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August 28, 2006



日本ってどんな国? vol.6 


Natural Features of Japan 2
Located in the monsoon zone of the eastern coast of the Asian continent, the most notable features of the climate of the Japanese archipelago are the wide range of yearly temperatures and the large amount of rainfall. However, because of the complexity of the land configuration, there are numerous regional differences throughout the seasons.

Spring; When low-pressure areas pass over the Pacific coast of Japan in March, the temperature rises with each rainfall. When low-pressure areas start to develop over the Sea of Japan, the strong wind from the south called haru ichiban (the first tiding of spring) blows over Japan. Spring is blossom time, and cherry-blossom viewing(hanami)is a popular pastime.

Summer; The onset of the rainy (baiu or tsuyu) takes place around early June. It starts in the southern part of Japan and moves northward. With the end of the rain around 20 July, the Ogasawara air masses blanket Japan, and the weather takes on a summer Pattern. The peak of summer is late July, and the summer heat lingers on during August.







Last updated  August 30, 2006 01:16:06 AM
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August 27, 2006



日本ってどんな国? vol.5 


Natural Features of Japan 1
The chief feature of the Japanese archipelago is its geological instability, including frequent volcanic activity, caused by the 86 active volcanoes, and many earthquakes. Another distinctive characteristic of the topography is the fact that the Japanese archipelago is made up largely of steep mountain districts with very few plains.





Last updated  August 30, 2006 12:37:00 AM
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July 27, 2006

Itsukushima Shinem(1996).The island of Itsukushima, in the Seto inland sea, has been a holy place of Shintoism since the earliest times. The first shrine buildings here were probably erected in the 6th century. The present shrine dates from the 13th century and the harmoniously arranged buildings reveal great artistic and technical skill. The shrine plays on the contrasts in colour and form between mountains and sea and illustrates the Japanese concept of scenic beauty, which combines nature and human creativity.


historic momument in Nara
Historic temples and shrines in and around Nara(1998). Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784. During this period the framework of national government was consolidated and Nara enjoyed great prosperity, emerging as the fountainhead of Japanese culture. The city's historic monuments - Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and the excavated remains of the great Imperial Palace - provide a vivid picture of life in the Japanese capital in the 8th century, a period of profound political and cultural change.

歴史的建造物と奈良周囲の寺社(1998)。奈良は710年から784年まで日本の首都であった。 この期間に中央政府の組織構造は強化され、奈良は日本文化の源であることを明らかにしつつ、素晴らしい繁栄を謳歌した。都市の歴史的な記念碑-仏教の寺院、神道の神社および巨大な帝国宮殿の発掘遺跡-は、深遠な政治的、文化的変遷期間である8世紀の日本の首都の生活を鮮やかに描き出している。

Shrines and temples of Nikko(1999). Pictured here is the Yomeimon, the main gate of the Toshogu Shrine at Nikko. The shrines and temples of Nikko, together with their natural surroundings, have for centuries been a sacred site known for its architectural and decorative masterpieces. They are closely associated with the history of the Tokugawa Shoguns.

日光の寺社(1999)。写真は日光東照宮の代表的な門である陽明門。周りの自然な環境とともに、日光の寺社は何世紀にも渡り、建築および装飾的傑作として知られてきた、神聖な場所である。 彼らは徳川将軍らの歴史と密接に関連付けられる。

Gusuku(castle) sites and related properities of the Kingdom of Ryukyu(2002). Five hundred years of Ryukyuan history (12th-17th century) are represented by this group of sites and monuments. The ruins of the castles, on imposing elevated sites, are evidence for the social structure over much of that period, while the sacred sites provide mute testimony to the rare survival of an ancient form of religion into the modern age. The wide- ranging economic and cultural contacts of the Ryukyu Islands over that period gave rise to a unique culture.


Sacred sites and pilgrimage routes in the Kii mountain range(2004). Set in the dense forests of the Kii Mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean, three sacred sites - Yoshino and Omine, Kumano Sanzan, and Koyasan - linked by pilgrimage routes to the ancient capital cities of Nara and Kyoto, reflect the fusion of Shinto, rooted in the ancient tradition of nature worship in Japan, and Buddhism, which was introduced to Japan from China and the Korean peninsula. The sites (495.3-ha) and their surrounding forest landscape reflect a persistent and extraordinarily well-documented tradition of sacred mountains over 1,200 years. The area, with its abundance of streams, rivers and waterfalls, is still part of the living culture of Japan and is much visited for ritual purposes and hiking, with up to 15 million visitors annually. Each of the three sites contains shrines, some of which were founded as early as the 9th century.

