Japan: Islands, Swords and Rice


Japan has beautiful land, astounding culture, and great food. Most of Japan’s natural beauty is undeveloped due to uneven land. Today’s Japanese people still honor the Samurai philosophy that puts loyalty, courage, accuracy, and compassion above all. Rice is a staple food grown in their own backyard.

Japan is a country formed by islands with great natural beauty and diverse terrain. The four small islands are about the size of California mentions Barbara A. Somervill in Japan, Enchantment of the World. Even though the small country is surrounded by ocean, it has scores of snow-capped peaks. The highest point in Japan is Mount Fuji at 12,385 feet (Richardson 7). On the main islands between the shore and the alps, there are jumbled hills (Edwin O. Reischauer 5). This open land is a perfect place for farms.


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Photo by Science Trivia

Off the coast are smaller islands that act as breeding grounds for sea lions reptiles and birds tells Life in Ancient Japan by Hazel Richardson (7). The island of Torishima is the only breeding ground for the Short-Tailed Albatross notes Rhoda Blumberg in her book Shipwrecked (12). Kaihyo-to is home to a large habitat of seals in the Northern Pacific states the editors of Changing Japan Seen Through the Camera (263). The forests are the most beautiful parts of the country. A popular resort along the Sagami River near Tokyo offers dream-like beauty and serenity (Asahigraph 242). With its ideal nature, animals and wild beauty, Japan offers a sense of adventure.

According to Hazel Richardson, the author of Life in Ancient Japan, Samurai began their training at the age of five or six years old (26). Samurai remind me of Jedi because Caroline Leavitt, the author of Samurai, talks about how it was easier to become one if your parents were Samurai too (11). Samurai were the heroes of ancient Japan (Leavitt, 10). In Samurai, Warlords of Japan, Arlan Dean explains that the word Samurai actually means “to serve,” and Samurai are trained to serve their masters (9). Their training consisted of meditation and fasting to develop the strong mind of the warrior (Richardson 26).

Leavitt believes that a Samurai’s greatest weapon was his mind (29). But according to Dean, a samurai has many weapons. When fighting at close range, a Samurai used his sword or katana (Arlan 19). The Samurai loved their swords and often gave them names (Arlan 18). In Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa, the sword of Sasaki Kojiro was known as ‘Drying Pole’, because it was particularly long and straight (697). Some swords had carefully hammered blades and sharkskin grips according to History.com. Leavitt points out that Japanese people today value respect and loyalty which are two important beliefs carried down from the Samurai code called Bushido (29).

Japan grows about ten million metric tons of rice per year states Somervill (77). Rice is a staple, a food that Japanese eat every day (Somervill 77). An Introduction to Japanese Food explains that the word gohan is used to talk about both steamed rice and a meal.

Even western meals like spaghetti are called gohan in Japan (intro01.htm). The most traditional Japanese meal is a dish of rice with vegetables, fish, and miso soup (intro01.htm). The type of rice they eat is short grain, which is soft and moist when cooked (rice01.htm). There are over 100 hana-zushi designs of sushi including animals, flowers, and letters (temari03.htm). The Japanese use rice in many different ways. Richardson claims rice is also used to make sake, noodles, flour, vinegar, floor mats, and rope sandals (16).

The country of islands rises from sea level to rolling hills to vast forests and up to high mountainous peaks. Samurai in ancient Japan named their swords because they believed there was a spirit living inside. The Japanese diet consists primarily of rice which complements other delicious and healthy foods. Therefore, Japan is an amazing country because of the abundance of nature, cool culture, and fantastic food.


Works Cited

“An Introduction to Japanese Food.” Web Japan, Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

29 March 2017. http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/index.html

Aslot, Georges. Changing Japan Seeing Through the Camera. Tokyo, Asahi Shimbun, 1936.

Blumberg, Rhoda. Shipwrecked. New York, Harper Collins, 2001.

Dean, Arlan. Samurai, Warlords of Japan. Danbury, Children’s Press, 2005.

History.com Staff. “Samurai and Bushido.” History.com, A+E Networks, 14 April 2017.


Leavitt, Caroline. Samurai (Warriors of History). Mankato, Capstone Press, 2007.

Reischauer, Edwin O. Japan Past and Present. New York. Alfred Knoff, 1946.  

Richard, Hazel. Life in Ancient Japan. New York, Crabtree, 2005.

Somervill, Barbara A. Japan Enchantment of the World. New York. Children’s Press. 2012.
Yoshikawa, Eiji. Musashi: The Way of the Samurai. Pocket. 1990.


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