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Japan facts, information, pictures . Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http: //travel. INTRODUCTIONFor a country that lived in self- imposed isolation until 1. Japan has not hesitated to make up for lost time. It is a place of ancient gods and customs but is also the cutting edge of cool modernity. High- speed trains whisk you from one end of the country to another with frightening punctuality.
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You can catch sight of a farmer tending his paddy field, then turn the corner and find yourself next to a neon- festooned electronic games parlor in the suburb of a sprawling metropolis. Few other countries have, in the space of mere generations, experienced so much or made such an impact. Industrialized at lightning speed, Japan shed its feudal trappings to become the most powerful country in Asia in a matter of decades. After defeat in World War II, it transformed itself to a wondereconomy, the envy of the globe. In the cities you will first be struck by the mass of people. In this mountainous country, the vast majority of the 1.
Honshu. The three other main islands, running north to south, are Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu, and all are linked to Honshu by bridges and tunnels that are part of one of Japan's modern wonders—its efficient transport network of trains and highways. Outside the cities, there is a vast range of options from the wide open spaces and deep volcanic lakes of Hokkaido, blanketed by snow every winter, to the balmy subtropical islands of Okinawa. You will seldom have to travel far to catch sight of a lofty castle, ancient temple or shrine, or locals celebrating at a colorful street festival. The Japanese are inveterate travelers within their own country and there is hardly a town or village, no matter how small or plain, that does not boast some unique attraction.
Rampant development and sometimes appalling pollution is difficult to square with a country also renowned for cleanliness and appreciation of nature. Part of the problem is that natural cataclysms, such as earthquakes and typhoons, regularly hit Japan, so few people expect things to last for long. And yet, time and again, Japan redeems itself with unexpectedly beautiful landscapes, charmingly courteous people, and its tangible sense of history and cherished traditions. Most intriguing of all is the opaqueness at the heart of this mysterious hidden culture that stems from a blurring of traditional boundaries between East and West. Japan is neither wholly one nor the other.
MAJOR CITIESTokyo. Tokyo, the capital of Japan and one of the world's largest cities in terms of area, is at the head of Tokyo Bay on the Kanto Plain, the largest level area in the country. The city proper covers 2.
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The 7. 96- square- mile metropolitan area occupies sea- level stretches along. Tokyo developed originally around a feudal castle built during the 1. Toward the end of that century, a great feudal lord named Tokugawa Iyeyasu ruled this castle and the surrounding area.
In 1. 60. 3, after a series of civil wars, he established himself as shogun, or military dictator, of all Japan, and administered his rule from Edo, which later was called Tokyo. Under succeeding rulers of the Tokugawa dynasty, the city grew in importance and became the leading commercial center of the area.
Tokyo has been, for all practical purposes, the capital of Japan since 1. Ky. The court moved to Tokyo, and a Western- style government was established in the late 1. Besides being the seat of government, Tokyo is the industrial, commercial, financial, communications, and educational center of Japan. It has over 7,9. 00 factories or plants with 3. It is Japan's most international city, with more than 1. Americans. Most foreign companies doing business in Japan have their headquarters here.
Tokyo is a vital metropolis of striking contrasts—of confusion and calm. Business and residential properties are side by side, giving the city a patchwork- quilt impression.
It has lovely parks and shrines, broad thoroughfares, modern office buildings and hotels, expressways, and department stores similar to those in other large international cities. Beyond all this, however, lies another world of narrow streets, markets, theaters, restaurants, and Japanese- style houses that make Tokyo a unique city. Utilities. Electricity in Tokyo is single phase 1. HZ) electric current.
Most U. S.- manufactured appliances will operate satisfactorily as long as they will tolerate 5. Electric timing devices and clocks that are designed for standard U. Most appliances manufactured for Tokyo use require 1. Food. Most food items available in the U. S. Throughout the city one can conveniently locate greengrocers, convenience- type stores, and large modern supermarkets. Clothing General: Bring a four- season wardrobe for all family members. Winter clothing is advised for the cold and damp winter months.
