The Japanese culture is incredibly intriguing, and we say that knowing with absolute confidence that anyone who has been there will say that's an understatement. Of course, the majority of folks would've taken in the sights and sounds of somewhere like Tokyo, but the truth is that there's so much more to the country than just the capital.
That's why we're going to attempt to mix the best of both worlds, in an attempt to get to the bottom of all the incredibly complex tidbits that make up this wonderful nation. Obviously travelling to the Eastern side of the planet isn't everyone's cup of tea and we can semi-understand the logic behind that, but at the same time, expanding your horizons in this way can be really beneficial.
It helps you to gain some perspective on your own life by examining how others live theirs. Sometimes it can be scary but most of the time it can be incredibly rewarding, if only because it allows us to take a look into a world completely different to our own.
We won't pretend like some of this stuff doesn't freak us out, which is why the word 'weird' is in the title, but what we will do is try and cover it in the best way that we can. We'll have to wait and see whether or not that means we're lost for words or we end up typing out an entire essay on the meaning of life. Sounds fun, doesn't it?
25 Robot Restaurant
There’s a robot restaurant in Tokyo, because of course there is.
It’s a themed bar featuring a show that takes all different kinds of ideas from the world of pop culture, and mixes it into a robotic monster show. There are bright colours, dancers and so much more, and if you manage to get to sleep that night then it’ll be a miracle in itself.
You’ll likely pay between $50 and $90 in order to be able to experience it, but we’d imagine that if you’ve taken the time to make the trip over to Japan, then you’re probably going to have some cash spare. At least, that’s just a prediction on our part.
24 Real-Life Mario Kart
While reports have surfaced suggesting that Nintendo has tried to put a stop to this, we’re confident in saying that nothing will stop this idea from growing now that it’s been put out into the atmosphere.
Mario Kart is arguably one of the most popular franchises in the history of gaming, and as such, some folks in Tokyo decided to take advantage of this. They allowed groups to dress up as the characters before racing around the streets of the city in their very own karts.
It sounds utterly ridiculous and some may even think that it is, but we happen to believe it’s quite a charming idea.
23 Every Vending Machine Imaginable
From hot food to every single drink you can think of under the sun, the bottom line is this: Japanese vending machines are about ten million times better than any other vending machine in any other country.
There’s just so much to choose from, and we aren’t exaggerating when we say that you could probably live off of the vending machines for a week or so depending on where you are or what your taste in food is like.
The restaurants are equally as magnificent, but vending machines are great if you’re short on time as we all know from experience.
22 Full Body Super Umbrellas
I mean it speaks for itself really, doesn’t it?
These full body super umbrellas pretty much ensure that not only does your head not get wet, but also that you’re pretty much in a protective bubble throughout the entirety of your journey. The problem is that it can look pretty high maintenance which can be a problem but for some, but as long as that doesn’t bother you, then you should be good to go.
Oh, and we aren’t going to find out the cost of one of these, because we don’t want our hearts to be broken into a million and one pieces.
21 The Toilet Slippers Phenomenon
Over in Japan, it’s actually a custom to use toilet slippers. We’re kind of baffled that this hasn’t become more of a thing universally, because let’s face it, toilets and bathrooms as a whole can get pretty wet.
It makes a lot of sense to want to wear these slippers and we’re completely on board with it. Of course, the custom of many travellers tends to be to steal these kinds of objects, and we’re not on board with that.
So if the rest of the world is reading this (and we imagine that’s probably the case), then let’s band together to ensure we can get these slippers made, shall we?
20 Octopus Flavoured Ice Cream
It’s Octopus flavoured ice cream. I mean, what?
This is one thing that we really can’t get on board with, and it quite literally has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that we don’t like octopus. We just think that it’s weird in a general sense, because it doesn’t seem to mix in well with the general idea of ice cream.
In a general sense we tend to believe that adding new flavours has gone ‘too far’, and we think Japan stands side by side with the United States of America as the prime culprits of that.
The US go for big, bright and bold, whereas the Japanese just go for the downright weird.
19 The World’s Shortest Escalator
It’s the world’s shortest escalator, and if it was up to us, this would be the world’s shortest article entry.
It’s located in a department store over in Japan and has held the record since way back in 1989 when it was officially verified by the Guinness Book of Records. The vertical height comes out to around 834mm, and you have to wonder what the point of it actually is.
While we can picture people deciding to make it purely so they can hold the title of world’s shortest escalator, that also seems a little bit too good to be true.
