world map

Japan

The Land of the Rising Sun and the many traffic lights

date of entry 26/06/2012
mileage 801,866

capital Tokio

area 377.835 km²

population 2010

GDP 5.869 Bill. US-Dollar

official language Japanese

Entering Japan proved to be difficult for Otto. The country does not recognise foreign vehicle registrations, which meant that the official route was closed to him. So Gunther Holtorf resorted to trickery. He didn’t travel directly to Japan from the Philippines, but instead stopped over in South Korea. There he boarded a local ferry and sneaked Otto into Japan unnoticed. He arrived at a small port in western Japan and, with the help of a few friends, was able to start his journey.
  • The Hiroshima Peace Memorial, known as the Atomic Bomb Dome, also commemorates those who died. It consists of the ruined Chamber of Commerce building in Hiroshima which has been left in the state it was found immediately after the bomb was dropped.
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  • Gunther Holtorf’s experience of Japan was of a country which combines tradition with the fast pace of life of an industrial nation.
    1  of  21
  • Japan is one of the most highly developed countries on earth, but it remains true to its traditions.
    2  of  21
  • Behind the rice field, a company logo can be seen. The traditional method of cultivating rice came originally from China.
    3  of  21
  • Since the 1950s, the Tokyo Tower has stood out among the city’s skyscrapers. The communications tower, which is more than 332 metres high, is both a tourist attraction and an important landmark in the Japanese capital.
    4  of  21
  • The two main religions in the country are Shinto, a faith which is practised almost exclusively in Japan, and Buddhism.
    5  of  21
  • The temples are highly susceptible to weather damage and only last for a short time before they have to be rebuilt.
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  • Gunther Holtorf was struck by the huge numbers of people in the East Asian state. "The country seems to be overpopulated," he said. More than 126 million people live on the islands in the Pacific.
    7  of  21
  • The shortage of land suitable for building exacerbates the situation: "Only the flat land between the coastal region and the mountains is suitable for settlement," said Holtorf. While the ocean restricts the available options on one side, it is not possible to build on the mountain slopes on the other side because of the risk of landslides.
    8  of  21
  • In addition to developing robots, the Japanese are focusing on other ways of making their daily lives more high-tech. One example is this row of vending machines.
    9  of  21
  • Japan is well known for its advanced education system. As a result of the high expectations of their families and of society as a whole, young people have to be extremely disciplined. But despite the pressure, these children are still able to have a good laugh.
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  • The kimono, the traditional dress of the Japanese, is thousands of years old. Nowadays it is worn less often in everyday life by men and women and is generally reserved for special occasions.
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  • In the same way as in many other industrial nations, Japanese society is ageing.
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  • Western countries should take note of another trend in Japanese society. After years of economic growth, large numbers of 20 to 30-year-olds have started to feel that they have no prospects. Many of these so-called "parasite singles" in Japan are still living with their parents and have no permanent job.
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  • Gunther Holtorf describes his journey through Japan as "interesting, occasionally difficult, but always different".
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  • He says that if he had the chance to repeat his trip today, he wouldn’t hesitate.
    15  of  21
  • As a result of the influence of Zen, a school of Buddhism in Japan, garden design is a key aspect of Japanese culture. Ikebana, the art of flower arranging, is also very important in Japan.
    16  of  21
  • Lake Saiko is on the largest Japanese island of Honshū. Together with four other lakes, it surrounds the volcano, Mount Fuji.
    17  of  21
  • In Japan, you can find stunning scenery as the backdrop to an ordinary car park. As always, Otto the off-roader is equipped with everything that a traveller could need.
    18  of  21
  • The Kintai bridge is in the western Japanese city of Iwakuni. It links the two parts of the city, which are separated by the Nishiki river.
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  • This memorial honours the victims of one of the two atom bombs dropped by US forces in August 1945. According to estimates, the bomb killed as many as 166,000 people in Hiroshima alone.
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  • Video: Japan – trickery to enter a country full of traffic lights

Otto was here before ...

Russia

date of entry 02 August 2012
mileage 807,740

Baltic states

date of entry 29 August 2012
mileage 818,663

Poland

date of entry 31 August 2012
mileage 819,270

Germany

date of entry 01 September 2012
mileage 819,772

South Korea

date of entry 21 November 2012
mileage 827,493

Germany

date of entry 07 January 2013
mileage 827,539

Switzerland / Liechtenstein

date of entry 27 January 2013
mileage 829,955

France / Monaco

date of entry 28 January 2013
mileage 830,477

Spain / Andorra

date of entry 02 February 2013
mileage 831,672

Gibraltar

date of entry 06 February 2013
mileage 832,915

Morocco

date of entry 07 February 2013
mileage 833,068

Western Sahara

date of entry 13 February 2013
mileage 835,032

Mauritania

date of entry 17 February 2013
mileage 836,221

Senegal

date of entry 21 February 2013
mileage 836,890

Mali

date of entry 23 February 2013
mileage 837,440

Guinea

date of entry 28 February 2013
mileage 838,752