24 Quirky Things You Realise Are Actually True After You Visit Japan

24 Quirky Things You Realise Are Actually True After You Visit Japan

Bet you didn't know the Japanese have such quirky traits in their culture, huh? Impress your friends with all these fun facts about Japan! ;)

Japan is more than just about yummy sushi, bizarre festivals, interesting cosplay and cherry blossoms, okay! What have you realised after visiting Japan? They are a country full of creative and quirky people and inventions that never fail to blow us away constantly!

Don’t worry if you didn’t notice these 24 special quirks of the Japanese when you travelled there. Let us share some of our realisations with you!

1. It’s a tradition for the Japanese to have a Kentucky Fried Christmas!

Image credit: Mark on Flickr

Yes, that’s right! It may seem weird to the rest of us around the world, but KFC has clearly nailed their marketing in Japan, HANDS DOWN. The Japanese make reservations as early as October to usher in the festivities with KFC’s Christmas party bucket. They love eating fried chicken with their sushi. KFC even has chocolate cake and sparkling wine specially for the festive season…Gosh, aren’t you jealous of them already?  

2. There have vending machines that sell all sorts of quirky stuff  EVERYWHERE

Image credit: Kim Unertl on Flickr & C.K. Koay on Flickr

You name it, they have it! Aside from drinks, there are vending machines for cigarettes, umbrellas, rice, batteries, crepes, flowers, pantyhose, underwear, glasses, cold draft beer, pocket-sized books, junk food, liquor, ice cubes, ice cream, cars, sushi, fishing bait, amulets, bananas, udon, soba, condoms, and many more. Vending-machine shopping has never been more fun!

3. The elderly in Japan hold the secret to longevity

Image credit: Mr Hicks46 on Flickr

25% of Japan’s population is over 65 years of age! That’s insanely high compared to other developed countries all over the world. Many Japanese live to over 100 years old, attributed to strong community bonds, healthy living, strong work ethic and a stress-free life. It’s amazing to see how healthy and fit they are even in their old age. We definitely need to learn from them!

4. It’s rare to spot an obese Japanese on the streets

Image credit: Wikipedia

Aside from sumo wrestlers, who are required to be fat, you will find it pretty hard to spot an obese Japanese on the streets. One possible contributing factor is the prevalence of stairs – there are hardly any escalators! The Japanese lead a very healthy lifestyle and walk A LOT; no wonder they can live till 100 years and more.

Also Read: 10 Weird & Wacky Thing to Do in Japan

5. They can sleep anywhere on the train, in any position

Image credit: Wikipedia

The Japanese salaryman is a common sight everywhere with his iconic briefcase and suit, walking at a pace faster than Usain Bolt. They are known be overworked (and sometimes underpaid) because of the strict work ethic linked to Japanese culture, and also to support their families. You can easily spot a fatigued salaryman by their unique sleeping positions on the train. Somebody pass him a pillow and blanket for all the hard work he’s done, please.

6. Eating solo? No big deal!

Image credit: Seventyoneplace on Flickr

The Japanese are, without a doubt, the masters of solo dining. The cubicle seats used at restaurants are a testament to their attitude that sometimes, you just have to spend quality alone time with your food to truly appreciate the flavour. The chefs will entertain you with their skilled knife antics, and at Moomin cafe, you can even get a soft toy companion. You’ll never be bored!

7. Their toilets are so high-tech and fascinating

Only the Japanese will go the extra mile to ensure you have a smooth and pleasant experience in the toilet! They have bidet effects that you can adjust to suit your needs, a button to keep your seat warm or even music so the sound of your waste does not reverberate and make you embarrassed. Every visit to the toilet will leave you feeling refreshed for sure 😉

8. They queue in an orderly manner for the train

People in most countries just swarm near the entrance/exit when the train comes, but no, the Japanese are role models that make the rest of us truly ashamed of ourselves. There are no lines demarcated on the floor but they are just incredibly polite and respectful of each other. Thumbs up for the Japanese culture!

9. You have to search extremely hard to find a dustbin

The rumours are true. You have to walk up and down, left and right, for half a day before you manage to dispose of your rubbish. In Japan, waste disposal is not free or fully covered by taxes; instead, you pay by the bag. Obviously, businesses would thus be unwilling to pay for removing your garbage you can’t blame them. Each member of society has to take individual responsibility for what they consume, so be prepared to carry your trash around with you!

10. Geishas really do exist

Image credit: Charlton Clemens on Flickr

Unlike the samurais, you can still find geishas in Japan with their white faces, traditional hairstyles and colourful kimonos! Head to Hanami-koji at the Gion area in Kyoto, where they reside. If you’re lucky, you might spot them on the streets heading from one banquet to another, and even be able to snap a quick selfie with them.

