There are a lot of good things to be said about Japan, but it is also known as a country with some strange preferences -- although much of what people in the Western world do, would probably be considered bizarre to the Japanese. For example, when last did you eat a tub of ice cream and wish it was garlic or octopus flavor? Or perhaps sprinkle a bit of noodle or meat on top of it? But putting the taste preferences aside for a minute (although there is much more to be said on the topic), Japan is a country where you can find weird and wonderful things that cater to a very diverse market.
If you’re in the mood for a spooky meal, then there is a vampire cafe, or if you prefer to fall asleep next to someone (literally, just sleep), then you can pay for that service at a cafe, too. The country is also filled with interesting buildings and statues, some which seem to be inspired by other places, like the Odaiba Statue of Liberty, which is a replica of New York’s Statue of Liberty.
Japan is a fantastic country and one that is definitely worth visiting, especially if you have a penchant for the bizarre. Below are 25 strange things we can only find in Japan.
25 You'll Find A Replica of New York's Statue Of Liberty (Although It's Much Smaller)
You may think of the Statue of Liberty as a monument which is unique to Liberty Island in New York Harbor, New York, but it would appear that you would be wrong. In Odaiba, Tokyo, you will come across a replica of the neoclassical sculpture, although the Odaiba Statue of Liberty is nowhere near as colossal as the original statue, with Atlas Obscura reporting that it is just 1/7th the size.
The statue was first placed here in 1998, and although the move was meant to be temporary, it became permanent in 2000. Like New York’s Statue of Liberty, this liberty statue is also meant to represent goodwill with France.
24 Prepare For A Sensory Overload With Strange Flavored Ice Creams And Unusual Toppings
For most people, ice cream is a sweet creation that’s eaten as a dessert, and the typical flavors include chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Some people get creative with the toppings, which can be everything from candy to fruit, but how about ice cream with noodles, or meat, as a topping instead? This option may not be available everywhere in the world, but it is in Japan, and according to Brightside, these creations are in demand.
It’s not just the toppings that are strange though, but also the flavors, and according to The Telegraph, unusual ice cream flavors include a garlic ice cream called Dracula Premium Ice, as well as prawn, octopus, and cheese flavoring.
23 If A Quiet, Dimly Lit Dinner Is What You're After, There's Always A Vampire Cafe
You can eat garlic-flavored Dracula ice cream in Japan, but you can also visit a vampire cafe (which seems to suggest there is a bit of a trend here). According to Atlas Obscura, in Tokyo, there is an unusual cafe that sees diners sitting at thrones, drinking a red drink decorated with tiny skills, and being surrounded by red velvet walls, coffin tables, and dim lighting.
It may sound like a scene straight out of a horror film, but we kid you not, this place exists, and even the staff have outfits to fit the creepy setting.
22 Cuddle Cafes Are Japan's Solution To Loneliness
There are many interesting cafes to be found in Japan, and it seems that there really is something to appeal to everyone, including cuddle cafes. The premise is as the name suggests, and people are able to go to these cafes and spend time sleeping next to a stranger. And it’s literally just sleeping.
The idea of these cafes, according to Japan Today, is to offer people comfort by allowing them to fall asleep next to someone, as you would do with your significant other. Some of the options include staring at each other, sleeping on someone’s lap, or sleeping in someone’s arms.
21 Instead Of The Standard Green Traffic Lights, Expect To See Blue
In most countries, the standard traffic light sequence is red, orange and green (which obviously suggest whether it’s safe to go or not), but in Japan, instead of the green light, there is a blue one, or at least, a very blue shade of green, Reader’s Digest reports.
So, why is Japan opting for blue traffic lights? The publication notes that this has something to do with ancient tradition because blue is one of the four traditional colors established in the Japanese language. The others were red, white and black. Hundreds of years ago, if someone wanted to describe something that was green, the word they used was the word for blue, “ao.” Reader’s Digest notes that it was only in the first millennium, that the word “midori” appeared in the written language to describe green. Long story short, the Japanese government is using traffic lights that are “bluest shade of green possible.”
20 Vending Machines Cater To Every Need, From Plastic Toys To Dinner
In Japan, there is a vending machine to cater to all your needs, whether you need to buy some toys on the way home, or indulge in some snacks. According to Buzzfeed, the country has many different vending machines selling a large variety of items, with some of the strangest items including miniaturized food toys, and canned carrots.
The publication also notes that vending machines are a popular way to purchase things in the country and there are more than 5.52 million, which equal 6.95 trillion Yen (62 billion dollars) in sales.
19 Napping On The Job Is Not Just OK, It's Encouraged
There are many times when people would love to sit at their desk and get a little shut-eye, but this would absolutely be frowned upon, and would likely result in termination. Not so in Japan, and sleeping at your desk is considered to be a sign of how hard you have been working, and therefore you were not able to get adequate sleep at home.
The concept is called inemuri, and according to TopTenz, the custom is so favorable that some people even pretend to be asleep so that their bosses will think they have been working hard.
