This is an account of features of this country that either became apparent for the first time or were enhanced by exposure. Previous visits due to their brief nature and usually occurring in the month of May did not always reveal these impressions. Another factor that allowed us to learn much more about this country was our spending a substantial period of time in the countryside.
The Japanese climate varies remarkably from the Pacific Ocean side vs the Japan Sea side. The Pacific Ocean side has a warm current flowing from the south which ameliorates the climate. This prevents significant snowfalls except further north, for example, the Shiretoko area of Hokkaido is impacted by a cold iceberg carrying current from the Sea of Okhotsk. The Japan Sea side has violent ocean waves in the winter and heavy snowfalls inland.
Japan has incredibly beautiful mountains from snow covered peaks including Fuji-san revered by all Japanese to green cryptomeria (sugi) tree covered mountains. When asked what I would like to bring back to Canada, I answered a bamboo forest. One must experience the feathery fronds of such a biosphere with fast growing shoots towering up over ten meters and about ten centimeters in diameter. It is surrounded by variably coloured oceans from azure blue to emerald green punctuated with rocks jutting along the shore line.
We stayed here from December 2011 to December 2012 and were greeted by seasonal flowers throughout this period. Much of the flora is familiar, but many beautiful flowers both indigenous and introduced were quite novel to our eyes. We endured or enjoyed the fauna ranging from the incessant symphonies of the "semi" or cicada for month after month, enormous praying mantis, unusual grasshoppers, gorgeous butterflies, meter long snakes, lizards and frogs both tiny tree frogs and enormous hand sized frogs (sounding like members of the bovine species). One insect that practically speaking is 'over rated' is the mosquito. Unusual given its black colouration, it had little impact on our quality of life.
Dangers that threaten this country every day include earthquakes, tsunami, typhoon, tornadoes and volcanic eruptions. Fortunately we have not been negatively impacted by them. We have witnessed the daily volcanic eruptions of Sakurajima and have felt multiple earthquakes in the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake.