30 quirks & perks of Japan

Cheese kitkats

Hi,
So as I’m leaving Japan many people ask me what i thought was the most surprising, or what i will miss about Japan. There are many obvious things that makes Japan exciting and special to visit, like this different kinds of cafes (maid cafes/cat cafes etc), the harajuku-style of dressing, the video game mania etc. But I thought i’d point out some more day-to-day things that you don’t always read about in a guidebook. Check out my list (in no particular order):

  1. Many street performers (mainly people with guitars) will pop up near stations and a lot of people stop to listen to them
  2. They will queue for hours at a time to try something because it’s recommended, new or popular
  3. They wear masks all the time, but not because they hate germs – A LOT of Japanes (almost all it seems) suffer from hay fever, which even occurs in autumn due to certain other blooms, and they also wear them in the winter to prevent their skin from drying out
  4. Even though Japanese people are less physical than us on a daily basis, with close friends they’ll be more so than many foreigners – many young boys and girls will hold hands in their early teens, and even some girls at a much later age
  5. Certain items, such as kitkats or little hello kitty phone hangers, are customised according to different tourist places you visit – a special one for each region/town! Collectibles
  6. 100 yen shops – they may not always be cheaper than home but they have EVERYTHING you need
  7. Shops only open at 10-11am but stay open until 8pm
  8. The heated toilet seat – you can spend hours on one in the winter. That and a washlet (the upper part of the toilet is made into a sink)
  9. Stares – you can blend in well if you feel comfortable enough to act like Japanese but the stares never really go away (not stares but definitely glances)
  10. Karaoke – it’s brilliant. Though apparently foreigners do it differently from Japanese. Japanese are very self-absorbed whereas foreigners sing along and dance
  11. Kotatsu – a table with a heater in it cover with blankets, once you put your legs under one you won’t get up all winter
  12. The elegant mix of old & new is one of the most remarkable things of Japan – best to notice this is the summer matsuri (festivals) with fireworks were most people wear their summer kimono (called yukata)
  13. There are love hotels everywhere – Japanese houses are public for some loving, so they have these hotels where they are crazily decorated – mirrors on the walls, videogames and karaoke, you can rent costumes etc
  14. Those unable to speak Japanese may realise they can pick out a few words in the conversation, actually Japanese uses a lot of borrowed words from English, but uses them incorrectly and their meaning is completely differen
  15. To find restaurants, don’t just look a ahead, but also up – most buildings will have 4+ restaurants, on different floors
  16. Japan is so safe that you can leave all your belongings on a chair in a crowded place and itll still be there an hour later
  17. Perikura – i’ve mentioned it before. Brilliant!
  18. Japanese shop staff are always friendly. It may not be sincerely but a smile is always better than someone snapping at you
  19. Japanese food – it’s all amazing but i LOVE furikake, which is like flavouring you sprinkle on top of rice
  20. Japanese bars may be more expensive but they love doing ‘all you can eat/all you can drink’ deals at restaurants WAY cheaper than anything back home
  21. Japanese girls, esp in school uniforms, wear ridiculously short skirts. Never got used to it
  22. People will bike & do anything at the same time – bike with an umbrella, bike and smoke, bike and call on their phone
  23. The Japanese language has many quirks – some i like are ‘otsukaresamadesu!’, which means thanks for the hard work but they even say it when someone arrives at a social gathering, or they complain out loud to no one in particular – they’ll say ‘atsui!’ (its hot) but just as a statement
  24. You change your shoes when entering a house/school/doctors office
  25. When you eat, you pick up your bowls (eg. rice) and move it towards your mouth
  26. They have absolutely no reservations about bathing with each other naked
  27. Shop staff yell ALL THE TIME! (welcome! please look around! – in Japanese of course)
  28. People don’t blow their nose in public and you don’t say anything when someone sneezes
  29. Vending machines on almost every street corner
  30. No talking on your phone on public transportation (unspoken rule)
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