18 Forget Boring Construction Barriers And Expect To See Cute Animals Instead
Construction can be annoying when it disrupts our daily life, but when you see cute little cartoon barriers looking back at you, it’s bound to turn that frown upside down. In Japan, you can find cute, brightly colored cartoon construction barriers, and according to Kotaku, the theory is that these have been designed to improve the public’s attitude towards construction sites. The publication notes a second theory could be that these barricades reduce road rage.
Some of the characters you can expect to see include a monkey, ducks, pandas, dolphins, and pink bunnies.
17 Adult Adoption Is Incredibly Common To Continue A Family Legacy
Adoption is different for each family, and there is no one right time to adopt someone, although the process typically involves young children. In Japan, things are a little different, and according to TopTenz, “98% of all adoptions in Japan involve adults aged 20 to 30.”
Many of the people being adopted are men, and the reason for this is because sometimes when an owner of a family business wants to keep the family name but has no suitable heir, they adopt someone into the family.
16 Love Hotels Offer Couples A Room -- And Two Percent Of The Population Use One Each Day
Love hotels are short-stay hotels designed for couples who want a room, at a hotel that has a sign filled with little heart labels. These rooms can be basic, or fancy, and according to The Telegraph, around 2 percent of the population is believed to use a love hotel every day.
The love hotels are scattered across the country and are often easily accessible, located near highways and train stations. And according to Daily Mail, some rooms can even be rented by the hour.
15 There Are The Most Diverse (And Delicious) Flavors Of Kit Kats
Kit Kats are a delicious and popular chocolate choice, but most of us have only tried a limited selection of flavors. In Japan, the options are almost endless, and according to CBS News, that’s because the Japanese really love Kit Kat.
Cedric Lacroix, who works with Nestle Japan, said, “Kit Kat is very, very big. We consume up to five million Kit Kats a day in Japan.” But the Japanese also tend to prefer mild flavors, like matcha green tea, butter and strawberry maple, which is where pastry chef Yasumasa Takagi comes in. He said, “In general, the Japanese prefer mild flavors" rather than those that give a taste explosion.
14 Going To KFC Is A Christmas Tradition (And Queues Get Really Long)
KFC may be popular after a night out, or as a weekend treat, but in Japan, KFC is part of a Christmas Eve tradition. According to TopTenz, on Christmas Eve many Japanese people will head to their local KFC, sometimes spending upwards of two hours in a line to get their favorite chicken meal.
But why is this fast food restaurant the place to be? According to the publication, it’s all thanks to an advertising campaign in 1974, which sees tourists getting KFC because they couldn’t get a turkey for Christmas.
13 There Is An Island That Is Overrun With Cute Bunnies
There are few things more appealing than a rabbit island, and Okunoshima is often referred to as “rabbit island” because of its inhabitants. According to Atlas Obscura, the island was once home to a poisonous gas plant, responsible for large amounts of mustard gas. However, following World War II, the plant was closed down and the laboratory animals were set free, and since they had no predators on the island, they multiplied.
Thus Okunoshima became the island it is today, known for a much happier reason, and visited by tourists.
12 And A Themed Spa Resort Where Patrons Can Bathe In Wine
Considering the busy lives that most individuals live, it is not surprising that spa resorts have mass appeal as they offer an environment where people can relax. Or swim in a bath of ramen or wine.
Yes, you read that correctly. According to Atlas Obscura, the Yunessun Spa Resort is a spa/theme park that has plenty of luxury treatments, but it also appeals to an individual’s fun side by offering themed spas. These include sake and wine baths, the Green Tea Spa which provides the opportunity of bathing in tea, and “a pepper-water filled Ramen Noodle Spa.”
11 A Futuristic Robot Restaurant Makes You Feel Like You've Been Transported Into A 'Transformer's Film
Japan is known for its technology, so perhaps a Robot Restaurant is not out of place at all. Located in Shinjuku’s Kabukichō district, the Robot Restaurant is an attraction that is worth seeing, Culture Trip reports, and here, you will see a lot.
Expect a show that involves giant dancing robots, bright lights, lasers, and very loud music. There is also a clear dress code listed on the company’s website, and they do not allow people with tattoos (these must be covered), sunglasses, and large wigs.
10 Maid Cafes Are The Place To Go To Be Served Cute Food By Women Dressed As French Maids
If you want to eat cute and delicious creations, including a bunny shaped ice cream, then perhaps a Maid Cafe is worth a visit. Here, the food is often shaped to be adorable, and visitors are served by women wearing French maids outfits. According to Hostel World, in addition to the cute food, the waitresses also perform energetic renditions of Japanese pop songs, which patrons can sing along too.
The publication notes that the best Maid Cafes can be found in Tokyo’s Akihabara district.
9 Some Fruit Is Super Expensive And Can Be Bought From Fancy Fruit Parlors
The Japanese are considered to be among the healthiest people in the world, and according to Reader’s Digest, a child born in Japan today is likely to “enjoy the longest life and the healthiest life.” And it is their eating patterns that are one of the major reasons for their health.
