I traveled through Japan for 3 weeks and I fell in love with the rich culture and uniqueness of this country. Japan is a country of contrasts, where the traditional culture mixes with modern technology and fashion.
It’s incredible to experience everything that Japan has to offer and in this article I want to share with you some of the most weird and interesting facts about Japan.
I’m sure you’ve never heard about some of these facts but it’s important to know them if you’re planning a trip to this beautiful country. Btw, don’t forget to check out my Japan itinerary!
Weird facts about Japan
30. Napping at work is ok
The Japanese people are workaholics. Napping on the job is common and is perceived as a sign of dedication and hard work. Some people even fake it to show how tired they’ve become after so much work.
This is a bizarre fact about Japan that’s unique to this country. Napping at work in other countries might me considered disrespectful and rude.
29. Ice-cream that won’t melt for hours
During hot days, we all dreamed about ice-cream that doesn’t melt and now, the Japanese have found a solution. Scientists in Japan have found a way to preserve the world’s favourite dessert for hours.
If you want to read more about the process of creating this ice-cream, click here.
28. Crooked teeth are considered cute in Japan
One of the odd facts about Japan is that crooked teeth are considered cute, unlike in Western countries. Some men find crooked teeth attractive and this trend has become incredibly popular in recent years.
Some dental clinics even specialise in offering their customers a crooked smile. The procedure involves glueing artificial or permanent canines to the patient’s teeth.
27. Fake food displayed at restaurants
One thing that really surprised me when visiting Japan was the fake food displayed at the entrance of every restaurant. Basically, each restaurants uses fake food as their menu, showing their potential customers the dishes they serve.
There’s even a popular street in Tokyo called Kappabashi Utensils Street where you can find kitchen supplies and of course, fake food. A nice shop where you can find such souvenirs is Ganso Shokuhin Sample. I bought myself a fake pile of pancakes, the perfect souvenir!
26. The deepest underwater post box is in Japan
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One of the weird facts about Japan is that in Susami, Wakayama you can find the world’s deepest underwater post box. Yeap, that’s right. There’s an official post box situated at 10 meters underwater where divers leave water-resistant messages.
You might think that this post box is not used at all but you’re wrong. During the busiest days, almost 200 messages are left here. Crazy, right?
25. Japanese adult adoption
Are you ready for more weird facts about Japan? Japanese adult adoption is a practice where adults are welcomed into new families, instead of children.
It’s common in families with no children, where people want to have an heir for their businesses and fortune. Also, given the fact that same sex marriage is not legal in Japan, adult adoption is used as an alternative.
24. Females could also become samurai
When we think about samurai, we most often imagine a male Japanese warrior with a remarkable sword. However, there were female samurai too, known as Onna-Bugeisha and they fought alongside men.
Their sword was a bit different and it was called naginata. It looked like a spear with a curved blade. Well, it’s safe to say that Japanese women were as brave as men.
23. There’s a city in Japan where deer roam free on the streets
If you’re looking for interesting facts about Japan, look no further. Did you know that in Nara the deer roam free in the city? You’ll see them in the parks, on the streets and inside temples’ gardens.
If you want to make friends with them, buy a few special deer crackers and offer them to the deers. Don’t forget to bow before and the deer will bow back. How cute is this?
22. Christmas and KFC?
One of the strange Japan facts is that KFC is a Christmas tradition in the country. Even though only about 2% (3-4 million people) of the population is Christian, they prefer to eat KFC on Christmas.
And all this, due to a commercial from 1974 called “Kentucky for Christmas”. Nowadays families queue for hours to get their KFC meal.
21. Japanese students clean their classrooms
Unlike other countries, where each high school and university has janitors who take care of the cleaning process, in Japan cleaning the classrooms is part of the school day.
This is a great way to teach students responsibility. Part of their duty is to clean the bathrooms and mop the floors.
20. More adult diapers are sold than children diapers
The number of Japanese people over 65 years accounts for 26% of Japan’s population. Moreover, Japan is the country with the highest percentage of elderly people in the world. This actually means that more adult diapers are sold than children diapers.
The aging of Japan has multiple causes but some of the most important are the high life expectancy, the low fertility rate and the cultural factors.
19. Social withdrawal is common among the Japanese
As many as 700,000 Japanese people live is social isolation, also known as hikikomori. These people live isolated in their parent’s or their own houses, they don’t go to work or meet with friends.
Some people spend up to 20 years in isolation and the most common cause is the high expectations the Japanese society places on the young generation. Also, modern technology can play an important role.
18. Japanese gameshows are pretty crazy
One of the weird things about Japan is the local’s interpretation of entertaining gameshows. We’re all used to “The Wheel of Fortune” or “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” but the Japanese take their gameshows to another level.
What about a bunch of men dressed in latex suits who are supposed to climb to the top of some super-slippery stairs? Or games where the participants have to guess which objects are real and which are not by taking a bite out of them?
17. Fortune cookies originate in Japan
Even though you might think that fortune cookies are Chinese, they actually originated in Japan. The first cookie was made in Kyoto, from darker dough. Such cookies can still be found in the vicinity of Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto and in Kanazawa.
16. Highways pass through buildings
We all know that Japan is renowned for its modern public transport and highway system. In Osaka, the Hanshin Expressway passes through the Gate Tower Building, a 16-floor office building.
The highway doesn’t touch the building, being supported by pillars next to the building so the residents don’t have to worry about vibrations or noise.
