.

Nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Art Direction, Best Set Design) and three BAFTA Awards (Best Film from Any Source, Best Foreign Actor - Toshiro Mifune, Best Foreign Actor - Takashi Shimura).

Won the Silver Lion at the 1954 Venice Film Festival.

Japanese Music

Yamato Ensemble

Image: Yamato Ensemble Album Art


The Sounds of Kabuki Album Art

Toru Takemitsu

Headshot of Toru Takemitsu with hands holding face

Books on Japanese Music in our Collection

Taiko Drumming

Image: A Taiko group drumming
Image courtesy of ARTStor:

The taiko is a Japanese drum. Although it’s origins can be found in Japanese folk tales, the drum has been used for musical performance, kabuki theatre, and for motivation and communication in battle such as during the Warring States period.

Shamisen Music

Image: A Japanese Shamisen

Image courtesy of ARTStor:

The Shamisen is a plucked three-stringed instrument of Japan. It can be played solo, as a part of an ensemble or as accompaniment in kabuki or bunraku theatre. It has also gained popularity in genres outside of traditional Japanese music.

Books on Japanese Popular Music and J-Pop