18 Cosplay Maid Cafe
The ‘art’ of the Maid Café stems from the idea of cosplaying, which is kind of like roleplaying only with the added bonus of dressing up as a specific character or theme with great precision. The maids, or waitresses, treat the customers as their masters, as if they were in some kind of private home or humble abode.
There are so many that have popped up around Japan and while a few have been spotted overseas, it’s safe to say that they’re nowhere near as effective.
Some will find them weird, but they certainly seem to be doing well for themselves.
17 New Japan Pro Wrestling Store
Professional wrestling in the country of Japan has experienced something of a resurgence in the last decade or so, and that’s no exaggeration. From Tanahashi and Okada to Naito and Omega, there are a series of different wrestlers who have captured the hearts and minds of the Japanese audience.
As such the main promotion there, New Japan Pro Wrestling or NJPW, have been able to capitalise on their success financially. In addition to their annual Tokyo Dome show which drew more than 38,000 fans this year, they’ve also got their own pro wrestling store which really does confirm the idea that they idolise these ‘heroes’ of theirs.
16 Anime Obsession
The art of Anime and Manga allows fans to gravitate towards hand-drawn animations that feature larger than life stories and characters. This specific form of entertainment comes directly from the Japanese culture, and it’s safe to say that they’ve continued to embrace it over many, many years.
Everywhere you turn in cities like Tokyo, you’ll be greeted with some kind of call back to the weird and wonderful world of Anime. It’s a true obsession and it’s the kind of fandom that will often leave people feeling pretty jealous if they don’t have their own kind of media ‘obsession’ so to speak.
15 Electric City
You’ve seen the lights and the hustle and bustle of cities like New York City and London, but nothing quite compares to Akihabara. It’s known as Electric City or Electric Town, courtesy of the fact that it’s such a hub for shopping and technology.
When you think of futuristic cities then Tokyo almost certainly needs to be located towards the top of your list, if only because of Akihabara and nothing else. It takes many of the previous entries and submerges them into one magnificent location, and with the lights and the ‘never sleep’ attitude, it really is quite the experience.
14 Monkey Park
Have we found the greatest place on Earth? That may not be for us to say, but we’d like to think the answer is yes.
Iwatayama Monkey Park is located in Kyoto, Japan, and it is inhabited by more than 170 Japanese macaque monkeys. As you can probably imagine they are indeed wild monkeys, but they can be fed by tourists and locals if they purchase food on the actual site.
We’d hesitate to say this is our favourite entry yet, mainly because monkeys are just so unbelievably entertaining. You never quite know what they’re going to do next, and that’s certainly enough to keep you on your toes.
13 Bamboo Forest
Just sit back, and relax.
That tends to be the theme of the Bamboo Forest, which can be found over in Kyoto. There are a variety of different pathways for you to walk down, but in truth, all you really need to know is that this is a Bamboo Forest and it’s absolutely stunning.
It feels like it could go on for miles and miles further than it actually does, and it allows you to escape from the stress of every day life – if only for a brief moment. We know it sounds like we’re being paid off by the tourism board here, but it’s just sp pretty.
12 Coffee Designs
We’re big fans of seeing things that are intricate, and they don’t come much more intricate than the coffee designs over in Japan. From cultural characters to buildings and beyond, it legitimately feels like there is nothing that these people cannot design if they put their mind to it.
They’re artists in their own right and we don’t say that lightly, and while the aim of coffee is of course to drink it, we’d almost be hesitant to do so.
It blurs the line between what is art and what isn’t, because that perception can often lead to quite a few debates.
Inemuri is the art of falling asleep either at work in a public place. Of course, if this happened in most countries around the world then you’d likely receive some kind of fine, or in some instances, you may be fired altogether as a result of being unbelievably unprofessional.
However, because of how hard the Japanese work, there are some workplaces that will actually allow this and they’ll actively encourage you to try it out. There are some rules which include having to sleep in an upright position, but either way, this seems like a pretty sweet deal to us.
10 Cuddle Cafes
Sticking on the same kind of theme as the previous entry, we bring to you Cuddle Cafes. These shops allow customers to have a quick rest in the middle of what is likely a busy day for them, allowing them to have a quick cuddle with a friend or partner of theirs in the process.
It’s quite a nice idea and while some may consider it to be a waste of money, we think it’s quite cute. Sometimes when you’re out and about all you want to do is have a quick nap, because it allows you to re-energise for the remainder of the day.
