Japan is one of the world's most ethnically and culturally homogeneous nations. It is also famed for its strong work ethic, mastery of advanced technologies and its massive economy. Already the largest supplier of automobiles, washing machines and watches, Japan had emerged in the late 1980s as the second largest overseas aid donor and a leader in biotechnology-related fields.
Since the 1960s, Japan averaged an annual growth rate of 8%, enabling it to become the first country to move from “less developed” to “developed” status. The reasons for this include high rates of both personal savings and private sector facilities investment, a labor force with a strong work ethic, an ample supply of cheap oil, innovative technology, and effective government intervention in private-sector industries.
Japan was a major beneficiary of the swift growth attained by the postwar world economy under the principles of free trade advanced by the International Monetary Fund and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. And having been the world’s second largest economy since late 1960’s, Japan is now the third largest economy following the United States and China.
LEISURE AND SPORTS
In Japan, sports are regarded as a healthy pastime that develops good discipline, builds character, encourages fair play, and instills sportsmanship. Japan's traditional sports called budo, which were born in the twelfth century and flourished mainly among the warrior class. They include Judo, kendo (Japanese fencing), kyudo (archery), and others. In the Edo period (1600-1868), these sports, which put stress on their mental aspects, were established as martial arts. Judo and karate have come to be international sports. Sumo is said to be Japan's national sport and is very popular. Baseball is one of the most popular spectator sports in Japan, as well as, of course, football.
CULTURE AND TRADITION
The Japanese lifestyle today is a rich blend of Asian-influenced traditional culture and Western-influenced modern culture.
Traditional performing arts that continue to thrive in Japan today include kabuki, a form of classical theater, kyogen, a type of classical comic theater, noh, the oldest form of musical theater of Japan through utai (singing), hayashi (musical accompaniment), and dance. Other traditional arts, such as the tea ceremony and ikebana (flower arrangement), live as part of the everyday lives of Japanese people. Popular music, known as J-pop, is also popular in many countries.
Japanese anime (animated shows), which have been entertaining not only children but adults as well since the 1960s, are now exported all over the world, and series like Doraemon, Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, One Piece, Naruto, Bleach and Fullmetal Alchemist are now global favorites.
The traditional dress of Japan is the kimono. Kimonos are now usually worn only on special occasions, such as the festivals, weddings and graduation ceremonies. In the summer, however a more easily worn, lightweight informal kimono known as yukata is worn by children and young adults. In everyday life, though, young people tend to prefer clothing that is easier to move around in, also Japanese fashion for young girls is gaining popularity all over the world.