紀伊山地の霊場と参詣道(2004)。太平洋を見渡す霧深い紀伊山地に位置し、参詣道によって古代首都である奈良・京都につながる3つの神聖な場所-吉野・大峯、熊野三山、および高野山-は、日本の古代伝統である自然崇拝と中国および朝鮮半島から日本にもたらされた仏教に根ざす、神道の融合を反映している。この地(495.3ヘクタール)とそれを取り巻く周囲の森林景色は1,200年にわたる永続的で、十分裏づけされた神聖な山の伝統を反映している。 豊富な流水、川や滝に恵まれたこの地は、依然として生きた日本文化の一部分であり、毎年15,000,000人もの訪問者が儀式的行事や、ハイキングのために訪ずれる。3つの地域ごとに神社があり、そのなかには早くも9世紀に建てられたものもある。

Shiretoko(2005). Shiretoko Peninsula is located in the northeast of Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. The site includes the land from the central part of the Peninsula to its tip (Shiretoko Cape) and the surrounding marine area. It provides an outstanding example of the interaction of marine and terrestrial ecosystems as well as extraordinary ecosystem productivity largely influenced by the formation of seasonal sea ice at the lowest latitude in the northern hemisphere. It has particular importance for a number of marine and terrestrial species, some of them endangered and endemic, such as the Blackiston’s Fish owl and the Viola kitamiana plant. The site is globally important for threatened sea birds and migratory birds, a number of salmonid species, and for a number of marine mammals, including the Steller’s sea lion, and some cetacean species.

知床半島(2005)。知床半島は日本の最北の島、北海道の北東にある。この地は半島の中央部分からの先端部分(知床岬)および周囲の海洋区域を含む。北半球の最低緯度で季節性の海氷の形成によって主に影響を受ける、驚くべき生態系の生産性と同様に、陸海生態系の相互作用の顕著な例を提示している。それは多くの海と陸の生物にとって特に重要であり、その中にはBlackiston’s fish owlというフクロウの一種や Viola kitamiana plantという植物など、絶滅の危機にさらされた種もある。この地は絶滅の危機にある海鳥や渡り鳥、多くのサケ科魚類、トドを含む多くの海洋哺乳類、鯨種にとって世界的に重要である。

Last updated  August 15, 2006 12:58:20 AM
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July 26, 2006
World Heritage Sites in Japan

As of August 2005, 13 places in Japan had been registered as World Heritage sites. The year of registration is shown in parenthesis.


himeji castle
Himeji Castle(1993). Pictured here, at right, is the main donjon. Himeji-jo is the finest surviving example of early 17th-century Japanese castle architecture, comprising 83 buildings with highly developed systems of defence and ingenious protection devices dating from the beginning of the Shogun period. It is a masterpiece of construction in wood, combining function with aesthetic appeal, both in its elegant appearance unified by the white plastered earthen walls and in the subtlety of the relationships between the building masses and the multiple roof layers.


Horyuji and other temples in the area(1993). There are around 48 Buddhist monuments in the Horyu-ji area, in Nara Prefecture. Several date from the late 7th or early 8th century, making them some of the oldest surviving wooden buildings in the world. These masterpieces of wooden architecture are important not only for the history of art, since they illustrate the adaptation of Chinese Buddhist architecture and layout to Japanese culture, but also for the history of religion, since their construction coincided with the introduction of Buddhism to Japan from China by way of the Korean peninsula.

法隆寺とその他の寺(1993)。良県の法隆寺地区にはおよそ48の仏像がある。 世界の最古の残存している木造建築のうちのいくつかは7世紀終わりから8世紀初めのものである。 これらの木造建築の傑作は中国仏教建築や設計が日本文化に順応したことを説明しているという、芸術の歴史としてだけの重要性を持つのではなく、その構造が、朝鮮半島を経由した中国から日本への仏教の導入と一致したため、宗教の歴史という理由で重要である。

Yakushima(1993). Pictured here is an ancient cryptomeria tree which is thought to be over 3,000 years old.Located in the interior of Yaku Island, at the meeting-point of the palaearctic and oriental biotic regions, Yakushima exhibits a rich flora, with some 1,900 species and subspecies, including ancient specimens of the sugi (Japanese cedar). It also contains a remnant of a warm-temperate ancient forest that is unique in this region.


Shirakami Mountains(1993). Situated in the mountains of northern Honshu, this trackless site includes the last virgin remains of the cool-temperate forest of Siebold's beech trees that once covered the hills and mountain slopes of northern Japan. The black bear, the serow and 87 species of birds can be found in this forest.


historic momument in kyoto
Historic temples and shrines in and around Kyoto(1994). Built in A.D. 794 on the model of the capitals of ancient China, Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan from its foundation until the middle of the 19th century. As the centre of Japanese culture for more than 1,000 years, Kyoto illustrates the development of Japanese wooden architecture, particularly religious architecture, and the art of Japanese gardens, which has influenced landscape gardening the world over.

京都周辺の歴史的寺社(1994)。古代中国の首都をモデルとしてA.D. 794に造られ、19世紀の半ばまで京都はその創始から日本の帝国首都だった。 1,000年以上、日本文化の中心として、京都は日本の木造建築、特に宗教建築、造園術を発達させ、世界に影響を及ぼした。

shirakawa gokayama
Villages of Shirakawa and Gokayama(1995). Located in a mountainous region that was cut off from the rest of the world for a long period of time, these villages with their Gassho-style houses subsisted on the cultivation of mulberry trees and the rearing of silkworms. The large houses with their steeply pitched thatched roofs are the only examples of their kind in Japan. Despite economic upheavals, the villages of Ogimachi, Ainokura and Suganuma are outstanding examples of a traditional way of life perfectly adapted to the environment and people's social and economic circumstances.