Summer in Tokyo can be very hot and humid. Raincoats and umbrellas are essential. Local department and specialty stores carry a variety of Western- style clothes and imported items from the design centers of the world for both men and women but are generally available in sizes unique to the Japanese physique and are very expensive. Excellent quality silks, woolens, and various synthetics are available.
Shoes for men, women and children are available locally but it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to find the proper size. Shoe sizes are shorter and wider than in the U. S. If you need special sizes or particular brands in clothing and shoes in order to be properly fitted, bring them with you. Office dress as well as sports and casual attire follow Washington or U. S. Social functions are not extremely dressy. Simple good taste is the best criterion. Men: The accepted attire for dinner parties, unless otherwise stated, is a business suit.
Women: An afternoon dress, a simple long dress, or long skirt and top are suitable for the frequent cocktail parties, receptions, and buffet dinners. Formal attire is a floor- length dress. Bring at least one full skirt (either long or short) that would be appropriate for dining in Japanese restaurants or homes where guests sit on tatami mats on the floor. Children: A variety of children's clothing is available; sizes are not a big problem but prices are high. Supplies and Services. The following items are available at higher prices: toiletries for men and women, cosmetics, feminine personal supplies, tobacco items, home medicines and drugs; common household items, including minor repair materials; and entertainment supplies such as candles, napkins. All basic services- laundry, drycleaning, barber and beauty shops, shoe, and automobile repair- are available.
Domestic Help. The number and type of domestics varies with the obligations and living pattern of the employee. The hourly rate for part- time domestics is approximately Y1,0. Salaries for full- time domestics vary but generally you can expect to pay $1,0. Domestics are covered by Japanese national health insurance but are not covered by unemployment insurance.
Many employers assume partial obligation for doctors' bills and for the placement of a domestic in another position when they leave Japan. Those who sponsor non- Japanese domestics are responsible for assuring their departure from. Japan if not placed with a qualified sponsor. Part- time maids are available as babysitters when those services are needed. Teenagers charge from Y5.
Y1,0. 00 per hour. Religious Activities. English- language services are available in the Tokyo and Yokohama areas for members of most denominations.
Religions represented include Roman Catholic, Baptist, Seventh- day Adventist, Episcopal, Mormon, Christian Scientist, Lutheran, Interdenominational, Jewish, and Interdenominational Charismatic. The churches offer a variety of fellowship for all age groups and combined programs to provide services for the benefit of the foreign community in the area. Education. Tokyo has a wide selection of excellent schools that provide education comparable to that available in the best schools in the U. S. The school styles range from open classroom to more structured approaches; sports, music, drama, and other outside activities are provided in varying degrees. Graduates from the schools in the area have no difficulty being accepted by the best U. S. To accommodate the requirements of children with special needs, parents should be certain to communicate directly with the schools regarding individual educational needs and programs available. The school year is from September to June.
It is essential to communicate with the schools as early as possible since competition for spaces is keen. Most schools begin accepting applications for the upcoming school year in November of the current year. Most of the private schools maintain waiting lists. Upon acceptance, many schools require an early commitment on the part of the family and may require a non- refundable deposit. The schools in the Tokyo area most frequently used are listed below.
Each is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. A physical examination is required by most of the schools.
The American School in Japan (ASIJ) (1- 1, Nomizu 1- comme, Chofushi, Tokyo 1. Western Association of Schools and Colleges. It is an overseas member of the National Association of Independent Schools of the United States and is affiliated with the International Schools Service. Of the 1,4. 00 students, 6. American, 1. 5% are Japanese and the rest third- country nationals. The curriculum is similar to that of the best U.
S. In addition, Japanese language and area studies are offered in all grades. The facilities include. The emphasis is on individualized instruction through the modular schedule in the secondary schools and through employment of team teaching as a means of greater flexibility in the elementary school.