Not to be confused with Javanese people.
|Regions with significant populations|
|Significant Japanese diaspora in:|
|Brazil||242,643 - 1,469,637|
|United Kingdom||67,998 (2015)|
|South Korea||36,708 (2014)|
|Hong Kong||27,429 (2015)|
|New Zealand||17,991 (2015)|
|Related ethnic groups|
Worldwide, approximately 129 million people are of Japanese descent; of these, approximately 125 million are residents of Japan.
People of Japanese ancestry who live outside Japan are referred to as nikkeijin (日系人), the Japanese diaspora.
Japanese people are one of the largest ethnic groups in the world.
Main article: Japanese language
The earliest attested form of the language, Old Japanese, dates to the 8th century.
The language includes native Japanese words and a large number of words derived from the Chinese language.
In Japan the adult literacy rate in the Japanese language exceeds 99%.
Dozens of Japanese dialects are spoken in regions of Japan.
Main article: Religion in Japan
Shinto, a polytheistic religion with no book of religious canon, is Japan's native religion.
Shinto was one of the traditional grounds for the right to the throne of the Japanese imperial family and was codified as the state religion in 1868 (State Shinto), but was abolished by the American occupation in 1945.
Mahayana Buddhism came to Japan in the sixth century and evolved into many different sects.
A large majority of Japanese people profess to believe in both Shinto and Buddhism.
A larger proportion of members of the Japanese diaspora practice Christianity; about 60% of Japanese Brazilians and 90% of Japanese Mexicans are Roman Catholics, while about 37% of Japanese Americans are Christians (33% Protestant and 4% Catholic).
Main article: Japanese literature
Certain genres of writing originated in and are often associated with Japanese society.
Historically, many works have sought to capture or codify traditional Japanese cultural values and aesthetics.
Some of the most famous of these include Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji (1021), about Heian court culture; Miyamoto Musashi's The Book of Five Rings (1645), concerning military strategy; Matsuo Bashō's Oku no Hosomichi (1691), a travelogue; and Jun'ichirō Tanizaki's essay "In Praise of Shadows" (1933), which contrasts Eastern and Western cultures.
Following the opening of Japan to the West in 1854, some works of this style were written in English by natives of Japan; they include Bushido: The Soul of Japan by Nitobe Inazō (1900), concerning samurai ethics, and The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzō (1906), which deals with the philosophical implications of the Japanese tea ceremony.
Western observers have often attempted to evaluate Japanese society as well, to varying degrees of success; one of the most well-known and controversial works resulting from this is Ruth Benedict's The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (1946).
Twentieth-century Japanese writers recorded changes in Japanese society through their works.
Popular contemporary authors such as Ryū Murakami, Haruki Murakami, and Banana Yoshimoto have been translated into many languages and enjoy international followings, and Yasunari Kawabata and Kenzaburō Ōe were awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Decorative arts in Japan date back to prehistoric times.
Jōmon pottery includes examples with elaborate ornamentation.
After the cessation of official relations with the Tang dynasty in the ninth century, Japanese art and architecture gradually became less influenced by China.
Extravagant art and clothing was commissioned by nobles to decorate their court, and although the aristocracy was quite limited in size and power, many of these pieces are still extant.
Popular artists created ukiyo-e, woodblock prints for sale to commoners in the flourishing cities.
Pottery such as Imari ware was highly valued as far away as Europe.
In stark contrast to the restrained refinement of noh, kabuki, an "explosion of color", uses every possible stage trick for dramatic effect.
Plays include sensational events such as suicides, and many such works were performed in both kabuki and bunraku puppet theaters.
Since the Meiji Restoration, Japan has absorbed elements of Western culture and has given them a "Japanese" feel or modification into it.
Its modern decorative, practical and performing arts works span a spectrum ranging from the traditions of Japan to purely Western modes.
Main article: History of Japan
Theories of origins
Main article: Genetic and anthropometric studies on Japanese people
Flint tools and bony implements of this era have been excavated in Japan.
However, Kazuro Hanihara announced a new racial admixture theory in 1984 and a "dual structure model" in 1991.
According to Hanihara, modern Japanese lineages began with Jōmon people, who moved into the Japanese archipelago during Paleolithic times, followed by a second wave of immigration, from East Asia to Japan during the Yayoi period (300 BC).
Following a population expansion in Neolithic times, these newcomers then found their way to the Japanese archipelago sometime during the Yayoi period.
As a result, replacement of the hunter gatherers was common in the island regions of Kyūshū, Shikoku, and southern Honshū, but did not prevail in the outlying islands of Okinawa and Hokkaidō, and the Ryukyuan and Ainu people show mixed characteristics.
Mark J. Hudson claims that the main ethnic image of Japanese people was biologically and linguistically formed from 400 BCE to 1,200 CE.
A study by Lee and Hasegawa of the Waseda University, concluded that the "dual structure theory" regarding the population history of Japan must be revised and that the Jōmon people had more diversity than originally suggested.
Main article: Jōmon people
The name "Jōmon" (縄文 Jōmon) means "cord-impressed pattern", and comes from the characteristic markings found on the pottery.
