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Question from foreigner about Japan

Q ; What are the most populous cities in Japan ?

A ; A large majority of Japanese people live in urban areas. About 27% of the population lives in Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures.
Tokyo is the most populous city, with about 13.1 million people. This is followed by Yokohama, Osaka and Nagoya, all west of Tokyo and on island of Honshu.
When talking about Tokyo, the city is sometimes divided into two part: Shitamachi and Yamanote. Shitamachi means “lower town”. It refers to the low parts of Tokyo on the east side. This is where traditional working-class neighborhoods can be found. Yamanote means “mountain hand”. It is the part of the midtown area where the samurai and lords lived in the Edo Period.

…Tokyo is special district called Tokyo-to, and it covers not only the city of Tokyo but the mountainous area called Okutama located west of the metropolis.

Q ; What is a butsudan ?

A ; A butsudan is a Buddhist altar for praying to family members who have died. It is often decorated with candles and food offerings and is a special place in Japanese homes. Some homes also have a Shinto kamidana, where family members pray for safety and prosperity. The kamidana altar is decorated with rice and sake.

Q ; Does it cost a lot to live in Japan ?

A ; Japanese have the 15th highest average income in the world, but it costs more to live in Tokyo than any other city in the world. If the cost of living in New York City is 100 on an index, Tokyo is 152 and Osaka is 146.
The average household spends 21.8%. of its income on food, about 4% each on education, utilities and clothes, and 11.2%. on culture and entertainment. But if you want to save money, you can. There are many discount stores in Japan. And you can even get your hair cut for as little as \1,000.

Q ; Is food expensive in Japan ?

A ; Japan imports about 60% of its food. Imported items are mainly fish, meat, corn, wheat and coffee. Due to the variability of the exchange rate and other unpredictable factors, Japan has little control over the ultimate price of imported products.
Most of the staples of the Japanese diet are produced in the country, including 92% of rice, 98% of eggs, 88% of vegetables, 67% of meat, and 66% of fish and shellfish.
The average household of 3.5 people spends an average of \78,059 (17.9% of income) per month on food. Because of the intense competition between the fast-food chains, prices are cheaper in Japan than in many other countries.
Interestingly, despite the imbalance between Japan’s food imports and exports, Japanese foods such as sushi, tofu, and green tea have become very popular overseas.

…Japan is a mountainous country with limited flatland, and over 130 million people live there.
Currently, there are 8.9 million people living in Tokyo’s 23 wards, with more than 37 million living in the Shuto-ken, or Greater Tokyo Area.

Q ; Is rice the most common ingredient of Japanese meals ?

A ; Yes. Almost all meals in Japan come with rice. There are usually side dishes that you eat with rice.
Rice is thought to be almost sacred and is still used in some ceremonies. Until the end of the Edo Period (1867), Buddhists in Japan did not eat meat. Instead, rice was used in many different ways: to make desserts, snacks, vinegar and sake.
When you eat Japanese food, you should try to finish the rice and the side dishes at about the same time. You can always tell when someone is not used to eating Japanese food because they either have a lot of rice left after eating their side dishes or a lot of side dishes left after eating their rice.
Sushi is the most popular rice dish. Most sushi is made with a small handful of rice and is topped with a small piece of seafood (raw or cooked), vegetable, or egg. Kaitenzushi shops, where the plates of sushi go around on a conveyor belt are common.
You can also have a bowl of rice with sashimi (raw fish) on top of it.
Onigiri is a homemade rice ball. Inside, it is filled with Japanese pickles, flakes of seafood or other ingredients. Usually the rice ball is wrapped in seaweed.

○Main Dishes
Tempura is one of the most well-known dishes. It is made by covering vegetables, seafood and other ingredients in batter and then deep-frying them in oil.

Tonkatsu is made by covering pork cutlets with a thick batter and flying them in oil. It is served with shredded cabbage and a sauce that is similar to steak sauce.

Sukiyaki is a famous dish made with thin slices of beef and vegetables. It is cooked in pot at the table. All the ingredients are put in the pot together and seasoned with soy sauce and sugar. Most people dip the pieces of cooked beef and vegetable in raw egg and soy sauce before eating them.

Shabu-shabu is another dish cooked at the table. It is also made from very thin slices of beef and vegetables. The ingredients are cooked briefly one at a time in boiling water, which is not as strongly flavored as sukiyaki, and then eaten immediately with soy sauce or a sesame or bitter orange dip.

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