Nation and Emperor count on the support of the Great Four, the Big conglomerates that emerge with great power and massive control over the Japanese economy.
They are called Zaibatsu, and their influence on the Meiji Emperor and importance on the faith of Japan became incredibly high.
In Nippon players control Zaibatsu and try to develop their web of power by investing in new industries, fighting for monopolies, taking part of government investments, building up their influence and power as they oversee the era of rapid industrialization in Japan.
Japan's unique social and geographic characteristics make this process a challenging endeavor. Natural resources are scarce, differences between islands are dramatic, political changes hard to accomplish, social stratifications are deep-rooted on the country.
The foundations of the Big Zaibatsu were the traditional silk workshops, but soon the conglomerates diversified their influence and power building a complex structure of interconnected companies, that made them giant players in the world's new industrial era. Players take the reigns of this bug corporations and try and develop them in order to grow and achieve power, keeping in close mind the general interest of the Empire of the rising sun.
On each turn players execute one of the five available actions which allow them to build new industries, ship goods to foreign countries or develop the transportation system of the country, whether building ships or investing on the railroads. Money is short during gameplay as it’s always used to perform actions. To win the game players are challenged to do the best investment for their Zaibatsu and get the most influence over each of the major 4 Japanese islands. Each player has a personal tableau which represents his personal investments (Zaibatsu) and every time a player builds something of his own or even a promoted new industry by the Emperor’s, he’s developing his own abilities and paths leading to new opportunities.
Nippon is a fast paced economic game, with challenging decisions where players oversee the birth of a "new" nation. From the Industrial Revolution in Japan emerged a giant power, "a Giant fresh from sleep".