I paid a short visit to Mongolia last week: two days in Ulaanbaatar and two days in the countryside over two hours drive south-east of Ulaanbaatar.
Mongolia reflects the influences of its neighbors in many ways: in its architecture and predominant writing system (Russia), its Buddhism (China), and its technology, which also reflects Russia and China, but especially Korea and Japan.
Japanese cars are very common on the congested, chaotic streets of Ulaanbaatar, and out in the pot-holed roads of the Mongolian countryside.
Besides cars, perhaps the most conspicuous Japanese presences are in the pharmaceutical and beauty care fields.
As the pictures show, stands of Japanese beauty care products and medicines were frequently seen in stores, with Itoh being particularly conspicuous in Mongolia.
In spite of its tiny population of just under three million and its overall poverty, Mongolians have a clear desire to modernize that shows in the clothing styles and fashions you see on the streets of Ulaanbaatar and the thriving Western-style nightlife that the locals have made their own, blasting out of the clubs just behind the Kempinsky Hotel.
Japan's presence is very much a feature of Mongolia's drive to modernization, and Japan maintains a sizable embassy on Olympic Street in Ulaanbaatar's central district of Sukhbaatar.
Japan and Mongolia held the first round of negotiations for the Mongolia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in June this year and are set to complete them in fall. It is hoped that this will lead to a first for Mongolia: a free trade agreement with another country, and Japan has been investing in and granting aid to Mongolia, no doubt partly towards achieving this end.
Guide Books on Tokyo & Japan