9 The Shibuya Crossing
It’s the busiest crossing on the planet and it’s the place that a lot of folks immediately think of when Tokyo springs to mind. It perfectly illustrates not only the ‘organised’ nature of the Asian culture, but also just how many people are in the city centre at any given time.
It’s absolute havoc and while that isn’t exactly a bad thing, it can be a little bit overwhelming. Some folks deal with this kind of ‘busy’ atmosphere much better than others, but for us, it would take us a day or two in order to get used to it.
8 The Amazing Capsule Hotels
A capsule hotel can seem pretty daunting when you just look at it from a purely neutral perspective, but it’s actually quite a good idea once you look into it a little bit more.
Essentially it’s a type of hotel with several tiny rooms, which serve as cheap accommodation for those of us who can’t actually afford an expensive hotel.
It’s quite a fun little gimmick and, for us, it serves as a step up from hostels. With hostels, you’re always left worrying or panicking about what could be stolen or taken, but in this instance, a lot of those worries are removed entirely.
It’s pretty hard not to love rabbits, and as such, Okunoshima is fairly difficult to dislike as a location (apart from the fact it was used as a poison gas factory during the war).
There are a variety of feral rabbits that roam around the island and because of how tame they are, and because of how many there are, they’ll quite regularly come up to humans who visit.
Tourists often come to feed the rabbits, and thankfully it’s actually forbidden to hunt them. As a result, dogs and cats are not allowed to step foot on the island which is great, because we tend to think that this is so much more than just a ‘gimmick’.
6 Ultimate Pokemon Obsession
Yeah, there’s a Pokemon megastore in Tokyo. So what?
No, wait, hang on, that’s the worst reaction imaginable – because OH MY GOD there’s an official Pokemon store and it’s just the best thing ever.
Pokemon was a great game and it still is, and it has and always will be a big part of many of our childhoods. As such we can respect the fact that it’s being honoured in such a way, and call us crazy, but we still think there’s a lot of life left in the franchise.
P.S: if you read back on this in five years time, please contact us to let us know whether or not this wound up being accurate.
5 Mount Fuji
Around 60 miles south-west of Tokyo sits Mount Fuji, and guys, it’s just beautiful.
At 12,389 ft it’s known for having the seventh highest peak of any island on the planet, and it serves as one of the true symbols of Japan.
We always find that even just looking at an image of Mount Fuji is more than enough to send us into an absolute frenzy. We love everything about it, right down to the fact that it’s a dormant stratovolcano – as ominous as that may seem to some.
It just takes our breath away, and we’d argue that there are very few places that can legitimately do that.
4 Tokyo Skytree
The Tokyo Skytree is known for being the tallest tower in the world but beyond that, we tend to just see it as a marvellous piece of architectural brilliance. Some of those words probably don’t even make sense in the context of this sentence, but still.
It’s the second tallest structure on the planet after the Burj Khalifa, but that’s hardly a bad position to be in. It reigns supreme at the top of Tokyo’s magnificent skyline, and we’d highly suggest trying out the restaurant if you ever get the time to do so. We’ve heard some really great things.
3 High Technology Toilets
Just use regular toilets! What’s so difficult about that?
There are so many instances whereby you try to use a toilet in Japan, and it has about ten million different buttons that you need to press in order to use it properly. It’s just utterly bizarre and we’re kind of stunned that they were even created in the first place.
We understand that it can make for something different and a bit of a fun novelty, but they aren’t even reserved for the rich of the rich.
The majority of tourists can try them and test them out, and that really doesn’t seem like a lot of fun in our book.
Pachinko is a really intriguing concept because not only is it just a standard game, but it’s also used as a form of gambling – despite it being illegal to actually win cash from these games. As a result, you win Pachinko balls.
It’s a neverending loop, it seems, and some would compare it to slot machines over in the West. It’s a pretty cool idea when you think about it and the games are really fun, but understandably, the Japanese get a bit funny when it comes to filming footage of the game in action.
1 Kawaii Monster Cafe
Let’s finish with something downright mental, shall we?
Simply put, the Kawaii Monster Café makes it feel like you’ve taken every single drug on planet Earth before wandering into a restaurant. It’s so unique from the design to the food itself, that we often consider whether or not it’s just a figment of our imagination.
We realise that, obviously, it isn’t, but there are only so many ways that you can describe this place to the average human being without sounding completely insane.
Maybe it’s just a Japanese thing and we don’t get it whatsoever, which seems like a perfectly logical explanation.