Japan is a fascinating place. It’s a place where traditions are fused with modern and sometimes futuristic life. Unfortunately not everyone has the chance to visit this country in East Asia, but those that have aren’t short of things to say about this amazing destination. We all know that Japan is this incredibly modern place, but what makes it all the more fascinating is how it retains its ancient traditions. Then there’s Tokyo, the country’s capital, which is Japan’s most popular tourist destination. People visit because they want to know what it’s all about. Everybody hears all these fascinating things about Japan and we guess tourists just want to see if what they’ve heard is true.
One of the best things about travel (besides the different foods) is how each country has its own little quirks and curiosities. Each country does things their own way and it’s always interesting to explore that. Discovery is a big part of travel and we’re interested in hearing what tourists have discovered on their visits to Japan. From bunny cafes to talking toilets, this country has everything you could possibly imagine.
Let’s take a look at 20 thoughts every foreigner has when they visit Japan for the first time.
20 bunny cafes are the sweetest thing ever
You probably already heard about cat cafes, but that’s not all Japan has. Owl cafes, penguin bars, squirrel gardens and even bunny cafes can all be found within the country.
Known as ‘’usagi cafe,’’ bunny cafes really took off in 2012. Here you can drink a coffee and pet a rabbit. If you really love rabbits, you will adore this place because they’re everywhere.
It sounds like a petting zoo, only in a cafe. In Tokyo especially, it’s probably not convenient to own a pet, considering the living spaces and working schedule. So it makes sense that people would go out to spend time with animals instead.
19 People are everywhere
With a population of 127 million people (2016), you can see why the first thought to crop up in your mind during your stay in Japan is: people are everywhere! It’s like putting one third of the US population into Montana. When you think of it this way, it makes you wonder how anyone can breathe in this country.
Anyone who knows anything about Japan will know to expect crowds of people, but you’ll still be surprised at the sheer amount of people walking in all directions around you. It’s pretty overwhelming to say the least. Maybe you get used to it the longer you stay.
18 Why are there advertisements everywhere?
One of the first things you will notice when you arrive in Japan is how many advertisements there are. Ads are practically everywhere in Japan. You’ll see ads on buses, in malls and in trains. They cover everything. It’s not the ads per se that are unique, it’s more the amount of print advertisements you see everywhere. You name it and there’s probably an ad printed onto it.
Think of Times Square, only with a 100 times more advertisements. That’s how it is in Japan. It’s a fascinating place and like nowhere else in the world. You may even grow to like the ads.
17 They have talking toilets?
Toilets are normally such a boring thing. They don’t exactly make for interesting conversation. That’s what we thought until we heard about Japan’s talking toilet creation. Then things got interesting. And if you thought the talking part was the most bizarre, you won’t believe a typical Japanese toilet’s additional features: remote controls, heated seats, bum spray, and dozens of buttons to control the different functions.
Can you believe a toilet could be so high-tech? We’d probably need a manual to use it. We wonder if these talking toilets will come to other countries one day...and would they ever actually work?
16 What's up with the Blue traffic lights?
Everybody knows that red means stop and green means go. So what does blue mean? Drive around Japan and you’ll be wondering why the green light has been replaced with a blue light. Nope, the signal isn’t broken. Blue means go in Japan.
It’s a unique thing to see when we’re so used to go being green. It’s also important that drivers are aware of this so they don’t end up in any dangerous accidents while driving in Japan. So if you’re waiting for the lights to go green, you’ll be waiting a very long time. You’ll also notice that different lights are different shades of blue, but they still mean the same thing.
15 What’s the deal with the escalators?
It seems to be a universal fact that the Japanese are disciplined people. That discipline even extends to using an average escalator. There is something known as escalator etiquette in Japan and if you want to be on the right side the people, you need to be on the right side of the escalator. The Japanese will either keep on the left side of the escalator or the right side. It depends on which area you’re in. Normally it’s the left side. This is so they can leave one side open for people in a rush. It’s a smart idea when you think about it.
14 The lockers-for-rent are the most useful things ever
You will find pay lockers nearly everywhere in Japan. They are more commonly found in airports, subways, public bath houses, establishments and dormitories. You will also find them on streets. Without a doubt, these have got to be the most convenient things ever in Japan.
You don’t want to spend your days in Tokyo lugging heavy bags or suitcases around with you. Exploring the city can be a lot more fun and less painful when you leave your bags in one of these rentable lockers. More cities should have them because they are so useful for travellers. Who likes carry heavy bags around all day?
13 Coin laundry is even more convenient
The Japanese definitely understand the meaning of convenience. They know how to save time and make things easier. Why would they even bother doing their own laundry when they can just out a coin into a machine and have that do it for them?
A coin laundry machine really does exist in Japan – and a coin dryer too. All you have to do is insert your coin, add your clothes and some detergent. Then close the door and wait for it to be cleaned. Easy! These aren't unheard of in the rest of the world, but their easy access and abundance in Japan is a highlight. Most people don’t even have the space for a washing machine let alone a dryer in their home, so this is a great tool.
12 Grocery shopping is a surreal experience
In a country that has talking toilets, is it so surprising that they also have a number of unmanned convenience stores? We get how this would be effective and it would save companies a lot of money when they can rely on machines instead of human workers. Still, this concept is pretty new to us so we can see why it would surprise the average tourist in Japan.
These are the kinds of things we don’t really see in many other countries, so it’s definitely new for us. But maybe it could work one day in the near future.
