The Info List - Japanese People

Japanese people
Japanese people
(Japanese: 日本人, Hepburn: nihonjin) are a nation and an ethnic group that is native to Japan[23][24][25][26] and makes up 98.5% of the total population of that country.[27] Worldwide, approximately 129 million people are of Japanese descent; of these, approximately 125 million are residents of Japan.[1] People of Japanese ancestry who live outside Japan
are referred to as nikkeijin (日系人), the Japanese diaspora. The term ethnic Japanese is often used to refer to Japanese people, as well as to more specific ethnic groups in some contexts, such as Yamato people
Yamato people
and Ryukyuan people.


1 Language 2 Religion 3 Literature 4 Arts 5 History

5.1 Theories of origins 5.2 Jōmon people 5.3 Yayoi people

6 Colonialism 7 Citizenship 8 Diaspora 9 See also 10 References 11 External links

Language[edit] Main article: Japanese language The Japanese language
Japanese language
is a Japonic language that is related to the Ryukyuan languages
Ryukyuan languages
and was treated as a language isolate in the past. The earliest attested form of the language, Old Japanese, dates to the 8th century. Japanese phonology
Japanese phonology
is characterized by a relatively small number of vowel phonemes, frequent gemination, and a distinctive pitch accent system. The modern Japanese language
Japanese language
has a tripartite writing system using hiragana, katakana, and kanji. The language includes native Japanese words and a large number of Chinese cognates. In Japan the adult literacy rate in the Japanese language
Japanese language
exceeds 99%.[28] Dozens of Japanese dialects
Japanese dialects
are spoken in regions of Japan. Religion[edit] Main article: Religion in Japan

A Shinto
festival in Hyōgo Prefecture

Japanese religion has traditionally been syncretic in nature, combining elements of Buddhism
and Shinto
(Shinbutsu-shūgō).[29] Shinto, a polytheistic religion with no book of religious canon, is Japan's native religion. Shinto
was one of the traditional grounds for the right to the throne of the Japanese imperial family, and was codified as the state religion in 1868 (State Shinto), but was abolished by the American occupation in 1945. Mahayana Buddhism
came to Japan
in the sixth century and evolved into many different sects. Today, the largest form of Buddhism
among Japanese people
Japanese people
is the Jōdo Shinshū sect founded by Shinran.[30] A large majority of Japanese people
Japanese people
profess to believe in both Shinto and Buddhism.[31][32][33] Japanese people's religion functions mostly as a foundation for mythology, traditions, and neighborhood activities, rather than as the single source of moral guidelines for one's life.[citation needed] About one million, or slightly under 1%, of Japan's population are Christians.[34][35] A larger proportion of members of the Japanese diaspora practice Christianity; about 60% of Japanese Brazilians
Japanese Brazilians
and 90% of Japanese Mexicans are Roman Catholics,[36][37] while about 37% of Japanese Americans
Japanese Americans
are Christians (33% Protestant
and 4% Catholic).[38] Literature[edit] Main article: Japanese literature

Bisque doll
Bisque doll
of Momotarō, a character from Japanese literature
Japanese literature
and folklore

Certain genres of writing originated in and are often associated with Japanese society. These include the haiku, tanka, and I Novel, although modern writers generally avoid these writing styles. Historically, many works have sought to capture or codify traditional Japanese cultural values and aesthetics. Some of the most famous of these include Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji
The Tale of Genji
(1021), about Heian court culture; Miyamoto Musashi's The Book of Five Rings
The Book of Five Rings
(1645), concerning military strategy; Matsuo Bashō's Oku no Hosomichi
Oku no Hosomichi
(1691), a travelogue; and Jun'ichirō Tanizaki's essay "In Praise of Shadows" (1933), which contrasts Eastern and Western cultures. Following the opening of Japan
to the West in 1854, some works of this style were written in English by natives of Japan; they include Bushido: The Soul of Japan
by Nitobe Inazō
Nitobe Inazō
(1900), concerning samurai ethics, and The Book of Tea
The Book of Tea
by Okakura Kakuzo
Okakura Kakuzo
(1906), which deals with the philosophical implications of the Japanese tea ceremony. Western observers have often attempted to evaluate Japanese society as well, to varying degrees of success; one of the most well-known and controversial works resulting from this is Ruth Benedict's The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (1946). Twentieth-century Japanese writers recorded changes in Japanese society through their works. Some of the most notable authors included Natsume Sōseki, Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, Osamu Dazai, Fumiko Enchi, Akiko Yosano, Yukio Mishima, and Ryōtarō Shiba. Popular contemporary authors such as Ryū Murakami, Haruki Murakami, and Banana Yoshimoto have been translated into many languages and enjoy international followings, and Yasunari Kawabata
Yasunari Kawabata
and Kenzaburō Ōe
Kenzaburō Ōe
were awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Arts[edit] Main articles: Japanese art
Japanese art
and Japanese architecture

The print Red Fuji from Katsushika Hokusai's series, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji

