There are about a million peculiar habits and interesting details foreigners could point out about Japan. Between the capsule hotels, maid cafès, complex automated toilets and absence of bins (or litter) on the streets, it’s difficult not to ask questions whenever you have a chance to meet locals. So that’s exactly what we did, and here are 8 extra fun facts we found out.
1. American Dream
In spite of today’s political climate, many countries still nurture some sort of fascination for the USA. Even if the latter dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki more than seventy years ago, Japan loyally follows this trend, with many fast food franchises, chain stores and pop-culture offerings.
It’s difficult not to notice the absence of roundabouts in Japan. Some locals sustain roundabouts imply a decision-making process perhaps not so straightforward for most Japanese. After the 2011 earthquake caused several electrical damages around the country, people were forced to think of an alternative to traffic lights – for which the first roundabout was introduced in 2014.
3. Rated-R Convenience Stores
Though Japanese culture is generally associated with ideas of repression and prudishness, sex is somewhat openly present throughout Japanese society. For instance, it is often possible to see erotic magazines inexplicably placed at childrens’ eye level and besides comic books, right at the entrance of most convenience stores.
4. Little Magic Hats
If you happen to pass nearby primary schools in Japan, you will see that the students wear different colored hats. Fashion? No. Simply functional. Each color is tied to a specific age group or/and purpose. For example, being double face, the hats are used to distinguish teams when playing games. In addition, their bright colors make it easier for drivers to spot the children from a distance.
5. Jobs for Everyone
In a developed country highly orchestrated by robots and gadgets of all sorts, it is surprising to find so many men and women in a uniform around almost every corner of the streets, whose only task is pointing out directions to cars or pedestrians. While many economies struggle to create employments, Japan seems to be more accomodating or at least very creative.
6. Loud Silence
One thing Japanese people dislike about foreigners is our inability to shut our mouths in public spaces. Silence is very perceptible in Japan. Whether it is in the metro, cafès or restaurants – no one speaks. However, many locals like to lock themselves for hours in amusement arcades where the background sound is as disturbing as hundreds of kids shrieking in an indoor swimming pool.
7. Slippers Everywhere
A common Japanese custom is to take shoes off whenever entering homes, schools and sometimes even tea houses or shops. For this, you will often find a pair of slippers at the entrance, in the bathroom or out on the balcony (if there is one). Please don’t get mixed up about which ones to use where.
8. Don’t Wash in the Bath
Although traditional houses are cold, Japanese people are all about keeping their bodies warm, especially during the winter season: heating patches are sold everywhere, train seats and toilet seats are heated, and spending the afternoon or day at the hot springs is a popular custom. Infact, bathtubs are not a place where you wash but where you make yourself warm after having a shower.