They relied primarily on fish for protein.
Their primary descendants are the Ainu people of northernmost Japan.
The existence of a second pre-Yayoi wave of immigration during the Jōmon period were suggested before.
One study, published in the Cambridge University Press in 2020, suggests that the Jōmon people were rather heterogeneous, and that there was also an “Altaic-like” pre-Yayoi population (close to modern Northeast Asians) during Jōmon period Japan, which established itself over the local hunter gatherers.
This “Altaic-like” population migrated from Northeast Asia sometimes before 6000BC, before the actual Yayoi migration.
A study by Lee and Hasegawa of the Waseda University, concluded that the Jōmon period population consisted largely of a distinctive Paleolithic population and a Northeast Asian population from around the Sea of Okhotsk (related to Nivkhs and Itelmens but not being identical to them), with both arriving at different times during the Jōmon period in Japan.
Lee and Hasegawa presented evidence that the Ainu-speakers originated from the Northeast Asian/Okhotsk population, which established themselves in northern Hokkaido and had significant impact on the formation of the Jōmon culture and ethnicities.
Main article: Yayoi people
Beginning around 300 BC, the Yayoi people from the Korean Peninsula entered the Japanese islands and displaced or intermingled with the Jōmon.
The more productive paddy field systems allowed the communities to support larger populations and spread over time, in turn becoming the basis for more advanced institutions and heralding the new civilization of the succeeding Kofun period.
The estimated population of Japan in the late Jōmon period was about one hundred thousand, compared to about three million by the Nara period.
Taking the growth rates of hunting and agricultural societies into account, it is calculated that about one and half million immigrants moved to Japan in the period.
According to Ann Kumar, the Yayoi created the "Japanese-hierarchical society".
During the Japanese colonial period of 1895 to 1945, the phrase "Japanese people" was used to refer not only to residents of the Japanese archipelago, but also to people from colonies who held Japanese citizenship, such as Taiwanese people and Korean people.
The official term used to refer to ethnic Japanese during this period was "inland people" (内地人, naichijin).
Such linguistic distinctions facilitated forced assimilation of colonized ethnic identities into a single Imperial Japanese identity.
After the end of World War II, many Nivkh people and Orok people from southern Sakhalin, who held Japanese citizenship in Karafuto Prefecture, were forced to repatriate to Hokkaidō by the Soviet Union as a part of the Japanese people.
Article 10 of the Constitution of Japan defines the term "Japanese" based upon Japanese nationality.
The concept of "ethnic groups" in Japanese census statistics differs from the concept applied in many other countries.
For example, the United Kingdom Census queries the respondent's "ethnic or racial background", regardless of nationality.
The Japanese Statistics Bureau, however, asks only about nationality in the census.
The Government of Japan regards all naturalized Japanese citizens and native-born Japanese nationals with multi-ethnic background as Japanese.
There is no distinction based on ethnicity.
There's no official ethnicity census data.
Because the census equates nationality with ethnicity, its figures erroneously assume that naturalized Japanese citizens and Japanese nationals with multi-ethnic backgrounds are ethnically Japanese.
John Lie, Eiji Oguma, and other scholars problematize the widespread belief that Japan is ethnically homogeneous, arguing that it is more accurate to describe Japan as a multiethnic society, although such claims have long been rejected by conservative elements of Japanese society such as former Japanese Prime Minister Tarō Asō, who once described Japan as being a nation of "one race, one civilization, one language and one culture".
There is an increase of hāfu (half Japanese) people, but the amount is relatively small.
Studies from e.g. 2015 estimate that 1 in 30 children born in Japan are born to interracial couples.
Main article: Japanese diaspora
The term nikkeijin (日系人) is used to refer to Japanese people who emigrated from Japan and their descendants.
Emigration from Japan was recorded as early as the 12th century to the Philippines and Borneo, and in the 16th and 17th centuries, thousands of traders from Japan also migrated to the Philippines and assimilated into the local population.
There was also significant emigration to the territories of the Empire of Japan during the colonial period, but most of these emigrants and settlers repatriated to Japan after the end of World War II in Asia.
According to the Association of Nikkei and Japanese Abroad, there are about 2.5 million nikkeijin living in their adopted countries.
There are also significant cohesive Japanese communities in the Philippines, East Malaysia, Peru, Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Misiones in Argentina, the U.S. states of Hawaii, California, and Washington, and the Canadian cities of Vancouver and Toronto.
Separately, the number of Japanese citizens living abroad is over one million according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Ethnic groups of Japan
- Ethnic issues in Japan
- Foreign-born Japanese
- List of Japanese people
- Demographics of Japan
- Ainu people
- Ryukyuan people
- Yamato people, the dominant majority
- Hāfu, half Japanese people
- Azumi people, an ancient group of peoples who inhabited parts of northern Kyushu
- Emishi, a group of people who lived in the northeastern Tōhoku region of Japan
- Kuzu, an ancient people of Japan believed to have lived along the Yoshino River
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese people.