Decorative arts in Japan
date back to prehistoric times. Jōmon pottery includes examples with elaborate ornamentation. In the Yayoi period, artisans produced mirrors, spears, and ceremonial bells known as dōtaku. Later burial mounds, or kofun, preserve characteristic clay haniwa, as well as wall paintings. Beginning in the Nara period, painting, calligraphy, and sculpture flourished under strong Confucian and Buddhist influences from China. Among the architectural achievements of this period are the Hōryū-ji and the Yakushi-ji, two Buddhist temples in Nara Prefecture. After the cessation of official relations with the Tang dynasty
Tang dynasty
in the ninth century, Japanese art
Japanese art
and architecture gradually became less influenced by China. Extravagant art and clothing was commissioned by nobles to decorate their court, and although the aristocracy was quite limited in size and power, many of these pieces are still extant. After the Tōdai-ji
was attacked and burned during the Genpei War, a special office of restoration was founded, and the Tōdai-ji
became an important artistic center. The leading masters of the time were Unkei and Kaikei. Painting advanced in the Muromachi period
Muromachi period
in the form of ink wash painting under the influence of Zen Buddhism
as practiced by such masters as Sesshū Tōyō. Zen Buddhist tenets were also elaborated into the tea ceremony during the Sengoku period. During the Edo period, the polychrome painting screens of the Kanō school
Kanō school
were made influential thanks to their powerful patrons (including the Tokugawas). Popular artists created ukiyo-e, woodblock prints for sale to commoners in the flourishing cities. Pottery
such as Imari ware
Imari ware
was highly valued as far away as Europe. In theater, Noh
is a traditional, spare dramatic form that developed in tandem with kyōgen farce. In stark contrast to the restrained refinement of noh, kabuki, an "explosion of color", uses every possible stage trick for dramatic effect. Plays include sensational events such as suicides, and many such works were performed in both kabuki and bunraku puppet theaters. Since the Meiji Restoration, Japan
has absorbed elements of Western culture and has given them a "Japanese" feel or modification into it. Its modern decorative, practical and performing arts works span a spectrum ranging from the traditions of Japan
to purely Western modes. Products of popular culture, including J-pop, J-rock, manga and anime have found audiences and fans around the world. History[edit] Theories of origins[edit]

Shakōki-dogū (遮光器土偶) (1000–400 BC), "goggle-eyed type" figurine. Tokyo National Museum.

Main article: Genetic and anthropometric studies on Japanese people Archaeological evidence indicates that Stone Age
Stone Age
people lived in the Japanese archipelago
Japanese archipelago
during the Paleolithic
period between 39,000 and 21,000 years ago.[39][40] Japan
was then connected to mainland Asia
by at least one land bridge, and nomadic hunter-gatherers crossed to Japan. Flint tools and bony implements of this era have been excavated in Japan.[41][42] In the 18th century, Arai Hakuseki
Arai Hakuseki
suggested that the ancient stone tools in Japan
were left behind by the Shukushin. Later, Philipp Franz von Siebold argued that the Ainu people
Ainu people
were indigenous to Japan.[43] Iha Fuyū
Iha Fuyū
suggested that Japanese and Ryukyuan people
Ryukyuan people
have the same ethnic origin, based on his 1906 research on the Ryukyuan languages.[44] In the Taishō period, Torii Ryūzō
Torii Ryūzō
claimed that Yamato people
Yamato people
used Yayoi pottery and Ainu used Jōmon pottery.[43] After World War II, Kotondo Hasebe and Hisashi Suzuki claimed that the origin of Japanese people
Japanese people
was not newcomers in the Yayoi period
Yayoi period
(300 BCE – 300 CE) but the people in the Jōmon period.[45] However, Kazuro Hanihara announced a new racial admixture theory in 1984[45] and a "dual structure model" in 1991.[46] According to Hanihara, modern Japanese lineages began with Jōmon people, who moved into the Japanese archipelago
Japanese archipelago
during Paleolithic
times from their homeland in southeast Asia, followed by a second wave of immigration, from northeast Asia
to Japan
during the Yayoi period. Following a population expansion in Neolithic
times, these newcomers then found their way to the Japanese archipelago
Japanese archipelago
sometime during the Yayoi period. As a result, admixture was common in the island regions of Kyūshū, Shikoku, and Honshū, but did not prevail in the outlying islands of Okinawa
and Hokkaidō, and the Ryukyuan and Ainu people continued to dominate there. Mark J. Hudson claims that the main ethnic image of Japanese people
Japanese people
was biologically and linguistically formed from 400 BCE to 1,200 CE.[45] Currently, the most well-regarded theory is that present-day Japanese are descendants of both the indigenous Jōmon people
Jōmon people
and the immigrant Yayoi people. Jōmon people[edit] Some of the world's oldest known pottery pieces were developed by the Jōmon people
Jōmon people
in the Upper Paleolithic
period, dating back as far as 16,000 years. The name "Jōmon" (縄文 Jōmon) means "cord-impressed pattern", and comes from the characteristic markings found on the pottery. The Jōmon people
Jōmon people
were Mesolithic
hunter-gatherers, though at least one middle to late Jōmon site (Minami Mizote (南溝手), ca. 1200–1000 BC) had a primitive rice-growing agriculture. They relied primarily on fish for protein. Some, including anthropologist Joseph Powell, believe that the Jōmon migrated from South Asia
or Southeast Asia
and became the Ainu of today.[47] Research suggests that the Ainu retain a certain degree of uniqueness in their genetic make-up, while having some affinities with other regional populations in Japan
as well as the Nivkhs of the Russian Far East. Mark J. Hudson posits that Japan
was settled by a Proto-Mongoloid population in the Pleistocene
who became the Jōmon, and that their features can be seen in the Ainu and Ryukyuan people.[48] The Jōmon shared some physical characteristics, such as relatively abundant body hair, with Caucasians, but anthropological genetics shows them to derive from a separate genetic lineage from that of Europeans.[49] Yayoi people[edit] Beginning around 300 BC, the Yayoi people
Yayoi people
entered the Japanese islands and intermingled with the Jōmon. The Yayoi brought wet-rice farming and advanced bronze and iron technology to Japan. The more productive paddy field systems allowed the communities to support larger populations and spread over time, in turn becoming the basis for more advanced institutions and heralding the new civilization of the succeeding Kofun
period. The estimated population of Japan
in the late Jōmon period
Jōmon period
was about one hundred thousand, compared to about three million by the Nara period. Taking the growth rates of hunting and agricultural societies into account, it is calculated that about one and half million immigrants moved to Japan
in the period.[citation needed] Colonialism[edit] See also: Japanese colonial empire
Japanese colonial empire
and Greater East Asia
Co-Prosperity Sphere