Keeping that in mind, it may seem odd then that some fruits come with a really hefty price tag. According to Buzzfeed, there is a luxury fruit parlor in Tokyo, where someone can pay the equivalent of $212 for a square watermelon, or $160 for a Yubari cantaloupe. Prices are not just high at this fruit parlor either, as All About Japan notes that some fruits, like the aforementioned two, are some of the most expensive fruits made in Japan.
8 There Is A Trend That Encourages Teens To Get A Snaggle Tooth
Straight teeth are considered to be cosmetically beautiful in the Western world, but in Japan, there is a trend that involves people adding a snaggle tooth, or as they call it, the “yaeba” or double tooth trend.
The dental procedure sees individuals going to get their upper canines capped, and this can be either permanent or temporary, Huffington Post reports. The procedure also doesn’t come cheap and a single tooth can cost hundreds of dollars, but it's worth it for some because the trend is considered “cute” for teenage girls or women in their twenties.
7 The Story Of Hachikō's Loyalty Warms The Heart Of The Nation
The story of Hachikō -- an Akita dog whose love and loyalty for his owner, Professor Ueno, saw him wait outside the station for him for years after his death -- is known throughout the world. It’s also guaranteed to make people cry.
The real story inspired the film titled, Hachi: A Dog's Tale, but Hachikō has also inspired the local population, who placed a bronze statue in the beloved dog’s honor at Shibuya Station. This is the same station where he used to wait for his owner.
6 There Is An Abandoned Island That Has Become A Ghost Town
There are islands filled with adorable bunnies in Japan, but there is also an island called Hashima that has turned into a ghost town. The Telegraph notes that Hashima island was used for coal mining purposes for 87 years (between 1887 and 1974), and it became a booming island in 1959, when it reached its peak population with more than 5,000 residents living here.
When the demand for coal decreased because of petroleum, the mine productions started to slow and it eventually closed. With the mining facility being at the heart of the island, there was no need to continue living here, and it was abandoned.
5 A Massive Godzilla Head Makes For Quite The Attraction
Godzilla is a Japanese monster that has become popular worldwide because of the Godzilla movies, which began in 1954. And if you find yourself in Tokyo, then you will see the head of this famous monster sticking out of the Toho Building in the Shinjuku Ward, Atlas Obscura reports. The head is 40 feet tall, making it quite the sight for passersby.
The significance of Godzilla being on this building is that Toho is the Japanese studio that created the Godzilla franchise.
4 Plastic Food Is A Serious Business And It Can Cost Thousands For A Plate
In Japan, they have managed to make plastic food look remarkably life-like and incredibly delicious. This includes everything from ice-cream sundaes, to sushi. According to Nerdist, since the mid-20th century, making plastic food has become a big business and an important part of Japanese food culture. It’s a way for restaurants to show what they have on offer, and drive foot traffic into the establishment. But this doesn’t come cheap, and some of the more elaborate meals can apparently cost thousands of dollars to create.
3 The Harajuku District Has An Eccentric But Instagram-Worthy Fashion Scene
Gwen Stefani was probably one of the first people to bring worldwide attention to the Harajuku culture of Japan. Tokyo’s Harajuku district is celebrated for its teen subgroups, whose quirky and eccentric street style has gotten the attention of fashion publications.
According to Medium, Japanese street style is influential “throughout Asia and around the globe.” And it seems there is a lot of interest in the fashion scene because the district has become an attraction for tourists who can enjoy a walking tour of local fashion and street food.
2 Thomas The Tank Engine Is Real, And A Lucky Few Get To Ride On It
Thomas the Tank Engine is a popular character in The Railway Series books, and later the animated British series, Thomas & Friends. But no one who has ever seen the series as a child would have expected Thomas to have existed in real life, although he does in Japan. According to All About Japan, a Thomas the Tank Engine train runs on limited schedules on the Shizuoka Prefecture’s Oigawa line.
Not everyone can ride on this train though, as the publication notes tickets are sold in a lottery system. But those who are able to ride on Thomas can hop on at Shin-Kanaya Station in Shimada, and ride to Senzu Station in Kawanehon.
1 A Capsule Building May Not Have Been Ideal To Live In, But It Is Interesting
While not as strange as some of the other things mentioned on this list, the Nakagin Capsule Tower is worth mentioning because of its unusual appearance. According to Atlas Obscura, each capsule is one apartment, and the idea was that each apartment capsule could eventually be replaced by a newer design, therefore updating the building.
But living in such a small space is far from ideal, and the publication notes that many of the people who called these capsules home found it cramped, and despite the architectural community wanting to save the building, hailing it as a masterpiece, there are also plans to demolish it.
References: Atlas Obscura, Brightside, The Telegraph, Japan Today, Reader's Digest, Buzzfeed, Top Tenz, Kotaku, Daily Mail, CBS News, The Culture Trip, Shinjuku Robot