For many mountaineers, summiting Mt. Fuji to view the sunrise is at the top of their bucket list. Seeing the sunrise over Asia after making its long trek across the Pacific Ocean is nothing less than a spiritual experience.

Regularly used in Western songs and literature for a poetic reference to Japan, “Land of the Rising Sun,” is one of the more beautiful national nicknames. It’s far more than just a pretty title, though. The rising sun is a central part of Japanese culture, and the role it’s played in the country’s history and national identity is not just fascinating but important to understanding many parts of modern Japanese society.

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