白川郷と五箇山(1995)。長い期間の他の国々から断切された山地に位置し、合掌様式の家に住むこの村の人々はクワの栽培と養蚕で生計を立てた。急角度に立て付けられたかやぶき屋根を持つ大きな家は日本で唯一の例である。 経済的変動にもかかわらず、荻町、相倉、菅沼の町は、環境と人の社会的、経済的情況に完全に適応できる、伝統的生き方の顕著な例である。

Hiroshima Peace Memorial(1996). Pictured here is the Atomic Bomb Dome. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) was the only structure left standing in the area where the first atomic bomb exploded on 6 August 1945. Through the efforts of many people, including those of the city of Hiroshima, it has been preserved in the same state as immediately after the bombing. Not only is it a stark and powerful symbol of the most destructive force ever created by humankind; it also expresses the hope for world peace and the ultimate elimination of all nuclear weapons.


Last updated  August 14, 2006 11:05:17 PM
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July 25, 2006
Japan(called Nihon or Nippon in Japanese) consists of an archipelago extending approximately from southwest to northeast and ranging from 20°25’ to 45°33’ north latitude. It lies off the east coast of the Asian continent. The total land area is 377,873 square kilometers, which is only slightly larger than that of Finland, Vietnam, or Malaysia and only one twenty-fifth that of the United States. The four major islands of Japan are Hokkaido, Honsyu,Shikoku, and kyusyu. The areas of the main geographical divisions of Japan (including offshore islands under their administrative control) are as follows: Hokkaido 83,453 sq km, Honsyu 231,078 sq km, Shikoku 18,788 sq km, Kyusyu 42,165 sq km, and Okinawa Prefecture 2,271 sq km. Japan set its territorial limit at 12 nautical miles from the coast in 1977.
Note; The northernmost Japanese islands of Kunashiri, Etorofu, the Habomai Islands, and Shikotan were occupied by the Soviet Union after the end of World War 2 and still occupied by the Russian Federation today.

The capital of Japan is Tokyo, located on the Kanto Plain on the Pacific coast of central Honshu. Tokyo is the site of the Imperial Palace, the Diet, and the Supreme Court. As Japan’s economic center, Tokyo hosts the head offices of most large Japanese corporation and media organizations. Area: 2,102 sq km; pop:12,219,000(2002).

At the time of the Meiji Restoration(1868) Japan’s population was about 33 million. In 2002 it was 127,435, 000, ninth largest in the world. The population density per square kilometer was 341 persons in 2001. The density of the Japanese population per unit area under cultivation is the highest in the world, because over two-thirds of Japan is occupied by mountainous terrain, and alluvial plains occupy only 13 percent.

Prefectural System
After the Meiji Restoration the country was administratively reorganized into a prefectural system and the feudal domains were abolished. At present Japan is administratively divided into 47 prefectures, including 1 to (Tokyo To), 1 do (Hokkaido), 2 fu (Osaka Fu and Kyoto Fu), and 43 ken.

日本(日本語でニホン、またはニッポンと呼ばれる)は、ほぼ南東から北西に広がり、北緯20°25’ から45°33に及ぶ列島で形成されている。またアジア大陸の東側に位置している。総面積は377,873平方キロメートルであり、フィンランドやベトナム、マレーシアよりもわずかに大きく、アメリカの1/25に過ぎない。日本は主に北海道、本州、四国、九州の4島で成り立っている。主要な地理的境界線で区切られた日本の地域面積(日本領域下の離島を含む)は北海道が83,453平方km、本州231,078平方km、四国18,788平方km、九州42,165平方km、沖縄県2,271平方kmである。

 日本の首都である東京は、本州の中心で太平洋沿いの関東平野に位置する。東京には皇居、国会、最高裁判所がある。日本の経済の中心地として、ほとんどの日本大企業とマスコミ組織の本社が東京に置かれている。総面積は2,102 平方kmで、人口は12,219,000人である(2002)。



Last updated  August 13, 2006 11:43:47 PM
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July 23, 2006




Japan is an island nation located in the Pacific Ocean east of the Asian continent. Blessed with diverse natural beauty, most of the land is mountainous and there are many swift-flowting rivers. Separated from each other by mountains and the sea, Japan's many regions over the centuries developed their own characteristic dialects and customs.
Japan experienses four distinct seasons, and from ancient times its people have found much pleasure in their appreciation of the characteristic colors of each. Seasonal images play a central role in much of traditional Japanese poetry, particularly HAIKU. Contemplation of the colors of the season -as embodied in innumerable familiar images: a single flower displayed in the alcove, a flower-petal-shaped slice of raw fish, a flower-blossom-shaped confection (pictured above)- has long warmed and calmed hearts and minds.





Last updated  July 26, 2006 12:03:26 AM
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