Why Is Japan Called The Land of the Rising Sun?

Have you ever wondered why Japan is called the Land of the Rising Sun? It’s a pretty poetic name. 

The truth is, the name has a lot of history behind it.

Let me take you on a little journey and share how Japan got its name. 

It all starts with the country’s founder, Emperor Jimmu. As the legend goes, Emperor Jimmu was a descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu.

Since then, Japan has been known as the Land of the Rising Sun. And to this day, the sun remains an important symbol in Japanese culture.

You can see it represented in many different aspects of Japanese life, from art and architecture to food and fashion.

Historical Origins of the Name

Osaka Castle

Did you know that Japan is called the Land of the Rising Sun? It’s named after its eastern position relative to China. 

The sun appears to rise from the direction of Japan when viewed from China.

Nippon and Nihon are the Japanese words for “the sun’s origin.” 

  • They’re pronounced “nee-pohn” and “nee-hohn.” 
  • And that’s where the name Japan comes from, Nihon and Dai Nippon, which means “Greater Japan.”

So why is Japan called the Land of the Rising Sun? 

It all goes back to Japan’s place in East Asia. And it’s a name that we can be proud of.

Ancient Japanese Poetry and the Land of the Rising Sun

Japan has been called the “Land of the Rising Sun” for centuries, and a good reason. 

  • In ancient times, Japan was thought to be where the sun rose each morning. 
  • The country’s name, “Nippon” or “Nihon,” actually means “origin of the sun.”

This was due in part to Japan’s location on the map. The country is east of China, so it’s one of the first places the sun rises each morning. 

And while other countries have also been called the “Land of the Rising Sun,” Japan is the only one with an official name that indicates its place with the sun.

It’s a name that Japanese people are proud of and holds much meaning. 

When Japan sent an envoy to Rome in the 7th century, they chose to call their country “Nihon” instead of “Wa” or “Yamato.” 

This was meant to signify Japan’s position as a country where the sun rises.

Japanese Mythology and the Sun Goddess

Japanese Mythology and the Sun Goddess

Japan is often referred to as the Land of the Rising Sun. 

  • But what does that mean, exactly? 
  • And where did the name come from?

The name has a pretty interesting backstory. 

Japan’s official name is Nihon, which means “the sun’s origin.” And according to Japanese mythology, the sun goddess Amaterasu gave Japan its nickname, the Land of the Rising Sun.

Amaterasu is an essential figure in Japanese mythology. She’s considered the goddess of the sun and wisdom, and it is said that she created Japan.

Interestingly, she’s also considered a symbol of harmony and peace.

So why is Japan called the Land of the Rising Sun? 

It all comes down to Chinese people viewing Japan as the land where the sun rises. And when Westerners began to explore Asia in the 16th century, they adopted this name too.

Japan’s Cultural Significance as the Rising Sun

The phrase “Land of the Rising Sun” is also deeply embedded in Japanese culture and symbols. 

The sun, or “hi,” is a recurring theme in Japanese culture as a symbol of life and energy and is often associated with the emperor and divine forces.

This phrase has been used to represent Japan for centuries. 

A famous example is the ancient chronology Nihon Shoki from 720 CE, which included the term “Land of the Rising Sun.” 

It also appears as part of an official national anthem during the Meiji period in the 1800s.

The phrase also appears in popular culture today; it’s printed on t-shirts and mugs and featured in art pieces, places names, and television shows.

It was even used as a title for a Japanese television drama about a master swordsman set during feudal times!

The Influence of Ancient Religions on Japan

The Influence of Ancient Religions on Japan

It is believed that Japan’s ancient religions greatly influenced the culture, shaping it in many ways.

Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan, has been intertwined with Japanese culture since ancient times.

Shinto has a strong influence on Japanese rituals and beliefs.

Buddhism, introduced to Japan in the 6th century, has also been an integral part of Japanese culture, particularly in art, architecture, and spirituality.

Shinto and Buddhism have been intertwined with various legends and myths, as well as nature-based rituals that are still practiced today.

This combination of ancient religious practices has helped shape the unique culture of Japan that we know today.

Famous Legends and Myths about Japan

Many famous legends and myths about Japan have grown over the years.

One of the most well-known is the story of the sun goddess Amaterasu, who is said to have brought light and hope to the world.

Amaterasu is a central figure in many Shinto stories and has become a symbol of the Japanese people and their culture.

The legend of the sun goddess is thought to be one of the reasons why Japan is called the Land of the Rising Sun.

Another popular legend is that of the kami, or gods, who are said to inhabit Mount Fuji, Japan’s tallest mountain.

There are also many ancient myths about dragons, which are said to protect the country from harm. All these stories help to give Japan a unique cultural identity.

How Japan Uses Its “Rising Sun” Title Today

Today, Japan uses its title of “Land of the Rising Sun” for various purposes. 

It’s easy to see why: the sunshine represents hope and renewal; a theme echoed in the country’s national flag, the Hinomaru.

Some businesses, such as public transportation companies and beauty salons, use the rising sun imagery in their logos. 

Some pop music groups also create music about the “land of the rising sun” or use it as part of their themes. 

The popular video game series “Kirby: Triple Deluxe” also features a level called “Land of the Rising Sun.”

Finally, some Japanese companies have used a new term, “Uchimizu,” to describe their home country. 

Uchimizu translates as “watering Japan” and speaks to Japan being refreshed and renewed by its spiritual traditions and physical setting, especially its abundance of mountains and rivers.

The Social Relevance of “Land of the Rising Sun”

The name “Land of the Rising Sun” has special meaning for Japanese citizens, as it is symbolic of their nation’s culture and history. 

For example, the sun is a frequently used symbol in Japan, appearing in artwork and even on the country’s flag.

The name “Land of the Rising Sun” also represents Japan’s status as a global innovation and technological advancement leader. 

In this sense, it embodies many Japanese people’s pride in their nation’s progress.

Finally, some see the term as expressing admiration for Japan’s unique culture. 

After all, Japan is well-known for its love of food, fashion, art, and other pursuits that make it one of the world’s most vibrant countries, all of which thrive under the warm light of the rising sun.


There are many different stories and explanations as to why Japan is called the Land of the Rising Sun. 

  • One story is that a Buddhist monk named Hoei once visited Japan and saw the sun rise over the mountains. 
  • He was so impressed by the sight that he called Japan the Land of the Rising Sun.
  • Another story is that a Japanese general named Hideyoshi was on a ship looking at the sun. He said the sun was rising in Japan, which is why the country is called the Land of the Rising Sun.

Whatever the true story, there is no doubt that Japan is a beautiful country with an exciting history and culture. 

I hope you have enjoyed learning about Japan and its history. Thank you for reading!

Originally posted on July 20, 2021 @ 11:57 am

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As a lifelong traveler and founder of lovefortraveling.com, I, Alex Deidda, have always been driven by my passion for exploring new places and cultures.

Throughout the years, I have had the opportunity to live in various countries, each offering unique perspectives and experiences.

My love for traveling led me to create lovefortraveling.com, a website and blog dedicated to helping people plan their trips.

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