11. They hardly wear sunglasses

Image credit: Jamesjustin on Flickr

Even in the summer, the only ones in Japan wearing sunglasses are foreign tourists! Why is that so? Well, even though times are changing and the youths are starting to wear them, most Japanese still don’t. They cite reasons such as not wanting too much attention on themselves, because they find it embarrassing or as if they are trying to act like a rapper in a music video. So remember, don’t gift your Japanese friends with sunglasses because they might not use it!

12. Convenience store food is actually pretty good

Unlike the convenience stores in other countries, food from 7-11 and FamilyMart are actually yummy AND very, very affordable. Onigiris may look tiny, but they are actually very filling and come in all sorts of flavours, you’d be spoilt for choice!

13. They are extremely detailed and strict about garbage disposal

Image credit: Wikipedia

Yes, the Japanese take recycling their garbage VERY seriously. Trash can be sorted into burnable, non-burnable, paper, plastic, PET bottles, cans, styrofoam, newspapers, cartons, unbroken glass, and batteries. The town of Kakimatsu in Shikoku takes it to the extreme level – it has 44 different garbage categories. That’s reaaaally hard work just trying to get rid of your trash!

Also Read: Japan’s Hidden Gems: 12 Underrated Destinations You Need to Visit

14. You can find almost anything you need in Daiso/100 Yen stores

Image credit: Gene Wang

Daiso or 100 yen stores in Japan are essentially like Narnia, you could get lost in there forever. They are hugeeeee and probably have everything you need, even if you weren’t expecting to buy anything in the first place. Go crazy and have fun exploring!

15. Nobody will steal bicycles, even if it’s left on the streets

Image credit: Raneko

Bicycles are a very common mode of transportation in Japan! And it’s totally safe from thieves, so you don’t even have to worry about leaving your bicycle on the street without a chain.

16. You don’t have to tip. It’s actually considered rude.

Image credit: Japan Info

Tipping is not a practice in Japan! It’s considered rude because the general consensus is – you are already paying for good service, why pay extra?

17. Eat as LOUD as you can!

Image credit: David Woo

When you eat noodles such as ramen, soba or udon, you are encouraged to eat as loud as you can! In some countries it may be seen as being disrespectful, but not here! Eating as loud as possible is seen as being respectful to the chef who has made the dish for you. So go on, slurp it all up!

18. No one bats an eyelid when people wear weird costumes. It’s cosplay.

Image credit: Wikipedia

Japan is famous for its unique culture where people love to cosplay, so don’t freak out when you see people in heavy makeup and weird costumes along the street! It’s completely normal…We’ve seen old men in female uniforms before!

19. Youths are always absorbed in reading their manga

Image credit: Marguerite on Flickr

Nope these are not robots, but typical youths who are obsessed with manga! Everywhere in Japan you will notice the archetypal Japanese youth, always armed with a manga in hand and they can read it ANYWHERE. In the bookshop, on the train, along the streets…It’s a national pastime!

20. Smoke only at designated smoking corners

Image credit: Wikipedia

It’s actually considered impolite to smoke on the streets, so you have to find a designated smoking corner in order to have a puff. It’s bad to expose innocent people to secondhand smoke unnecessarily!

21. The police are incredibly helpful

Image credit: Shamam on Flickr

Did you know that if you ever forget your wallet,  you can just borrow money from a police officer to get home? THAT’S RIGHT! Just approach any police officer for help – they are trustworthy and dependable; you don’t have to worry about a thing.

22. Train pushing is a legitimate job

Image credit: Quora

What a unique job scope right? Because Japan is so densely populated, trains get really crowded especially during peak hours. Everyone will get packed into the train like sardines, in order to make use of every single empty space possible. Avoid it at all costs, or else…Good luck.  

23. They take their trains very seriously

Image credit: Hisakuni Fujimoto

Japanese trains are one of the most punctual in the world delays average less than 20 SECONDS! What on earth. That is hardly counted as a delay. In addition, if anyone causes a disruption to the train schedule such as committing suicide by jumping in front of a train, a fine is imposed on the family. Harsh rules, Japan.

24. Take part in “bowing wars”

Image credit: Ke-ta on Flickr

The Japanese are so polite, they would bow at 90 degrees when greeting you. However, when two people of the same social or business rank bow to each other, they will feel compelled to return the bow that the other makes. This results in a never-ending cycle of continuous bowing in order to maintain an image of humility and respect. Fun fact – even the deer at Nara Park will bow to you when you bow to them!

Also Read: 32 Unique Kit-Kat Flavours You Must Hunt Down in Japan

Don’t wait any longer – make a trip to Japan right now and witness all these unique traits personally for yourself!

About Author

Carissa Ng
Carissa Ng

Carissa is fascinated by the complexity of globalisation, and the interdependence of diverse cultures. Her mind constantly drifts off to dreams of travelling around the world, because she wants to explore every continent and city. She is also a sleepyhead-sloth who has a huge weakness for rainbows, sushi, all things Korean, and adorable chubby babies.


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