What is the Japanese name for Japan?

And the answer: Nippon (or Nihon).

In Japan, the name of the country is usually pronounced Nippon or Nihon. The word "Japan" comes from various accounts by European traders in the Middle Ages, who transcribed what they heard from locals who spoke Chinese and Malay languages.      

Photo credit: History.com

Nippon and Nihon are phrases commonly used to refer to Japan. Nihon and Japan originate from the same word, each translating to "sun origin." As such, the country has also earned the nickname "Land of the Rising Sun." The nickname dates back to the days of western expansion, when Marco Polo learned of the wonders of this island nation through traders in Southern China. While Polo never actually travelled to Japan, he learned that it lay in the direction of the rising sun, and was accordingly referred to as Ji-pang or Zu-pang.

Japan is a nation with individuality to spare. Alongside its frequent earthquakes and breathtaking natural landscapes is a bustling metropolitan culture whose innovation has pushed the rest of the world further for decades. Here are 4 facts about the island nation which you may not know:

  1. Thousands of sika deer roam the streets of Nara, Japan. These kind creatures were once thought to be of divine origin, and are now cherished as a national treasure. They're often seen bowing to tourists in exchange for crackers.
  2. The largest seafood market in the world is the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. The site opens most mornings at 3 AM, and begins its famed wholesale tuna auction around 5 AM. And speaking of largest...
  3. Tokyo is the most populated city in the world. With over 38 million people in the metro area alone, think twice before you hop on a commuter train during rush hour.
  4. There's an island of rabbits. Among the 7,000 islands that comprise the country, one of them is a bit more, well, unique. Okunoshima in the Inland Sea is best-known for their hoppy friends, who happily roam predator-free across the island.

To learn more about Japan and its history, check out the video below.

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