11 Eating at a restaurant is...unique
In a lot of restaurants in Japan, you order and pay for your food via a ticket vending machine prior to sitting down. You just insert your money, select what you want to eat or drink, and then you’ll get printed tickets for what you order. Once you’ve finished, hand the tickets to the staff and then you’ll receive your order. Although it sounds different, it could actually be handy. It’s probably really useful when you just want a quick lunch where you can leave when you want.
In Japan’s fast pace of life, we guess this kind of thing is the norm here.
10 The customer service is amazing
If you want to find some of the best customer service in the world, look no further than Japan.
From luxury hotels to convenience stores, warm-hearted hospitality is all you will find in Japan. Even the fast food joint staff is probably a lot nicer and more helpful than any customer service you’ve dealt with in your own country. That’s because respect and humility is a big part of the Japanese culture. The unforgiving customers could be another reason. Employees need to be great otherwise their clients won’t let them forget their bad service.
9 Japanese cabs are cool
Taxis with automatic doors are unique to Japan. As unusual as they are, they’re also really cool. Catching a cab has never been more fun. Just stand by the rear door until the driver opens it with one single push of a button.
In case you’re planning of visiting Japan, you should know not to try opening the door yourself. If you try, you’ll probably hear the taxi driver telling you to step back so you don’t get hit by the opening door. Just stand back and enjoy the experience of letting the taxi’s futuristic functions do everything for you.
8 Vending machines are everywhere
There are an abundance of vending machines in Japan. It’s impossible to ignore just how many of them there are in this country – especially in the big cities. We told you before: the Japanese love convenience.
That probably explains why studies show there’s one vending machine per every 23 people in Japan. Yep, they have the highest density of vending machines worldwide.
Even more interesting are the wild things you will find in their vending machines. Candies and soda are just a pinprick on the variety of food and non-food products you will find in one of them. You can even buy fresh fruit from them.
7 Why doesn’t anyone speak English?
English is taught in schools, yet the majority of the Japanese population cannot speak English. In Tokyo, you’ll notice more people speaking English, but it’s usually the younger people and it’s still not everyone. Some say it’s because of the ineffective language education.
Japanese students may learn English for several years, but the English education is allegedly not so good. There’s also the embarrassment of not being able to speak it well that puts a lot of people off using it in the first place.
6 The anime craze is real
Anime is famous worldwide, but its roots start in Japan. Anime is basically just Japanese animation created by hand or computer. We say just but it’s clearly more than that – it’s a global phenomenon. It also has a huge effect on Japan’s culture. Well, it’s actually a big part of their culture. It has such a large influence; you can see landmarks dedicated to the anime culture as well as young girl dressed up as anime figures.
In Akihabara, near Tokyo, anime related venues and shops are everywhere you look. It’s almost a way of life for the Japanese people.
5 The noise of noodle slurping... It's all around us!
Slurping is considered inappropriate in many countries. In Japan, it’s a social norm. What’s so interesting about this is how Japan normally frowns upon noisy eating. These people are so disciplined and well-mannered, it’s hard to believe they’re so open to noodle slurping.
According to soba (that means buckwheat noodles) aficionado Motohashi Takashi, they do it to savor the taste of the noodles. “The smell of soba is best appreciated via the mouth, not the nose,’’ he explains. When you slurp them through the mouth, you can taste the aroma better and that’s the right way to eat soba, ramen or udon.
4 What's up with the Canned food in a restaurant?
At Mr. Kanso, a restaurant in Japan, you will find a menu of over 350 food items. All of these food items come from a can. This restaurant (or some may call it more of a food bar), is lined with endless shelves stocked with canned food.
From French salad to bear curry, you will find foods from all around the globe at Mr. Kanso’s. You can even get spam here. You would think a canned food restaurant just wouldn’t work, but this place is really popular. Then again, this is Japan and these people are open to pretty much everything. They are always looking for innovative new things.
3 Those tiny capsule hotels are cool but a little intimidating
Depending on your budget, you can stay in fancy hotels or traditional inns during your visit to Japan. If your budget is really strict, maybe you should try checking in to one of Japan’s capsule hotels. The average rate is $30 per night but be warned: this is not for the claustrophobics at heart. See how small those things are?
No doubt the experience of staying in one of these tiny, futuristic lodgings would be amazing, but we don’t know if it would be possible for us to stay more than one night in one. Those capsules look very tiny to us. But the idea is good!
2 This is the first time I’ve worn toilet shoes
Cleanliness is a fundamental value in Japanese culture. It’s common to see people removing their shoes before entering the house and just as common for them to wear special shoes for entering the toilet. Toilet slippers are worn in the toilet only.
You will find a selection of toilet slippers lined outside every bathroom because the Japanese believe this is hygienic. They definitely have a point. You don’t want to bring the dirt from outside into your home, but you also don’t want to bring the germs from the toilet floor back into your home. More people should do this!
1 That’s the smallest escalator I’ve ever seen
Japan is home to some of the most unique creations in the world. It’s a fascinating country. Even their tiny 83.4cm escalator in Kawasaki has us intrigued. Yep, Japan has the world’s shortest escalator that contains only 5 steps. If you time yourself on your trip down the escalator, 4.6 seconds should be your calculation.
We’re not really sure why they invented such a short escalator and what purpose it serves, but it’s still totally cool in our opinion. We guess people just have fun using it because it’s such a unique feature. Everything seems to be futuristic in Japan. They are light years ahead of us.
References: triplelights, cnet, asahi, deepjapan, tokyotreat.com, weirdjapan ,japanandmore.com