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A land richly steeped in history and culture, legend attributes the creation of Japan to the sun goddess Amaterasu, whose claim to the throne by her grandson Emperor Jimmu in 660 B.C, was a traditional belief that constituted official recognition until 1945. The first indication of recorded history in Japan was around the year A.D. 400, when the ambitious Yamato clan based in Kyoto was successful in gaining control over several other key family groups in central and western Japan. The next several centuries were kept under the tight reign of this powerful clan, who succeeded in creating an imperial court similar to that of China, and whose authority was eventually undermined by influentialaristocratic families who vied for control.
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Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of China, Korea, and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea in the south. Its capital is Tokyo. It encompasses over 3,000 islands, the largest of which are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku. Most of Japan's islands are mountainous, and many are volcanic, including the highest peak, Mount Fuji. It has the world's 10th largest population, with nearly 128 million people. The Greater Tokyo Area, with over 30 million residents, is the largest metropolitan area in the world. Archaeological research indicates that people were living on the islands of Japan as early as the upper paleolithic period. The first written mention of Japan begins with brief appearances in Chinese history texts from the 1st century AD.
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