Location of Imperial Japan

During the Japanese colonial period of 1895 to 1945, the phrase "Japanese people" was used to refer not only to residents of the Japanese archipelago, but also to people from colonies who held Japanese citizenship, such as Taiwanese people
Taiwanese people
and Korean people. The official term used to refer to ethnic Japanese during this period was "inland people" (内地人, naichijin). Such linguistic distinctions facilitated forced assimilation of colonized ethnic identities into a single Imperial Japanese identity.[50] After the end of World War II, many Nivkh people
Nivkh people
and Orok people
Orok people
from southern Sakhalin, who held Japanese citizenship in Karafuto Prefecture, were forced to repatriate to Hokkaidō
by the Soviet Union as a part of Japanese people. On the other hand, many Sakhalin
Koreans who had held Japanese citizenship until the end of the war were left stateless by the Soviet occupation.[51] Citizenship[edit] Article 10 of the Constitution of Japan
defines the term "Japanese" based upon Japanese nationality.[52] The concept of "ethnic groups" in Japanese census statistics differs from the concept applied in many other countries. For example, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Census queries the respondent's "ethnic or racial background", regardless of nationality.[53] The Japanese Statistics Bureau, however, asks only about nationality in the census. Because the census equates nationality with ethnicity, its figures erroneously assume that naturalized Japanese citizens and Japanese nationals with multi-ethnic backgrounds are ethnically Japanese.[citation needed] John Lie, Eiji Oguma, and other scholars problematize the widespread belief that Japan
is ethnically homogeneous, arguing that it is more accurate to describe Japan
as a multiethnic society,[54][55] although such claims have long been rejected by conservative elements of Japanese society such as former Japanese Prime Minister Tarō Asō, who once described Japan
as being a nation of "one race, one civilization, one language and one culture".[56] Diaspora[edit] Main article: Japanese diaspora

The Japantown
Peace Plaza during the Northern California
Cherry Blossom Festival

The term nikkeijin (日系人) is used to refer to Japanese people
Japanese people
who emigrated from Japan
and their descendants. Emigration from Japan
was recorded as early as the 12th century to the Philippines
and Borneo,[57] and in the 16th and 17th centuries, thousands of traders from Japan
also migrated to the Philippines
and assimilated into the local population.[58]:pp. 52–3 However, migration of Japanese people
Japanese people
did not become a mass phenomenon until the Meiji era, when Japanese people
Japanese people
began to go to Brazil, the United States, the Philippines, China, Canada, and Peru. There was also significant emigration to the territories of the Empire of Japan during the colonial period, but most of these emigrants and settlers repatriated to Japan
after the end of World War II
World War II
in Asia.[59] According to the Association of Nikkei and Japanese Abroad, there are about 2.5 million nikkeijin living in their adopted countries. The largest of these foreign communities are in the Brazilian states of São Paulo and Paraná.[60] There are also significant cohesive Japanese communities in the Philippines,[61] East Malaysia, Peru, Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Misiones
in Argentina, the U.S states of Hawaii, California, and Washington, and the Canadian cities of Vancouver
and Toronto. Separately, the number of Japanese citizens living abroad is over one million according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. See also[edit]


Ethnic groups of Japan Ethnic issues in Japan Foreign-born Japanese Japantown List of Japanese people Nihonjinron Demographics of Japan

Ainu people Burakumin Dekasegi Ryukyuan people Yamato people, the dominant majority

Azumi people, an ancient group of peoples who inhabited parts of northern Kyushu Emishi, a group of people who lived in the northeastern Tōhoku region of Japan Kuzu, an ancient people of Japan
believed to have lived along the Yoshino River


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