This collection of islands has fascinated travellers since Japan picked itself up from World War defeat, and became one of the leading economic and technological centres of the world. Ancient gods and traditional customs sit side by side with cutting edge technologies and trendy pop culture, and there is always something new to learn about Japan. From deformed dogs and perfect melons, to empty orchestras and bizarre meal-time etiquette, here are 23 interesting facts about Japan you probably never knew.

Japan has been inhabited since 30,000 B.C.

Source: Wikipedia

An estimated 127million people live in Japan. It has the 10th largest population in the world.

Source: Wikipedia

70% of Japan is mountainous – including over 100 active volcanoes

Source:  Kyoto University & Volcano Discovery

A melon can sell for over $400 in Japan.

Source: BBC News

Japan imports 85% of Jamaica's annual coffee production.

Source: Japanese Embassy

Japan has a 99.9% literacy rate among children aged 15 years and over.

Source: Wikipedia

Slupring your noodles loudly in Japan is considered evidence of enjoying your meal.

Source: Japan Guide

Tokyo has the world's largest fish market, handling over 2000tonnes of marine produce daily.

Source: Japan Guide

Japanese people used to shave their heads as a sign of penance for violating society’s rules and breaching honour.

Source: International Business Times

Raised floors help indicate where you should take off your shoes in Japanese buildings.

Source: Wikipedia

"Geisha" means "person of the arts" and the first Geisha were actually men.

Source: Wikipedia

At 83, the average life expectancy for Japanese people is 4 years higher than for Americans.

Source: Wikipedia

Basashi is a popular Japanese dish, consisting of raw horsemeat with ginger and onions.

Source: Wikipedia

About 1500 earthquakes strike Japan every year.

Source: Live Science

Whale meat is not actually a delicacy in Japan but they are still hunted for research purposes.

Source: Wikipedia

Excessive inbreeding of Japanese dogs has resulted in one of the world’s highest defect rates.

Source: New York Times

Since 1949, Japan has produced 19 winners of the Nobel Prize.

Source: Wikipedia

There are 6800 islands in Japan.

Source: Maps of the world

Japan produces 60% of the world's animated TV shows.

Source: Wikipedia

There are vending machines in Japan that dispense beer.

Source: Wikipedia

Japanese company Toyota is the third largest automobile producer in the world.

Source: BBC News

Japanese film The Hidden Fortress was the basis for Star Wars IV: A New Hope.

Source: Wikipedia

The term "Karaoke" means "empty orchestra" in Japanese.

Source: Wikipedia

Learn more and explore this archipelago with the Rough Guide to Japan.

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