15. Punctuality is important in Japan
A cool fact about Japan is that punctuality is very important. When meeting with their friends or for business meetings, the Japanese people will most often arrive 10 minutes earlier.
Punctuality is so important in Japan that if a train is late for 5 minutes, the passengers will be issued a certificate that can be showed to teachers or employers as an explanation for being late. I don’t know about you, but in my country nobody apologises when the trains are delayed for hours.
14. Square watermelons are a thing in Japan
We all love the round-shaped fruit called watermelon. What if I told you that in Japan you can find watermelons in the shape of a cube? They’re grown in special square boxes and they take the shape of the container.
However, such a unique watermelon can cost up to $100. I think I’m just going to stick with the round ones. What about you?
13. Vending machines at every street corner
There are more than 5 million vending machines in Japan. It’s the country with the highest density of vending machines in the world, generating more than $60 billion each year.
You can buy pretty much anything from the vending machines starting with rice, umbrellas, sake, batteries and ending with fresh vegetables and even toilet paper.
12. Number 4 is considered to be unlucky
My list of unusual facts about Japan continues with number 4 which is considered to be unlucky in Japan, similar to other countries in Asia.
In Japanese, 4 is pronounced “shi”, the same as death so don’t be surprised if you’ll see the floor number 4 missing in apartment buildings, hospitals or even hotels.
11. Japanese Maid Cafes
One of the most interesting facts about Japan is that here you can find the famous Maid Cafes. Even though they’re found predominantly in Japan, Maid Cafes have become extremely popular worldwide (South Korea, Czech Republic, Hungary, USA and more).
These cafes derive from cosplay cafes. Here you’ll find waitresses dressed as maids, ready to act like servants. Usually, the maids will welcome their customers with “Welcome home, Master/ Mistress”. Some cafes even offer spoon-feeding services. However, keep in mind that there’s nothing sexual happening in these cafes.
10. There’s a Robot Restaurant in Tokyo
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Tokyo is the Robot Restaurant. Here you can experience a show that combines robots, ninjas, music and lights into a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The restaurant is super-colorful and covered in glitter and obnoxious furniture, meant to make you feel like you stepped into a different world. When in Tokyo, make sure to pay a visit to the famous Robot Restaurant.
9. Never leave your chopsticks straight up in the food
While eating sushi or other delicious Japanese food, you might be tempted to leave your chopsticks upright in the food. It’s not only considered disrespectful but it’s also a sign of bad luck. Chopsticks are placed in this position only when the food is offered to the dead.
8. Japan is home to the world’s oldest hotel
Another cool fact about Japan is that this beautiful country is home to Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, the oldest hotel in the world. Founded around the year 700, this hotel has been the property of the same family for 52 generations.
The best thing about this hotel is that it’s still operating nowadays and you can book a few nights there if you’re looking for a unique experience. If I’m ever going back to Japan, I’ll definitely book a night at Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan.
7. Black cats bring good luck
Unlike in western countries where black cats are believed to bring bad luck, in Japan black cats are a sign of good luck. It is believed that black cats bring wealth and prosperity and most of the time you’ll see them in the shape of maneki-neko, the beckoning cat.
Even though usually maneki-neko cats are white, you’ll see black ones too. Most of the times they’re displayed at the entrance of shops or homes.
6. There’s an island with thousands of rabbits
On Okunoshima Island you’ll find friendly cute rabbits, ready to be cuddled and take selfies with visitors. These bunnies are well fed and due to the fact that there are no predators on the island, they’ve bred like crazy.
5. Ramen noodle bath
Would you take a bath in Ramen soup? Now you can at Yunessan Spa House in Hakone. Clients can take a bath in ramen pork broth with a side of synthetic noodles and it’s supposed to improve their skin.
If Ramen is too much for you, you can take a bath in sake or green tea at the same spa. I think I’d go for the green tea bath. What about you?
4. Love hotels are very popular among locals
Have you ever heard about love hotels? Well, they’re pretty popular in Japan. These hotels offer hourly or nightly rates and they’re mostly used by couples who are in search of a bit of privacy.
Since most of the young Japanese live with their parents and other relatives, when they’re in need of privacy with their loved ones, they choose love hotels.
3. The first Geishas were men
We all know the beautiful Geishas, covered in mystery and dressed in beautiful kimonos. A less known fact about them is that actually the first Geishas were men, known as Taikomochi.
Originally, they were the Japanese version of the jester. They used to focus on storytelling, humour and the tea ceremony. Shortly after, they were replaced by women and the Geishas we know nowadays were born. If you want to see Geishas, make sure to visit Kyoto.
2. Naki Sumo Crying Baby Festival
During this annual Sumo festival, sumo wrestlers hold babies in their arms in an open-air ring and the baby who cries first is proclaimed the winner. It. is believed that baby who cries first will be blessed with good health.
The sumo wrestlers try their best to make the babies cry. Some of the techniques include bouncing the babies in their arms and wearing scary masks.
1. Godzilla is a citizen of Japan
The fictional monster Godzilla that originated in a Japanese series is now an official citizen of Japan. The Japanese are extremely proud of their monster and they even appointed him as the tourism ambassador for Shinjuku.
There are so many interesting facts about Japan that it was extremely hard for me to pick only 30. I hope that you enjoyed reading this article and if you know any weird or cool facts about this country, please let me know in the comments section below.
May the travel bug bite you!