Japan is one of the world’s most interesting destinations. While it is a developed country, it has developed in often a very different way to the West, creating its own culture, crazes and atmosphere. Whilst exploring I found a lot of things a little strange, but once you become accustomed to them- you realise just how great they are! Here are 5 of those things. If you ever visit Japan, look out for them and spot your own too!
We all know how great Japanese food is… but did you know that outside restaurants, it’s all displayed in wax form?! Yep, your sushi, udon noodles, matcha ice creams, and even hamburgers and pizzas are all in wax form. It’s their way of providing a picture menu, but instead it’s in 3D! In many ways this is a great thing, for you know pretty much exactly what you’re getting. But it can be a little odd and often somewhat unappetising!
2. Vending machines (for everything!)
If you thought the West was obsessed with vending machines, you clearly haven’t been to Japan! Here, you can buy a whole variety of things out of these machines which are placed routinely on street corners, down back alleys and inside buildings. They even have restaurants where you order from a vending machine instead of at a counter. Eventually, you’ll come to love this craze! Just about anywhere you travel in the country you can get a cool can of milk tea or an apple Fanta (yep apple Fanta!- that can be weird and wonderful thing number 6…)
The amazing nature of Japanese toilets has been well documented, but it’s impossible to write a list like this without including them. When I first arrived in Tokyo airport, I was super confused why waterfall music played while I peed… turns out that’s just one of the many weird and wonderful things Japanese toilets do. They also have many buttons which I never quite figured out what they meant, and often a sign telling you how to sit on the toilet in the first place. One thing I didn’t quite get my head around was the warm toilet seats. Not something you need on a 30 degree humid Tokyo day.
4. Bullet Trains
I’m from England and we invented trains, but I’ve never seen them like in Japan. Here they look like they are fresh out of a sci-fi movie- and they go at up to 300km per hour! Inside, the ride is incredibly smooth and the trains are clean and spacious. From the outside, they are basically rocket ships, blasting their way through stations while every single tourist on the platform films the occasion on their phones and the Japanese wonder what all the fuss is about!
5. Animal Obsession
My first introduction to Japan’s animal obsession was Marutaro, a super cute Japanese dog who has clocked up 2.5 million Instagram followers. He apparently has the second biggest Instagram account in Japan, and he’s just a little cute golden dog with an incredibly happy face (he even has his own shop full of Maru souvenirs in Tokyo).
Turns out, Japan’s animal obsession has only just begun at Marutaro. Arrive in Harajuku (Tokyo’s hippest district) and you’ll find owl cafes, cat cafes, bear backpacks, and a cafe where all your food is shaped like various animals. Anywhere in the country you can pick up souvenirs with anime animals on them; all the while however, you don’t actually see that many pets around. Perhaps the Japanese prefer their animals in cute, fluffy form, or just for an hour or so while sipping matcha!
Have you seen any of these things in Japan? What other weird, wonderful and very unique things can you think of from Japan or anywhere else in the world?